Sunday, March 29, 2020


No Green New Deal in stimulus: This time

The Senate passed a two trillion dollar stimulus bill designed to provide economic relief in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

Despite efforts by radical greens to ram the bill full of climate “pork,” it looks like their expensive wish list didn’t make the cut.

This is good news, thanks largely to the President and many Senators who called out their crafty attempts to sneak in a radical wish list that has nothing to do with the virus into the bill.

Of course they have to pass it for us to see everything that’s in it… just as the founders intended.

“[The Democrats said] ‘We want green energy, let’s stop drilling oil’ — they had things in there that were terrible…Windmills all over the place and all sorts of credits for windmills — they kill the birds and ruin the real estate. A lot of problems,” President Trump explained during a town hall style broadcast.

Just because America has dodged one Green New Deal bullet, don’t think the climate radicals won’t be back.

Presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden had this to say, “we’re going to have an opportunity, I believe, in the next round [of economic aid] here to use…my Green Deal to be able to generate both economic growth as consistent with the kind of infusion of monies we need into the system to keep it going.”

Really, Joe?  Do you truly believe shoveling money into the Big Green wood chipper is the smartest way to shelter a great nation from depression and despair?

A record three million people filed for unemployment in the most recent jobs report. The businesses forced to close their doors by government at every level have been shown no clear path as to when they might reopen.

Uncertainty destroys.

Unless we identify those portions of the economy that can operate safely and target them to reopen, our two trillion dollars will be consumed without stimulating anything.

The call for another stimulus bill will be shrill.  Expect the Left to push harder to force their climate wish list in.  They must be opposed.

Ironically, the Left’s push to shoehorn radical climate and environmental policy into government stimulus plans seems to be running afoul of the author of the Green New Deal himself.

Saikat Chakrabarti, former Chief of Staff to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said in a tweet when referring to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s proposal to tie any airline aid to emissions restrictions:

“I helped write the #GreenNewDeal and I think this is ridiculous. The tiny little emissions standard increase doesn’t even do anything meaningful to stave off climate change…”

Hard to believe it, but maybe Congress should actually listen to the author of the Green New Deal – this time anyway.

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Biden exploits pandemic to push Green New Deal

Joe Biden made a public splash this week on various news outlets.  The Atlantic magazine will be glad to know he is alive.

We sincerely wish Mr. Biden well, but he would have done better staying off the air.

The former Vice President and presumptive presidential nominee said if there is another coronavirus relief bill coming out of the U.S. Congress, he wants it to include a blizzard of irrelevant policies which have nothing to do with helping Americans overcome the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. These policies include parts of the “Green New Deal” that were proposed by Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, such as imposing limits on carbon emissions in airplanes and more tax credits for wind and solar energy development.

After three days of haggling, the Senate rejected these and most of the other last-ditch House proposals by omitting them from the just completed $2 trillion legislation that is being passed into law this week.

Joe Biden wants to try again next time. He told the News Hour on Public Broadcasting: “we’re going to have an opportunity I believe in the next round here to use the, my green economy, my Green Deal to be able to generate both economic ground and consistent with the kind of infusion of money as we need into the system to keep it going.”

There you have it; or, to coin a phrase, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”

Mr. Biden gave a series of interviews this past week to remind the country that he’s running for president. It’s not easy getting attention these days when you have no official role in fighting the coronavirus that has afflicted tens of thousands of Americans, and so far killed well more than 1,200 people in the country.

The Congress and the President agreed on this $2 trillion legislative package to keep the U.S. economy from collapsing into a depression, as much of the workforce remains at home, and a growing number of employees lose their jobs. More than 3 million Americans, and counting, have been added to the unemployment rolls.

Rather than sustain American jobs and businesses, Green New Deal mandates and added costs on traditional energy would ensure the economy’s collapse. Oil and natural gas are the lifeblood of the American economy, which is teetering on the biggest downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

The Green New Deal from Joe Biden or anyone else is a bad idea at any time. It is a worse idea now – like rubbing salt in a metastasizing economic wound and public health emergency, with each producing real victims.

Health care, law enforcement and other front-line workers do not have enough masks, ventilators and other needs to care for people stricken by the virus. What if they have insufficient energy when the next pandemic hits because too much fossil fuel has been shut down and renewables can’t cut it, thanks to a Green New Deal?

