Thursday, October 31, 2013


In his latest offering, conservative Australian cartoonist ZEG thinks Greenies were deliberately invented to plague us

In classic Leftist style, failed Presidential candidate blocks out what he doesn't want to know

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed his frustration Tuesday with the fact that even in the United States, “a very educated country,” there are those who do not recognize the urgency of combating global warming.

Addressing the D.C. Greening Embassies Forum, which encourages the “greening” of foreign mission in Washington, Kerry took aim at those who challenge the notion that the science is settled when it comes to climate change.

“I am amazed after all these years that we’re still struggling here in a very educated country to get a lot of people to embrace and understand why this is not a matter of theory, a matter of mere policy, but a matter of urgency for life itself on the planet as we know it.”

Kerry said that 6,000 peer-reviewed reports say that “we [human beings] are responsible for what is happening, we are contributing to it very significantly through human choices.”

“Zero – zero peer-reviewed reports say no, or contribute to the theory of denial,” he added.

“And yet, we have people, even in the United States Senate, who stand up and deny. So we have work to do and we have to undertake to try to do whatever we can – without legislation, if that’s what it takes – through executive authority, through our own decisions, to try to make the choices that will make a difference in this.”

(Frustrated by “partisan gridlock” in Congress, President Obama took the executive authority route last June, announcing that he was instructing the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants.)

Kerry did not elaborate on the 6,000 reports, but he was likely referring to the studies used in the preparation of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments on climate change.

The latest report, released in September, concluded that global warming is “unequivocal,” and that it is “extremely likely” that human activity has been the main cause of the temperature rise since the 1950s.

Pointing to that report, Kerry said it documented that “everything that scientists predicted 20 and 30 years ago is now coming true at a faster rate and to a greater degree than was predicted.”

He gave several examples, including shifting migration patterns of species, melting of Arctic ice, and “the continuing diminution of glaciers” in the Himalayas.

The IPCC’s previous report, in 2007, referred to the strong chance of the Himalayan glaciers “disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner.”

As hundreds of millions of people depend on water from major rivers whose sources are in the Himalayas, including the Indus and Ganges, the issue is of major importance for India and Pakistan especially.

The U.N. panel was forced to retract the claim three years later, however, acknowledging “poorly substantiated estimates of rate of recession and date for the disappearance of Himalayan glaciers.”

Kerry concluded his speech by looking ahead to future U.N. climate conferences, including one in Warsaw next month.

“I can assure you this department will be and I will be laser-focused on how we are going to step up our response to the reality of the threat that climate change poses to all of us,” he said.


Earlier this year the journal Organization Studies – which is peer-reviewed – published the results of a survey of 1,077 professional engineers’ and geoscientists’ views on climate change.

Based on a breakdown of their views, it placed the respondents into five category groups. Only one of the five, accounting for 36 percent of the total, “express[ed] the strong belief that climate change is happening, that it is not a normal cycle of nature, and humans are the main or central cause.”

“They are the only group to see the scientific debate as mostly settled and the IPCC modeling to be accurate,” the survey found.

All four of the other groups, with slight variations, expressed varying degrees of skepticism about the asserted causes of climate change, the extent of public risk it poses, and the accuracy of IPCC modeling.

Recently, a team of scientists operating as the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) – an independent group which says it receives no government or corporate funding – released the second in a series of reports called Climate Change Reconsidered.

The authors of the 1,000-plus page report say it provides “the scientific balance that is missing from the overly alarmist reports” of the IPCC.

“Although the IPCC claims to be unbiased and to have based its assessment on the best available science, we have found this to not be the case,” the summary states. “In many instances conclusions have been seriously exaggerated, relevant facts have been distorted, and key scientific studies have been ignored.”

A key conclusion reached in the NIPCC report is that the IPCC “has exaggerated the amount of warming likely to occur if the concentration of atmospheric CO2 were to double, and such warming as occurs is likely to be modest and cause no net harm to the global environment or to human well-being.”

The NIPCC says its report was assembled by three lead authors, nearly 50 chapter lead authors as well as contributors and reviewers from 15 countries, and “was subjected to the common standards of peer-review.”


California's latest Green pipedream

By Alan Caruba

If you live in California, I have a bit of advice. Get out now while you can afford the gas to load up the van and head north or east. You won’t be alone.

According to “Crazifornia: How California is Destroying Itself and Why It Matters to America”, about 150,000 Californians have been fleeing the state each year of late. “In fact,” wrote Laer Pearce, “Los Angeles alone has lost more households than New York, Miami, and, incredibly, the economically decimated city of Detroit…combined.”

The tide of traffic leaving the state is likely to increase. According to a news release from Earthjustice, one of the innumerable environmental organizations bent on destroying every form of energy that has fueled the growth of the American economy, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has “finalized a groundbreaking decision to build innovative high-tech energy storage systems that will lead California toward a future of clean, renewable energy and away from dependence on fossil fuels.”

You remember fossil fuels, oil, natural gas, and coal. The “clean, renewable” energies are wind and solar because, of course, the sun shines all the time and the wind blows all the time. Or not.

By definition, energy “storage systems” can use mechanical, chemical, or thermal processes to store energy; these processes range from battery technologies to energy storage within compressed air or molten salt. If that sounds bizarre, it is.

According to Will Rostov, an Earthjustice attorney, “Clean, renewable energy sources will shape our future, whether the dirty antiquated fossil fuels industry likes it or not, so it’s excellent to see California getting there first. It took years by environmental advocates and state regulators to reach this point.”

Actually, Europe has been there for some time now. In England’s Yorkshire Dales, they’re tearing down four wind turbines that have been around for twenty years and “have not worked in years.” Indeed, across Europe there is a lot of buyer’s remorse for having embraced wind and solar. As Marc Morano, the editor of, noted in an October 17 article, “Wind and solar mandates are breaking Europe’s electric utilities.”

“Last week the CEOs of Europe’s ten largest utilities finally cried uncle and called for a halt to wind and solar subsidies. Short of that, they want subsidies of their own. They want to be paid, in essence, not to produce power.” Thanks to mandates to use electricity from wind and solar Europe’s energy costs increased 17% for consumers and 21% for industry in the last four years.

California, in addition to requiring comparable use of wind and solar power while pushing to close coal-fired plants and keep some nuclear plants shuttered, will require its utilities to purchase 1.3 megawatts of “energy storage” power by 2020.

The San Jose Mercury News reported that “The first-in-a-nation mandate is expected to spur innovation in emerging storage technologies, from batteries to flywheels. Once large quantities of energy can be stored, the electric grid can make better use of solar, wind and other technologies that generate sporadically rather than in a steady flow, and can better manage disruptions from unpredictable events such as storms and wildfires.”

This is another very expensive Green pipedream that, like other California initiatives, would prove impossible to achieve and will be abandoned or ignored.

Since neither wind nor solar produce electricity in a steady, predictable fashion that enables utilities to ensure a flow of electricity to consumers, “energy storage” is the new, idiotic, alternative way of providing electricity that has been in effect since Edison first invented the turbines to produce it.

There is, simply put, no reason to require “energy storage” if “dirty, antiquated fossil fuels” were used. Wind and solar provide just over 3% of the electricity used in the U.S.

According to the Western Region Deputy Director of the Sierra Club, Evan Gillespie, “Fossil fuels like natural gas are a dead end for the people of California, the power companies, and the entire planet.”  If you listened to Strela Cervas, Coordinator at the California Environmental Justice Alliance, fossil fuel use is a conspiracy against “low income communities and communities of color overburdened by pollution, in particular from power plants. California does not need any new gas-fired power plants.”

Those low income communities might not agree, along with all the rest of the Californians, in the wake of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. While California strives to save the state from a warming that has not been occurring for more than 15 years, the new mandate that 33% of the state’s energy come from wind and solar is estimated to cost $114 billion, all of which will come out of the pockets of energy consumers.

According to Pearce, “Legislators, regulators, lawyers and environmentalists have driven up the cost of doing business in the Golden State until it has become 30% greater than in the neighboring states.” The result of 40 years of anti-business (and anti-energy) policy has caused a decline in the state’s standard of living. “California’s median household income plummeted by 9%--nearly twice the national average between 2006 and 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”

This is the kind of environmental insanity that has been at work at the federal level since Obama was elected in 2008. Billions have been lost in loans to wind and solar companies that went bankrupt within months and years. Think Solyndra. Now apply that same insanity to the whole of the nation as the administration continues its “war on coal” and actually laments the growing access to natural gas and oil due to hydraulic fracking technology.

The U.S. will produce more oil than Saudi Arabia this year. It has several centuries’ worth of affordable coal, scads of natural gas, and could expand its nuclear power generation if it wanted.

California is leading the way as it drives out its citizens and businesses, leaving behind only those too poor to leave; those dependent on a range of welfare programs that “redistribute” money from “the rich” and the middle class. They are turning the entire state into Detroit.

It is a war on the provision of electricity; the lifeblood of the nation’s capacity to function.


