Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Does the World Need Climate Insurance? The Best Scientific and Economic Evidence Says NO
President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers asserts that climate insurance, like fire insurance, is just common sense. Their analogy, however, is fundamentally wrong. House fires are not only serious, but also common. We know what causes them, how often they occur, and the amount of damage that results. For a few hundred dollars a year, a homeowner can protect himself against a known risk of a catastrophic incident. Yet there is no empirical evidence that catastrophic climate change is a risk at all. Many people refer to carbon dioxide (CO2 ) as a “pollutant;” in reality, CO 2 gas is a natural part of the ecosystem—and essential to life on Earth. CO2 levels are currently at record low levels compared with those that prevailed over most of the Earth’s history. The modest increases in CO2 levels that have occurred over the past century—thanks, in part, to the combustion of fossil fuels—have led to a pronounced and well-documented greening of the Earth. Plants grow better and are more drought resistant with more CO2 . This greening has benefited—and will continue to benefit—human society, particularly the world’s poor, whose lives depend on productive agriculture. The actions necessary to reduce CO 2 emissions by any meaningful amount as “insurance” against climate change would be painful for Western countries and devastating for poor countries. Sensible people spend their insurance dollars carefully to protect their families against real risks. “Climate insurance” would simply be a waste of scarce resources
Dakota Access—Legal, Beneficial & Necessary
With its recent decision to deny the temporary injunction requested by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed what supporters of the Dakota Access Pipeline have maintained fervently all along: the more-than-halfway finished pipeline satisfied every one of the myriad state and federal regulations that govern its construction and eventual operation. That alone should be enough for the Obama administration to comply with its own permitting process, and allow the project to resume.
Equally compelling are Dakota Access’s real benefits to America’s economy, our domestic infrastructure and national security.
North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Illinois—the four states traversed by the 1,172-mile DAPL—engaged in a meticulous two-plus-yearlong project review. So, too, did the United States Army Corp of Engineers. All five of these public bodies determined, conclusively, that Dakota Access was safe, that its route did not disrupt any areas of cultural significance, and that it fell well within the compliance parameters of the individual states’ laws, as well as those of the federal government.
From the beginning, Dakota Access emphasized commitment to consulting its Native American neighbors and to transparency. All available evidence—very much including the 389 meetings with 55 tribes arranged by the USACE— supports those claims. So, too, do the more than 140 modifications made voluntarily to the pipeline’s route itself. This is why even neutral observers can make the case that Dakota Access not only merited favorable certification, permitting and full approval, but earned them as well.
And speaking of earning, the economic benefits of Dakota Access are significant. Not just to the four states involved—all of which already have received millions in new revenue thanks to the construction phase alone, along with more than $150 million in additional sales and income taxes—but also to the U.S. economy at large.
To date, the $3.8 billion DAPL has incurred more than $2 billion in construction and development costs and will create between 8,000 and 10,000 jobs.
Dakota Access is not just a welcome job-creator and tax-revenue-producing machine. It is also one of the largest American infrastructure investments to come along in some time. Once completed, it will utilize a safe, environmentally sound, state-of-the-art pipeline to transport domestically produced light, sweet crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota to major refining markets throughout the country.
The reality is that America’s economy—everything from manufacturing and agriculture to food production and transportation, and even the development of newer, more sustainable energy resources—depends hugely on crude oil. Today, much of that crude oil is shipped across the country by rail or by truck, both of which represent much greater accident-related risks to public safety and to the environment. In fact, pipelines like Dakota Access are the safest mode of transportation on the globe.
At today’s production levels, Dakota Access will transport half of the total output of the Bakken region, generating royalties for the landowners and states along the route, very much including the Native Americans who hold oil and gas leases on reservation property. It will also reduce America’s reliance on foreign—often hostile and unstable—sources of oil.
Dakota Access was approved after extensive—and intensive—regulatory review. The Obama administration should green light its operation immediately. And the people still protesting and disrupting the pipeline’s completion, many of whom failed to participate in public hearings, should go home.
Wind Power: Our Least Sustainable Resource?
“A single 1.7 MW wind turbine, like the 315 Fowler Ridge units, involves some 365 tons of materials for the turbine assembly and tower, plus nearly 1,100 tons of concrete and rebar for the foundation. Grand total for the entire Fowler wind installation: some 515,000 tons; for Roscoe, 752,000 tons; for Shepherds Flat, 575,000 tons. Offshore installations of the kind proposed for Lake Erie would likely require twice the materials needed for their onshore counterparts.”
