Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Stimulating Green electric dreams
Over the past decade, federal and state governments have significantly increased their support for nonconventional energy technologies, ranging from wind-powered electricity generators to battery-powered cars. One of the largest such programs was the Department of Energy’s Section 1705 Loan Guarantee Program—the subject of this study. The $16 billion dollar program “invested” in various failed enterprises, including Solyndra and Abound Solar. But those are just the tip of the iceberg of the DOE's poorly diversified portfolio of mostly “junk” grade investments, many of which, years later, are still “under construction.”
So why did the DOE systematically make loan guarantees to companies that are financially unsound? We found that many recipients had close ties to those in charge of approving the loan guarantees. Moroever, we found that the DOE allocated funds broadly in proportion to applicants’ lobbying expenditures. In other words, it is likely that loan guarantees were allocated not on the merits of the projects but, rather, according to the degree to which the applicants were able to use political connections.
The DOE's Section 1705 Loan Guarantee Scheme represents a multi-billion dollar transfer from taxpayers to political cronies. But if that weren't bad enough, this green cronyism likely undermined the very thing it was supposed to support: by encouraging private investment in unduly risky projects, it diverted money away from more sustainable projects that might actually result in environmental improvements.
To protect taxpayers from further waste and to increase the sustainability of investments in technologies that result in environmental protection, the government should stop guaranteeing loans for “green” energy projects immediately.
Much more HERE
Our Fragile Planet
Walter E. Williams
Let's examine a few statements reflecting a vision thought to be beyond question. "The world that we live in is beautiful but fragile." "The 3rd rock from the sun is a fragile oasis." Here are a couple of Earth Day quotes: "Remember that Earth needs to be saved every single day." "Remember the importance of taking care of our planet. It's the only home we have!" Such statements, along with apocalyptic predictions, are stock in trade for environmental extremists and non-extremists alike. Worse yet is the fact that this fragile-earth indoctrination is fed to our youth from kindergarten through college. Let's examine just how fragile the earth is.
The 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, in present-day Indonesia, had the force of 200 megatons of TNT. That's the equivalent of 13,300 15-kiloton atomic bombs, the kind that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945. Preceding that eruption was the 1815 Tambora eruption, also in present-day Indonesia, which holds the record as the largest known volcanic eruption. It spewed so much debris into the atmosphere, blocking sunlight, that 1816 became known as the "Year Without a Summer" or "Summer That Never Was." It led to crop failures and livestock death in much of the Northern Hemisphere and caused the worst famine of the 19th century. The A.D. 535 Krakatoa eruption had such force that it blotted out much of the light and heat of the sun for 18 months and is said to have led to the Dark Ages. Geophysicists estimate that just three volcanic eruptions, Indonesia (1883), Alaska (1912) and Iceland (1947), spewed more carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere than all of mankind's activities in our entire history.
How has our fragile earth handled floods? China is probably the world capital of gigantic floods. The 1887 Yellow River flood cost between 900,000 and 2 million lives. China's 1931 flood was worse, yielding an estimated death toll between 1 million and 4 million. But China doesn't have a monopoly on floods. Between 1219 and 1530, the Netherlands experienced floods costing about 250,000 lives.
What about the impact of earthquakes on our fragile earth? There's Chile's 1960 Valdivia earthquake, coming in at 9.5 on the Richter scale, a force equivalent to 1,000 atomic bombs going off at the same time. The deadly 1556 earthquake in China's Shaanxi province devastated an area of 520 miles. There's the more recent December 2004 magnitude-9.1 earthquake in the Indian Ocean that caused the deadly Boxing Day tsunami, and a deadly March 2011 magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck eastern Japan.
Our fragile earth faces outer space terror. Two billion years ago, an asteroid hit earth, creating the Vredefort crater in South Africa. It has a radius of 118 miles, making it the world's largest impact crater. In Ontario, there's the Sudbury Basin, resulting from a meteor strike 1.8 billion years ago, which has an 81-mile diameter, making it the second-largest impact structure on earth. Virginia's Chesapeake Bay crater is a bit smaller, about 53 miles wide. Then there's the famous but puny Meteor Crater in Arizona, which is not even a mile wide.