The Keystone Fight Is a Huge Environmentalist Mistake

By Leftist Jonathan Chait

“To an increasingly disillusioned environmental movement,” environmental activist Bill McKibben writes in the Huffington Post, “Keystone looks like a last chance.” It may be a last chance for the movement McKibben has helped lead — he has spent several years organizing activists to single-mindedly fight against approval of the Keystone pipeline — but Keystone is at best marginally relevant to the cause of stopping global warming. The whole crusade increasingly looks like a bizarre misallocation of political attention.

My view, which I laid out in a long feature story last spring, is that the central environmental issue of Obama’s presidency is not Keystone at all but using the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate existing power plants. That’s a tool Obama has that can bring American greenhouse gas emissions in line with international standards, and thus open the door to lead an international climate treaty in 2015. The amount of carbon emissions at stake in the EPA fight dwarf the stakes of the Keystone decision.

Estimates differ as to how much approval of the Keystone pipeline would increase carbon emissions, but a survey of studies by the Congressional Research Service found that the pipeline would add the equivalent of anywhere between 0.06 percent to 0.3 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions per year. By contrast, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s proposal for EPA regulations would reduce U.S. emissions by 10 percent per year – 30 times the most pessimistic estimate of Keystone’s impact.

Of course, it’s far from clear Obama will settle on a regulatory proposal as aggressive as the NRDC’s. But that’s just the point. Even slight gradations in the strength of possible EPA plans matter more than the whole fate of the Keystone pipeline. And yet McKibben and tens of thousands of his followers are obsessed with a program that amounts to a rounding error at the expense of a decision that really is the last chance to stop unrestrained global warming.

How did they arrive at such a strange choice? The answer can be found in my friend Ryan Lizza’s deeply reported account in The New Yorker last month. Lizza’s fascinating story does not explicitly support the anti-Keystone movement, but it structures the narrative in a way that generally accepts the movement’s assumptions and casts them in a heroic light. Nonetheless, the facts in his account show how environmental activists stumbled onto the Keystone issue, then clung to it even as the rationale for their decision collapsed.

In the spring of 2011, James Hansen wrote, in a brief blog post, that developing the Canadian tar sands would amount to “game over” in the fight to contain climate change. Hansen’s post came out in the wake of the collapse of cap-and-trade legislation, when environmentalists were searching for an issue around which they could build a grassroots movement. McKibben read and was deeply influenced by Hansen’s conclusion, which helped inspire him to build an environmental movement centered around blocking the Keystone pipeline.

Sprinkled throughout Lizza’s story are statements by various supporters of the anti-Keystone movement to the effect that they seized on Keystone because they needed something to rally environmentalists on. John Podesta, an adviser to Tom Steyer, who has helped finance and organize the movement, tells Lizza, “People were beginning to doubt the president’s commitment.” Keystone “became the test of the question: Are we going to do anything long term about climate change?” Kate Gordon, another Steyer adviser, tells him, “The goal is as much about organizing young people around a thing. But you have to have a thing.” Lizza himself writes, “For many activists, the opposition to Keystone isn’t really about the pipeline … they want Obama to use Keystone as a symbolic opportunity to move America away from fossil fuels.”

Lizza doesn’t frame these observations as a damning indictment, but they do amount to one. The logic of the decision was the opposite of what it appeared to be: Rather than build a movement as a means toward the end of stopping Keystone, Keystone was the means toward the end of building a movement. Cap and trade was dead, Keystone was the best thing they had, so they went with it.

Later in the piece, Lizza notes as an aside that the back-of-the-envelope calculation undergirding Hansen’s “game over” warning turns out to be wildly incorrect:

    "Hansen’s dire warning about Canada’s unconventional oil deposits was based on the assumption that every ounce of oil in the sands would be burned. (Only a small fraction of the total estimated reserves is recoverable, and doing so will take decades.)"

Oh! So developing the Canadian tar sands isn’t Game Over, or anything close to Game Over? While framed in the story as a minor detail, this seems like an enormously damning fact. In much the same way that conservative Republicans initially decided to shut down the government on the mistaken belief that doing so would defund Obamacare, and had to stick with their strategy once they had rallied millions of followers to the cause, environmental activists appeared to have built a strategy upon what was at best a rickety factual premise.

The other accident at work here is one of timing. The Keystone movement developed in 2011, when environmentalists needed a cause to replace the failed cap-and-trade bill. It was only immediately following the 2012 election that the NRDC laid out a plan by which the EPA could effectively tackle existing power plants, the last big repository of unregulated emissions. The road map to solving climate change is far from certain: It involves writing a regulatory scheme to reign in existing power plants, surviving a legal challenge, and then, having credibly committed the U.S. to meeting Copenhagen standards, wrangling India, China, and others into a workable international treaty.

That plan is far from certain. But Keystone won’t affect the outcome much one way or the other. If Obama pulls off the EPA plan, then the U.S. can hit its emissions target even if it builds the pipeline. If he doesn’t, it won’t hit the target, even if it kills the pipeline.


Real risk of a Maunder minimum 'Little Ice Age' says leading scientist

It’s known by climatologists as the ‘Little Ice Age’, a period in the 1600s when harsh winters across the UK and Europe were often severe.

The severe cold went hand in hand with an exceptionally inactive sun, and was called the Maunder solar minimum.

Now a leading scientist from Reading University has told me that the current rate of decline in solar activity is such that there’s a real risk of seeing a return of such conditions.

I’ve been to see Professor Mike Lockwood to take a look at the work he has been conducting into the possible link between solar activity and climate patterns.

According to Professor Lockwood the late 20th century was a period when the sun was unusually active and a so called ‘grand maximum’ occurred around 1985.

Since then the sun has been getting quieter.

By looking back at certain isotopes in ice cores, he has been able to determine how active the sun has been over thousands of years.

Following analysis of the data, Professor Lockwood believes solar activity is now falling more rapidly than at any time in the last 10,000 years.

He found 24 different occasions in the last 10,000 years when the sun was in exactly the same state as it is now - and the present decline is faster than any of those 24.

Based on his findings he’s raised the risk of a new Maunder minimum from less than 10% just a few years ago to 25-30%.

And a repeat of the Dalton solar minimum which occurred in the early 1800s, which also had its fair share of cold winters and poor summers, is, according to him, ‘more likely than not’ to happen.

He believes that we are already beginning to see a change in our climate - witness the colder winters and poor summers of recent years - and that over the next few decades there could be a slide to a new Maunder minimum.

It’s worth stressing that not every winter would be severe; nor would every summer be poor. But harsh winters and unsettled summers would become more frequent.

Professor Lockwood doesn’t hold back in his description of the potential impacts such a scenario would have in the UK.

He says such a change to our climate could have profound implications for energy policy and our transport infrastructure.

Although the biggest impact of such solar driven change would be regional, like here in the UK and across Europe, there would be global implications too.

According to research conducted by Michael Mann in 2001, a vociferous advocate of man-made global warming, the Maunder minimum of the 1600s was estimated to have shaved 0.3C to 0.4C from global temperatures.

It is worth stressing that most scientists believe long term global warming hasn’t gone away. Any global cooling caused by this natural phenomenon would ultimately be temporary, and if projections are correct, the long term warming caused by carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases would eventually swamp this solar-driven cooling.

But should North Western Europe be heading for a new "little ice age", there could be far reaching political implications - not least because global temperatures may fall enough, albeit temporarily, to eliminate much of the warming which has occurred since the 1950s.


Atlantic hurricane season quietest in 45 years, experts say

The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season looks set to go down as a big washout, marking the first time in 45 years that the strongest storm to form was just a minor Category 1 hurricane.

There could still be a late surprise in the June 1-November 30 season, since the cyclone that mushroomed into Superstorm Sandy was just revving up at this time last year.

But so far, at least, it has been one of the weakest seasons since modern record-keeping began about half a century ago, U.S. weather experts say. Apart from Tropical Storm Andrea, which soaked Florida after moving ashore in the Panhandle in June, none of this year's cyclones has made a U.S. landfall.

That meant relief for tens of millions of people in U.S. hurricane danger zones. But 2013 has been a bust for long-range forecasters who had predicted a stronger-than-usual burst of activity in the tropical Atlantic.

It has been "a very strange sort of year" in the unpredictable world of cyclones, said Jeff Masters, a hurricane expert and director of meteorology at Weather Underground (

"We've been in this multi-decadal pattern of activity but it just didn't happen this year," Masters said, referring to the prolonged period of increased hurricane activity that began in 1995.

That period is still playing out, fed primarily by warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Atlantic that fuel hurricanes. But instead of increased activity, 2013 almost seems like a year when an enormous tranquilizer dart was fired into the heart of the main breeding ground for hurricanes.

A confluence of factors, including abundant sinking air and dry air, and possibly dust flowing out of North Africa's Sahara desert, kept a lid on hurricane formation in 2013, according to many cyclone experts.

