Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Eco-Fascism: Prominent Environmentalist Proposes Climate Dictatorship

The gall of this argument is staggering. It is even more staggering that the Swedish newspaper bringing this large interview today does not clearly mark the viewpoint as extreme and unreasonable. Instead, they seriously have their political analyst muse about whether a climate dictatorship is really necessary, and ending with a conclusion of ‘yeah, possibly.’

The claim comes from Jørgen Randers, professor of climate strategy at BI Norwegian Business School. His main claim to fame is as co-author of the 1972 Limits to Growth book, which scared a generation to believe we would run out of all resources and kill humanity with suffocating air pollution. Time magazine headlined their 1972 story on the book: “The Worst Is Yet to Be?” and it began: “The furnaces of Pittsburgh are cold; the assembly lines of Detroit are still. In Los Angeles, a few gaunt survivors of a plague desperately till freeway center strips, backyards and outlying fields, hoping to raise a subsistence crop. London’s offices are dark, its docks deserted. In the farm lands of the Ukraine, abandoned tractors litter the fields: there is no fuel for them. The waters of the Rhine, Nile and Yellow rivers reek with pollutants. Fantastic? No, only grim inevitability if society continues its present dedication to growth and “progress.””

Of course, their scare scenarios were almost entirely wrong. You can read more in my Foreign Affairs article and my short summary in Project Syndicate below.

Now Professor Randers — correctly – tells us that democracy is unwilling and unable to pay the exorbitant amounts that he and many other environmentalists are asking us to pay. Surveys of willingness to pay for climate policies show most people in the US are willing to pay $180 per household or $70 per person. In China, the average willingness to pay is $30 per person per year. (They would all rather use it on education, health, poverty alleviation etc.)

Yet, the current Paris promises will cost each American $500 per year, each European $600 and each Chinese $170. Of course, most Americans and Europeans are unlikely to elect leaders that will actually incur a much larger cost than most people are willing to pay.

Moreover, these promises will not *solve* global warming – indeed, they will together achieve almost nothing: By the UN’s own estimate, the Paris Treaty will reduce emissions by less than 1% of what would be needed to keep temperature rises under 2°C and yet cost $1-2 trillion per year by 2030, mostly in reduced GDP growth. So Paris will deliver far less than what most people expect, yet will cost much more than most people are willing to pay.

Of course, most smart people would be against paying lots for achieving little or nothing. If anything, this suggests that democracy works just fine.

But Randers instead takes this unwillingness to spend fortunes on little benefits as an argument for ending democracy. ‘if people don’t want my preferred solution, then people are stupid, shouldn’t be allowed to decide their fate, and we should install a climate dictatorship instead.’ The argument literally seems to be: If I can’t have my way in a democracy, I want my way with a dictatorship.

That is hardly a good argument. It is also phenomenally expensive: Look at the costs to achieve the sort of climate policies that Randers and many others are advocating. If the EU fulfils its promise of cutting emissions by 80% in 2050 (which is the most ambitious climate policy in the world today), the average of the best peer-reviewed models show that the cost would run to at least $3 trillion per year, and more likely double that – meaning $6,000 for each EU citizen per year. Of course, few will vote for that.


Energy Experts Confirm GWPF Report: Carbon Capture And Storage Is Uneconomic

Following SaskPower saying it is unlikely to recommend government pursue more carbon capture and storage projects because of the high cost, critics are saying pursuing carbon capture and storage was uneconomical from the start.

“It’s not economic, and it was clear at the time it wasn’t economic,” said former SaskWind president James Glennie.

“It cost $140 per megawatt hour,” to produce electricity with carbon capture and storage technology at a coal-fired plant, he said.

“Clearly, then, it wasn’t economic even at the time if that’s what it cost, because that’s substantially more than wind cost back when the investment decision was taken.”

In the fall of 2014, the $1.5-billion Boundary Dam power station near Estevan became the first power station in the world to install carbon capture and storage technology on a commercial scale. SaskPower argued using carbon capture and storage allowed the Crown corporation to reduce emissions while still using coal as a fuel source.