I've pointed out only a tiny portion of the cataclysmic events that have struck the earth -- ignoring whole categories, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, lightning strikes, fires, blizzards, landslides and avalanches. Despite these cataclysmic events, the earth survived. My question is: Which of these powers of nature can be matched by mankind? For example, can mankind duplicate the polluting effects of the 1815 Tambora volcanic eruption or the asteroid impact that wiped out dinosaurs? It is the height of arrogance to think that mankind can make significant parametric changes in the earth or can match nature's destructive forces.
Occasionally, environmentalists spill the beans and reveal their true agenda. Barry Commoner said, "Capitalism is the earth's number one enemy." Amherst College professor Leo Marx said, "On ecological grounds, the case for world government is beyond argument." With the decline of the USSR, communism has lost considerable respectability and is now repackaged as environmentalism and progressivism.
Same old New Scientist
Same old New Scientist. Their editorial today is desperately poor stuff, at best demonstrating a comical lack of understanding of the lukewarmer case and at worst deliberately mispresenting it.
[Sceptics] have been emboldened by scientists' acknowledgment that temperatures on the planet's surface have risen less sharply than expected in recent years. The scientists say that's down to natural variability; the doubters say it is a sign that climate change amounts to little more than ignorable, or even beneficial, "lukewarming".....
But it is misguided to focus only on the temperature of the thin layer of air that we live in. That is just one of many important indicators. In particular, the oceans are warming too: recent research suggests that in the last 60 years the Pacific's depths have warmed 15 times as fast as at any time in the previous 10,000 years.
Leave aside the fact that for years, upholders of the global warming consensus and their supporters in New Scientist focused relentlessly on surface temperatures. Leave aside the fact that people like Pielke Sr who called for a focus on ocean heat content were damned as heretics or the paid mouthpieces of oil companies. Consider instead the fact that the basis of the lukewarmer case is not based on the hiatus in surface temperature rises, it is that climate sensitivity is low. And climate sensitivity calculations take ocean heat content changes into account.
One wonders if the author took the trouble to actually find out what the lukewarmer argument is before criticising it.
A Heap of bull from the European Academies Science Advisory Council (whatever that is)
No statistics mentioned, no graphs provided. Why? Because it's all happened before and the trend is benign if anything
Many people could die as extreme weather becomes common. There will be more freak winds like the October storm, which killed four people.
Heatwaves will be lethal and the sea level will rise, leaving coastal towns at risk of being swamped by storm surges.
Sir Brian Heap, president of the European Academies Science Advisory Council, said he felt “obliged” to issue the warning after a new study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It comes on the back of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which has killed more than 5,000 people.
Sir Brian said: “Given the tragic events this year in the rest of the world and the recent IPCC report, EASAC feels obliged to draw attention to the growing impact of extreme weather in Europe.”
The continent’s leading experts had made a detailed study of likely extreme weather, he said.
Sir Brian warned: “From the major loss of lives in heatwaves to the economic and human costs of floods and storms, the implications are worrying.
“They present the European Union and Member States with significant challenges in preparing Europe for a future with greater frequency of extreme weather.”
Axe carbon tax to keep Britain's lights on and cut energy bills, says ScottishPower chief
Britain's unilateral carbon tax should be scrapped before it causes blackouts, pushes up household bills and makes the UK uncompetitive, ScottishPower argues.
Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer, warns that the “carbon price floor” (CPF), which taxes companies for burning fossil fuels, will make Britain’s remaining coal plants “largely uneconomic by around the middle of the decade”.
With Britain’s spare power margin already forecast to fall as low as 2pc by 2015, the carbon tax will force more closures and “threatens to make us even more vulnerable to the risk of blackouts”, he warns.
Writing in Monday’s Telegraph, Mr Anderson also calls for a review of Britain’s £12bn programme to install “smart” electricity and gas meters in every home, suggesting costs should be cut to reduce the impact on consumer bills.
Several coal-fired power plants have already shut this year under EU rules to help curb acid rain and pollution. About a dozen plants remain operational and provide about 40pc of UK power; ScottishPower’s own Longannet coal plant powers about one-quarter of Scottish homes.
But a combination of further EU rules and the carbon tax, which increases steeply every year, means most of these coal plants may be forced to close by 2015 or 2016.