That wreaked havoc with most leading seasonal forecasts like the one issued by Colorado State University on August 2. The errant forecast said 2013 would see above-average activity, with eight hurricanes and three that would develop into major hurricanes of Category 3 or higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale.

An average season has six hurricanes and three major hurricanes. But an August 8 outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration called for six to nine hurricanes, three to five of which would become major hurricanes.

There were two short-lived Category 1 hurricanes this year, making it the first Atlantic season since 1968 when no storm made it beyond the first level of intensity, according to the National Hurricane Center.

It has also been a year marked by the fewest number of hurricanes since 1982 and the first since 1994 without the formation of a major hurricane.

In terms of so-called "Accumulated Cyclone Energy" (ACE), a common measure of the total destructive power of a season's storms, 2013 ranks among the 10 weakest since the dawn of the satellite era in the mid-1960s, said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the Miami-based National Hurricane Center.

"The ACE so far in 2013 is 33 percent of normal," he said.

Long-range hurricane forecasts are eagerly awaited in U.S. financial and energy markets, which quiver every time a storm bears down on the U.S. oil and gas-producing region of the Gulf of Mexico.

Phil Klotzbach, a Colorado State University climatologist, readily admits that the forecasts are based on statistical models that will "occasionally fail," since the atmosphere is chaotic and subject to fluctuations that cannot be predicted more than a week or two in advance.

But Klotzbach and other experts say the models, and seasonal forecasts, still provide useful insight into something as unpredictable as extreme weather even if they do not always pan out.

"Obviously, individuals should not plan differently for a specific season based upon a seasonal forecast," Klotzbach told Reuters by email. "They are purely there to satisfy the public's curiosity based on our best knowledge of how large-scale climate features impact tropical cyclone seasons."

Despite the season ending with a whimper, Masters said long-range forecasts are still worth betting on. "They have a point, as long as you understand their limitations," Masters told Reuters.

"You expect that they will have bust years, like this year. That's part of the game," he said. "But if you consistently bet the way they're going, then eventually over the long run they'll pay off."


Green/Left lies over British energy bills

The phoney 'ordinary folk' in Labour's TV broadcast: Millionaire restaurateur and Guardian journalist among interviewees saying they cannot afford fuel bills

They were supposed to be ordinary people appearing on a Labour political broadcast, venting their fury at energy price hikes.

But closer inspection reveals that, far from being average citizens, the participants actually included a millionaire restaurant owner and a Guardian journalist.

The party broadcast last night featured interviews with people struggling to pay fuel bills.

One of them was Beresford Casey, owner of a posh burger chain, who lives in the plush Primrose Hill area of north London – half a mile from Ed Miliband’s childhood home.

And another was Jack Monroe, a campaigner and journalist who has written for the Guardian and the Independent.

Last night a Tory MP slammed Labour for using left-wing activists to masquerade as ‘ordinary people’ for political attack campaigns.

Priti Patel said: ‘Labour’s party political broadcast would be a lot more effective if they used real people rather than their own coterie of left-wing campaigners and champagne socialists.

‘Under this Government, unemployment is down and the economy is growing – these are real measures to help with the cost of living, but Labour have opposed them.

‘This is same old Labour – instead of standing up for hardworking people, they’d rather scaremonger.’

Ed Miliband announced at the Labour conference last month that if he wins the next election he will freeze energy bills until 2017.

The Conservatives have derided this as a ‘con’.

Mr Casey met Mr Miliband earlier this month, when the Labour leader visited the Camden branch of his restaurant. The pair discussed the party’s policy on energy costs and business rates, according to local newspaper the Ham & High.

Miss Monroe is a food blogger and freelance journalist.  She writes about her experience of living on benefits after giving up her job in 2011, saying the commuting and childcare costs were unsustainable on her £27,000 salary.

In the broadcast, she says: ‘Hot water and a comfortable living environment are things that you should be providing for your child.  ‘You know in your head it’s not normal to put your child in a fleecy babygro and a jumper to go to bed, or to go to bed at 6 or 7 o’clock in the evening because you’ve got nothing else to do, nothing to entertain yourself with and the flat is cold and dark.

‘They’re making huge profits for their shareholders but people are turning off their heating and unscrewing their light bulbs.’

Beresford Casey is co-founder of the Hache Burger Connoisseurs, a chain of hip restaurants in trendy parts of London with prices at the upper end – £10.95 for a ‘Hache scotch beef steak burger topped with the celebrated Reblochon cheese’.  The restaurants also sell champagne for £54.95 a bottle.

According to Companies House records, Mr Casey lives on Waterside Place in Primrose Hill, where the average property price is more than £1.5million. In the broadcast, he says: ‘You’ve got this industry which is very unprofessional … doing their very best to rip you off.

‘There are about six enormous companies and when ministers talk about competition it’s a bit of a joke really – because it looks very much like a monopoly.’

It also emerged that a mass email sent out by Labour from someone complaining about the impact of bills this week, was written by a council officer who has accused the Conservatives of being like the BNP.

Russ Tennant tweeted in August: ‘Be better if the Conservatives stopped using the BNP’s divisive tactics and language.’

Last night a Labour source defended the inclusion of Miss Monroe, who blogs about cheap meals, saying: ‘Like millions of people around the country struggling to make ends meet, she is showing how to make a little go further during these tough times.’

She insisted she was an ‘ordinary person’ but was also ‘proud to call myself an activist’. Mr Casey said he had ‘no affiliation’ to Labour, adding: I am just an independent business guy.’



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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Green taxes cut 'would lower British energy bills within weeks’

Energy bills will fall within weeks if ministers make good on the Prime Minister’s promise to “roll back” green taxes, Britain’s biggest suppliers have pledged.

Giving evidence to MPs, executives from the “Big Six” firms on Tuesday all vowed to pass on cost reductions to consumers if ministers cut the levies.

William Morris, SSE’s managing director, said the price cut could happen “in a matter of weeks” from taxes being taken off bills and suggested regulator Ofgem should oversee the process.

Most of the Big Six companies argue the levies, which include the costs of wind farm subsidies and home insulation schemes, should be paid for through general taxation rather than household bills.

“If the Government responds to requests to put this in general taxation then pound for pound, penny for penny, that should come straight off the customer’s bill,” Mr Morris said.

Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.On, said that some of the so-called green schemes to help vulnerable customers were the “right thing to do” but that the funding method of “smearing it across everybody’s bill” was tantamount to a “poll tax”.

Mr Cocker also disclosed he had written to the Prime Minister to call for a full Competition Commission inquiry into the energy market to "dispel many of the myths and misinformation" surrounding it. The call echoes that of EDF Energy, which has long argued an investigation would help restore trust in the market.

E.On and EDF are the only two of the Big Six energy suppliers yet to announce price rises this year, with the other four – nPower, SSE, British Gas and ScottishPower – all announcing increases of more than £100 to a typical dual fuel bill in recent weeks.

EDF yesterday pledged a short-term price freeze, with Martin Lawrence, managing director of energy sourcing and customer supply, telling MPs: “We certainly hope to keep prices constant for the entire calendar year at the very minimum”.

E.On declined to give such assurances, with Mr Cocker saying only that the company planned to hold prices for “as long as possible” and had not yet taken a decision on an increase.

The major suppliers on Tuesday insisted that their price increases had been forced by rising wholesale costs, green levies and network and distribution costs.

But Labour MP John Robertson called the increases an “outrage” and an “abuse”. The Big Six’s justifications for price increases were challenged by Stephen Fitzpatrick, managing director of small supplier Ovo Energy, who said he was “confused” by the reasons and insisted wholesale prices were lower now than in 2011.

Another small supplier, the Co-operative Energy, gave some respite to the Big Six, with Ramsay Dunning, its general manager, saying that, while the industry “looks like a cartel”, he did not believe anyone was acting improperly.

In a speech on Tuesday night, Michael Fallon, the energy minister, said the Government was “looking hard at all the costs that make up energy bills to make sure consumers get a fairer deal”.

He vowed the review would go beyond green taxes to also consider network costs, which “are more than double those of the green taxes but have so far escaped public scrutiny”.

He called on Ofgem to “bear down harder” on the electricity distribution monopolies’ costs, which it is preparing to set for the eight years from 2015. All the electricity distribution companies’ business plans submitted to Ofgem already show a reduction in bill impact for consumers from 2015.


The Environmental Enemies of Energy

By Alan Caruba

While Americans grapple with the Obamacare debacle and 90 million are officially unemployed according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is another threat to our future as environmental groups like the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth continue their assault on the provision of electrical energy, the lifeblood of the nation’s economy and our ability to function at home and on the job.

Recently, Sierra Club members were told that they, “supporters, partners, and allies have worked tirelessly to retire 150 coal-fired power plants since January 2010—a significant number in the campaign to move the country beyond dirty and outdated fossil fuels.”

Coal, oil and natural gas are labeled “dirty” for propaganda purposes, but what the Sierra Club and others do not tell you and will never tell you is that they account for most of the electricity generated in America, along with nuclear and hydropower. Wind and solar power provide approximately 3% of the electricity and require government subsidies and mandates to exist. Their required use drives up the cost of electricity to consumers.

