Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The solar panel toxic waste problem

For decades, the solar industry benefited from generous federal, state, and local subsidies to increase its footprint. Yet these generous subsidies ignore the costs of disposal of solar panel waste.

Things may be changing. In May 2018, Michael Shellenberger, a Time Magazine “Hero of the Environment” and Green Book Award Winner, wrote in Forbes that the problem of solar panel disposal will explode with full force in two or three decades and wreck the environment because it is a huge amount of waste which is not easy to recycle.

Shellenberger was citing comments, published in the South China Morning Post, from Chinese solar expert Tian Min, general manager of Nanjing Fangrun Materials, a recycling company in Jiangsu province that collects retired solar panels. Tian called his country’s solar power industry “a ticking time bomb.”

This is not really news. The Associated Press had reported in 2013 that the heavily subsidized solar industry was creating millions of pounds of polluted sludge and contaminated water that is often shipped landfills often hundreds of miles away.

The now-defunct, bankrupted Solyndra used its $535 million in guaranteed federal dollars to generate about 12.5 million pounds of hazardous waste, much of which was carcinogenic cadmium-contaminated waste, during its four years of operations.

But, you say, solar energy is clean, green, and mean – and taking over the world one massive array at a time. Isn’t that what we have all been told?

The truth can be brutal. The average lifespan of a solar panel is about 20 years, but high temperatures (as in the Mojave Desert) can accelerate the aging process for solar cells, and snow, dust, and other natural events (tornadoes, earthquakes),can cause material fatigue on the surface and in the internal electric circuits – gradually reducing the panel’s power output.

Solar panels generate 300 times more toxic waste per unit of energy than nuclear power plants. They also contain lead, cadmium, and other toxic (even carcinogenic) chemicals that cannot be removed without breaking apart the entire panel. Worse, rainwater can wash many of these toxics out of the fragments of solar modules over time.

Another real concern is the vast increase in the use of nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) in the construction of solar panels – up 1,057 percent over the past 25 years. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change deems NF3 to be 17,200 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas – meaning that even relatively minor quantities can have major impacts.

While the European Union has long required solar panel manufacturers to collect and dispose of solar waste, in the U.S. until very recently only Washington State had any recycling requirements. Yet even their standards did not address costs.

Proponents like to cite the small size of the industry to date as a reason to ignore recycling requirements and costs in their business plans. But the deeper truth is that the costs for solar waste disposal can be huge. As Cara Libby, senior technical leader of solar energy at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), put it, “I’ve heard that [recycling] will have to be mandated because it won’t ever be economical.”

Japan is also facing a growing solar waste problem. In a November 2016 article, Osamu Tomioka stated that Japanese solar panel waste will likely grow from the current 10,000 tons a year to 800,000 tons a year – and that just to recycle all of the waste produced through 2020 will take 19 years. How long will it take, and at what cost, to recycle 80 times that amount?

A 2018 report from the Institute of Energy Research suggests imposing a recycling fee on solar panel purchases. A federal disposal and decommissioning fund would then dispense funds to state and local governments to help pay for removal and recycling or long-term storage of solar panel waste. [Similar fees help recover costs for nuclear waste disposal and coal mine reclamation for bankrupt facilities.]

But how much of a fee would be needed? IER admits that recycling costs are generally more than the economic value of the materials they recover. And bankruptcies have been all too common in an industry that has relied so heavily on disappearing subsidies.

The simple truth is that it is past time for a real accounting of the overall costs to the public and to the environment of a massive increase in the use of solar panels as compared, for example, of increased reliance on non-intermittent technologies like nuclear energy and natural gas.


House of Representatives working to bring back energy dependence

The House of Representatives is advancing a series of bills designed to permanently block access to huge portions of America’s vast oil reserves.

Dr. Jay Lehr reports at CFACT.org that the House wants endless moratoriums (depending on the bill) on pumping oil in the Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelf, the Gulf of Mexico, along the Florida coast, the entire Arctic National Wildlife refuge (ANWR) and others.

The 1973 Arab oil embargo proved just how dangerous dependence on foreign oil can be.  Many of us still remember skyrocketing prices, long lines at the pump, out of control inflation and throbbing economic pain.

Foreign oil dependence is not only dangerous for the American economy, it places our national defense, and with it the security of the world, in real jeopardy.

For decades politicians promised energy independence, but accomplished little.  The private sector stepped up.  The shale energy revolution and discovery of tremendous oil reserves in the U.S. and Canada brought what was once an unrealistic goal into solid being.

Today the United States is at or near the top of world energy production.  Green zealots and their political allies want to shut America’s energy wonder down to the delight of OPEC and Russia.

It takes a special kind of stupid to think that dependence on foreign oil and higher fuel and electricity prices would be good for America or the world.


Climate Change and the Democrats
Climate change is one of those issues that the bien-pensants around the world all agree upon. We must act! If we do not act, people will lose their beach houses. Plants will wither and die. Birds will fall from the sky. Just last week, whole communities in the Caribbean were swept away.

There are, however, problems with eliminating or ameliorating climate change. For one thing, modern technology cannot seem to keep up with people’s ability to dream. Daydreams outpace technology every time. Dream up a problem such as climate change and I guarantee you it will be years before climate change is solved by technology. Though when I ponder some of the solutions now being offered for climate change, it might be worth the wait.

Consider Congressgirl Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She has dreamed up a vast scheme. She calls it the Green New Deal. It envisages all our homes and office buildings, and even factories being revised and rebuilt according to her green code. Others are more moderate. They would only wipe out the commercial airline industry, though the automobile industry could be next. Already there is an ambitious plan afoot in our country to end the life of the plastic straw.

Oh, yes, there is another problem with climate change. It is not a winning issue with the electorate. Any government that attempts this sort of Green Adventure almost immediately falls. I cannot think of a country on Earth whose majority supports climate change legislation. Possibly there is one in the Vatican. We know the pope favors it. Yet I would say that the Vatican is not a conventional democracy.

Australia is a conventional democracy, and climate change legislation has not done very well in Australia. Seven prime ministers have come to power in Australia in recent years, and all came a cropper in one way or another because of climate change. The most famous example of a climate changer being defeated by a climate change denier in Australia was in 2013. In that election, then-Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who ran on a platform of carbon taxes, was demolished by Tony Abbott, who once referred to climate change activism as crap. He sounds downright Trumpian to me.

Last Wednesday, we saw the Democrats’ lonely crowd of candidates traipse across a stage for a ghostly pageant hosted by CNN. The network finished dead last in the ratings that night, with the other two cable news channels elbowing it aside. The network’s average audience during the seven-hour event (yes, seven-hour!) was a measly 1.1 million viewers, according to The Hill. The topic of the spectacular was climate change. Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN, apparently thought it was the major issue with the Democratic hopefuls, and obviously, they agreed.

Gaffable Joe Biden, Pocahontas, Comrade Bernie Sanders and all the rest arrived on stage Wednesday night to talk about climate change all night long if need be. They compared it to World War II. They compared it to cancer. They blamed it for wars already in progress and wars in the future. One ludicrous comparison was between climate change and overpopulation. The wretched of Africa could be saved by Planned Parenthood’s arrival to the Dark Continent, all wearing pith helmets and garb from L.L. Bean.

Frankly, the Democrats’ obsession with climate change is more than odd. It is delusional. As The American Spectator’s Hunt Lawrence and Daniel J. Flynn wrote in commenting on the Wednesday night revels, health care “matters to voters in a real, tangible way, and not in an abstract sense like climate change.” Health care consumes 18 percent of the American budget, trending upward toward 20 percent by mid-decade. Americans now spend $3.5 trillion or so on health care, with the federal, state and local government footing 45% of the bill. How will we pay for it in 2025? The subject was not even discussed last Wednesday by the leading Democratic contenders.

Lawrence and Flynn are putting their money on health care, not climate change, as an issue in 2020.


White House moving forward to strip California of vehicle authority

The Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to revoke California’s authority to set its own vehicle greenhouse gas standards and declare that states are pre-empted from setting their own vehicle rules, three people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.

President Donald Trump met with senior officials on Thursday at the White House to discuss the administration’s plan to divide its August 2018 proposal to rollback Obama era standards through 2025 and revoke California’s waiver under the Clean Air Act to set state requirements for vehicles, the people said.

The meeting included Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow, Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and acting Office and Management and Budget director Russell Vought, the sources said.

The White House and the agencies declined to comment.

