Sunday, January 27, 2019

‘Green energy blues’ in a town that sought to do something about climate change

FALMOUTH, Mass. — For nearly a decade, the giant blades have loomed over this seaside town, stirring hope and fear in the salty air.

To proponents, the twin wind turbines proved that residents could act on their ideals, producing their own clean energy and relying less on fossil fuels. To critics, they were mechanical monstrosities, blinking eyesores whirring at such a frequency that some neighbors said they became ill.

Nine years after the first was built beside Falmouth’s waste treatment plant, both turbines now stand idle, no longer producing a kilowatt of electricity, totems of good intentions gone awry.

Facing fierce neighborhood opposition and multiple lawsuits, selectmen last week voted to remove the turbines, which had cost the town about $10 million to build, saddling residents with years of debt.

“All that’s left now is that we have an albatross to live with,” said Sam Peterson, the one dissenting vote on the five-person board.

Wind power offers communities a way to reduce their emissions, but the protracted resistance to the turbines offers lessons as communities throughout the region consider similarly controversial renewable energy projects.

It also reflects the challenges, often tacit, in the state’s promises to make substantial reductions in its emissions. Those plans rely on importing hydropower from Canada and major offshore wind farms, and both approaches are being contested by powerful, well-organized interest groups and could be subject to legal challenges.

For Dave Moriarty, who spent much of the past decade fighting the Falmouth turbines, news that the town was finally giving up its efforts to keep them running was a welcome relief. He considers the turbines “overbearing, antiquated dinosaurs” and said they left the town with the “green energy blues.”

The 56-year-old contractor, who lived close to the turbines after they were built, moved across town because they wrought too much stress, he said. He blames town officials for ignoring his and other neighbors’ concerns.

“The town was warned,” he said. “The damage can never be reversed for many of us wind turbine victims. Some of my friends have serious health issues now.”

Neighbors complained that the churning of the turbines and the resulting flickering light and vibrations produced dizziness, nausea, depression, or anxiety — a set of symptoms that critics call “wind turbine syndrome.”

In 2012, with both 1.65-megawatt turbines operating and the opposition becoming increasingly vocal, state environmental officials took the unprecedented action of recommending that one be shut down. They found that turbine, which was fewer than 1,500 feet from the nearest home, had repeatedly exceeded allowable noise levels.

But a panel of independent scientists and doctors convened by the state Department of Environmental Protection found little to no evidence the turbines posed a health risk to neighbors.

The town eventually stopped them from operating at night, and in 2015, a state appeals court judge ruled that the town lacked sufficient permits for one of the turbines and prohibited it from operating. Two years later, a Superior Court judge ruled that both turbines posed a nuisance to neighbors and ordered that they never operate again at their current location.

“The lessons others should learn from our experience is that residents should do their homework in advance of construction,” Moriarty said. “They should ask questions and know what they’re really getting into.”

In addition to the $10 million that the town’s 30,000 residents spent on building the turbines, they now have to pay as much as $2 million more to remove them.

“It’s a shame,” said Susan Moran, chair of the town’s board of selectmen, who initially supported the turbines but voted to take them down. “This is absolutely a financial blow to the town.”

Moran and other town officials acknowledge those losses will take a toll. They’re already considering cutting back on some services, such as curbside trash collection.

While the town received $5 million in state loans for the project — $1.5 million of which has been forgiven — residents are likely to have repay the rest. If the turbines had operated as planned, functioning 24 hours a day, they were projected to earn the town between an estimated $1 million and $2 million a year.

In an effort to recoup some of those costs, selectmen have instructed town officials to consider a variety of options for what to do with the turbines.

Those include possibly converting them into cellphone towers or selling them to another community that might operate them. If they were able to negotiate such a deal with another town, Falmouth might have the rest of their state loans forgiven, as the turbines would be generating renewable energy.

“We’re looking at our options, but either way, there’s certainly going to be a financial impact to Falmouth,” said Julian Suso, to town manager.


Would Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Leave $59 Billion in the Ground?

An Extra $59 Billion Could Solve a Lot of Problems

“BP just discovered a billion barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.”  It was just another CNBC headline on January 8, and yet it highlighted a bigger trend: the surge in U.S. energy production.

And in a way, it also highlighted a big counter-trend: the green left’s desire to take it all away, in the name of fighting climate change.