Glennie’s organization started a project in 2012 aiming to build a community-owned wind farm in Saskatchewan. He said that after years of being met with many obstacles, he decided to close down SaskWind and leave the province.

In March 2015, he produced a financial analysis of the Boundary Dam project. He conducted a breakdown of the costs versus revenues of the project over a 30-year time frame.

By his count, the carbon capture facility loses just over a $1 billion once the initial investment, the cost for operations and maintenance, and the parasitic load needed for carbon capture are subtracted.

Altogether, considering the profits and losses of both the power station and the carbon capture facility, his financial analysis shows a total $651-million net financial loss for SaskPower and Saskatchewan ratepayers.

Cheaper options

SaskPower’s president, Mike Marsh, said the economics of power generation have changed since it decided in 2010 to pursue carbon capture and storage.

Marsh said that with falling gas prices, electricity generated from gas now costs about $60 to $70 per megawatt hour.

But according to the levelized cost of energy analysis by the financial advisory firm Lazard, energy from natural gas combined cycle plants cost between $67 and $96 per megawatt hour back in 2010. With carbon capture and storage costing $140 per megawatt hour, natural gas was still the cheaper option in 2010.


London’s Latest Diesel Traffic Pollution Scare Exposed

Expert who co-authored a detailed report for Britain’s Department of Health (1999) into London’s traffic pollution pours cold water on Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s latest push to ban diesel cars

British Civil Engineer, Ed Hoskins helped perform a detailed study with the Department of Civil Engineering Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine [1] and found that emissions from diesel-powered vehicles in the UK capital (and most major UK cities) is a “comparatively marginal problem.”

Speaking through Principia Scientific International(PSI) Hoskins said the fuss over diesel emissions is centered around nitrogen oxides (Nox). In atmospheric chemistry, NOx is a generic term for the nitrogen oxides most linked to air pollution, namely nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). The fact is, London is now one of the world’s least air-polluted megacities.

Hoskins explains:

“In 1999 I participated in this study with two colleagues, including the then Professor of Transport Stephen Glaister at Imperial College undertaken for the NHS in London. Our report found that the biggest culprit, Nitrogen Oxides generated by human road traffic are  far outweighed by naturally generated oxides of nitrogen (arising from bacterial action, volcanic eruptions and lightning).”

Optimism as Traffic Pollution Outweighed by Natural Emissions

To an expert like Hoskins the latest Green scare story saying diesel vehicles are causing many thousands of deaths from traffic pollution is utter bunkum. The detailed government report he co-authored notes that NOx should be regarded as a normal very minor constituent of the atmosphere. Hoskins told PSI:

“The fact that some vulnerable people may die a matter of a few days earlier and that earlier death might be on occasions attributable to NOx is entirely lost on the scaremongers.”

Dismayed that Mayor Khan is either scientifically ill-informed or, more likely pursuing a tax raising strategy by deceit, Hoskins insists that since the publication of his 1999 report  “new diesel technologies have substantially reduced the problem.” He adds, “NOx chemically breaks down within a day or so and thus rapidly disappears as a pollutant.”

Rather than seeking to whip up yet another bogus environmental scare story Hoskins urges political figures like London’s Mayor Khan to take a balanced view of the proven scientific evidence.

Nonetheless it seems that the Mayor of London, along with the UK Government, wants to progressively ban diesels in UK’s capital city and elsewhere, or at least to try to tax them out of existence.  Hoskin laments:

“When they are on an environmental roll nobody thinks about or counts the benefits that diesel engines and internal combustion engine brings to the everyone.”

Hoskin has posted online key sections of that Department of Health (100) study. Adding further comment, he says:

“These results are actually optimistic showing substantial reduction of pollution from traffic. And amongst other things it exposed the level of over emphasis of pollution levels as pronounced by Green oriented organisations.”