On Tuesday, Wheeler told reporters the administration had not made a final decision to divide the rule into two parts.

Following the meeting, sources said the administration plans to move ahead in coming weeks to divide the final regulation and finalize first the portion dealing with preempting states before issuing the new yearly standards.

The EPA in August 2018 proposed revoking a waiver granted to California in 2013 under the Clean Air Act as part of the Trump administration’s plan to roll back Obama-era fuel economy standards.

Under Trump, federal regulators backed freezing emissions requirements for new cars and trucks at 2020 levels through 2026. Administration officials say its final regulation will include a modest boost in annual efficiency requirements but far less than what the Obama administration set in 2012.

The Obama-era rules called for a fleetwide fuel efficiency average of 46.7 mpg by 2025, with average annual increases of about 5%, compared with 37 mpg by 2026 under the Trump administration’s preferred option to freeze requirements.

Last week, Reuters and other news outlets reported the U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether the decision of four automakers in July to reach a voluntary agreement with California to adopt state emissions standards violated antitrust law.

Ford Motor Co, BMW AG, Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) and Honda Motor Co struck a deal to adopt standards that were lower than Obama era rules but higher than the Trump administration’s 2018 proposal.

California and other states had vowed to enforce stricter Obama-era emissions standards, after Trump proposed rolling back the federal rules. Automakers worry that court battles between state and federal governments could create years of uncertainty.


Australian Leftist leader reveals climate change review

After being out of power since 2013 and losing an "unlosable" election, they have cause to change their policies

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese has not ruled out scrapping Bill Shorten’s 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030, saying the party would now re-examine its promises on climate change.

Mr Albanese and his climate spokesman Mark Butler both shied away from recommitting to the target on Sunday, amid frontbench division on how ambitious Labor’s 2022 election policy on climate change should be.

“(The 45 per cent target) was a commitment that was given in 2015,” Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.

“We will examine our short and medium and long term commitments on where we go on climate change but we won’t re-examine our principles. We want to work towards zero emissions by the middle of this century.”

Mr Butler said any new emissions reduction target would still be higher than the Prime Minister’s Paris Agreement aim of 26 to 28 per cent.

“It’s clear 26-28 per cent is fundamentally inconsistent with the obligation to keep global warming way below 2 degrees.” Mr Butler told ABC News.

Asked if he was prepared to restate a commitment to Labor’s 45 per cent target, he would not be drawn.

“What I have said is all our policies are up for review exactly what medium-term targets, numerically are, whether it’s 2030 or 2035 given the passage of time is something we’ll engage over in the next couple of years.

“People can be assured it would be an medium term target utterly consistent with the best scientific advice about how we meet those commitments in the Paris Agreement and keep global warming well below 2 degrees and pursue efforts around 1.5.

“That is our generation’s responsibility to our children around our grandchildren and a responsibility or an obligation really that this government is simply shying away from.”

Former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek was the only Labor MP on Thursday to say she backed an “ambitious” target, following revelations­ in The Australian that the party’s 45 per cent target could be scrapped and a stronger focus given to its 2050 net zero pollution target.

The Greens and environmental groups slammed any weakening of the target, with Greens leader Richard Di Natale accusing Labor of “caving in to the coal, oil and gas lobby”.

Labor’s assistant Treasury and ­financial services spokesman ­Stephen Jones said the party would struggle to meet a 45 per cent emissions reduction target by 2030 if Anthony Albanese won government at the next election.

Labor’s agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon said the ALP should devise climate change polic­ies that would ensure Aust­ralia met its Paris obligations “without doing damage to our economy”.

The comments came as Mr Albanese criticised the government for failing to deal with the drought, after revelations swathes of NSW could run out of water in the next six months.

“The government needs to next week actually come up with a plan for the economy, they need to come up with a plan for the drought,” he said.

“We have a circumstance whereby Dubbo is due to run out of water by November, so the government needs to come up with a drought strategy.

“It’s about time they introduced legislation to deal with the challenges Australia faces rather than just ‘wedge-islation’ to just play politics.”

On Saturday, Nationals leader and Deputy PM Michael McCormack used the party’s federal council meeting to launch the National Water Grid Authority, a $100 million organisation to help secure Australia’s long-term water supplies.

It will bring together scientists and harness local knowledge to shape national water infrastructure policy and identify opportunities for new projects. “It’s has been too long since we built a major dam in this country,” Mr McCormack said.

“This government is establishing the National Water Grid to take out the state- based politics and insert the science with a national-based approach to water security for Australia’s future.” The government has committed to 21 water infrastructure projects with a total construction value of $2 billion.



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.  

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


Monday, September 16, 2019

UK: The plane snobbery of environmentalists

A plan to disrupt flights at Heathrow Airport is part of an effort to make us ashamed of air travel.

Anti-flying activists are back. This Friday a group called Heathrow Pause plans to fly toy drones ‘at a maximum height of six feet, outside flight paths’ close to Heathrow Airport, forcing air traffic control to ground all flights. The point, so Heathrow Pause puts it, is not just to put a stop to government plans to expand Heathrow Airport, but also ‘to draw attention to the most serious and urgent crisis humanity has ever faced’.

But, as ever with greens, there seems to be another, deeper campaign being waged. A war against us, against our behaviour.

From the Reverend Thomas Malthus’s late 18th-century screeds against the proliferating poor and the dangers of Enlightenment thinking, to the Green Party’s origins among a disillusioned group of Conservative Party members in the 1970s, environmentalism has always been fuelled by a certain class prejudice. This is not tangential to the environmentalist worldview – it is central to it. That’s because its target has always been the errant behaviour of the ‘race of labourers’, as Malthus had it. Those who, if they’re not procreating far more than they should, are consuming more than they ought.

While on the global stage this takes the form of First World greens wringing their hands over the rapid industrialisation and rising appetites of the ‘races of labourers’ in hitherto underdeveloped nations, domestically it still coalesces around an attack on the material aspirations of the so-called lower classes. And in the UK, in recent years, this attack on people’s consumption habits has focused on one activity in particular: flying. Or, to be more precise, cheap flying. Hence as budget airlines like Ryannair or easyJet emerged during the 1990s, and prices to Malaga or Athens plummeted, so environmentalist campaigners took to the runways.

Plane Stupid, a gang of entitled hoorays and the most prominent of the anti-cheap-flight brigade, sweated snobbery in spite of its best deoderising efforts. Its self-righteous members just couldn’t help themselves. They talked disdainfully of ‘stag and hen nights to Eastern European destinations’, and complained that this new type of passenger had no interest in the ‘architecture or culture’ of Europe’s metropoles. The object of Plane Stupid’s attacks was never simply cheap flights — it was always the cheap, uncultured plebs doing the flying.

To be fair, Heathrow Pause is not as nakedly snobbish as its precursors. It is attacking the frequent business fliers of Heathrow rather than the leisure flyers of Stansted. And rather than mock those heading to Spain for some sun, it speaks in the grandiose language of Extinction Rebellion, invoking the climate emergency, much as would-be dictators call states of emergency in order to suspend civil liberty and justify all and any action necessary – in this case, disrupting the everyday lives of thousands upon thousands of air passengers. What’s more, it tries to paint this unfunny stunt as one in the eye for the rich, pointing out that flying is overwhelmingly concentrated among the wealthiest citizens, with 15 per cent of the UK population accounting for 70 per cent of flights.

That stat could be grounds for seeking to make air travel cheaper still, rather than further restricting it. But Heathrow Pause, like Plane Stupid before it, has no interest in expanding the freedom granted by airflight. Quite the opposite. Beneath the anti-rich posture, that age-old, aristocratic desire to restrict, reduce and ultimately change the material aspirations of the uppity masses persists. That’s why there is no interest in the air industry’s desire to decarbonise air travel. They don’t want a technological solution; they want a behavioural one.

Here we come to the purpose of the protest. Heathrow Pause ostensibly claims it wants to stop the expansion of Heathrow Airport, and force the government to honour parliament’s declaration of a climate emergency, complete with a pledge to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050. And no doubt Heathrow Pause does want that to happen. But the actual point, indeed the desired impact, of the drone display is not really to exert pressure on Westminster. It’s not even really about Heathrow. Rather, it is about flying in general. It wants to change people’s perception of flying – it wants to stigmatise it, turn it into a source of profound guilt, an object of shame.