So let’s take a moment to drill down, pun intended, on that new discovery.  At current prices, that new oil, in the waters south of New Orleans, is worth about $59 billion.  For purposes of comparison, the GDP of the entire state of Louisiana in 2017 was $246 billion.  Which is to say, $59 billion is an appreciable bump.

In fact, as CNBC noted, the new discovery will inspire $1.3 billion in investment to actually get the oil out.  And that’s good news for all the workers who will get jobs and overtime out of this additional economic activity; according to Zip Recruiter, energy jobs in the Gulf pay an average of $80,201 a year.  And so there’s good news, too, for families, neighbors, storekeepers, and stakeholders.

And oh yes, it’s good news, as well, for the United States, since energy security is a big part of national security.  As any Baby Boomer remembers, all through the 60s, 70s, and 80s, we were told by the experts that the U.S. faced an “energy crisis.”  Thus we needed to take dramatic steps to deal with this supposed shortfall—everything from cutting back on consumption to invading other countries to seize their oil.

Yet in the past two decades, all this “expertise” has gone to the trash heap, because, thanks to strong science and stronger entrepreneurship, we’ve enjoyed an energy miracle.  This is in large part due to the new process of fracking; in 2018, the U.S., for the first time since World War Two, became a net energy exporter.

Moreover, there’s more happening with energy production than just fracking.  To put it simply, there’s a lot more energy in the earth than the experts thought possible.

Part of this energy abundance is the simple working of the law of supply and demand.  As every free-marketeer knows, if there’s a market for something, some entrepreneur will find a way produce more of it.  And if that requires exploration everywhere, well, that’s exactly what’s happened; around the world, proven oil reserves have nearly tripled since 1981.

Indeed, some heterodox observers, such as the late Thomas Gold, argue that the earth is, in fact, making more energy, even now.  That is, oil, gas, and coal aren’t “fossil fuels” at all, in the sense that such fuels are supposed to be the decayed remains of dinosaurs and other prehistoric organisms.  Instead, Gold argued, the internal heat of the earth is, as it were, constantly cooking up more oil.  By this reckoning, so long as the core of the earth is hot, we’ll never run out of carbon-based fuel.

This theory of the non-biological origins—abiogenesis–of oil goes back to the 19th century.  And yet even today, among geologists, it’s still a decidedly minority viewpoint.  Still, every time we discover additional carbon-based fuel reserves, that’s an indicator that we might be dealing with a lot more than just the remains of the Jurassic Period.  (As an aside, we might observe that the debate over the origins of oil puts useful perspective on the question of whether or not there is truly such a thing as “settled science.”)

Whatever the source, the reality is that we’re all standing atop virtually incomprehensible quantities of untapped energy abundance.  In 2014, Breitbart News noted that the value of oil and gas under federal lands and waters amounted to $128 trillion.  That $128 trillion, we might add, is six times the GDP of the U.S.  Once again, that’s just federal lands and waters—a fraction of this country’s total territory.

These energy realities could be the makings of a happy story of energy abundance, leading to both economic and national security for every American.  After all, with that much money, we could provide good education, protect retirees, build infrastructure, improve our defenses, cut taxes—and still have trillions left over.

However, as we know, there are some who don’t want any of this to happen.  In the name of fighting climate change, some green environmentalists seek to, in the words of top-dog enviro Bill McKibben, “leave it in the ground.”  Or, in the case of that new $59 billion worth of oil in the Gulf of Mexico, “leave it under the water.”

The argument over climate change has been raging for decades, and yet only in the past few years has it really gained momentum.  The 2016 Democratic platform was ambitious; it called for getting 50 percent of our electricity from “clean” sources within a decade, and for reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

Since then, the greens and the Democrats have upped the ante: In 2017, some Congressional Democrats introduced legislation eliminating carbon fuel emissions by 2035.  More recently, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has rallied Democrats to the target of ending carbon emissions by 2030.

For perspective, we might interject that today, carbon fuels—oil, gas, and coal—account for 77.6 percent of U.S. energy consumption.  And that’s all supposed to go to zero in 11 years?   Hmmm.

