Thursday, January 09, 2014
Time Mag's Climate Deception
Here's what Time magazine had to say about the now infamous “polar vortex” during the great ice age scare in June 1974: “Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds – the so-called circumpolar vortex – that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world.” Four decades later, they're using the same argument as evidence of global warming. On Monday Time claimed, “[I]t may well be that global warming could be making the occasional bout of extreme cold weather in the U.S. even more likely. Right now much of the U.S. is in the grip of a polar vortex, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a whirlwind of extremely cold, extremely dense air that forms near the poles.” Whatever fits the narrative.
RENEWABLES FIASCO IN GERMANY: DOLDRUMS AND CLOUDS BRING GREEN ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION TO A HALT
Germany’s wind and solar power production came to an almost complete standstill in early December. More than 23,000 wind turbines stood still. One million photovoltaic systems stopped work nearly completely. For a whole week coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 percent of Germany’s electricity supply.
Over long periods of time wind and solar energy generate almost no power at all. After the storm “Xavier” died down, the doldrums and high fog set in. In the second week of December the generating curve for the share of wind power shows a very thin line. At the same time, solar panels produced minimal amounts of energy and that for just over two to three hours at noon. Conventional power plants had to carry the full load for power supply for almost the entire week. Such winter anticyclones are quite common and can last two weeks at times. The contribution of biomass and geothermal energy plants is so minimal that it can not be shown in the graphic. The currently available pumped storage could supply Germany four or five hours with power, but not for a whole week let alone two.
Last spring, Germans enjoyed a series of cheerful messages that warmed the hearts of fans of the green energy revolution. “Wind and solar power production now at record hight’, announced the “International Economic Forum on Renewable Energies” (IWR ) on 19 April. “Green power with 35 gigawatts is now linked to the grid, this corresponds to the output of 26 nuclear power plants.”
And so it continued: The owners of photovoltaic solar power cracked the previous record on 27 July with a feed of 204 gigawatt hours. Some time later, renewable energy was predicted to generate almost the complete power supply in Germany. On 3 October, for the duration of one hour, the operators of wind and solar systems came pretty close: On the day of German unity at 14:00 hours, renewables produced at least 67 percent of Germany’s electricity needs.
In the face of such impressive numbers who would not dream of the omnipotence of renewable energy? Then came the storm “Xaver” in early December which caused “wind power equivalent to the output of 26 medium-sized nuclear power plants,” the Münster IWR announced cheerfully.
What better proof that renewable energy has already made conventional power plants largely redundant?
Even the energy industry claimed only recently that fairly soon Germany would only need “back-up power plants” to help out during the short periods when the wind is not blowing.
The cheering claims of the eco-statisticians, however, have serious consequences. Many Germans now regard the era of green power close to completion, the green energy shift almost at its goal. Who therefore needs coal power plants?
According to a recent survey conducted by the polling institute TNS Emnid a third of Germans believe that current energy production can be generated “immediately without any coal power or it could be abandoned by 2020.” Germans estimate that electricity generated by coal and lignite power plants to be on average just 25 percent. In truth, it is almost twice as high at 44 percent.
Given this lack of knowledge it is hardly surprising if the energy debate is occasionally marked by euphoric exuberance. “Pull the plug on Vattenfall”, “Expropriate RWE”, “Drive E.on out of the country” – why not do so today if renewables generate so much electricity already?
The statistics of the apparently beautiful green electricity production, however, have one catch: They give a completely false sense of security. During the cold winter period renewable energy often fails to generate any appreciable amount of electricity for weeks and months. A foretaste of this problem was presented by the storm “Xavier” in early December: As soon as it was gone, doldrums and high fog arrived.
Last week Germany’s wind and solar power production was consistently near to non-existent. More than 23,000 German wind turbines stood still for days. One million photovoltaic systems, subsidized by consumers to the tune of with 108 billion euros, stopped work nearly complete and delivered a few kilowatt hours only very briefly during lunch. For the whole week unloved coal, nuclear and gas power plants had to generate an estimated 95 percent of Germany’s electricity supply.
For the new Economic and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel (Social Democratic Party, SPD) the unreliable contribution of renewable energy presents a dilemma: on the one hand, he may not want to be seen to slow down the green energy transition.
On the other hand, it will not add anything to the German power supply if the green power expansion continues and when in the future 40,000 instead of the current 23,000 wind turbines stand still in the doldrums – or when two million instead of one million solar panels do not generate any electricity during the long winter darkness.
DeFazio: U.S. Must Regulate Carbon Emissions and 'Force
Blasting Republican "climate-change deniers" as well as "blathering idiots on talk shows" who joked about the "Arctic vortex," Rep. Peter DeFazio urged Congress to tackle climate change in 2014. He called it one of the "biggest challenges of our time."
He wants the Obama administration to regulate carbon emissions as pollution. And "even if we take strong measures here, we've got to force those measures on other countries," he said in a five-minute speech on the House floor Wednesday.
"Now how are we going to get China and other countries lined up on this?" DeFazio asked. He called trade agreements a "strong tool" to demand reductions:
"We can't put U.S. manufacturers at a disadvantage when they are dealing with climate change issues and carbon dioxide emissions and the Chinese aren't, 'cause we live, unfortunately, on the same planet as the Chinese and they're destroying the world's climate very, very quickly. So even if we take strong measures here, we've got to force those measures on other countries," he said.
DeFazio supports a European Union measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by "scoring the dirtiest sources of fuels."
"That would mean there would be a penalty against oil, gasoline, diesel extracted from tar sands -- the dirtiest, most polluting way to obtain oil that anyone knows of." (The largest tar-sands extraction is taking place in Canada, and a Canadian company has applied to the U.S. State Department for permission to build a cross-border pipeline extension to bring some of that tar sands oil to U.S. refineries.)