Heathrow Pause does not go as far as the Guardian’s George Monbiot did in 1999, when he claimed transatlantic flights should be deemed as ‘unacceptable’ as child abuse. But it still draws on the same desire to demonise, to shame us into changing our ways, just as Malthus sought to paint the behaviour of the mass of 18th-century labourers as licentiously leading us towards our doom. Through its ‘symbolic act’, it wants us to associate all plane flight with planetary harm.

Hence Heathrow Pause activists, pursuing the trail blazed by anti-smoking activists, argue that too many of us consider flying to be a ‘normalised, even hypernormalised’ activity. They want to ‘denormalise’ flying. Which is another way of saying they want to stigmatise flying. They want us to experience and perceive catching a cheap flight to Spain as being as immoral as anti-smoking activists have made lighting up in a car full of kids. If they could, they would no doubt insist on a graphic image of environmental devastation on every plane ticket, alongside the reminder that ‘Flying Kills’.

But failing that, they will content themselves with merely making air travel just that little bit more exclusive again. For that is always the real effect of the green-branded war on consumption habits, from cheap meat to cheap flight: green taxes and price rises. They want air travel to become what it used to be. Something only a small, privileged minority can enjoy – guiltily but necessarily, as they fly to the latest Extinction Rebellion protest.


These starving polar bears falsely blamed on climate change have scared kids to death

These four images of thin or emaciated polar bears falsely blamed on climate change have scared kids like Greta Thunburg to death

If you see kids marching with signs you know they have seen the white lies that have been spread online.

Here I summarize the truth about all four of these starving polar bear images that have been used since 2009 to emotionally manipulate the public (especially young girls), into getting on board the climate change band wagon. Rational people have seen through the rhetoric and come to realize that climate change is virtually never the cause of starvation. However, some poor kids have been scared to death by these images and the stories of climate change catastrophe they inspired – they are very real victims of climate change messaging at its worst.


An act of cannibalism by a lean – but not starving – adult male in November 2009 near Churchill was witnessed by tourists and caught on film by professional photographer Daniel Cox. It was falsely blamed on climate change by polar bear specialist Ian Stirling. The truth is that even fat adult males will kill and eat cubs: they don’t do it just because they are desperate for food. The news media ran with the story and despite rational people trying to set the record straight, the images and false message went viral on social media. My take on it and other incidents of cannibalism here and here.


In August 2013, polar bear specialist was acting as a guide for wealthy tourists in Svalbard, Norway when he came across the carcass of an emaciated polar bear. Stirling told the media it had probably died from lack of sea ice caused by climate change when he had no evidence that this was the case. Starvation is the leading natural cause of death for all polar bears.  More on another dead starving bear sob story from 2014 here.


The hype over a photo of an apparently injured and emaciated polar bear near Svalbard was almost entirely social-media-driven. A photographer with no knowledge of polar bears took the picture and posted it on Facebook with her uninformed speculation that this was caused by climate change to get an emotional reaction from people – and it went viral. Traditional media stories followed. Norwegian polar bear specialist Magnus Andersen pointed out that the photographer’s conclusion was erroneous and reiterated my point that starvation is the leading natural cause of death for old animals. This time, Ian Stirling stated that lack of sea ice was not likely the cause of this bear’s condition but that it was probably hurt or sick.


This is the video that jumped the shark – the film of an emaciated bear on Somerset Island in the Canadian Arctic (falsely report initially as Baffin Island) used to tell the public that “this is what climate change looks like.” The video went mega-viral, apparently viewed more than 2.5 billion times. Some questions were raised about the photographer’s ethics in his quest for an image to fit his global warming message. National Geographic later apologized for the message, admitting that there was no evidence that climate change had caused the bear’s poor condition. It was the biggest of the four white lies.


Trump EPA Praised for Plan to End Use of Animal Testing in 15 Years

This will cause a lot of drug disasters if it is followed.  More likely it will just transfer a lot of the scientific work to China

The Environmental Protection Agency’s move to curtail its use of animal testing, ending it within 15 years, is drawing praise from members of Congress and a broad cross-section of advocacy groups.

The Trump administration’s EPA this week set in motion an abrupt change in policy that requires the agency to seek alternative research methods.

A memo signed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler calls for a 30 percent reduction in the agency’s requests and funding of research studies using mammals by 2025, according to a press release.

Wheeler’s memo Tuesday also calls for the elimination of all requests and funding for mammal studies by 2035.

Wheeler’s directive puts the onus on the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention and the Office of Research and Development to produce “measurable impacts in the reduction of animal testing while ensuring protection of human health and the environment.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the prominent nonprofit group promoting animal rights, is among advocacy groups expressing strong support for the EPA  initiative.

“PETA is celebrating the EPA’s decision to protect animals certainly—but also humans and the environment—by switching from cruel and scientifically flawed animal tests in favor of modern, non-animal testing methods,” Amy Clippinger, director of PETA’s Regulatory Testing Department, said in a written statement.

Clippinger has a doctorate in cellular and molecular biology and genetics.

“PETA will be helping regulatory agencies and companies switch to efficient and effective, non-animal testing approaches and working toward a day when all animal tests are only found in history books,” Clippinger said.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said he sees an opportunity for other federal agencies to follow suit.

“I am thrilled to hear that the EPA is greatly reducing its reliance on animal tests, and promoting non-animal-based research at universities,” Gaetz said, adding:

Animal testing is often cruel and painful, with limited applicability to human health outcomes. Non-animal research is more accurate, more cost-effective, and more humane. I commend the EPA for their decision, and hope other departments and agencies will soon follow suit.

Wheeler also said Tuesday that his agency will provide $4.25 million in grants to five universities through the agency’s Science to Achieve Results Program.

The grant money will be used “to advance the research and development of alternative test methods for evaluating the safety of chemicals that will minimize, and hopefully eliminate, the need for animal testing,” Wheeler said.

With an eye toward taxpayer protection, the White Coat Waste Project also had words of praise for Wheeler and his agency.

Anthony Bellotti, president and founder of the taxpayer watchdog group, which counts 2 million supporters, said the EPA’s action represents “the most comprehensive and aggressive plan in U.S. history to cut wasteful animal testing.”

A “supermajority” of Americans in all political parties support the goal, Bellott said.

“The Trump administration has shown outstanding leadership to curb unnecessary taxpayer-funded animal tests and this development at the EPA is another remarkable win for animals, taxpayers, industry, and the environment,” he said.


16-year-old climate acvitist Greta Thunberg joins small global warming protest of 'striking' schoolchildren outside the White House

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish girl who is criss-crossing the globe to save it from global warming, said Friday that despite being the star attraction at a Washington, D.C. protest, she wasn't trying to communicate anything to the U.S. government.

As a few hundred 'striking' schoolchildren assembled near the White House for a march, DailyMail.com asked Thunberg from about 10 feet away: 'Do you have a message for President Trump?'

'No,' came the reply. The young activist had the same answer to an identical question about whether she had a message for the U.S. Congress.

DailyMail.com asked the question twice to be sure Thunberg, who has the developmental disorder Asperger syndrome, heard and understood it.

The Trump administration is openly skeptical about global warming, and the president has claimed the idea of man-made climate change is a 'hoax' instigated by China 'in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.'

He has withdrawn the United States from the Paris climate accord, and the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate shows no sign of acting on a Democratic House bill to reverse that move.

Trump has also mocked global warming activists and their Democratic Party allies during winter months as president, gloating on Twitter every time a cold snap hits the Northeast U.S.

He softened his position during a '60 Minutes' interview in 2018, allowing that 'Something’s changing' in the global climate, but 'it’ll change back again.'

'I don’t think it’s a hoax,' he added then, 'But I don’t know that it’s manmade. I will say this. I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs.'

Friday's rally ended with a brief speech from Thunberg, who congratulated marchers for skipping school but didn't lodge any demands for America to change.

'I'm so incredibly grateful for every single one of you,' she told the group, and I'm so proud of you.' 'Never give up. We will continue,' she said.

Climate demonstrations in Europe have generated far larger turnout when the pixieish Thunberg is scheduled to appear. And unlike her quiet approach to Washington, she has leveled ultimatums there.

'For way too long the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything ... But we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer," she said during a London rally in April.

Thousands showed up in Rome to hear her speak.

She is taking a sabbatical year from school in order to be a full-time activist.

She attracted media coverage last month with a trans-Atlantic voyage on a 'zero-carbon yacht' meant to demonstrate that it was possible to travel without a carbon footprint.