Among the many ongoing lawsuits that the Sierra Club is pursuing is one against Navajo coal mining, the Keystone XL pipeline, one seeking penalties for “ongoing violations” at Montana’s Colstrip power plant. They filed a suit against the power rate increase for Mississippi’s Kemper County coal plant.

In early October, The Wall Street Journal published an article, “Mississippi Plant Shows the Cost of ‘Clean Coal’.” It is testimony to the nonsense about “clean coal.” The plant, the reporters note, was meant to demonstrate that Mississippi Power Company’s Kemper County plant was “meant to showcase technology for generating clean energy from low-quality coal” but it “ranks as one of the most expensive U.S. fossil fuel projects ever—at $4.7 billion and rising.”

“Mississippi Power’s 186,000 customers, who live in one of the poorest region of the country, are reeling from double-digit rate increases,” adding that “the plant hasn’t generated a single kilowatt for customers…”

Seven power plants in Pennsylvania are under attack by the Sierra Club and EarthJustice which have filed a federal lawsuit. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has exposed this common practice by environmental groups to “sue and settle.”

“It works like this. Environmental and consumer advocacy groups file a lawsuit claiming that the federal government has failed to meet a deadline or has not satisfied some regulatory requirement. The agency can then either choose to defend itself against the lawsuit or settle it. Often times, it settles by putting in place a ‘court-ordered’ regulation desired by the advocacy group, thus circumventing the proper rulemaking channels and basic transparency and accountability standards.”

High on the list of government agencies that engage in this is the Environmental Protection Agency, but others include Transportation, Agriculture, and Defense, along with the Fish & Wildlife Service, and the Army Corps of Engineers. One recent victory touted by Friends of the Earth is an EPA air pollution regulation is one that affects ships navigating along the coasts of the United States and Canada, out to 200 nautical miles, to “significantly reduce their emissions.”

Like the touted benefits of wind and solar power, “clean coal” is another environmental myth that is costing billions. Recently, the Global Warming Foundation reported that “The world invested almost a billion dollars a day in limiting global warming last year, but the total figure--$359 billion—was slightly down on last year, and barely half the $700 billion per year that the World Economic Forum has said is needed to tackle climate change.” The report cited was generated by the Climate Policy Initiative.

The problem with this is that there is NO global warming. The Earth is in a perfectly natural cooling cycle and has been for 15 to 16 years at this point. The notion of spending any money on “climate change” is insanity. The climate is largely determined by the Sun and other natural factors over which mankind has no control. The claim that carbon dioxide is a contributing factor to climate has been decisively debunked despite the years of lies emanating from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Indeed, during the current cooling cycle, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has risen!

For all their caterwauling about fossil fuels, environmental groups have resisted the expansion of the use of nuclear power that emits no so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions. The Friends of the Earth recently declared that “The quickest way to end our costly fossil fuel dependency is through energy efficiency and renewable power, not new (nuclear) reactors that will suck up precious investment and take years to complete.”

The Obama administration’s record of bad loans to companies providing renewable power—wind and solar—is testimony to the waste of billions of taxpayer dollars. In September, the Department of Energy made $66 million in green-energy subsidies to 33 companies, half of it to companies by a single venture capital firm with close ties to the White House.

The continued loss of coal-fired plants has reduced their provision of electricity from over 50% to around 47%. The resistance to the construction of nuclear facilities slows the replacement of their loss, but plants utilizing natural gas have benefitted greatly from the discovery of billions of cubic feet through the use of hydraulic fracking technology holds the promise of maintaining the nation’s needs. Need it be said that “fracking” has become a target of environmental organizations?

Environmental organizations are the enemies of energy in America and worldwide. Without its provision third world nations cannot develop and the ability to provide the energy America needs is put in jeopardy.


British Liberal leader starts to melt as Conservatives turn up the energy price heat

On Wednesday morning, David Cameron and his closest advisers met for their start-the-day meeting. With Sir John Major’s call for a windfall tax on the energy companies all over the front pages, they knew the issue would again be Ed Miliband’s weapon of choice at Prime Minister’s Questions.

They decided that they had to declare war on the green levies that are driving up  bills. They were also acutely aware this would irritate Lib Dems. But Cameron had, in the words of a senior Tory, ‘decided to make public what was private’.

He was, in a dramatic break from his normal practice, quite deliberately displaying the Coalition’s dirty laundry.

Among those close to Nick Clegg (right) there has been irritation at David Cameron (left) and George Osborne’s keenness to cut green levies

Despite two meetings of decision-making body the Quad in the last few weeks to discuss energy prices, the Coalition had made little progress. Meanwhile, Miliband was still making headlines for his pledge to freeze prices for 20 months after the next Election.

Among those close to Nick Clegg there has been irritation at Cameron and George Osborne’s keenness to cut green levies. As one confidant complained: ‘It started the day after Miliband’s speech and we’re really fed up with it.’ None more so than Ed Davey, the Lib Dem Energy Secretary, who is hostile to any changes.

Cameron’s decision to go public with this disagreement appears to have broken the log jam. As a senior No 10 figure says: ‘There’s lots of shouting and public  posturing, but 12 hours later Clegg is signalling that he’s prepared to do business.’

I understand from one of those involved in the negotiations that ‘quite a lot is going to go’. Some green charges will be scrapped   while others will be taken off bills and instead funded by Government directly. If extra public money is needed to pay for this, that will be provided by additional spending cuts.

The Tories are particularly pleased they have managed to steer Clegg away from Davey’s inflexible position. One Cameron ally declares: ‘Davey is losing ground week by week.’

Davey’s other problem is that in Michael Fallon, he now has one of the most competent and cost-conscious Tories in his department. No 10 sources say that Cameron and Osborne have insisted that Fallon attends Quad meetings which discuss energy to ‘balance out’ Davey’s views. So where does this leave the Energy Secretary? ‘Going ape,’ according to those involved – and isolated. Tories say things are being decided ‘way beyond Davey now’.

Clegg's willingness to talk is driven, No 10 calculates, by a desire to win concessions in other areas.

One Tory Minister predicts: ‘Clegg is going to say, “I know what you want, now what are you going to give me?” ’ Tories will concede what they have to. Pleased as they are by another quarter of robust economic growth, they know they have to draw the sting from Miliband’s charge that this is a recovery for the few.

They have to demonstrate they are doing what they can to help people with the cost of living. One Minister says the upturn in the economy has ‘accentuated George’s desire to do everything possible to be able to say to people, “You’re getting better off”.

Inside Downing Street, they believe that if they can strip some green levies from energy bills, they can turn up the heat on Miliband and go on the offensive.

They point out his support for ‘decarbonising’ the energy market by 2030 would push up prices further. As one senior source declares bullishly: ‘We’re going to leave Miliband holding the increasing-green-costs baby.’


Britain’s Energy Market Needs Perestroika

Since UK opposition leader Ed Miliband promised to freeze energy bills for 20 months, the Conservatives have vacillated between calling him a conman and peddling snake oil of their own. If Britain is to keep the lights on without incurring crippling costs, the country’s energy policy debate needs more substantial fuel.

Two revolutions are unfolding in the electricity market. The first involves building expensive renewables and nuclear plants, paid for through higher bills. Environmental levies have so far been modest, accounting for less than 10 per cent of the cost of electricity. By 2030 this will rise to 41 per cent. Britain has pledged to supply 15 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, and to halve emissions from 1990 levels by 2025. Some experts say that, given more time, the same targets could be achieved at lower cost.

Bold undertakings to reduce emissions were popular when they were announced at the height of the boom. Yet that moment of Malthusian anxiety was also one of economic cheer, and little attention was paid to the sacrifices that expensive energy entails. This burden now falls on shoulders that are slenderer than once thought.

If Britain never adequately reckoned with the cost of its carbon commitments, it may also have been too optimistic about the benefits. The country accounts for less than 2 per cent of world emissions. The heroic reductions that are planned will have a negligible effect on global temperatures.

This would be true even if the UK’s moderation were not offset by intemperance elsewhere. In fact, investment in energy-intensive industries is already being drawn to countries such as the US where costs are lower. Britain may end up exporting emissions – and jobs – to countries that have shunned such onerous environmental commitments. The halting progress towards a global carbon pact provides scant vindication for those who thought that where Britain led, others would follow.

Politicians portray these policies as the inevitable consequence of legally binding commitments. Such wilful naivety gives an unintended meaning to Prime Minister David Cameron’s pledge to lead the greenest government ever. If the UK’s environmental policy is defensible, it should be defended. If not, the government should repeal or renegotiate the laws and treaties in which these commitments are enshrined. Mr Cameron has pledged action to prevent Brussels from throttling UK companies with red tape. He should not pretend that crucial parameters of energy policy are out of his hands.