The alter ego of climate change in these renewable energy debates is sustainability: the argument that wind and other “renewable” energies are sustainable, whereas oil, gas and coal are not.
This assertion may have had some merit a few years ago, when it could plausibly be claimed that the world was running out of fossil fuels. However, it is now clear that several centuries of economically recoverable coal remain to be tapped – and the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) process ensures that at least one or two centuries of oil and natural gas could be recovered from shale deposits around the world. “Imminent resource depletion” is no longer a plausible or valid argument.
Indeed, fracking provides abundant natural gas that can fuel power plants, lower carbon dioxide emissions and keep electricity prices low. Heavy reliance on wind energy (offshore and onshore) would raise electricity prices, while doing nothing to reduce CO2 emissions, since backup generators running on standby but ramping up repeatedly all day long run inefficiently and emit more carbon dioxide.
However, there is another aspect to sustainability claims, and when common environmental guidelines, policies and regulations are applied, it is clear that wind energy is our least sustainable energy source.
Land. Wind turbine installations impact vast amounts of habitat and crop land, and offshore wind turbines impact vast stretches of lake or ocean – far more than traditional power plants.
Arizona’s Palo Verde nuclear plant generates 3,750 megawatts of electricity from a 4,000-acre site. The 600-MW John Turk ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plant in Arkansas covers a small portion of 2,900 acres; gas-fired units like Calpine’s 560-MW Fox Energy Center in Wisconsin require several hundred acres. All generate reliable power 90-95% of the year.
By contrast, the 600-MW Fowler Ridge wind installation (355 turbines) spans 50,000 acres of farm country along Indiana’s I-65 corridor. The 782-MW Roscoe project in Texas (627 turbines) sprawls across 100,000 acres. Oregon’s Shepherds Flat project (338 gigantic 2.5 MW turbines) covers nearly 80,000 wildlife and scenic acres along the Columbia River Gorge, for a “rated capacity” of 845 MW.
The 625 to 1,600 turbines planned for Lake Erie will impact hundreds of thousands of acres, planting bird and bat killing machines across miles and miles of lake habitat – while future Canadian wind farms on the Ontario side of the lake will affect hundreds of thousands more acres, and millions more birds and bats.
Raw materials. Wind installations require enormous quantities of steel, copper, rare earth metals, fiberglass, concrete and other materials for the turbines, towers and bases.
A single 1.7 MW wind turbine, like the 315 Fowler Ridge units, involves some 365 tons of materials for the turbine assembly and tower, plus nearly 1100 tons of concrete and rebar for the foundation. Grand total for the entire Fowler wind installation: some 515,000 tons; for Roscoe, 752,000 tons; for Shepherds Flat, 575,000 tons. Offshore installations of the kind proposed for Lake Erie would likely require twice the materials needed for their onshore counterparts.
To all that must be added millions of tons of materials for thousands of miles of new transmission lines – and still more for mostly gas-fired generators to back up every megawatt of wind power and generate electricity the 17 to 20 hours of each average day that the wind does not blow.
Money. Taxpayers and consumers must provide perpetual subsidies to prop up wind projects, which cannot survive without steady infusions of cash via feed-in tariffs, tax breaks and direct payments.
Transmission lines cost $1.0 million to $2.5 million per mile. Direct federal wind energy subsidies to help cover this totaled $5 billion in FY 2010, according to Energy Department data; state support added billions more, and still more billions were added to consumers’ electric bills. The Other People’s Money well is running dry, and voters and consumers are getting fed up with cash-for-cronies wind schemes.
Energy. It is extremely energy-intensive to mine, quarry, drill, mill, refine, smelt and manufacture the metals, concrete, fiberglass, resins, turbines and heavy equipment to do all of the above. Transporting, installing and repairing turbines, towers, backups and transmission lines requires still more energy – real energy: abundant, reliable, affordable … not what comes from wind turbines.
Some analysts have said it requires more energy to manufacture, haul and install these Cuisinarts of the air and their transmission systems than they will generate in their lifetimes. However, no cradle-to-grave analysis has ever been conducted, for the energy inputs or pollution outputs.