It was revealed later, however, that two crew members would have to fly to New York to pilot the 60-foot yacht back to Europe. And two original crew members were expected to fly back to Europe as they rotated out.

That may have generated more carbon emissions than the boat trip saved.


Don't Be Quick to Write Off Natural Gas

Earlier this month, as temperatures topped 100 degrees and homeowners and businesses cranked up their air conditioning, Texas' grid struggled to cope with the record demand for electricity. The heat wave was compounded by a loss of power from thousands of wind turbines that couldn't function on days when not so much as a breeze was blowing. Predictably, energy costs skyrocketed in the Lone Star State.

In Houston, as peak electricity demand climbed to record levels, wholesale power prices spiked virtually overnight by an astounding 49,000% (to $9,000 per megawatt-hour). The operator of the electric grid, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), warned that reserve margins were so dangerously low that it might have to institute rolling blackouts. ERCOT called for the construction of more gas-powered generating plants.

Yet, a number of states, most notably California, want to push natural gas out of the picture, putting residents on a collision course with reality.

No one should think that the days of burning natural gas for electricity production are numbered, or that gas has been overtaken by solar and wind. America's vast gas reserves and the development of combined-cycle power plants, using gas and a steam turbine to generate 50% more electricity than traditional gas plants, together with advanced designs and better efficiency will keep natural gas in the energy picture for decades to come.

According to the Energy Information Administration, natural gas currently meets 28% of U.S. energy demand, while about 24% comes from coal and 11% from renewables.

Natural gas is among our cheapest energy sources. As more and more gas-fired power plants replace coal-fired plants, it is also having a significant effect on the environment, reducing power-plant emissions by 50% more since 2005 than wind and solar power combined.

The trend will continue. Two hundred and eighty coal-fired plants, more than half of the U.S. coal fleet, have either closed or announced plans to close since 2010. Time is running out for the remaining 240 coal plants. But lawmakers in several states aren't satisfied with the progress and are now campaigning to leave gas in the ground.

Take California. A new mandate even more ambitious than California's Renewables Portfolio Standard commits the state to achieving 100 percent zero-carbon electricity by 2045. Nine other states, including New York, Washington, New Mexico and Hawaii, have set the same target or are considering it. Natural gas might have no political future in those states.

Such measures are ominous because the nation needs more, not less, natural gas to fill the gap left by the closure of coal and obsolete nuclear power plants. The danger of not having enough baseload power has already become evident in Texas, California and New England. Serious challenges facing grid reliability have emerged, particularly in Texas, where wind energy accounts for about one-fourth of the state's generating capacity.

While wind and solar generating capacity continue to increase-hitting new records in 2018-policies mandating the phase out of natural gas ignore the limitations of these sources of energy.

Increasing reliance on renewables may sound good environmentally, but neither the sun nor the wind can provide reliable "baseload" capacity that can be dispatched, as needed, when it is abnormally hot or cold. Gas plants, on the other hand are uniquely capable of ramping up quickly and hit maximum output in a matter of minutes, keeping the lights on and air conditioners humming. Looking ahead, we'll need more natural gas, not less.

Fortunately, more than 15,000 megawatts of new combined-cycle natural gas generating capacity-enough to power as many as 4.5 million homes 24/7-is scheduled to begin operating nationally by 2020. Stopping or delaying those additions to the grid are recipes for brownouts or blackouts.



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.  

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


Sunday, September 15, 2019

Gloom! Another attempt to demonize air pollution in the USA fails

They do not mention it in their conclusions below but I have put a rubric on the important finding: By the conclusion of the study, fine particulate air pollution (fine soot) was NOT associated with emphysema.

The pollution that Greenies rage about is fine particle (PM2.5) pollution in the atmosphere.  Such pollution is rather heavily emitted by motor vehicles and we all know what Greenies think of motor vehicles -- as they drive off in their Volvos or try to deny what is the major source of power in their Priuses.

And one of the nastiest forms of lung damage is emphysema. Emphysemics feel fairly well but struggle even to get up a flight of stairs, which is super frustrating.  So Greenies are certain  that America's polluted skies must cause emphysema.  But the study below says not so.  How frustrating!  It's actually heavy smokers who get emphysema

Association Between Long-term Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution and Change in Quantitatively Assessed Emphysema and Lung Function

By Meng Wang et al.


Importance:  While air pollutants at historical levels have been associated with cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, it is not known whether exposure to contemporary air pollutant concentrations is associated with progression of emphysema.

Objective:  To assess the longitudinal association of ambient ozone (O3), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), and black carbon exposure with change in percent emphysema assessed via computed tomographic (CT) imaging and lung function.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  This cohort study included participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) Air and Lung Studies conducted in 6 metropolitan regions of the United States, which included 6814 adults aged 45 to 84 years recruited between July 2000 and August 2002, and an additional 257 participants recruited from February 2005 to May 2007, with follow-up through November 2018.

Exposures:  Residence-specific air pollutant concentrations (O3, PM2.5, NOx, and black carbon) were estimated by validated spatiotemporal models incorporating cohort-specific monitoring, determined from 1999 through the end of follow-up.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  Percent emphysema, defined as the percent of lung pixels less than −950 Hounsfield units, was assessed up to 5 times per participant via cardiac CT scan (2000-2007) and equivalent regions on lung CT scans (2010-2018). Spirometry was performed up to 3 times per participant (2004-2018).

Results:  Among 7071 study participants (mean [range] age at recruitment, 60 [45-84] years; 3330 [47.1%] were men), 5780 were assigned outdoor residential air pollution concentrations in the year of their baseline examination and during the follow-up period and had at least 1 follow-up CT scan, and 2772 had at least 1 follow-up spirometric assessment, over a median of 10 years.

Median percent emphysema was 3% at baseline and increased a mean of 0.58 percentage points per 10 years. Mean ambient concentrations of PM2.5 and NOx, but not O3, decreased substantially during follow-up. Ambient concentrations of O3, PM2.5, NOx, and black carbon at study baseline were significantly associated with greater increases in percent emphysema per 10 years (O3: 0.13 per 3 parts per billion [95% CI, 0.03-0.24]; PM2.5: 0.11 per 2 μg/m3 [95% CI, 0.03-0.19]; NOx: 0.06 per 10 parts per billion [95% CI, 0.01-0.12]; black carbon: 0.10 per 0.2 μg/m3 [95% CI, 0.01-0.18]).

Ambient O3 and NOx concentrations, but not PM2.5 concentrations, during follow-up were also significantly associated with greater increases in percent emphysema. 

Ambient O3 concentrations, but not other pollutants, at baseline and during follow-up were significantly associated with a greater decline in forced expiratory volume in 1 second per 10 years (baseline: 13.41 mL per 3 parts per billion [95% CI, 0.7-26.1]; follow-up: 18.15 mL per 3 parts per billion [95% CI, 1.59-34.71]).

Conclusions and Relevance:  In this cohort study conducted between 2000 and 2018 in 6 US metropolitan regions, long-term exposure to ambient air pollutants was significantly associated with increasing emphysema assessed quantitatively using CT imaging and lung function.


Morano debates hurricanes & ‘climate change’ with U. of Maryland Professor on Eric Bolling’s TV Show

Broadcast September 3, 2019 – America This Week – Eric Bolling

Bolling was joined in this debate by Fernando Miralles-Wilhelm and, the chairman of the Atmospheric and Oceanic Science Department at the University of Maryland and Marc Morano the founder of ClimateDepot.


Extreme weather expert Dr. Roger Pielke Jr.: On hurricanes – and more generally, tropical cyclones — we are fortunate that there have been two recent consensus statements of experts produced by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO, Part 1 and Part 2) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These statements, along with the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and U.S. National Climate Assessment (USNCA) provide a robust and reliable guide to the current views of relevant experts on the science of hurricanes and climate change.

NOAA concludes “an anthropogenic influence has not been formally detected for hurricane precipitation,” but finds it likely that increases will occur this century. Similarly, the WMO concluded, “no observational studies have provided convincing evidence of a detectable anthropogenic influence specifically on hurricane-related precipitation,” but also that an increase should be expected this century…The WMO assessment concludes: “anthropogenic signals are not yet clearly detectable in observations for most TC (tropical cyclones) metrics.”

