Wednesday, June 28, 2017

How Environmental Groups Are Responding to Trump’s ‘Solar Wall’ Pitch

I suspect that this was mainly a tease on Trump's part

President Donald Trump’s idea of putting solar panels on his long-promised border wall hasn’t gained a lot of support among top environmental lobbying groups—even though the organizations have long backed solar power as a key renewable energy.

“This way, Mexico will have to pay much less money,” @POTUS says.

“The problem with talking about solar panels on Trump’s border wall is that it’s science fiction,” Travis Nichols, a spokesman for Greenpeace, a liberal environmentalist group, told The Daily Signal. “Just like clean coal does not exist and will never exist, Trump’s wall with solar panels won’t exist, so it’s irrelevant to discuss climate issues.”

A spokesman with the Sierra Club referred to a tweet storm by the Sierra Club executive director, Michael Brune, reacting to Trump’s proposal for solar panels on the border wall.

Speaking Wednesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Trump proposed putting solar panels on the wall. Such panels would capture power along the hot southern border, to help increase the power supply, which the president said would help pay for the wall.

“We’re thinking of something that’s unique, we’re talking about the southern border, lots of sun, lots of heat. We’re thinking about building the wall as a solar wall, so it creates energy and pays for itself. And this way, Mexico will have to pay much less money,” Trump told the Iowa crowd.

“And that’s good, right? Is that good? You are the first group I’ve told that to. A solar wall. It makes sense. Let’s see. We are working it out. Solar wall panels.”

Trump added: “Pretty good imagination, right? Good? My idea.”

There would likely be more effective ways to pay for the wall, said Steven Camarota, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies, a pro-border enforcement think tank.

“It is one of the sunnier parts of the country, but solar panels are fairly fragile,” Camarota told The Daily Signal. “Each illegal border crosser has a cost of about $75,000 for taxpayers. A modest reduction in border crossings could help pay for the wall.”

Camarota, who believes interior enforcement is perhaps more important than the wall, said the reduction in needed law enforcement and health costs from drugs not entering the country would also offset the costs.

There are too many uncertainties to know whether this would cover the cost of the border wall, said Nick Loris, a research fellow in energy and environmental policy at The Heritage Foundation.

“It’s entirely too early to tell and there are too many outstanding questions. If the solar panels are subsidized, we’re just paying for them through another mechanism,” Loris told The Daily Signal. “It’s difficult to know what the solar panels would cost, how much energy they’d produce standing vertically as opposed to angled horizontally like you see at a solar farm or a rooftop.”

It would require additional building, Loris said, adding:

You also have to factor in the transmission lines to take the energy from remote places to where it’s needed. There’s repair, replacement, and waste costs. They’re also not very efficient compared to other forms of energy, which is why they only account for a meager 2 percent of our net electricity generation, even with generous support from the taxpayer. There’s a lot of question marks surrounding the project so that it’s difficult to know how costly or beneficial it would be.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed headlined “A Shiny Border Wall That Pays for Itself” by Vasilis Fthenakis, an earth and engineering professor at Columbia University, and Ken Zweibel, director of the Solar Institute at George Washington University, contends:

Resolving the political impasse between Mexico and the U.S. over a border wall requires innovative thinking. How about this: Presidents Donald Trump and Enrique Peña Nieto should work together to construct a ‘solar wall’—a massive string of photovoltaic panels—on the Mexican side of the border.

Another op-ed in the liberal Huffington Post on Dec. 16, 2016, “Instead of Trump’s Wall, Let’s Build A Border of Solar Panels,” by Homero Aridjis, a poet and novelist, and James Ramey, a professor at Metropolitan Autonomous University and member of Mexico’s National System of Researchers, said:

There is indeed a way that Mexico could create a barrier between the U.S. and Mexico, one constructed exclusively on the Mexican side, with substantial benefits for both countries and the planet: a solar border. …

If one were to construct the equivalent of a strip of arrays one-third the width of a football field south of the entire U.S.-Mexico border, wider in some areas and narrower in others, with a wide berth allowed for populated areas and stretches of rugged terrain, sufficient energy might be produced to also supply Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Dallas, and Houston. For the U.S. cities, it would be a way to obtain cheaper and cleaner energy than they can from other sources.