Alongside this revolution in the means of production is one of economic planning. Since privatisation the electricity industry has been run on market principles. Price controls were abolished and politicians placed their faith in competition to keep prices low and the grid adequately supplied. Now, the government is becoming the industry’s Gosplan. It decides what plants are built, sets their prices and guarantees financing for their construction.

Mr Miliband’s price freeze is an extension of this approach, which presents him as the solution to a problem that he helped to create as energy secretary. Despite fingering power companies for rising energy prices, Mr Miliband produced no evidence of profiteering.

A fairer criticism is that energy companies have invested too little in replacing the country’s ageing power stations. One explanation is that generators are restricting supply in the hope of driving up prices. Another is that they lack incentives to build capacity needed to meet peak demand, because current rules pay little to plants that usually sit idle.

Either way, urgent reforms are needed if the UK is to avoid a capacity crunch. The best solution would be to rewrite the market rules to spur the needed investment in the most efficient way. Alternatively, the power industry could be nationalised and financed with cheap government debt – although efficiency would suffer.

But politicians have chosen neither course, preferring to make private generators bow to government plans. This is capitalism with British characteristics. It combines the inefficiency of state planning with the expense of private capital, exacerbated by the fear that politicians will retrospectively change their minds.

The losers from this shambolic policy are more numerous than the struggling households that are rightly at the centre of political concern. The prosperity of a generation is at risk. Britain cannot afford to hobble itself with overly high energy costs as it embarks on the road to recovery.


European Economic Stability Threatened By Renewable Energy Subsidies

The stability of Europe’s electricity generation is at risk from the warped market structure caused by skyrocketing renewable energy subsidies that have swarmed across the continent over the last decade.

This sentiment was echoed a week ago by the CEOs of Europe’s largest energy companies, who produce almost half of Europe’s electricity. This group joined voices calling for an end to subsidies for wind and solar power, saying the subsidies have led to unacceptably high utility bills for residences and businesses, and even risk causing continent-wide blackouts

The group includes Germany’s E.ON AG, France’s GDF Suez SA and Italy’s Eni SpA, and they unanimously pointed the finger at European governments’ poorly thought-out decision at the turn of the millennium to promote renewable energy by any means.

The plan seemed like a good one in the late 1990s as a way to reverse Europe’s reliance on imported fossil fuels, particularly from Russia and the Middle East. But it seems the execution hasn’t matched the good intentions, and the authors of the legislations didn’t understand the markets.

“The importance of renewables has become a threat to the continent’s supply safety,” warned senior global energy analyst, Colette Lewiner, referring to a recent report by a Europe energy firm, Capgemini.

“We’ve failed on all accounts: Europe is threatened by a blackout like in New York a few years ago, prices are shooting up higher, and our carbon emissions keep increasing,” said GDF Suez CEO Gérard Mestrallet ahead of the news conference.

Under these subsidy programs, wind and solar power producers get priority access to the grid and are guaranteed high prices. In France, nuclear power wholesales for about €40/MWhr ($54/MWhr), but electricity generated from wind turbines is guaranteed at €83/MWhr ($112/MWhr), regardless of demand. Customers have to pick up the difference.

The subsidies enticed enough investors into wind and solar that Germany now has almost 60,000 MWs of wind and solar capacity, or about 25% of that nation’s total capacity. Sounds good for the Planet.

The problems began when the global economic meltdown occurred in 2008. Demand for electricity fell throughout Europe, as it did in America, which deflated wholesale electricity prices. However, investors kept plowing money into new wind and solar power because of the guaranteed prices for renewable energy.

Meanwhile, electricity prices have been rising in Europe since 2008, just under 20% for households and just over 20% for businesses, according to Eurostat.

Since renewable capacity kept rising and was forced to be taken, utilities across Europe began closing fossil-fuel power plants that were now less profitable because of the subsidies, including over 50 GWs of gas-fired plants, Mr. Mestrallet said.

I’m a little confused, isn’t gas supposed to be the savior along with renewables? You can’t have a lot of renewables without back-up gas to buffer the intermittency of renewables since gas is the only one you can turn on and off like a light switch.

I understand that Germany is building new coal plants that can ramp up and down faster than ever before, but the replacement of so much gas with renewables means Europe may not be able to respond to dramatic weather effects, like an unusually cold winter when wind and solar can’t produce much.
Exhaust rises from cooling towers at the new N...

Exhaust plumes rise from the new Neurath lignit coal-fired power station  at Grevenbroich near Aachen, southern Germany. RWE, one of Germany's major energy provider, invested in new coal conducted power plants that will buffer wind energy as well as replace reliable base-load nuclear. The wisdom of this decision remains to be seen. (Image credit: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife)

In a warped parody of free market economics, some countries are building gas-fired plants along their borders to fill this void in rapid-ramping capacity, and that scares the markets even more, since gas is so expensive in Europe, that the price for electricity will climb even higher (EDEM/ESGM).

As the European Commission meets this week to discuss the issue, a parallel threat looms in America as a result of a similarly well-intentioned maze of mandates and subsidies over the last decade. It has been kept at bay only by our much larger energy production and our newly abundant cheap natural gas.

Americans may not be aware that natural gas is not cheap in Europe like it is in America. America’s gas boom has occurred in the absence of a natural gas liquefying infrastructure, which is needed for import/export of natural gas to the world markets. Thus, the more expensive global prices do not affect the price in the U.S.


But that will change. We’re building LNG infrastructure at an amazing pace to exploit the huge gas reserves laid bare by advances in fracking technologies. Within five years, the U.S. will be the major player in the world gas market. Of course, gas prices will double or triple in the U.S. because, like oil, the price will now be set by the global market, not by the U.S. market. And like oil, it doesn’t matter how much you produce in your own country, you pay the global price. Period. Just ask Norway.

So when natural gas prices double, what happens to the price of electricity since gas is so intimately married to renewables? State mandates and renewable production tax credits will still require us to buy renewable energy, even if it’s double the price. We’ve already seen this occur here in the Pacific Northwest in battle between expensive wind and inexpensive hydro (Hydro Takes A Dive For Wind). Hydro lost.

That’s fine when gas is cheap. It won’t be fine when gas is expensive.


Australia: Renewable energy target looking  shaky

Festering just below the surface of the energy supply debate is the vexing question of the renewable energy target (RET).

While gas supply has grabbed headlines in recent weeks, the growing crisis around the RET cannot be ignored. Discussion around the problem got as least as much airplay as coal seam gas at energy conferences in Sydney this week.

The 2020 RET is almost unique in that it is a piece of energy legislation that has enjoyed bipartisan support for years. But the target is looking increasingly untenable in today’s climate of declining wholesale power demand, putting that broad political backing under strain.

The RET in its current form mandates 41,000 gigawatt hours of renewable energy supply by 2020.

When the policy was designed that fixed target was to account for 20 per cent of total electricity supply. It assumed continued growth in wholesale electricity demand, in parallel with economic growth, as had been the case for ever.

Fast forward to today and the picture is very different. Power demand on the National Electricity Market (NEM) hit a peak in 2008-09 and has been on the way down since.

On the current trend, the same 41,000 gigawatt hours is likely to be closer to 28 per cent of total supply.

Consultancy ACIL Allen calculates the decline of 6.7 per cent in NEM demand since the peak is the equivalent of taking an 1800-megawatt power plant running at 85 per cent capacity out of the market.

But no such plant has been removed. No plants closed under the Labor government’s failed “contracts for closure” scheme and meanwhile more renewable energy is being forced into the market when no new capacity is needed. Several plants have been mothballed, but none permanently closed.

The result is what Origin Energy’s head of energy markets Frank Calabria says is probably the worst case of surplus capacity the market has ever seen.

The consequences are being felt throughout the energy supply space. Wholesale prices, excluding carbon, are as low as they were 10 years ago. Natural gas demand, which only a few years ago was expected to enjoy a boost from increased use in power generation, is stalling as far as domestic use goes.

In 2010, ACIL Tasman, as it was then, was forecasting demand for gas for power generation in the eastern states could reach as high as 1000 petajoules by 2030, depending on policy settings, out of total demand for the region of 1800 petajoules. Now the firm reckons 650 petajoules is more likely for the whole eastern states market in 2030, leaving aside liquefied natural gas exports.

The Abbott government is set to review the RET next year. For many it can’t come too soon.

Arguments by the previous Labor government that modifying the target to a “real” 20 per cent of electricity demand would destabilise the industry seem to carry increasingly less weight when virtually the whole energy supply sector is suffering.

But the stakes are high should the target be modified. Numerous foreign investors, such as Spain’s Acciona and New Zealand’s Meridian Energy, are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in wind power projects that will help meet the target.

Local players such as Infigen Energy and Pacific Hydro are similarly exposed.

Even discussion around potential changes to the legislation are damaging when the heads of Australian project developers seek sanctions for funding from their boards.

AGL Energy’s Tim Nelson pointed out on Thursday that the 9000 megawatts oversupply currently calculated in the National Electricity Market matches up pretty well with the amount of generation capacity that has been built, thanks to subsidies such as the RET scheme over the past few years.