The U.S. National Climate Assessment concurred, explaining that there is agreement on predictions for a future increase in hurricane-related rainfall, but “a limiting factor for confidence in the results is the lack of a supporting detectable anthropogenic contribution in observed tropical cyclone data.” … The USNCA agrees: “A key uncertainty in tropical cyclones (TCs) is the lack of a supporting detectable anthropogenic signal in the historical data to add further confidence to these projections [of the future].”

Hurricane Dorian stats: – 185 mph lifetime maximum sustained winds – tied with Gilbert (1988) and Wilma (2005) for the 2nd strongest maximum sustained winds in the Atlantic basin since 1950. Allen (1980) had maximum sustained winds of 190 mph. – 910 hPa lifetime minimum central pressure – tied for 9th lowest pressure

The Deeply Destructive Climate Change Litigation Game

Voters and their elected representatives can be stubbornly uncooperative with interest groups pursuing the achievement of specific policy ends. “Heavy lifting” is the only way to describe an effort to forge a Congressional coalition in support of specific legislation, and “herculean” is the proper adjective for a campaign to elect legislative majorities inclined to support it.

This is particularly the case in the context of climate policies intended to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). Such legislative efforts have been rejected by voters and by Congress several times. So what is a pressure group convinced of the truth of its climate arguments, the urgent necessity of its own policy aims, and the nefarious nature of its opponents---“Big Oil”--- to do?

For much of the policy community arguing the crucial imperative of “action” on greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the perfidy of the oil industry, this gordian knot can be cut only with litigation, that is, policymaking by the judiciary. A central example of an organization advocating such climate litigation at the municipal level and among state attorneys general calls itself Climate Communications and Law (CCL), about which more below. The behavior and motivations of such groups as CCL deserve far more scrutiny than reporters and other observers have offered.

For now it is more central to examine the pitfalls of litigation masquerading as policy formulation, on the general theory that the production (not consumption) of fossil fuels has created a large “public nuisance” in the form of such climate risks as flooding in coastal regions and the like. At the most basic level, it is obvious that no coherent policy on GHG emissions can emerge from dozens of lawsuits against the producers of fossil fuels filed in state or federal courts alleging “public nuisance” harm. This reality alone makes it clear that the reduction of GHG emissions, supposedly one of the central aims of the litigation strategy, in reality is a sideshow. Far more fundamental, apart from a straightforward money grab, are the ideological goals of hammering the fossil-fuel industry narrowly, and of politicizing and rationing energy use more broadly, and thus reducing the private-sector freedom, enterprise, productive efficiency, and market exchange that abundant energy supplies facilitate.

There is the further matter that that “Big Oil” is so small a part of global industrial operations that elimination of the GHG missions from consumption of the fuels produced by those producers would have virtually no impact on climate phenomena. Whatever the current or prospective harms caused by GHG emissions: Can anyone argue seriously that Big Oil is responsible for all of them? What about other fossil-fuel producers---Aramco and the Russian oil and gas industry and many others come to mind---and agricultural activities, cement production, coal output, ad infinitum? That the litigation is being aimed at only the five or so large producers actually vulnerable in American courts speaks volumes about the pecuniary, ideological, and political imperatives actually underlying this effort. Or is it the goal of the groups promoting such litigation to win these suits and then take aim at one economic sector after another, thus imposing massive losses upon the U.S. economy writ large?

It is no small source of amusement that the plaintiff cities and states being encouraged to file GHG lawsuits have been large consumers of fossil fuels for many decades. Why are they not responsible for climate phenomena? And the same question applies to all other consumers of fossil fuels, which means every single person and business, literally. Obviously, the litigation strategy aimed only at Big Oil is designed to avoid a massive political pushback. The groups promoting such litigation are engaged in self-deception if they believe that a large increase in fuel prices caused by litigation losses will fail to engender a firestorm in Congress, led by policymakers representing producers and consumers of fossil fuels. The tobacco settlement from 1998 will not prove to be a useful model; far fewer people were involved in the production and consumption of cigarettes.

The argument that Big Oil “knew” in the 1980s the adverse effects of GHG emissions in this century is preposterous: Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its most recent assessment report discusses large uncertainties about prospective effects on sea levels and the like. Because the uses of crude oil and natural gas are myriad---fuels, petrochemicals, plastics, and on and on---with GHG emissions outcomes that vary tremendously---litigation, again, is deeply dubious as a regulatory tool. If GHG emissions are likely to result in substantial harm---a premise that is very far from obvious---then it is clear that regulation driven by real expertise and the standard public-notice-and-comment requirements of administrative law would be vastly superior in terms of balancing the benefits and costs of fossil-fuel use.

That the organizations promoting such a litigation approach are driven by ideological imperatives is no secret, as they are supported largely by left-wing foundations and other groups deeply opposed to fossil fuels as a matter of principle. CCL is one such group; it is headed by a former Greenpeace activist. Interestingly enough, CCL has been accused credibly of violating Maryland law on the operations of charitable organizations, even as CCL accuses Big Oil of violating the common law of public nuisance. Whatever the legal realities of CCL’s operations, it is obvious that CCL is attempting to skirt the legal processes delineated in the constitution---actual legislation enacted by Congress and implemented by the executive branch---in its crusade against the oil industry. Not one of us will be safe if it succeeds.


AOC Gets Blasted by Legendary Environmentalist for Her Lies About Hurricanes & Global Warming

Bjorn Lomborg has been an environmentalist for decades. He’s also been fighting environmentalists for decades.

The Danish writer and academic has been putting environmentalists’ claims to the twin tests of reason and mathematics for over 20 years, and while the results have been overwhelmingly positive for the truth, they have been downright brutal for uninformed, emotional and often extreme green activists.

Over the weekend, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez found herself in the dead center of Lomborg’s sights, a place no thinking person would ever want to be.

In response to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Dorian, the Democratic wunderkind wrote, “This is what climate change looks like.”

The only problem is that that is decidedly not what climate change looks like. AOC’s postulation was wrong. Very wrong. And Lomborg was ready for her.

In response to AOC’s silliness, Lomborg wrote in the New York Post that “[there were] only three major hurricanes greater than a Category 3 to hit the continental US in the last 13 years. That’s a record low since 1900. For comparison, the average over the same timeframe has been nearly eight major hurricanes.”

If AOC actually wanted to show what alleged climate change looks like, she could have shown a picture of the Bahamas but also included pictures of other coastal locations that are flourishing, because we’re actually down five massive hurricanes from average.

Want to really blow a leftist environmentalist’s mind? Tell him he’s right about climate change but that it’s also producing fewer destructive hurricanes.

That poor leftist will melt down faster than if you had asked him to explain why homosexuality is hard-coded by biology but sex isn’t.

Want to take that even further? Accuse him of wanting more hurricanes. Because if he’s right that today’s climate is less desirable than yesterday’s, then he’s necessarily arguing that a world with more hurricanes is more desirable than a world with fewer.

Environmentalists might argue that a world with more but less damaging hurricanes would be better than a world with fewer but more damaging hurricanes.

The only problem is that that’s not likely to be true either.

Lomborg cedes the point that climate change — which he believes is happening — will likely make hurricanes stronger. But he follows that up by saying that “a major study in Nature showed hurricane damage today runs the world about 0.04 percent of GDP. Accounting for growth in prosperity (which means more resilience), by 2100 this would drop to 0.01 percent. And the effect of global warming making storms fewer but stronger will see damage end up around 0.02 percent.”

The point here that Lomborg doesn’t make (though to be fair it’s not the point he set out to make) is that Ocasio-Cortez and her ilk aren’t just wrong about climate change. They’re very wrong. They’re radically wrong.

Things are better now than they have ever been in the entire history of the planet. Every day 100,000 people are lifted out of the grinding poverty that has defined nearly all of human history.  Those people will nurture new ideas, invent new technologies, produce new products and increase global wealth. Things will get better and things will continue getting better.

The question isn’t how we’ll deal with an impending climate disaster. The question is why in the world we are talking about crippling the capitalist system that’s rescuing people from poverty so that we can protect them from environmental disasters that will never happen.

If AOC actually wanted to help those suffering from deprivation and devastation, she would push for as purely capitalist a society as possible, because capitalism results in wealth and increased charity. It was during the 19th century — the time when America came as close as ever to pure free-market capitalism — that the greatest development of charity ever occurred, as Thomas Sowell has written.

But Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t actually care about lifting people out of poverty. She cares about sinking people into poverty — equally. That is the defining real-life attribute of socialism.