U.S. Forest Service Can’t Cut It

“Budget cuts threaten forests’ roads, hunting, fishing,” headlines the piece by McClatchy reporter Anshu Siripurapu. Trails “could get messier,” and maintenance on bridges, dams and recreation sites “could” become tougher. “That’s the potential fate of national forest projects, thanks to President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2018,” Siripurapu warns. The president seeks $100 million for forest service capital improvement and maintenance, down from $363 million and “a 73 percent cut.” Actually it isn’t, and we are not talking about trees here. The U.S. Forest Service is a federal bureaucracy and if it gets less money than bosses want, strictly speaking, that is not a cut. Likewise, as we noted, if a politician gets a raise of 4 percent instead of 6 percent, that is not a salary “reduction.” For all his alarm, Mr. Siripurapu nowhere questions whether the U.S. Forest Service has been doing a good job with all those taxpayer dollars.

As economist Robert H. Nelson notes, in a 2013 survey federal workers ranked the U.S. Forest Service worse than 260 out of 300 similar agencies. Forest Service mismanagement allowed wildfires to threaten communities and resources throughout the West at record levels, and this problem endured for 15 years. The agency also failed to address declines in forest health and dropped “multiple use management” in favor of “ecosystem management.” This resulted in “a radical curtailing of timber harvesting, forest thinning and other more aggressive actions that would have helped to address the continuing fire problem.” Nelson recommends a management model similar to charter schools, freeing the agency from a “bureaucratic straitjacket” and holding them accountable for results.

Sterling Burnett of the Heartland Institute told Siripurapu the government should consider selling some of its land to private companies to raise money and to reduce the amount of forest it has to manage. As Burnett explained, “There is no reason the federal government needs to own 100 million acres of forest.”


UK: Bad green policies waste money

Matt Ridley

Even Michael Gove’s enemies concede he is good at tackling vested interests. Even his friends concede he has a knack for making enemies in the process. In his new job as secretary of state for environment, food and rural affairs, if he is to achieve anything, he may have to do a lot of both. So here’s a field guide to the vested interests he will encounter in the countryside.

Bruce Yandle, the American economist, once coined a phrase to explain why the disastrous policy of prohibition became law in the United States between 1920 and 1933: “Bootleggers and Baptists”. A very effective coalition developed between high-minded, high-profile moral campaigners and low-mind, low-profile smuggling profiteers to push for the outlawing of alcohol. The result was legislation that was good for bootleggers and Baptists but bad for society as a whole.

As Mr Yandle put it: “Baptists lower the costs of favour-seeking for the bootleggers, because politicians can pose as being motivated purely by the public interest even while they promote the interests of well-funded businesses”.

This coalition is alive and well in the farming and environmental world. Bootlegger car makers got politicians to give tax breaks to diesel cars on the Baptist grounds that they produce less carbon dioxide, with the result that we have worse air pollution than we would have had. Baptist greens preach about the imminent dangers of climate change, enabling their bootlegger chums in the renewable-energy industry to trouser vast subsidies for ruining landscapes and killing eagles while reducing emissions very little, if at all. Politicians fall for it.

Farmers nobly say they are feeding a hungry world and protecting the countryside from ruin, while actually defending a subsidy system that deters innovation, gives them a retirement income and pushes up the price of land.

In other words, Mr Gove will not have to learn the difference between the lesser whitethroat and the spotted flycatcher to do well in his new job, but he will have to spot the vested bootleggers hiding behind the green Baptists. He will be familiar with the problem from his time as education secretary, where he took on the teachers and civil servants on the grounds that they were sometimes serving their own interests more than those of their clients — children.

The civil servants in Defra are almost entirely in thrall to whatever the big environmental pressure groups say, in a fine case of regulatory capture or Parkinson’s law: greens lobby for regulations, which civil servants need bigger budgets to administer, and the monitoring of which can be outsourced back to the same greens.