Remove it and the market would be back in balance.

No one is suggesting that is the answer, but it highlights the distortions in the market that have been created by such policy interventions, however worthwhile.



For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gimmicks are no answer to green dogma

Comment from Britain

Hard facts puncture soft opinions. As long as the ‘green’ dogma was just a theory, most people sympathised with it.  Now it is costing them money, they are not so sure.

Nobody wants to destroy his own planet and the man-made global warming movement is skilful at getting its views heard.

Green propagandists have even reviled this newspaper for its repeated exposures of their dubious statistics and economy with the truth. But who was right?

In recent months, the public have learned that – as we warned – green ideology, while friendly at first sight, is arrogant and demanding on closer acquaintance.

First, there was the explosion of ugly windfarms, blighting lives for questionable benefits. Now the public discover that much of the increase in their fuel bills is a green Poll Tax that cannot be blamed on market forces or corporate greed.

This taxation was enthusiastically enacted by MPs of all three parties.

Events beyond our leaders’ control have accelerated the growth of these levies just when prices were rising anyway. And so it is no surprise that our Survation poll shows a growing reaction against green taxation, combined with a justifiable cynicism about both Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze power prices and David Cameron’s plan to repeal some green taxes.

The Miliband plan will at best postpone increases. Mr Cameron’s suggestion is likely to mean higher taxes elsewhere.

This newspaper’s warnings and doubts have been repeatedly borne out. Our politicians need to consider the whole climate change issue with a sceptical eye, instead of scrabbling for votes with cosmetic measures and temporary freezes.


Green Tea:  Greenies masquerading as conservatives

Jobs. Enlarging the tax base. Market access. Energy choice. Fair compensation. Options. Make money. These words and phrases represent ideas or concepts that are attractive to Republicans, conservatives, limited-government and free-market supporters, and even fiscally minded Democrats—which is exactly why they are being used to get buy-in from these groups for something that is 180 degrees from their core values. This approach, I believe, is part of an organized plan by the left to hoodwink the right.

If supporters of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, said it was heavily subsidized on both the state and federal level, had an artificial market created by government mandates, would help mitigate global warming, was the recipient of taxpayer dollars through Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill that funded projects like Solyndra, and was marred by cronyism, the right would run. Instead the wily tactics have won over a few Republicans with strong conservative résumés. Those sell-outs are working hard to bring their peers into the fold.

Let this be a warning. While they may be hitting the right notes, they are singing the wrong song.

I first became aware of this scheme back in July—then, I thought it was just an anomaly. The Georgia Tea Party Patriots, cofounded by Debbie Dooley, partnered with the Sierra Club in support of increased solar in the state. When I talked to her for a column I wrote addressing it, she told me it was all about choice. With a sneer, she called the utility company “a monopoly” and explained that solar would give them competition while consumers would get options. Recently Dooley found her way on to Fox News, where she touted the Green Tea Coalition and claimed to be battling “big energy.”

In addition to Dooley, the Green Tea Coalition’s launch featured three other organizers:

 * Shane Owl-Greason—Co-founder of Georgia Solar Utilities, a solar energy company that will benefit from activities of the Coalition.

 * David Blackman—Environmental activist since graduation from college. He said he was connected to the Citizen’s Climate Lobby—an organization founded after assistance from former vice-president Al Gore.

 * Seth Gunning—Beyond Coal organizer for the Georgia Sierra Club. Another environmental activist since graduation from college.

But, Dooley is the one getting the news coverage because she’s from the right. The media loves that they have a convert, and she loves the attention.

So, the Georgia story was when I first became aware of this type of discordance. But it is not as unique as I first thought.

In Texas, the poser is Jeff Clark, who served as a member of the advance staff for the campaign of George W. Bush and was later appointed by Bush to co-chair the U.S. Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council. At an October 16 panel discussion on the future of wind power in Texas, hosted by the Texas Public Policy Foundation and attended primarily by small government proponents, Clark touted his Republican bona fides, as he argued that wind energy promoted economic activity. According to a report from my friend and mentor Robert Bradley, who was also a panelist, Clark made a case for wind power by “providing all the statistics of how his industry had rescued poor rural areas in the state by providing income to struggling farmers and enlarging the tax base.”

While most true conservatives are opposed to government subsidies, Clark intoned the two-wrongs-make-a-right view by citing that since all forms of energy have received or do receive government subsidies, wind should, too. However, as Bradley points out: “this begs the question of how much, and whether subsidies for one energy source are gravy and for another are meat-and-potatoes.”

Clark’s most unique appeal to the conservatives in the room came when he implied that God is on the side of wind power: “The Bible tells us to wisely use our resources and to conserve.”

The biggest shill yet can be found in Arizona in the form of former Republican Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. An article from the left-leaning Mother Jones magazine says: “His support for solar comes from conservative free-market principles rooted in ‘creating choice for the American consumer.’” Goldwater, son of five-term Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, whose name is synonymous with conservatism in America, is chairman of the advocacy group: TUSK (short for Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed). Tusk’s logo is a red, white, blue elephant. (Note: the elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party. Coincidence? I don’t think so.)

Arizona’s specific battle is over net-metering—which the Mother Jones story on Goldwater describes as “a policy that allows homes and businesses with their own solar power systems to send excess energy they generate back to the grid and make money off it.” This sounds like an appealing capitalistic venture that free-market conservatives would support. And they would, if the owners of those solar panels bought them with their own hard-earned money and when they “make money off it,” the rate the panel owners received was a reasonable wholesale rate—not the current retail.

In fact, as even the New York Times acknowledges: the economics of rooftop solar “depend on government incentives or mandates.” But you won’t find that in Goldwater’s support of solar. Instead he’s trying to appeal to his fellow Republicans by talking about choice, competition, and making money—despite the fact that those who can afford the upfront costs of rooftop solar installation are doing so because of the state and federal taxpayer dollars that subsidize the purchase and installation. The entire rate-paying base must pick the grid (and other maintenance) costs for the growing percentage of solar users—as I’ve previously covered.

One story is an anomaly; two, a coincidence; three, a trend.

Why the push to deceive and convert those whose small government and fiscally conservative principles are in opposition to subsidies and cronyism found in green energy? Because the production tax credit for the wind energy industry ends on December 31, and like solar, it is dependent on the government largess. With D.C. focused on debt and spending, those subsidies—which barely received a one-year-extension as a part of last December’s fiscal cliff deal—are a likely place to cut. After the Republican’s embarrassing fumble on the Continuing Resolution and Debt Ceiling deals—they should be looking at cutting or they should be looking at switching parties.

In Arizona, the all-Republican Corporation Commission is considering changes in the net-metering policy that would remove the favored treatment solar users receive—with a decision expected in November. For solar to survive, rank-and-file Republicans must be won over to the solar-subsidy side. If that happens, the Commissioners might fear an election upset and, therefore, not change the policy that allows those with solar power systems to “make money off it.”

In Georgia, the vote has already taken place. The Georgia Public Service Commission—with Republican support—voted to add solar to Georgia’s electricity generation. The Georgia victory makes the Arizona fight to persuade Republicans imperative.

These are just three stories of which I am aware. If my postulation that there is an organized effort to convince conservatives to support subsidies is correct, there are likely—or will be—similar stories in other states.

If you hear a free-market sounding pitch for green energy that includes the words or phrases listed in the opening—beware! It is probably part of the left's plan.

Borrowing from Bradley’s report on the future-of-wind-power panel, I’ve developed a series of simple questions Republicans, conservatives, limited-government and free-market supporters, and fiscally minded Democrats should ask themselves when considering appropriate energy policy:

1.Should energy policy be based on government intervention or voluntary transactions between buyer and seller?

2.Can an intellectual case be made—without climate alarmism—for renewables, such as solar and wind, knowing that we do not have the perceived 1970s' energy shortage and the pollution of the 1970s has been cleaned up?

3.In the worst economic crisis of most of our lifetimes, should we be subsidizing energy generation that is inefficient, ineffective, and uneconomical?

4.Should we be using more-economical energy or less-economical energy?

5.Should we support:

·a polluted tax code and government mandates favoring one energy resource over another?

·the use of taxpayer dollars subsidizing favored energy sources?

·the transfer of wealth from average citizens to supporters of President Obama, Harry Reid, and other high-ranking Democrats, through green-energy crony-corruption schemes such as Solyndra and the more than 50 other green-energy projects funded through the 2009 Obama stimulus bill that have already gone bankrupt or are circling the drain? and/or

·the limited-energy strategy of climate alarmists such as Al Gore and President Obama?

6.When countries with the best human health and the most material wealth are those with the highest energy consumption, why does the Obama administration continue to push for reduced energy consumption, increased energy costs, and intermittent energy availability?

When a so-called conservative Republican talks green energy and sounds like he or she is hitting the right notes, be careful. It’s probably the wrong song. Don’t get suckered into joining the choir.


The strange death of the bag-for-life

Comment from Britain

Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad. And there is no greater descent into insanity than among the sirens of the elf’n’safety industry.