Its proponents may suggest socialism will result in wealth for all, but in practice, it results in brutal poverty for all, save a minute ruling elite. Yes, there’s equality, but it’s not equality in prosperity. It’s equality in poverty — every time.

Climate change somehow fueling killer hurricanes is a complete and utter fraud — just like AOC.


The Australian Energy Market Operator slashes output of five big solar farms by half due to voltage issues

The unstable output from them means their role has to be limited

The Australian Energy Market Operator has taken the dramatic move of slashing the allowable output from five solar farms in Victoria and NSW by half, because of issues over “system strength” that appear to have suddenly emerged.

The solar farms involved are Broken Hill in NSW, and the Karadoc, Wemen, Bannerton and Gannawarra solar farms in north west Victoria. The constraint limiting them to just half of their nominated capacity came into effect at 12pm on Friday

It is the latest in a series of blows to the solar industry, which has been afflicted by connection and commissioning delays, resulting in a blow out of costs and claims of damages to construction firms, as well as big changes to marginal loss factors, and the requirement for some to spend lots of money on synchronous condensers or other machinery.

To add to their woes, many solar farms in Queensland and South Australia have been forced to switch off during periods of negative pricing, either because they are required to do so under their off-take agreements, or because they are not willing to pay others to take their output over sustained periods.

Most of the solar farms affected by this latest ruling have been operating for some time – and in the case of the 53MW Broken Hill solar farm for four years. But it seems that the issue only emerged in a review just recently.

Some complained about the “blanket” approach to the constraints, but apparently it is difficult for AEMO to apply individual constraints in this instance. They wanted the issue resolved as soon as possible because of the potential revenue impacts. There is also concern about “contagion” into other regions.

The general market advice came in an oblique and typically coded market notice issued by AEMO just after 12pm. However, in a statement issued to stakeholders late Thursday, AEMO said it was working closely with a “number of solar farms” and network service providers to manage identified voltage fluctuations in north-west Victoria and NSW.

“Close analysis and management of this issue is required to ensure power system security across the associated parts of the Victorian and NSW 220kV electricity network,” it says.

“Until the fluctuations are resolved, AEMO will need to partially constrain the affected generators to manage power system security. AEMO has been working closely with all impacted generators, and anticipates an expedited remediation, reducing the impact and timeframe of required constraints.”

People involved say that the issue was raised in the last couple of weeks, and a solution is being worked on. But some expressed surprise the constraint was being imposed on solar installations that had been in operation for more than a year.



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.  

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


Friday, September 13, 2019

It's Lightbulb Liberation Day

The Department of Energy is putting down its guns and withdrawing troops in the war on the incandescent bulb that began in 2007. It's pretty late in the day; the last factory to make them in the U.S. shut down in 2010. It's hard to find them in a store, in which case: thank goodness for Amazon!

Still, the damage can be reversed. Our houses can again be warm and beautiful, and legally. You can turn on the lights in the morning and not have your eyes lacerated by blindingly fake electric "light." As the Wall Street Journal summed up the current moment: "If you like old-fashioned incandescent light bulbs, you can keep buying them."

To be sure, the Trump administration is only rolling back the expansion of the ban to various specialty bulbs. The status quo ante is not yet restored. Still, this is a good move because it is a step toward consumer choice.

As a huge fan of Ayn Rand's short novel Anthem, the liberation of the light bulb means so much to me. It was published in 1937 but mostly drafted in the 1920s in Russia. In the dystopian story, a cruel government committee comes down hard on a young man who has re-discovered the light bulb. They condemn him for daring to think for himself and presuming to override the planned poverty of the social order. This society ruled by the total state is perfectly happy with its candles, and desires that no steps forward can be taken that are not explicitly approved by the ruling class.

Ayn Rand used the example of the light bulb because it is such a great symbol of the power of the human mind. It is within our power to harness the energy that comes from the heavens. "The power of the sky can be made to do men's bidding," observes the Anthem protagonist. "There are no limits to its secrets and its might, and it can be made to grant us anything if we but choose to ask."

As Murray Rothbard observed, riffing on Rand's insight, the light bulb finally freed humanity from having to defer to the earth's rotations to determine work hours. It allowed night baseball, made our highways safer, and put civilization on a 24/7 basis. The light bulb means much more than what it is in its physical essence. It was the dawn of humankind's mastery of the world.

A few years ago, I was contemplating Rand's novel and looked up at my ceiling fan. Three glorious incandescent bulbs were lighting up the room in a warm glow. These particular bulbs lacked blue and white frosting. The glass was clear and the curved filament burned like a miniature flame. And yet that flame is caged and is made to be a servant of human dreams and aspirations.

The deeper story is about a thoroughly insidious attempt by bureaucracies together with a gaggle of politicians to ban the light bulb as we've always known it. In other words, it's the plot of Anthem lived in real time.

It all began with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, which called for a phaseout of the incandescent bulb by 2012 (variously amended by Congress to push out the deadline). The law banned light bulbs by wattage but not by name. In practice, it meant death for the kind of light we've enjoyed since the 19th century.

Gone from the shelves were the incandescent bulbs of 100 watts. Then it got worse as 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs were killed off. Factories that once produced them were shut.

Once you dig more deeply, you find something remarkable: there was no scientific basis for this ban at all. Consider the ten-years ago analysis of Howard Brandston, a fellow of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and the brains behind the refurbishment of the Statue of Liberty in the 1980s.

Brandston argued that the government's metric of lumens-per-watt was completely bogus. It doesn't consider the quality of light for a room. It doesn't consider the costs of making replacements or the environmental danger of more "efficient" bulbs (fluorescent bulbs contain mercury), and doesn't consider the whole reason we have lightbulbs to begin with: to light up a space. It focuses on one narrow point at the expense of all these broader considerations.

"The calculations used by the government and others promulgating or promoting the use of compact fluorescents," he said, "is strictly mathematical conjecture and has nothing to do with reality."

That rings true to me. So how can the consumer tell which are the best bulbs? Brandston says that a person's subjective judgment, tempered by a consideration of how long bulbs last, is more than enough. You don't need bureaucracies and you don't need experts.

But even if the new bulbs are awful, don't they save energy? Brandston said: "hoping that lighting is going to make a major contribution borders on ridiculous. .We'd be better off promoting occupancy sensors and dimming controls and recommending all dimmers be set to only provide 95 percent of the power to the light sources."

Why did the government do this to us? It fits with everything else about federal policy for the last 60 years. It seems to have put the goal of increasing human misery as a main policy goal. This is why our toilets, faucets, detergent, and washers have been wrecked with water-use controls-even though none of these policies make a significant difference in overall water usage. Just look at what government has done to our bathrooms.

It's why we are pushed to recycle even though no one has ever demonstrated that the mandates help the environment. It's why we are taxed on things we want to do like drive cars. It's why we can no longer medicate ourselves in normal ways without a doctor's permission. It's why we must endure hectoring lectures from public officials about fast food, sweets, and our trash generation.

What do all these policies have in common? They target things that we enjoy and that make our life better, then force on us inferior products and services. It's the penance we must do in the interest of the common good - and never mind whether the common good is actually enhanced in real life.

Which gets us back to Ayn Rand and the light bulb. She had a prophetic way of seeing the truth about government. She grew up under a regime that promised heaven on earth but ended up making a hell for everyone not part of the ruling class. She saw that governments could not produce imaginative goods and would eventually fall back on celebrating the poverty and destruction they cause - and inventing an ethic of sacrifice for the whole as a means of covering up their crimes. If you don't go along, you are an enemy of the people.

It's rather incredible that we have come full circle. Just as in Anthem, the U.S. government actually almost banned the light bulb as we've known it. Just think about the awesome implications of that and ask yourself why we put up with it.

On a personal note, my own dear mother replaced all her incandescents with fluorescents several years ago. I was sitting in her house feeling vaguely irritated by the searing lights in the room-cold and dreary-and had to turn them off.

Sitting in the dimly lit room, my thought was: This is what the government has done to us. A great invention from the dawn of modernity is being driven out of use. Do I have to bring my own candles next holiday season?

Why should governments be in the position of deciding what technologies can and cannot be used, as if consumers are too stupid to make such decisions for themselves? Who is to decide what is efficient, and what the proper tradeoff should be between the energy expended and the light produced? More fundamentally, why should governments be in the business of picking right and wrong technologies at all?