Even in 1999 the dangers of overemphasis of the pollution problem, as opposed to the benefits to the populace of road transport, were noted on page 8 of the report as follows:

“Air quality standards have been set with inadequate attention to the benefits of meeting them and there is a risk that the ill-considered costs imposed by the authorities seeking to secure compliance will greatly exceed any benefits. The social costs of compliance with regulations that impede movement should not be underestimated.”

The fact is, many policies associated with Green thinking rarely account for their unintended consequences and their attendant costs. But Hoskin soon became aware of the severe blow-back his report’s rather benign conclusions would trigger among zealous environmental activists. He recalls:

“When published, this rather optimistic report elicited a great deal of Green anger and even death threats.  Those extreme and aggressive attitudes generated my own interest in examining the great Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming scam.”


WAKE UP Libs! It’s Impossible For Renewable Energy To Meet Our Needs

“Green energy is the way of the future” say environmental advocates. They argue that the transition away from fossil fuels is inevitable and inexorable, desirable. Some brazenly claim that the entire world could be powered by renewables as soon as 2030—assuming the governments’ subsidies don’t dry up. But is their exuberance justified? No.

Although renewable energy capacity has grown by leaps and bounds over the last three decades (wind power capacity grew on average 24.3 percent per year since 1990, and solar by 46.2 percent), renewable energy still generates an insignificant proportion of mankind’s power, and their rapid growth is not sustainable.

The truth is that after decades of beefy government subsidies wind power still meets just 0.46 percent of earth’s total energy demands, according to data from the International Energy Agency (IEA).  The data includes not only electrical energy but also the energy consumed via liquid fuels for transportation, heating, cooking, etc.  Solar farms generate even less energy. 

Even when combined, the figures are minuscule: wind and solar energy together generate less than 1 percent of earth’s energy output.

Bottom line: wind and solar energy are not making a difference in the left’s crusade against fossil fuels. It would be far more cost-effective and reasonable to simply invest in more energy-efficient technology.  But of course, doing so would not line the pockets of welfare billionaires like Elon Musk, founder of the Tesla Group.

Furthermore, the rapid growth of renewable energy is unsustainable—the future will not likely be wind nor solar-powered.

Looking first at wind energy: between 2013 and 2014, again using IEA data, global energy demand grew by 2,000 terawatt-hours.  In order to meet this demand the earth would need to build 350,000 new 2-megawatt wind turbines every year—enough to entirely blanket the British Isles.  For context, that is 50 percent more turbines than have been built globally since the year 2000.

Given these facts, it is extremely unlikely that the future will be wind-powered: we simply cannot build turbines fast enough, and there is just not enough land (nor continental shelf) available to farm. And unfortunately, this is not a problem that can be overcome with better technology: turbines can become only so efficient due to something called the Betz limit (which determines how much energy can be extracted from a moving fluid, ie. the atmosphere). As it stands, modern wind turbines are already very close to their physical limit.

The state of solar energy is only slightly more promising.  Recent findings reported in Business Insider suggest that humanity would need to entirely cover an equatorial region the size of Spain with solar panels in order to generate enough electricity to meet global demand by 2030. 

Not only is this an enormous amount of land that could otherwise be used for agriculture—or left unmolested—but it also greatly underestimates the size of the ecological footprint, since only 20 percent of mankind’s energy consumption takes the form of electricity.  Were we to abandon fossil fuels for transportation, the area needed would be five times as large.

An additional problem is that earth lacks the mineral resources to build that many solar panels. For example, an article published in USA Today estimates that each standard 1.8 square meter solar panel requires 20 grams of silver to build—silver is essential to modern solar cells. Since there are 1 million square meters in a square kilometer, 11.1 tons of silver is needed per square kilometer of solar panels.  Spain is 506,000 square kilometers. Covering this much space with solar panels would require 5,616,600 tons of silver.  As it turns out, that is 7.2 times as much silver as is estimated to exist in Earth’s crust—never mind the fact that we would need five-times this amount to displace fossil fuels. 