We can add that today, renewable fuels account for less than 13 percent of our energy consumption.  And most of our renewable energy, by the way, is hydropower, and the greens are increasingly hostile to dams as well.  And so if we look at the two forms of energy that the greens truly approve of, namely, solar and wind, well, those two sources account for only about three percent of U.S. energy.

So can we really expect to ramp up solar and wind, from three percent of our energy production, to 100 percent of what we need, and will need, as the population grows?  In a little more than a decade?  We all know the answer to that.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) on the steps of the Capitol, Friday, January 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In the short run, the green goal is moot because Republicans control the White House and the Senate; there are, to be sure, differing opinions on climate in Republican ranks, but there’s no appetite for anything like what the greens have in mind.

Of course, all that could change after 2020, if the Democrats do well in the next election.  If so, then the Democrats’ green agenda, which is coming to be known as the Green New Deal, has a chance of becoming law.  (This author has already written about the prospect of a Green New Deal, here, and here.)

So now we can see the makings of the next epic political fight: that is, the zeal of the greens vs. the determination of carbon-energy producers.  In the U.S. today, about a dozen states are heavily dependent on carbon-energy production for their wellbeing; these states account for most of the 1.1 million employees in the energy sector. 

Are these states, and their elected officials, ever going to submit meekly to some green dictate that says leave it in the ground?  That doesn’t seem likely.  And will lawmakers from, say, Louisiana—seeking to defend the new $59 billion worth of newly discovered oil, on top of the previously discovered $2.61 trillion, still waiting to be tapped—find a way to make constructive political alliances with those from states that don’t produce energy, but merely consume it?  That does seem likely.

Indeed, it’s quickly apparent: No matter what happens in the 2020 elections, the U.S. is not going to shut itself down for the sake of climate change.  And neither, of course, is any other country in the world.

So it’s entirely likely that we’ll be in a political standoff: if not after the 2020 elections, then sometime soon enough.  On the one side will the greens, and on the other side will be the “carbons.”  Who will win in the end?  There’s no way to know, of course, but the greens’ losing fight with France’s yellow jackets should give them pause.


1500 Private Jets Descend On Davos For Climate Change Talks

At least 1,500 private jets are expected to descend on Davos and nearby airports in Switzerland this week as the international financial and political elite gathers to talk about global climate challenges.

Breitbart reports:

That would be up from the more than 1,300 aircraft movements seen at last year’s forum, despite climate change registering as the top risk factor identified for the global economy in a survey of World Economic Forum (WEF) movers and shakers last week.

Sir David Attenborough, a lead speaker this year, has already stated that climate is the issue of our time.

The veteran broadcaster, 92, used his acceptance speech to tell business leaders and governments to come up with “practical solutions”.

Speaking at the beginning of the forum on Monday, the Blue Planet and Dynasties narrator told the crowd he is “quite literally from another age” and warned of “man-made disaster of global scale” that lies ahead.

Industry group Air Charter Service calculated the private jet flights over the week, as delegates fly in to hear the likes of Mr. Attenborough speak at an event boasting a basic entry ticket price of U.S.$60,000 – per person.

Davos is a small town in the Swiss Alps, around 92 miles south-east of Zurich.

Andy Christie, Private Jets Director at ACS, told the Guardian how the numbers are determined:

Davos doesn’t have its own airfield and, whilst we have several clients who fly into the town by helicopter, the four main airfields that private jet users attending the forum use are Zürich, Dübendorf, St. Gallen-Altenrhein and St. Moritz.

Working with WingX, we looked at private jet activity at those airports over the six days of each WEF week since 2013 – from one day before the event to one day after. Last year was the busiest year for private jets so far, showing an 11% increase on 2017, with more than 1,300 aircraft movements. If we see a similar increase this year, we could be looking at almost 1,500 aircraft movements over the six days.

Countries with the most arrivals and departures over the past five years at Davos are Germany, France, the UK, U.S., Russia, and UAE, respectively.

Demand for private jets far outstrips other events that also loom large on the private aviation calendar, such as the Super Bowl or Champions’ League final, according to Mr. Christie.

“We have had bookings from as far as our operations in Hong Kong, India and the US ?- no other event has the same global appeal,” he said in a statement

And the trend is towards even more expensive, larger private jets such as the Gulfstream GV and Bombardier’s Global Express.

“This is at least in part due to some of the long distances travelled, but also possibly due to business rivals not wanting to be seen to be outdone by one another,” Mr. Christie said.