There is a grave cost to regulation and it's not just about freedom itself. It's about experimentation and innovation. A vast regulatory apparatus on cell phone technology in 1990 could never have imagined something like a modern smartphone. Regulations on digital commerce in 2000 might have stopped the rise of peer-to-peer services like Uber. Bitcoin is another example of a technology that blasted through the nationalization of money to show us something entirely new.

Indeed, one of the reasons that the digital world was so innovative until a few years ago was precisely because the regulators were not yet caught up with the pace of innovation. That's probably changing with the new antitrust push.

Regulations on technology freeze the status quo in place and make it permanent. In government, a ban is a ban, something to be enforced, not tweaked according to new discoveries and approaches. Regulatory interventions stop the progress of history by disabling the limitless possibilities of the human imagination.

We live in times without much good news in politics. Let's at least take the weekend to celebrate the embrace of progress, acquiescence to the wisdom of markets, the new freedom found for this hugely important symbol of humankind's triumph over the poverty of nature.


Are Category 5 hurricanes such as Dorian the `new normal'?-Asks Michael Mann

By Paul Homewood

Category 5 Hurricane Dorian tore through the Bahamas like a buzz saw last week, killing dozens of people and leaving a ruined, broken landscape.

It was the fifth Category 5 hurricane in the past four Atlantic hurricane seasons, joining other monsters such as Matthew, Irma, Maria and Michael, each of which left its own trail of death and destruction.

Is this part of a new trend? Could this be the "new normal"?

"I fear it's worse than that," Penn State University meteorologist Michael Mann said. "As we continue to warm the planet, hurricane intensities will increase further. There's no new normal. It's an ever-shifting baseline toward more destructive storms as long as we continue to burn fossil fuels and load the atmosphere with carbon pollution."

Fortunately we don't have to rely on Mann's propaganda, as instead we actually have the facts:

While he makes a big play about the five Cat 5s since 2016, he forgets to mention that there were none at all between 2008 and 2015.

It is not uncommon to have two such storms in the same year, as we did two years ago with Irma and Maria. The same thing happened in successive years in 1932 and 1933.

And there were six Cat 5s altogether in the 1930s, compared to five since 2010. (Touch wood, there will be no more this season- the current outlook is hurricane free).

And, of course, this all assumes that we are comparing like with like. How many Cat 5s were missed in the pre-satellite period? The National Hurricane Center have attempted to re-analyse storm data from the past, but large gaps in knowledge still remain.

This is what leading hurricane researcher Chris Landsea, of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, found in his 2012 paper, "On the Classification of Extreme Atlantic Hurricanes Utilizing Mid-Twentieth-Century Monitoring Capabilities":

To re-emphasise:

"It is found that likely only 2 of these 10-both Category 5 landfalling hurricanes-would have been recorded as Category 5 hurricanes if they had occurred during the late-1940s period."

I strongly suspect that of the five recent ones since 2012, Matthew, Irma, Maria, Michael and Dorian, only Michael would have been recorded as a Cat 5, as it was the only one to make US landfall at peak strength.

Michael knows bugger all about hurricanes, or little else about climate for that matter. His claim to fame is his widely discredited Hockey Stick, itself based on shonky statistics..

Yet the media regularly turn to him for any matters related to climate change. It was only a few months ago that he appeared on the BBC's Attenborough climate change programme, telling us how storms, floods and wildfires were worse than ever before. They were not and Mann had no especial knowledge about any of them.

If the BBC or US Today want to know about hurricanes, why don't they talk to proper experts in the field, such as Chris Landsea?

Maybe, it's because they won't get the answers they want.


Buckets of icy cold reality

Democrat presidential candidates and Green New Dealers need to face some hard energy facts

Paul Driessen

CNN recently hosted a seven-hour climate bore-athon. That climate cataclysms are real and already devastating our planet was not open to discussion. So host Wolf Blitzer and ten Democrat presidential contenders vied to make the most extravagant claims about how bad things are, and who would spend the most taxpayer money and impose the most Green New Deal rules to restrict our freedoms and transform our energy, economy, agriculture and transportation, in the name of preventing further cataclysms.

Cory Booker opened the bidding at $3 trillion. Kamala Harris and Julian Castro raised it to $10 trillion.  Bernie Sanders upped it to $16 trillion. Then they got down to the business of telling us which personal choices and living standards they intend to roll back the furthest. Among the proposals:

Ban all commercial air travel (ruling and privileged classes presumably excepted). Change our dietary guidelines or ban beef outright. "Massively" increase taxes. "Make polluters pay" for emitting greenhouse gases. Eliminate onshore drilling, offshore drilling, fracking, coal-fired power plants, internal combustion engines. No new pipelines. In short, ban the fossil fuels that provide 80% of America's energy! No new nuclear power plants either. And then somehow, amid all that insanity, ensure "climate justice."

They need to be doused with a few buckets of icy cold reality. The first bucket: We do not face a climate emergency. Computer models certainly predict all kinds of catastrophes. But both the models and the increasingly hysterical assertions of planetary chaos are completely out of touch with reality.

The second, even colder bucket of reality: Wind and sunshine may be free, renewable, sustainable and eco-friendly. But the technologies, lands and raw materials required to harness this widely dispersed, intermittent, weather-dependent energy to benefit humanity absolutely are not. In fact, they cause far more environmental damage than any of the fossil fuel energy sources they would supposedly replace.

Biofuels. US ethanol quotas currently gobble up over 40% of America's corn - grown on cropland nearly the size of Iowa, to displace about 10% of America's gasoline. Corn ethanol also requires vast quantities of water, pesticides, fertilizers, natural gas, gasoline and diesel, to produce and transport a fuel that drives up food prices and thus adversely affects food aid and nutrition in poor nations, damages small engines, and gets one-third fewer miles per gallon than gasoline.       

Replacing 100% of US gasoline with ethanol would require some 360 million acres of corn. That's more than twice the land area of Texas. But eliminating fossil fuel production means we'd also have to replace the oil and natural gas feed stocks required for pharmaceuticals, wind turbine blades, solar panel films, paints, synthetic fibers, fertilizers, and plastics for cell phones, computers, eyeglasses, car bodies and countless other products. That would require growing corn on almost four times the area of Texas.

Solar power. Solar panels on Nevada's Nellis Air Force Base generate a minuscule 15 megawatts of electricity, about 40% of the year, from 72,000 panels on 140 acres. Arizona's Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant generates 760 times more electricity, from less land, 90-95% of the time.

Generating Palo Verde's electricity output using Nellis technology would require acreage ten times larger than Washington, DC. And the solar panels would still provide electricity only 40% of the year.

Generating the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours that Americans consumed in 2018 would mean we would have to completely blanket over twelve million acres - half of Virginia - with solar panels, and get the Sun to shine at high-noon summertime Arizona intensity 24/7/365, wherever we install those panels.

Wind power. Mandated, subsidized wind energy likewise requires millions of acres for turbines and new transmission lines, and billions of tons of concrete, steel, copper, rare earth metals and fiberglass.

Like solar panels, wind turbines produce intermittent, unreliable electricity that costs much more than coal, gas or nuclear electricity - once subsidies are removed - and must be backed up by fossil fuel generators that have to go from standby to full-power many times a day, very inefficiently, every time the wind stops blowing. Turbine blades already kill raptors, other birds and bats - perhaps a million or more every year in the USA alone. Their light flicker and infrasonic noise impair human health.

Modern coal and gas-fired power plants can generate 600 megawatts some 95% of the time from less than 300 acres. Indiana's Fowler Ridge wind farm also generates 600 megawatts - from 350 towering turbines, sprawling across more than 50,000 acres (much more than Washington, DC), less than 30% of the year.

Now let's suppose we're going to use wind power to replace those 3.9 billion megawatt-hours of US electricity consumption. Let's also suppose we're going to get rid of all those coal and gas-fired backup power plants, natural gas for home heating, coal and natural gas for factories, and gasoline-powered vehicles - and replace them all with wind-powered electricity. We'll also use wind turbines to generate enough extra electricity every windy day to charge batteries for just seven straight windless days.

That would require a lot of wind turbines, as we are forced to go into lower and lower quality wind locations. Instead of generating full nameplate power maybe one-third of the year, on average, they will do so only around 16% of the year. Instead of the 58,000 turbines we have now, the United States would need some 14 million turbines, each one 400 feet tall, each one capable of generating 1.8 megawatts at full capacity, when the wind is blowing at the proper speed.