Try telling an environmental bureaucrat that you think his or her priorities or methods are wrong and prepare to be denounced on moral — not practical — grounds by their allies in organisations with very big budgets. Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the World Wide Fund For Nature are huge multinationals these days with a combined annual budget of more than a billion dollars, a big chunk of which is spent on lobbying, suing and public relations — rather than practical conservation.

Yet some green priorities are wrong and somebody needs to say so. The current obsession of the environmental pressure groups, shared by the civil servants and quangocrats, is that there must be no “watering down” of environmental designations after Brexit. That is to say, the alphabet soup of “special protected areas”, “marine conservation zones”, “Ramsar sites”, “sites of special scientific interest”, “areas of outstanding natural beauty” and so forth must not be lost, even though some of them derive from European legislation.

Nor should they be lost. But the risk of that is zero. What actually happens inside those zones and in the rest of the countryside to encourage nature to thrive is of far greater importance. And today the environmental bureaucracy and the green lobbyists with which it is allied are more obsessed with attending conferences, producing reports and monitoring compliance than with taking practical, active measures to conserve species. Too many wear suits and not enough wear boots.

Let me give you a specific example. The curlew is one of Britain’s most iconic birds, its haunting call synonymous with a Pennine dawn in spring. These islands host 25 per cent of the world’s population but in Ireland their numbers are now down by 90 per cent, while in southern England they have all but vanished as a breeding species, and even in uplands such as the Lake District and Wales they are becoming worryingly scarce. Of the world’s eight species of curlew, two have almost certainly gone extinct.

Fortunately, curlews are thriving in the North Pennines. Earlier this spring I spent several dawns watching birds in a Durham dale and the bubbling song of hundreds of curlews was continuous. This success is not because of legislation or the designation of the area as a nature reserve. It is because of grouse shooting, a self-financed form of conservation that protects and manages the habitat that curlews like and controls the predators that eat their eggs and chicks — chiefly crows, foxes and stoats.

The result is a landscape from which those subsidised bootlegger blights of the uplands — wind farms, non-native blocks of forestry and overgrazing — have been excluded, allowing curlews to thrive along with golden plovers, merlins, lapwings, ring ouzels, redshanks, black grouse and short-eared owls, all of which I saw in my dawn vigil last month.

Mr Gove should demand that environmental policies are judged by their results, not their intentions. In fisheries, air pollution, tackling invasive species, reforming farm subsidies, wildlife conservation, badgers, landscape protection, genetically modified food and pesticides, what counts is not the size of the budget going in, the moral motive behind it, or the number of committees overseeing it — but whether it gets results. That should be the watchword of the new Defra secretary.


Warmists go to court in New Zealand

The Prime Minister says a law student is "free to try" to change Government policy or the law with her case against the Government saying not enough has been done to combat climate change.

Some big guns are backing the little player in a David and Goliath battle.

Sarah Thomson's judicial review against the Minister of Climate Change in the High Court in Wellington claims the Government's Paris Climate Agreement targets don't go far enough - but the Government argues its targets are fair.

Bill English [PM] today said that "the targets for New Zealand are already pretty challenging" and added that Ms Thomson is "of course free to try like anyone else to influence Government policy or the law in this respect".

This is the first time in New Zealand history where a case has been taken against the Government over climate change, and while Ms Thomson told 1 NEWS she is nervous ahead of the review, she is also confident.

"I've got the backing of amazing lawyers and scientists," she said. "I see it as an ordinary person taking a stand, you know?
"You don't need to be an expert or have a position of power to make a difference and I hope that message gets through.


One lonely molecule…

Ian Plimer

The 24 million people in Australia generate 1.5 per cent of annual global human-induced CO2 emissions. USA emits 14 times and China emits 26 times more CO2 than Australia. Australia has 0.33 per cent of the global population.

Our high standard of living, a landmass of 7,692,024 square kilometres with a sparse inland population and greenhouse gas-emitting livestock combined with the transport of livestock, food and mined products, long distances to cities and ports and the export of ores, coal, metals and food for 80 million people result in high per capita CO2 emissions. Australia’s exports of coal, iron ore and gas contributes to increasing the standard of living, longevity and health of billions of people in Asia.