Around 3,000 participants are expected for the 2019 edition of the WEF. They represent the worlds of business, government, international aid, academia, arts and culture, and the media, although U.S. President Donald Trump will not be among them.

Among the list of topics to be covered this week is the WEF’s Global Risk Report for 2019 which reveals environmental crises, such as failures to tackle climate change, “are among the likeliest and highest-impact risk that the world faces over the next decade.”

How much does it cost to participate?

The WEF website reveals annual membership (required if you want to buy a ticket to Davos) is upwards of U.S.$60,000, depending on the institution or company’s “level of engagement”.

At the top are the 100 “strategic partner” companies – including Accenture, Barclays, Deloitte, KPMG and Unilever – who pay around U.S.$600,000 for annual membership, which entitles them to buy an access-all-sessions pass for themselves and five colleagues, including special privileges. But they still have to purchase actual tickets to the event.


Global Warming is Nothing New

By Roger Dewhurst. Roger is a retired geologist who spent much of his life studying climate history written in sedimentary rocks

There was the First Atlantic Warm Period about 7750 BC
Second Atlantic Warm Period about 7000 BC
First Saharan Warm period about 5800 BC
Second Saharan Warm Period about 5000 BC
Egyptian Warm period about 3200 BC
Sumerian Warm Period about 2200 BC
Minoan Warm Period about 1200 BC
Roman Warm Period about 0 BC
Mediaeval Warm Period about 1000 AD
Modern Warm Period about 2000 AD

All the warm periods prior to the current one have been warmer (in most cases substantially warmer) than the modern warming that we are having hysterics about.

There have been five significant Little Ice Ages scattered between these warm periods.

If you can explain how man-made carbon dioxide was the temperature driver for these events please go ahead and tell me.

Until you do there are, for me, better explanations, principally the magnetic field of the sun.


Australia: Animals dying in the hot weather

Note that the horses died from lack of water, not the heat.  The only animals that died from the heat were bats, which fell out of trees dead.  That is not however unprecedented,  Sadly, it is a natural phenomenon.  British military officer and amateur scientist Watkin Tench reported bats dying like that in coastal Sydney in 1790 (Yes.  1790, not 1970).  There were no power stations or SUVs then

The devastating toll of an extreme heatwave creeping across Australia has been laid bare in grisly pictures of a heartbreaking discovery in the Red Centre.

The photographs show the bodies of dozens of brumbies that were found by a dry waterhole at Deep Hole, about 20km northeast of Santa Teresa in the Northern Territory last week.

Arrernte artist and activity engagement officer Ralph Turner stumbled across the horrific scenes and his pictures show masses of dried up and partially decomposing carcasses strewn across the bone dry waterhole.

“Not only was Deep Hole completely dry with barely any signs of recent mud but revealed a horrific mass grave of wild horses stretching for around 100 metres,” Santa Teresa media mentor Rohan Smyth wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“The horses are believed to have entered Deep Hole to drink from the reservoir which has not been known to completely dry up.”

It is understood that about 40 dead horses were discovered and rangers have had to put dozens more out of their misery.

The Bureau of Meteorology tipped Alice Springs to reach 43C today.

Elsewhere, Adelaide’s mercury has reached a record high of 46.2C, toppling a heat record from 1939.

The Bureau of Meteorology reports that West Terrace recorded the highest temperature in 80 years at 1.42pm.


Horses aren’t the only animals to perish in the intense heat.

Researchers from Western Sydney University said 23,000 spectacled flying foxes died in the event on 26 and 27 November, BBC reported.

That’s almost one third of the species living in Australia.

Lead researcher Dr Justin Welbergen, an ecologist, believes the “biblical scale” of deaths could be even higher - as many as 30,000 - because some settlements had not been counted.

“This sort of event has not happened in Australia this far north since European settlement,” says Dr Welbergen, who is also the president of the Australasian Bat Society, a not-for-profit conservation group.

The Cairns Post reported flying foxes were dropping by the dozen from trees in November.

In January rescue workers tried desperately to save the lives of hundreds of baby bats as heat exhaustion claimed the lives of thousands of flying foxes in Sydney’s west.



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1 comment:

MAL said...

I am glad all went well, Thank the power that be, for me that would be God.