Health. Environmentalists regularly make scary but wildly speculative claims about health dangers from hydraulic fracturing. However, they and wind energy companies and promoters ignore and dismiss a growing body of evidence that steady low frequency noise from wind turbines causes significant human health problems, interferes with whale and porpoise navigational and food-finding systems, and affects other wildlife species.
Sudden air pressure changes from rapidly moving turbine blades can cause bird and bat lungs to collapse. In addition, serious lung, heart, cancer and other problems have been documented from rare earth mining, smelting and manufacturing in China and Mongolia, under those countries’ far less rigorous health, workplace safety and environmental regulations.
To date, however, very few health or environmental assessments have been required or conducted prior to permit approval, even for major wind turbine installations, much less the grand “visions.”
Environment. Raptors, bats and other beautiful flying creatures continue to be sliced and diced by wind turbines. However, government regulators continue to turn a blind eye to the slaughter, and the actual toll is carefully hidden by wind operators, who treat the data as trade secrets and refuse to allow independent investigators to conduct proper studies of bird and bat mortality. Furthermore, wind turbines are increasingly being installed in sensitive wildlife habitat areas, like Lake Erie and onshore areas like Shepherds Flat, as they are often the best remaining areas for relatively abundant, consistent wind.
Jobs. The myth of “green renewable energy jobs” is hitting the brick wall of reality. While turbines installed and maintained in the USA and EU create some jobs, many of them short-term, the far more numerous mining and manufacturing jobs are in China, where they are hardly “green” or “healthy.” Moreover, as Spanish and Scottish analysts have documented, the expensive intermittent electricity generated by wind turbines kills 2.2 to 3.7 traditional jobs for every “eco-friendly” wind job created.
Electricity costs and reliability. Even huge subsidies cannot cure wind power’s biggest defects: its electricity costs far more than coal, gas or nuclear alternatives – and its intermittent nature wreaks havoc on power grids and consumers. The problem is worst on hot summer afternoons, when demand is highest and breezes are minimal. Unable to compete against cheap Chinese and Indian electricity and labor, energy-intensive industries increasingly face the prospect of sending operations and jobs overseas.
All of this is simply and completely unsustainable.
Breaking: 1920’s Brit ‘fatally infected’ All Government Climate Models
A sensational new study shows western government climate models rely on a fatally flawed 1920’s algorithm. Scientists say this could be the breakthrough that explains why modern computers are so awful at predicting climate change: simulations “violate several known Laws of Thermodynamics.”
British climate researcher Derek Alker presents an extraordinary new paper ‘Greenhouse Effect Theory within the UN IPCC Computer Climate Models – Is It A Sound Basis?’ exposing previously undetected errors that government climate researchers have unknowingly fed into multi-million dollar climate computers since the 1940s. 
“This paper examines what was originally calculated as the greenhouse effect theory by Lewis Fry Richardson, the brilliant English mathematician, physicist and meteorologist.
In 1922 Richardson devised an innovative set of differential equations. His ingenious method is still used today in climate models. But unbeknown to Richardson he had inadvertently relied upon unchecked (and fatally flawed) numbers supplied by another well-known British scientist, W. H. Dines.”
Unfortunately, for Richardson Dines wrongly factored in that earth’s climate is driven by terrestrial (ground) radiation as the only energy source, not the sun. Richardson had taken the Dines numbers on face value and did not detect the error when combining the Dines numbers to his own. Alker continues: “The archives show Richardson never double-checked the Dines work (see below) and the records do not show that anyone else has ever exposed it.”
The outcome, says Alker, is that not only has the original Richardson & Charney computer model been corrupted – but all other computer climate models since. All government researchers use these core numbers and believe them to be valid even though what they seek to represent can be shown today as physically impossible.
“My paper specifically describes how the theory Dines calculated in his paper violates several of the known Laws of Thermodynamics, and therefore does not describe reality.
The greenhouse effect theory we know of today is based on what Richardson had formulated from the Dines paper using unphysical numbers created by Dines. But Dines himself later suggested his numbers were probably unreliable.”
Unfortunately, Dines died in the mid-1920’s and did not inform Richardson about the error. Thereupon, in the late 1940’s, Richardson began working with another world figure in climate science – Jule Charney as the duo constructed the first world’s first computer climate model. It was then the dodgy Dines numbers infected the works.
Alker, who studied the archives scrupulously for his research reports that there is no published evidence that Richardson understood Dines’s calculation method. And we think he and Charney put the Dines numbers into the world’s first computer model verbatim.