It would appear that not a single area of human endeavour is immune from their ministrations. These vigilant guardians of our well-being can detect mortal danger lurking in every microbe.

Over the years, this column has had fun documenting the wilder excesses of the public safety sentinels. They have become almost impossible to parody. From the epidemic of hi-viz clothing to patronising leaflets advising us how to wash our hands, they appear to believe that we are incapable of getting through the day without injury unless we follow their idiotic instructions.

Every week, readers send me fresh examples of elf’n’safety stupidity. For instance, Allen Hanley emailed enclosing a three-page safety manual published by the Univar chemicals company. This spells out precise details  for the correct handling of one of its products, a liquid used widely in a number of manufacturing processes.

Under 18 separate sub-headings, the document lists the proper way to deal with everything from spillage to what action to take if the liquid comes into contact with bare skin.

Protective gloves are recommended and ‘splash-proof goggles’ should be worn at all times. ‘Self-contained breathing apparatus and full protective clothing must be worn’ in the event of it catching fire.

You really can’t be too careful, not when you are dealing with an unstable substance described as:  ‘Appearance: Clear Liquid. Colour: Colourless. Odour: Almost odourless. Solubility: Soluble in water. Boiling point (C): 100.’

After use, the product must be disposed of ‘in accordance with local authority regulations’. So what is this highly flammable, toxic liquid which must be handled with such meticulous care?

Purified water.

But then, you’d probably worked out we weren’t talking sulphuric acid here.

Only yesterday, Martin Higgs wrote from Shaldon in Devon. Stopping at a service station on the M5, he spotted two employees pulling on hi-viz jackets to complete the hazardous task of transferring doughnuts from a trolley into a plastic display cabinet.

It’s as well as they weren’t handling bottled water, too, otherwise they would also have had to wear protective gloves and ‘splash-proof goggles’ and keep the breathing apparatus handy in case it caught fire.

Just when you think you’ve heard it all, up pops another ‘expert’ with a new dire warning of imminent disaster waiting to strike. Consider the latest threat to our health they have discovered: Bags-for-life.

For the past few years, the Daily Mail has been campaigning to rid the country of the scourge of disposable plastic shopping bags. Supermarkets have responded by selling customers reusable hessian bags for a modest fee.

This has helped reduce the number of discarded bags littering the streets and clogging our countryside and waterways.

Admittedly, there is still some way to go. For some unfathomable reason, the Government is dragging its feet over plans to make all shoppers pay 5p for plastic and paper carrier bags. Although the scheme has already started in Wales and Northern Ireland, it will not be introduced in England until 2015.

But, by and large, the switch to bags-for-life has been embraced enthusiastically. Until now.

Step forward Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen. His department has been investigating the use of hessian bags and has concluded that they pose a serious threat to public health.

The boffins tested a number of reusable bags and pronounced them ‘highly contaminated’ with bacteria. Shoppers who use bags-for-life to carry raw meat and vegetables with dirt still on them are dicing with death. Bacteria from meat and veg can be transferred to other foods, such as fruit, and cause severe food poisoning.

Professor Pennington said that such bags should be ‘machine-washed’ after use. Washing them by hand, even using anti-bacterial spray, is not good enough to kill 100 per cent of all known germs.

He warned: ‘They are really rather difficult to clean. If they are looking a bit grotty, they should be thrown away.’ Doesn’t that rather defeat the object of bags-for-life?

The Aberdeen research follows a study by Pennsylvania University, that found a 25 per cent rise in hospital admissions from bacterial infections and a 46 per cent increase in deaths from ‘food-borne’ illnesses after San Francisco banned plastic bags.

Of course, there is a school of thought which holds that increases in bacterial infections are a direct result of excessive hygiene. We need to be exposed to dirt and a few bugs to build up our immune systems.

I wonder what our mums and grandmothers would make of this latest health scare. My grandmothers used the same shopping bags every day of their lives, without poisoning their families. How long before supermarkets are forced to sell hessian bags-for-life with haz-mat stickers and pages of safety instructions?

I suppose you could always try rinsing them out with purified water. Just don’t forget to wear your hi-viz jacket, protective gloves and splash-proof goggles.



by John O'Sullivan

As public concern over man-made global warming continues to fall independent scientists speak out against relentless pro-green censorship in the mainstream media. Sinking ever deeper into such unethical bias is The Los Angeles Times which will no longer publish letters from climate change deniers, Times letters editor Paul Thornton wrote earlier this month.

Among independent scientists enraged by such a blatant anti-science and undemocratic approach are respected analysts, Professor J. Scott Armstrong and Dr. Martin Hertzberg.Dr Martin Hertzberg

Prof. Armstrong, of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and an expert in the field of Long-Range Forecasting, says that such “Censorship of skeptic global warming views by the press has been going on for many years.”

While former U.S. Navy meteorologist, Dr Hertzberg, agrees with Armstrong that the climate alarmist case is now shown to be “so weak that even with widespread censorship, citizens are not persuaded.”

Like Armstrong, Hertzberg is delighted to see that more savvy citizens are turning to alternative sources of information and open debate on the Internet to better inform their decisions.

It is on the world wide web where readers can freely find Armstrong's study into the reliability of the alarmist claims of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Independently scientists found that the IPCC “violated 72 of 89 relevant scientific forecasting principles" despite claims by the LA Times and others that government-sponsored climatologists are reliable scientific authorities. Armstrong lamented that there is only one published peer-reviewed paper that claims to provide scientific forecasts of long-range global mean temperatures. That paper is a 2009 article in the International Journal of Forecasting by Kesten Green, Willie Soon and Professor Armstrong, himself.

Armstrong reveals that his study showed that “for forecasts 91 to 100 years ahead, the IPCC forecast errors were over 12 times larger than our forecast errors. Perhaps that qualifies as relevant evidence for citizens. And it would be “news” for 99% of them. Yet our forecasts received virtually no mass media coverage. Meanwhile, non-scientific climate-scare “forecasts” regularly get widespread attention from the mass media.“

The Denver Post was quick to react to the latest dishonesty by the LA Times, with editorial page editor Vincent Carroll pleading, “Surely readers should be free to debate such points.” Carroll argues that “properly credentialed experts who question whether humans are largely responsible for the warming” must be heard. Dr. Hertzberg, co-founder of Principia Scientific International (PSI) and a respected climate researcher agrees. Hertzberg points not only to his own and his colleague's impeccable scientific credentials, but he is also a Democrat and vociferously condemns any kind of politicization of science.

Hertzberg wrote to Carroll welcoming the Denver Post's plea for a fair hearing to experts from all sides saying, ”Your article was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise dismal atmosphere. It is tragic that what should be an impartial evaluation of the data on the question of "global warming / climate change" by objective scientists, has instead degenerated into a partisan, political diatribe. It is not just the LA Times that displays a lack of journalistic integrity by refusing to publish letters from "deniers" but the NY Times, The Washington Post refuse to publish such letters, and virtually daily MSNBC hosts denounce those of us who deny human caused "climate change.””

Dr Hertzberg continues:

    "I am one of those skeptics whose letter you did publish, and I thank you for that. Nevertheless, the opinions of qualified scientists rarely find their way into the Print or TV media. Most of the articles or opinions in the matter are from environmental activists or politicians, most of whom are lacking in scientific background. For the opinion of some 130 of the world's most distinguished scientists including a Nobel Laureate in Physics, go to Their letter to the Secretary General of the U. N. states: "The incidence or severity of extreme weather has not increased ..... the hypothesis that our emissions of CO2 have caused or will cause global warming is not supported by the evidence". Carbon Dioxide is not a pollutant but an integral part of the Earth's ecosystem on which virtually all life depends.

    In virtually every article about global warming, it is claimed that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas", yet rarely if ever is the term defined. It is usually taken as an undefined "given". In our book "Slaying the Sky Dragon - Death of  the Greenhouse Gas Theory", Stairway Press (2011), some 19 different definitions of the term from different sources are summarized. Yet none of the physical phenomena described in those definitions actually occur in reality.

    Similarly, in all the articles written about climate change, you will not find a scientific definition of the term. Climate is changing all the time: from hour to hour, from day to night, from day to day, from week to week, from season to season, from year to year, from decade to decade, and from century to century. Which of those changes is climate change? We just transited from Summer to Fall. Now that's real climate change! Is that what they are talking about? And was that caused by our sinful combustion of fossil fuels? Look for yourself at the data in . There you will find several decades worth of data for temperatures, ice area coverage, snow cover, rate of sea level rise, etc."

There is nothing dramatic or remarkable in the recent data: just their normal variability that has been present for all earlier decades. The term climate change seems to mean whatever the writer wants it to mean: hardly an objective or scientific definition.

    "Both situations remind me of the opinion of a Supreme Court Justice, who was deciding a case involving pornography. When asked for a definition of pornography, he replied: " I can't define it, but I know what it is when I see it." But clearly, one man's art is another man's pornography."