“Abolishing the CPF, or freezing it at the current rate, would help to reduce upward pressure on bills, improve UK competiveness and help in cost effectively maintaining security of supply,” Mr Anderson says. “We estimate that abolishing it could save some £33 from a typical dual fuel bill in 2015/16; freezing it at the current rate from April 2014 would save around £24.”
Manufacturing bodies and consumer groups both attacked the Chancellor for failing to cut or scrap the carbon tax in last week’s Autumn Statement, despite the Prime Minister's pledge to “roll back” green levies.
Mr Anderson also calls for other changes to reduce customer bills, including “a careful review” of the £12bn programme to install meters that send automatic gas and electricity usage readings back to suppliers. His comments come as both EDF and Centrica called for greater co-operation between politicians and companies to address rising bills and keep the lights on.
Ministers hope new wind farms and gas plants will replace old coal plants but investment in both is stalling amid policy uncertainty.
The Government wants some coal plants to convert to burn biomass instead and is offering subsidies for plants to do so. The giant Drax and Eggborough coal-fired power stations are both pursuing this option. However, Eggborough’s plans are now in disarray after ministers announced last week an annual cap on subsidies, which appears too low for both projects to go ahead.
Eggborough, which supplies about 4pc of UK power, hoped to start conversion in January but is now waiting to find out whether it will get the necessary subsidies.
Neil O’Hara, Eggborough’s chief said: “The carbon price floor means just at a time where the UK desperately needs to keep capacity on the grid, it becomes very difficult to see... whether it will be economic to run past 2015.
“It’s a race against time for affordable, shovel-ready projects like Eggborough to convert [to biomass]. Time is running out and the signals from Government are currently highly contradictory.”
Australia: Sea levels no longer included in State Government planning
THE State Government has controversially removed sea level rises from planning policy so as not to inhibit development and to allow councils greater independence in deciding development issues.
The move has been dubbed a major legal and insurance nightmare, with the potential to send councils broke because a forecast 0.8m rise by 2100 has the potential to cause billions of dollars in damage.
Although 35,000 Queensland homes are at risk of inundation, Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said the Government would not apply an arbitrary, blanket ruling on sea levels.
"We believe local governments are the best placed to make planning decisions according to their local circumstances and their communities and we are empowering them to do so," Mr Seeney said.
"Under the State Planning Policy, the State will still require councils to consider coastal storm surges and other natural hazards in preparing their local planning schemes.
"Queensland is not alone in adopting this approach. The NSW Government determined the same policy framework for their planning schemes a year ago."
Local Government Association of Queensland chief executive Greg Hallam said the issue was a legal minefield.
He said it could send councils broke and impact on residents because it might not be possible to insure properties in low-lying areas in future.
If the Government chose not to accept sea level rises, then councils should receive indemnity.
"We've been very clear on this. The Government can't have it both ways," he said. "If they don't think sea level rises will occur, fine, indemnify us."
Opposition environment spokeswoman Jackie Trad said the Government had abandoned any pretence of believing in or planning for the effects of any climate change.
"Because the Newman Government is refusing to act on climate change, future generations will have to pay the cost of coastal rehabilitation and repairing or relocating infrastructure and property damaged as a result of sea level rises," she said.
The Climate Commission has warned that scientific consensus on warming leading to sea level rises, heatwaves, bushfires and drought has strengthened.
Mr Hallam said the LGAQ accepted that sea level rises occurred but no one knew to what level they might go.
Ms Trad said developers would not have to deal with the consequences of bad planning laws, it would be average Queenslanders who would pay higher taxes and struggle to find home insurance.
Mr Hallam said the LGAQ as an organisation also was exposed because it owned Local Government Mutual Liability, the council insurer.
Mr Seeney declined to say whether he believed in sea level rises, if councils would be indemnified or who would pay for development which might be impacted. "...People should have the right to make up their own minds as to whether or not they'd like to live and work close to the ocean," he said.
A leaked Property and Infrastructure Cabinet Committee paper says: "Any local government that elects to include some allowance for sea level rise in their planning schemes will need to justify that the state interests relating to economic development are not materially affected by this."
The worst hit areas are deemed to be Cairns, Mackay, Hervey Bay and the Gold Coast.
Mr Seeney said the SPP was landmark reform that would revolutionise the way councils, the development and construction industry and the State worked together.
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.
Preserving the graphics: Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere. But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases. After that they no longer come up. From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site. See here or here
Posted by JR at 6:16 PM