In essence, the ‘theory’ of greenhouse gas warming from the Dines numbers can be shown to start with a misapplication of Planck’s Law, which generates grossly exaggerated ‘up’ and none existent ‘down’ radiative emissions figures. Then, layer by layer, part of the downward radiation is added to the layer below, which is in violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Thereby, like a domino effect, this bogus calculation method becomes GIGO (“garbage in, garbage out”) to all computers that run the program. Alker adds:
“What the climate simulations are doing is creating energy layer by layer in the atmosphere that shouldn’t be there (it has no other source than of itself). It is then destroyed layer by layer (it is absorbed and then discarded – in effect destroyed). This is all presented in such a way to give the appearance that energy is being conserved, when it is not being conserved,”
Myron Ebell is perfectly suited to lead the transition to a new EPA
President-elect Donald Trump has named Myron Ebell to head up his transition team for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The news was met with name-calling, even though Ebell agrees with the same position taken by a former top scientist with the Obama administration, Steve Koonin (formerly of Cal Tech) namely, that scientists simply do not know what fraction of observed global warming is due to manmade CO2 emissions.
Consequently, Ebell has expressed concern about EPA positions, including the Clean Power Plan. The EPA’s controversial power plan is based on an inadequate understanding of global warming and should not drive our middle class into energy poverty against congressional will.
Based on my experience as the secretary of a State Environmental Department, here are some observations I’d like to offer Ebell for his consideration.
It is critical to understand that while the federal government, through Congress, establishes the overall goals of environmental protection through laws like the Clean Air and Water acts, the implementation of those laws is by state governments.
Consequently, America has made tremendous strides in environmental protection over the last decades. We are breathing cleaner air and have cleaner water than ever before.
State governments and their citizens have demonstrated the ability to implement programs that protect our environment without destroying the very thing that makes environmental protection possible: a strong economy.
Over the last eight years the Obama administration has abandoned this successful approach to environmental protection as envisioned by Congress. Instead, they have turned to special interest groups to drive centralized planning. Prime examples include the 2015 EPA Power Plan and the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
These rules contain illusory flexibility to states when in reality they represent a huge shift of control from states to the federal government. Even the current administration acknowledged that the power plan was symbolic and would do little to improve air quality.
The power plan would be expensive and shut down energy plants that have not yet been paid for, thereby stranding those costs with ratepayers. It would harm the industrial sector by significantly increasing electricity rates, which would throttle manufacturing industries that require low energy prices to compete.
Similarly, under WOTUS land use decisions would be federalized. Our nation’s agricultural industry would be hamstrung by costly and unnecessary land use restrictions, which would stifle growth opportunities. The expansion of manufacturing, commercial and residential development would be left to federal bureaucrats.
Fortunately, dozens of states and state agencies stood their ground against the federal government and won stays against these rules. In an unprecedented move, the U.S. Supreme Court reached down into an appeals court to place the power plan on hold until the legal challenge against it could be resolved. The waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule was also stayed. We hope the Trump EPA will review existing rules and base its policy decisions on sound data and measurable results.
History has demonstrated time and again that just as “all politics is local,” so is environmental protection. State and local governments know best how to apply the many tools available to protect the environment and public health. In fact, states are responsible for the vast majority of enforcement and write nearly all the permits through which the private sector protects us and our environment. We still need the EPA, but not the EPA of the past.
Research should target specific problems and challenges. We need coordination on industry-level initiatives that cross state lines. However, we must end the idea that more regulation is automatically good and allow state and local experts, not Washington bureaucrats, to improve the environment. It is time to return to the cooperative federalism that Congress intended when writing these laws.
Returning control of our environment to the states also limits the dark money from self-serving lobbyists and deep-pocketed special interest groups masquerading as environmentalists. Almost every major rulemaking under the Obama administration was driven by a sue-and-settle scheme that is designed to allow special interest and federal appointees to write rules in private and exclude citizen involvement. This was evident by the EPA’s shameful use of secret emails whereby high-ranking EPA officials used fictitious email accounts to communicate with special interest groups to avoid the reach of public records.
A thoughtful and knowledgeable individual like Myron Ebell appears to be perfectly suited to lead the transition to a new EPA. His position on climate change is simply one example of his suitability. The EPA does play a role in environmental protection. However, that role, like all federal government, should be limited in order to maximize freedom.
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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Posted by JR at 1:22 AM