DeFazio criticized President Obama's special trade representative, Michael Froman, who is "busily undermining the president's climate change agenda" and acting "at complete odds with the Environmental Protection Agency" by trying to overturn the E.U. measures.
"The president needs to reign in his special trade rep and we need to protect and encourage the president to deal with this very serious issue."
Approve GM or our farming will be history, warns British minister
Genetically modified crops must be approved by the European Union if British agriculture is to avoid becoming “the museum of world farming” the Environment Secretary said on Tuesday.
Member states should approve a new strain of maize in a vote later this month, said Owen Paterson.
He argued that previous approval for GM crops had been blocked by the European Commission for political reasons.
“If approval is granted … then it will be the first GM food crop authorised for planting by the EU for 15 years,” Mr Paterson told the Oxford Farming Conference. “Europe risks becoming the museum of world farming as innovative companies make decisions to invest and develop new technologies in other markets.”
The proposal covers a strain of insect-resistant maize and would become the second GM crop to be grown in the European Union after approval for another variety, resistant to the corn borer, was granted in 1998.
Mr Paterson added: “Let me be clear, there are other tools in the toolbox. GM is not a panacea. But the longer that Europe continues to close its doors to GM, the greater the risk that the rest of the world will bypass us altogether.”
The European Commission said that it was “duty-bound” to propose a vote after Europe’s second-highest court censured Brussels for lengthy delays in the approval process.
Approval is likely to face strong opposition from France, Austria, Italy and other countries that have previously banned the growing of GM crops. Sweden and Spain are expected to support the proposal.
GM crops are strains that have been engineered for desirable traits not naturally present, such as disease resistance or greater yields, by changing a plant’s DNA in a laboratory.
Official government policy on them is “precautionary, evidence-based and sensitive to public concerns”.
The Government describes the technology as “not wholly good or bad” and says that it will consider licensing crops on a case-by-case basis.
In the late Nineties, Tony Blair, then Labour prime minister, promoted GM food, but he retreated in the face of public scepticism and campaigns against “Frankenfoods”.
Opponents fear that the crops can cause environmental damage and even harm human health.
But polls suggest that British hostility is waning and senior government figures privately believe the technology is essential to assure future food security and to avoid a dependence on imports.
Mr Paterson has previously indicated that he wants to relax British regulations on the cultivation of GM crops, and has said they have “environmental benefits”.
The Environment Secretary’s views have been cautiously supported by David Cameron. In a speech in June the Prime Minister said it was “time to look again” at the issue. He said: “We need to be open to arguments from science.”
The Coalition has so far allowed small-scale trials of GM crops but widespread use is effectively banned.
There is no ban on selling foods made from GM crops and some GM material is contained in imported products, but most supermarkets have banned the ingredients from their own-brand lines.
In October, Mr Paterson attracted criticism for calling opponents of GM “absolutely wicked” and claiming that children were being left to go blind because of “hang-ups” about the technology.
How Gas Taxes Subsidize Central Planning
Should automobile drivers be forced to fund an open-space preserve they’ll never visit or to subsidize high-density housing? Drivers might ask this question if they knew how the taxes they pay at the gas pump are increasingly being spent. With little fanfare, the Highway Trust Fund—the program financed by the 18.4 cents per gallon federal gas tax—is becoming a key player in the funding of land-use projects that have little to do with its original mission of building and maintaining the nation’s highways. Independent Institute Senior Fellow Lawrence J. McQuillan explains.
“To nobody’s real surprise, over time the trust fund has become a slush fund to finance various ‘smart growth’ projects unrelated to highways,” McQuillan writes in a widely published op-ed. In the San Francisco Bay Area, for example, a bill that became law in 2012 is steering $10 million in gas-tax revenues to local governments for the purchase of land for conservation rather than for development—and $50 million is being earmarked for transit villages that would house workers who rely on public transportation. “Like walking, the government apparently considers crowded housing a surface transportation problem,” McQuillan writes.
California is a leading state for the diversion of federal gasoline taxes toward smart-growth programs such as open-space preserves and “stack-and-pack” housing, but other states are following course. South Floridians, for example, are battling proposals that resemble those enacted in the San Francisco Bay Area. So much for counting on the Highway Trust Fund to focus on fixing the crumbling highways. “Next time you hit one of those freeway potholes,” McQuillan continues, “be reminded that the money you paid at the pump to maintain our highways is being used to purchase land in Napa Valley, so wine snobs can ride their $5,000 mountain bikes. That’s how ‘smart growth’ really works.”
The U.S. Could Save $60 Billion by Ending Wind Subsidies
Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee is bringing an important issue to the forefront of policy debate. He argues that Congress should not renew the wind energy tax credit.
“The massive taxpayer subsidy to windmill developers expired Jan. 1,” Alexander said. “A good way to celebrate the New Year would be to not renew it and to reduce the federal debt by $60 billion, an amount about equal to the spending in the recent budget agreement.”
Many years ago this tax credit made sense as the wind energy industry was just developing. But now that the industry is fully developed, the tax breaks are not necessary. And in Tennessee, especially, windmills are a ‘scar’ on the landscape.
And of course, the Senator also pointed out that wind energy is not nearly as easily attained as nuclear power. But of course, this tax credit will be back up for consideration very soon.
The tax credit costs nearly $6 billion each year. If Congress renews the credit for 10 years, it would be equal to the same amount the budget deal increased spending limits. Perhaps this would be money better spent on reducing the deficit and the overall debt we have built up.
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Posted by JR at 8:34 PM