If Australia emits 1.5 per cent of global annual CO2 emissions, 3 per cent of the total annual global emissions are anthropogenic and the atmosphere contains 400 parts per million by volume of CO2, then one molecule in 6.6 million molecules in the atmosphere is CO2 emitted from humans in Australia. This molecule has an atmospheric life of about 7 years before it is removed from the atmosphere by natural sequestration into life and limey sediments.

Australia has far greater economic priorities than to change a whole economy, increase energy costs, decrease employment and decrease international competiveness because of one poor lonely molecule of plant food in 6.6 million other atmospheric molecules. It is a very long bow to argue that this one molecule of plant food in 6.6 million other atmospheric molecules derived from Australia has any measurable effect whatsoever on global climate. Furthermore, it has yet to be shown that human emissions of CO2 drive global warming, so why even bother with a Renewables Energy Target?

Australia exports a significant global share of refined aluminium, zinc, lead, copper and gold and hence takes a per capita emissions hit for countries that import and use Australia’s metals, because smelting and refining in Australia result in CO2 emissions. Neither smelting nor refining of the metals for other countries could take place without burning fossil fuels. For example, a steel mill uses coal to reduce iron oxide into iron metal and the carbon in coal is oxidised to CO2. A modern economy cannot rely on sea breezes and sunbeams to generate base load electricity for industry and a decarbonised economy would be a deindustrialised economy.

Annual Australian per capita CO2 emissions are in the order of 20 tonnes per person. There are 30 hectares of forest and 74 hectares of grassland for every Australian and each hectare annually sequesters about 1 tonne of CO2 by photosynthesis. CO2 is plant food. On the continental Australian landmass, Australians are removing by natural sequestration more than three times the amount of CO2 they emit. Crops remove even more CO2 from the atmosphere. Australia’s net contribution to atmospheric CO2 is negative and this is confirmed by the net CO2 flux estimates from the IBUKI satellite CO2 data set.

Australia’s continental shelf is 2,500,000 square kilometres in area. Carbon dioxide dissolves in ocean water and the cooler the water, the more CO2 dissolves in water. Living organisms extract dissolved CO2 and calcium from seawater to build corals and shells. This natural marine sequestration locks away even more Australian emissions of CO2 and adds to the negative contribution of atmospheric CO2 made by Australia.

Using the thinking of the IPCC, UN and activist green groups, Australia should be very generously financially rewarded with money from populous, desert and landlocked countries for removing from the atmosphere its own emitted CO2 and the CO2 emissions from many other nations. By this method, wealthy Australia can take money from poor countries. This is, of course, normal for the green industry. For example, the subsidising of wind and solar power takes money from the poor and passes it on to companies making a fortune from the government’s RET.

Satellite measurements show that there has been a greening of the planet over the last few decades, thanks to a slight increase in traces of plant food in the atmosphere. Without CO2, there would be no plants and without plants, there would be no animals. Geology shows that atmospheric CO2 has not driven global warming since planet Earth formed. Why should it now? Dangerous global warming did not occur in the past when the atmospheric CO2 content was hundreds of times higher than now. Each of the major ice ages was initiated at a time when there was more CO2 in the atmosphere than now.

The planet has not warmed for two decades despite a massive increase in CO2 emissions during the industrialisation of Asia. Computer models predicted a steady temperature increase over this time and over 30 million weather balloons have not detected a modelled hot spot over the equator. All models have failed and are not in accord with measurements.

Australia has thousands of years of energy as coal, gas, oil and uranium and is one of the world’s biggest exporters of energy. Yet it has unreliable and very expensive energy. We have wasted billions on unreliable ‘renewable’ electricity resulting in energy poverty on the assumption that human emissions of CO2 drive global warming. It has never been shown that human emission of CO2 drives global warming and the Australian contribution of one lonely molecule in 6.6 million is not worth expenditure of a single penny. President Trump did not fall for one of the biggest cons in the history of time. Australia needs leadership rather than marching down the RET path to international uncompetiveness. If subsidies paid by consumers for unreliable inefficient electricity were abandoned, the markets would quickly reaffirm that energy from fossil fuels is the cheapest and most reliable source of electricity for an industrialised economy.



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   main.html or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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