Assuming an inadequate 15 acres apiece, those monster turbines would require some 225 million acres! That's well over twice the land area of California - without including transmission lines! Their bird-butchering blades would wipe out raptors, other birds and bats across vast stretches of America.

But every turbine really needs at least 50 acres of open space, and Fowler Ridge uses 120 acres per turbine. That works out to 750 million acres (ten times Arizona) - to 1,800 million acres (ten times Texas or nearly the entire Lower 48 United States)! Eagles, hawks, falcons, vultures, geese and other high-flying birds and bats would virtually disappear from our skies. Insects and vermin would proliferate.

Manufacturing those wind turbines would require something on the order of 4 billion tons of steel, copper and alloys for the towers and turbines; 8 billion tons of steel and concrete for the foundations; 4 million tons of rare earth metals for motors, magnets and other components; 1 billion tons of petroleum-based composites for the nacelle covers and turbine blades; and massive quantities of rock and gravel for millions of miles of access roads to the turbines. Connecting our wind farms and cities with high-voltage transmission lines would require still more raw materials - and more millions of acres.

All these raw materials must be mined, processed, smelted, manufactured into finished products, and shipped all over the world. They would require removing hundreds of billions of tons of earth and rock overburden - and crushing tens of billions of tons of ore - at hundreds of new mines and quarries.

Every step in this entire process would require massive amounts of fossil fuels, because wind turbines and solar panels cannot operate earth moving and mining equipment - or produce consistently high enough heat to melt silica, iron, copper, rare earth or other materials.

Not once did CNN's hosts or any of the Green New Deal presidential candidates so much as mention any of this. To them, "renewable" energy will just happen - like manna from Gaia, or beamed down from the Starship Enterprise.

They must no longer be allowed to dodge these issues, to go from assuming the climate is in crisis, to assuming "reliable, affordable, renewable, sustainable, eco-friendly" alternatives to fossil fuel (and nuclear) energy will just magically appear, or can simply be willed or subsidized into existence.

Citizens, newscasters, debate hosts and legislators who are more firmly grounded in reality need to confront Green New Dealers with hard questions and icy cold facts - and keep repeating them until candidates provide real answers. No more dissembling, obfuscation or incantations permitted.

Via email

'Progressives' Worship Nature at Altar of Climate Church

The only time progressive Democrats take a break from mocking, vilifying, and persecuting Christians is when they attempt to use the Bible to justify some element of their radical leftist agenda. In truth, though progressives claim to shun religion as the opiate of the masses (to quote their idol, Karl Marx), as a collective they actually practice a much more primitive form of religion than Christianity - a paganistic neo-Gaiaism in which they worship the Earth itself, rather than its Creator.

The earth is their goddess and their prophets are drawn from the political class. Remember Barack Obama claiming his nomination to the presidency would itself mark the day when the oceans would begin to recede and the earth would begin to heal? Please [ignore the hypocrisy of climate prophets like Al Gore and Obama living in massive mansions and traveling by private jet.

Recently, Democrat presidential candidate and self-proclaimed devout homosexual Christian Pete Buttigieg attempted to use scripture to justify Democrats' radical global-warming agenda, declaring, "To me, environmental stewardship isn't just about taking care of the planet; it's taking care of our neighbor. . And the biggest problem with climate change isn't just that it's going to hurt the planet . it's that we are hurting people."

He continued, "The way I see it, I don't imagine God's going to let us off the hook for abusing future generations, anymore than you would be off the hook for harming someone right next to you. With climate change, we're doing both."

God will punish us for "abusing future generations"?

Really? If God is going to punish us for driving gas-powered cars, cooling our homes with air conditioning, and drinking from plastic straws, we shudder to think how His wrath will be kindled when we are punished for the 60,000,000 (and counting) preborn children we've slaughtered in abortion clinics since 1973.

But Buttigieg says that abortion until birth is morally acceptable because "there's a lot of parts of the Bible that talk about how life begins with breath."

Really? What parts might that be? Certainly not the Book of Jeremiah, where the Lord declares, "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee."

And it is hard to fathom God approving the death and dismemberment of an in utero John the Baptist, who "leaped" in the womb of Elizabeth, cousin to the Virgin Mary, when the preborn prophet heard the voice of the mother of the Son of God.

Democrats have long invoked Christ's admonition to care for the poor as justification for their massive income-redistribution programs. Yet Christ's exhortation that His disciples be charitable is an individual commandment, not a call for government programs.

Indeed, by definition, charity must be a voluntary individual act, done with cheerfulness. When the rich young ruler approached Christ, asking what he must do to have eternal life, Christ initially told him to keep the commandments. When the young man declared he had done so since his youth, Christ exhorted him to "go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor . and come and follow me." The young man, unwilling to give up his wealth, "went away sorrowful."

What didn't happen next? Christ didn't direct His disciples - or the Roman soldiers with legal authority - to accost the young man and take his wealth by force, and redistribute it to the poor and needy.

Democrats cheered heartily when the progressive Pope Francis claimed a religious imperative for open borders, but cast him aside when he condemned abortion.

This is why attempts by the "progressive" Left to co-opt the Bible to advance their political agenda fall flat. They not only don't truly believe what it says, they are actively hostile to its teachings. They use it simply as a political tool against religious conservatives.

The Bible teaches us that man is God's greatest creation, formed in His image. The Left believes we are an accident of evolution; the latest in a series of mutating species who once crawled out of the primordial slime. The Bible teaches us that man was given dominion over the earth, including the animals. The Left teaches human subjugation to nature.

The Bible commands us to "go forth, and multiply, and replenish the Earth." The Left calls for the self-annihilation of mankind so that the other species may thrive.

Mankind is God's greatest creation. God gave us self-awareness, reason, and emotion. He gave us an incredible intellect that has, in just a thousand years (a blink of an eye compared to the age of the earth), taken us from living in caves and huts, with lifespans of just a few decades, to a world where more information than is contained in all the earth's libraries fits in the palm of our hands; where we travel around the world in less than a day, and have lifespans now approaching a century.

If climate change is truly a problem, we'll solve it the same way we solved hunger, disease, and exposure to nature's fury - by harnessing the collective power of the God-created human mind.

The Bible is given to man for his salvation, a guide to eternal life in the kingdom of God. Those who seek to twist it for political gains should heed the words of Simon Peter, who declared, "They that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."


Australian grape grower feels squeeze of the water traders

But there's plenty of water to send straight out to sea for "environmental" reasons

Third-generation farmer Peter Barry has raised citrus and grapes in South Australia's Riverland all his life, and the decision he made last week broke his heart.

He turned off irrigation water to 10 of the 100ha he farms with his wife, Mary, near Loxton, being patches of vines that produce -cabernet sauvignon, gordo and chardonnay.

"They'll die," Mr Barry said, his voice quavering. "It's quite an emotional thing because we are at the end of our tether."

Mr Barry said he had spent $500,000 replanting in recent years, but there was just no way he could make a profit off those vines with irrigation water prices where they are, at $800 a megalitre on the spot market, compared with a long-term average of about $135 a megalitre.

"I spend $10,000 to water a section of chardonnay, and that chardonnay returns me $8000 or $9000," he said. "I would not get a return on those patches."

Mr Barry has some entitlements to what is known as high-security water, but needs to buy much more on the tradeable secondary market to keep his horticulture going.

Drought, the federal government buybacks of water from irrigators and large plantings of permanent crops such as almonds have all reduced the amount of tradeable water in the Murray-Darling system, and pushed up prices. Like many farmers, Mr Barry thinks there's more than that going on, something sinister perpetrated by water investors who don't own land and don't grow a radish, but play the market, hoard water and, he says, push up prices.

"It's shocking," Mr Barry said. "People are owning this water and are just using it to make money, while we won't make a cent.  "We are at the beck and call of investment companies."

With water prices as they are, many cotton farmers are just not putting in a crop, and some are selling their water to other farmers such as Mr Barry who have permanent crops that may die if not watered.

"He just leaves his tractor in the shed and earns a million -dollars selling water to me," Mr Barry said of such a cotton-grower scenario.

More tough decisions face Mr Barry.

He said he might soon have to also "turn off" young citrus trees he planted only a couple of years ago that are too young to produce fruit because he can't afford to water anything that doesn't produce an immediate return.

He may also have to put the two full-time employees who have worked for him for 30 years on to part-time work.



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