Like hermit crabs, climate alarmists scramble to find new ways to hide, when put in a box

As children playing on the beach, we discovered a fascinating behavioral pattern among hermit crabs. Place a dozen in a cardboard box, and within minutes the crabs exit their shells and try to occupy another. This mild stress-induced response probably reflects their life-long drive to continue growing by repeatedly commandeering larger shells, to protect their vulnerable soft bodies.hermit crab

Similarly, climate alarmists are now scrambling to find new shelter from the stress coming from a public that increasingly realizes their doom-and-gloom predictions of climate chaos are based on shoddy data, faulty computer models and perhaps outright deception. The alarmist scientists have put themselves in a climate cataclysm box, and are desperate to protect their reputations, predictions and funding.

Despite the absence of warming in actual measured temperature records over the last 16 years, and near-record lows in hurricane and tornado activity, they still cry “wolf” repeatedly and try to connect every unusual or “extreme” weather event to human emissions of plant-fertilizing carbon dioxide. (Actually, people account for only 4% of all the CO2 that enters Earth’s atmosphere each year.)

Alarmists used their predictions of climate catastrophe to demand that the world transform its energy and economic systems, slash fossil fuel use, and accept lower living standards, in response to the politically manufactured science. Even as growing evidence conflicted with their dogma, the money, fame and power were too good to surrender for mere ethical reasons.

The impact on energy prices, national economies, jobs and people’s lives has been profound and negative. For example, in response to the unfounded alarmism, Germany moved aggressively toward wind and solar energy over the past 15 years – both politically and with taxpayer and investment spending. It also shied away from more nuclear power and saw its economy contract and energy-intensive companies shed jobs and threaten to move overseas. Now Germany is burning more coal and building new coal-fired power plants, in an attempt to reverse the economic disaster its “green” and “climate protection” policies unleashed, but its actions are still sending shock waves at investors around the world.

In Spain, every renewable energy job the government’s climate alarmist policies created was offset by two jobs lost in other sectors of the economy that were punished by soaring electricity prices. The demise of a Spanish economy so committed to wind and solar power finally caused reasonable people to reevaluate why these decisions had been made, and the renewable subsidies were slashed, just as they have been in Germany.

How does Brazil’s future look with biofuels? As reality finally overcomes media bias and political correctness, the naive excitement of a few years ago – when anything “green” was portrayed as lower cost, clean and superior in every technological sense – has given way to more rational thinking. Brazil is now going more for oil and gas, via conventional drilling and hydraulic fracturing, onshore and offshore.

Why are so many countries deciding to abandon or diminish the fools-golden eggs of green-tech? First, green technology power has been grossly oversold on reliability, cost, capacity, job creation and environmental impacts. A stable economy requires all of these power characteristics. Second, speculative alarmism about CO2 has been exposed by the hard data of the past couple decades.

The NIPCC Climate Change Reconsidered-II report presents the facts, so that even non-scientists can appreciate the relevant range of the climate components – and the ways people have been conned into believing we faced a manmade climate Armageddon that hasn’t materialized and was never a threat.

Nevertheless, insisting that “climate chaos” was real, former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson wailed that her agency would need at least 240,000 new EPA employees (each making some $100,000 per year, plus benefits) that she said would be needed just to administer new carbon dioxide regulations – and control nearly everything Americans make, drive, ship and do!

EPA currently employs some 20,000 people at an annual budget of over $8 billion. The new hires alone would cost taxpayers another $24 billion annually – plus hundreds of billions of dollars in economic pain, manufacturing shutdowns and new job losses that EPA’s CO2 regulations would inflict.

Year after year, alarmists have changed their protective shells for more absurd answers regarding where the Earth has mysteriously stashed all the energy that greenhouse gases supposedly trapped. For years, alarmists said ocean waters were storing the missing energy. But when the ARGO project demonstrated that the heat was not in the ocean, at least down two kilometers (1.2 miles) beneath the surface, one prominent alarmist responded, “We are puzzled at the results.” We are not puzzled.

When the data consistently conflict with their hypothesis, reputable scientists revise the hypothesis. Five-alarm climate scientists desperately seek new shells, and new excuses.

The “puzzling” facts triggered the predictable alarmist tactic of attacking the data and claiming the heat was hiding in the really deep ocean. Ignoring the physics of the problem – how the asserted heat was transferred from atmospheric carbon dioxide, through the sea surface, and beyond the first mile of ocean waters, without being detected – they expect us to believe that fluid thermodynamics is akin to magic.

The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) has released its 2013 report Climate Change Reconsidered II. The world finally has a chance to see the actual science – not the kind that’s hidden, massaged and filtered through alarmist shell games.

Unencumbered by political pressure and mega-lobbyists, this 1,018-page review by 50 serious and highly accomplished scientists has exposed the alarmists’ fraud. These real scientists have also exposed as illusory the alarmists’ mystical “tropical hot spot.” This sacred cow turns out to be as fanciful as planetary warming hidden in the deepest ocean, or the infamous hockey stick of Michael Mann’s hidden data and secret computer codes.

Have we forgotten that 1998 was to be the “tipping point,” after which Earth would warm uncontrollably? The 1988 hearing in Washington one hot summer afternoon was dominated by the always sly James Hansen, who wiped his brow furiously, in a room made stifling by Senator Tim Wirth’s cheap trick of turning off the air conditioning. Politics, theatrics and manipulation had replaced honest science.

Because Al Gore switched his CO2 and temperature curves to make it look like rising carbon dioxide levels caused planetary temperature increases – when in fact increasing temperatures always preceded higher CO2 – shouldn’t he have corrected his mistake, returned his ill-gotten millions, and shared his 2007 Nobel Prize and money with Irena Sendler, who should have gotten it for saving 2,500 Jewish children during World War II? Shouldn’t his accomplice, IPCC director and pseudo-Nobel Laureate Rajendra Pachauri, be held accountable for trumpeting made-up stories about melting Himalayan glaciers?

But when you’re an alarmist, being wrong, lying, cheating, misleading the public and killing jobs simply does not count against you – even when the alleged human-caused global warming stopped in 1996.

We literally laughed aloud at a so-called “documentary” that’s about to be unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It’s called “Do the Math: Bill McKibben and the Fight over Climate Change.” For McKibben and his comrades, “doing the math” is really a matter of “counting the cash” the alarmists rake in.

The serious money has always flowed to alarmists, guilt-ridden environmentalists and control-seeking regulators, whom the world’s taxpayers are generously and unwittingly funding. That’s also the real meaning of the “green” movement and “green” energy.


Australia:  Labor Party (Leftist opposition) set to bury carbon tax

Labor is expected to support axing the carbon tax, with senior figures - including leader Bill Shorten - now convinced that its case for action on climate change will be more easily sold if the politically toxic tax is abolished.

The opposition has been wrestling with what to do on the repeal of the tax, with some saying it must hold the line to show voters and demoralised supporters that it still stands for something.

They argue that Labor proposed to "terminate" the tax at the last election and to simply block its repeal would allow the government to continue to punish it politically.

Mr Shorten is also worried that continual focus on the tax will distract from serious flaws in the government's $3.2 billion "direct action" policy, which Labor will oppose.

Under direct action, taxpayer dollars are used to pay polluters to reduce emissions and to fund other initiatives in forestry, carbon capture and recycling.

A survey of economists by Fairfax Media found only two of 35 supported direct action over an emissions trading scheme, which uses a floating carbon price driven by the global market.

Labor will continue to back some form of carbon pricing but reserves the right to deliver its policy closer to the election. Meanwhile, it will scrutinise direct action.

Independent analysis of direct action suggests it will not be able to reduce emissions by the bipartisan target of 5 per cent by 2020 without more funding - which has been ruled out by Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

A senior Labor source said the party would not countenance weakening the target, amid concern that the legislation to repeal the carbon tax will change the status of the 5 per cent target from a legally enforceable cap to merely an aspiration.

"We are happy to get rid of the tax but we do think there should be a cap on pollution," said one Labor insider.

Mr Abbott has made the repeal of the tax his legislative priority when Parliament resumes in two weeks. He has urged Labor to "repent" and support the government.

A number of Labor sources acknowledge there has been a shift in sentiment since the election. Even so, the shadow cabinet is yet to finalise Labor's position and wants to see the final shape of the government's legislation before making any commitment.

Labor's climate change spokesman, Mark Butler, hinted strongly at the weekend that the option of backing the repeal bills was being considered, saying that the final policy "will be informed by the fact that we took to the last election a commitment ourselves to terminate the carbon tax".

John Scales of JWS Research said polling showed that the carbon tax had dominated the climate change debate in recent years and undermined support for action.

He said the tax was widely seen through the prism of former prime minister Julia Gillard's broken promise when she introduced the impost, and through its impact on electricity and other prices.

Mr Abbott has already begun to call Mr Shorten "Electricity Bill" as he goads him to support the repeal of the tax. With it gone, Mr Scales said Labor would have clear air to make direct action its target and to develop its alternative.



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