Granted, new technology could mitigate the need for silver, but this same logic applies to dozens of other minerals present in solar panels—they are simply too resource-hungry to be built on a global scale.

One must also remember that such massive investments in solar panels would inevitably contribute to resource scarcity: modern electronics require many of the same minerals as do solar panels.  Increased competition for a finite supply of minerals would raise the prices of our electronic goods, as well as the price of electricity. 

Of course, this analysis wholly ignores the many other problems with solar and wind energy, such as the problem of intermittency and the hidden systemic risks it entails.

This is not to say wind and solar energy have no uses.  In some cases, they may be preferable to other types of energy.  For example, remote townships and homesteads can benefit greatly from local electricity production—especially since renewable energy does not require fuel.

Likewise, they could be useful for providing backup capacity in the case of fuel shortages.  However, wind and solar energy are unlikely to underpin the global energy supply, especially since more cost-effective options remain on the table.

Given these facts, we can reasonably conclude that the green energy industry is little more than a corporate welfare scheme marketed under the guise of noble intentions.


Climate change: 5 things to know about Bonn climate summit

Climate change is back on the agenda with a global climate conference kicking off Monday in the German city of Bonn.

Who's coming, what are the key debates about and how green will this meeting be? Five things to know about the U.N. conference known as COP23, which runs from Nov. 6-17.


Up to 25,000 people are expected to attend the talks, which will be presided over by Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama of Fiji - the first time that a small island nation will be at the helm of a major international climate conference. Participants will include diplomats from 195 nations, as well as scientists, lobbyists and environmentalists.

The United States, which has announced its intention to pull out of the landmark Paris climate accord, will be represented by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon.

Key countries to watch during the talks are the emerging economic powers China and India. Other nations - Estonia, Peru, Ecuador, Iran, Mali, Ethiopia and the Maldives - will also be in the spotlight for leading major international groupings.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other leaders are expected to fly to Bonn toward the end of the summit to give the talks a final push and signal their commitment to fighting climate change.


The 2015 Paris accord set a target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) - or 2 degrees at the most - by the end of the century.

But diplomats didn't agree on the details of how their nations will reach that ambitious goal. The Bonn talks will flesh out the rule book that countries have to abide by.

This includes coming up with international standards for how to measure carbon emissions, to make sure that one nation's efforts can be compare to another's. A second debate centers around how countries take stock of what's been achieved and set new, more ambitious goals for curbing carbon emissions after 2020.

The third big issue concerns money. Experts agree that shifting economies away from fossil fuels and preparing countries for some of the inevitable consequences of climate change will require vast financial resources - including some from the U.S. administration of President Donald Trump, which is doubtful about man-made climate change.


Organizing a massive global conference in Fiji would have strained the Pacific nation's resources and posed a travel nightmare for thousands of delegates. Germany offered to host the talks in Bonn, the country's former capital, because it has ample conference space and is already home to the U.N. climate change agency.

Still, they are going to miss the sunshine of Fiji. The weather in Bonn is generally dreary at best in November.


Germany says the two-week talks will as environmentally friendly as possible. The country is setting aside part of the 117 million euro ($136.3 million) budget for a fleet of bicycles and electric buses to ferry people between venues.

Each participant will receive a bottle to fill with tap water - a move organizers say will save half a million plastic cups.

Germany's environment ministry is also investing in renewable energy projects to compensate for the greenhouse gas emissions caused by people from all over the world flying into Bonn for the talks.


Germany likes to portray itself as a leader in the fight against global warming and Merkel's reputation as the "climate chancellor" is partly built on the pivotal role she played during past negotiations.

But environmentalists note that Germany still gets about 40 percent of its electricity from coal-fired plants - one of the most carbon intensive sources of energy. And German highways are also virtually unique in having no general speed limit, despite the fact that auto emissions rise dramatically at higher speeds.

If prosperous Germany fails to meet its own emissions targets, as current predictions suggest, critics say that would send a bad signal to the rest of the world.




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


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