Mr. Biden’s incoherent interviews to promote counterproductive policies was ill timed. As he tries to get attention, he continues to fumble not merely on policies themselves, but on his presentation. More are questioning his staying power in the presidential race, and contrasting him with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has been in full command as he leads his state’s response to the coronavirus. New York State by far has been the hardest hit of any state with COVID-19.

Whether Joe Biden can go the distance, or is somehow replaced by another presidential candidate at the Democratic Party’s national convention this summer, others can—and will— speculate. From a policy standpoint, whoever is the Democratic nominee will seek to impose the Green New Deal on the country, the central premise of which is the immediate demise of fossil fuels and the associated jobs of Americans in related industries.

The debate will continue in America about our energy future and how we get there. Technological ingenuity and development will bring about new energy sources to gradually supplant oil and gas to some degree, without having a Green New Deal to outlaw their use or make them prohibitively costly. Doing so would only hurt the livelihoods of American workers and industries in the process, especially in this and certain future national emergencies.

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The Guardian’s biases produced bogus COVID-19 claims

By Paul Driessen

The Guardian (a very liberal London newspaper) does some excellent reporting – about 40,000 children slaving and dying in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) of Central Africa, mining cobalt for cell phones, laptops, Teslas and Green New Deal technologies, for example. But other stories are a bizarre mix of fact, fake news, junk science, random conjecture and utter nonsense.

A case in point is its recent attempt to blame the coronavirus crisis on human activities that The Guardian and its writers tend to detest, even though they are essential for modern civilization and living standards: road building, mining and logging. “Is our destruction of nature responsible for Covid-19?” the headline blares, adding “As habitat and biodiversity loss increase globally, the coronavirus outbreak may be just the beginning of mass pandemics.”

The article opens with the tragic story of an Ebola-traumatized village in Gabon, west of the DRC on Africa’s west coast. Villagers had gotten the disease from eating a wild chimpanzee. Many had died.

The ensuing eco-proselytizing took a page out of ancient religious lore, which attributed calamities to mankind’s sins against gods, God – or in this case Gaia. Some vague “number of researchers” in the new academic “discipline” of “planetary health” now believe it is “humanity’s destruction of biodiversity that creates the conditions for new viruses and diseases such as COVID-19.”

Humans “invade” wild landscapes where animals and plants live that harbor unknown viruses, says one supposed expert. “We disrupt ecosystems and shake viruses loose from their natural hosts.”

“Research suggests” that outbreaks of diseases crossing over from animals to humans “are on the rise,” the article continues. While rabies and bubonic plague “crossed over centuries ago,” it’s getting much worse: Marburg, Mers, Nipah, SARS, Zika and West Nile, for example. Or the Asian flu and AIDS. These “zoonotic” diseases are “increasingly linked to environmental change and human behavior,” such as human population growth, urbanization and the “disruption of pristine forests,” says another “expert.”

It sounds plausible, for those without scientific, medical or analytical background. It definitely appeals to those who dislike these activities (and humanity). But it ignores history, reality, and the anti-technology ideologies of those who say we are “sinning against Gaia the Earth Mother.”

Malaria, dengue, yellow fever and sleeping sickness are also mentioned. Yet what about cholera, polio (which I had as a child), smallpox, measles, multiple plagues in various cities and countries through the ages, and countless iterations of influenza? We don’t know where they come from, and many mutate frequently, defying our best efforts to eradicate them or find vaccines and cures.

Many were brought from distant shores to Europe or the Americas, Russia or other lands by sailing ships – to populations that lacked natural or built-up immunities. Today’s emergent diseases can travel far more rapidly and widely, thanks to trains, cars, ships and planes. Add the  billions that live today in crowded cities, often facilitating rapid transmission of virulent or novel diseases, even with modern clinics, hospitals, vaccinations, medicines, antibiotic soaps and proper hygienic practices.

Those life-saving modern technologies and buildings didn’t just happen. They are the product of mining, logging, roads, drilling, fossil fuel and nuclear energy, and modern agriculture, communication and transportation – which enable innovation to thrive, help keep Nature’s wrath and fury at a safer distance, and helped extend average American life spans from 40 in 1800 to 47 in 1900 and 78 today. (My colleagues and I discuss that here, here and elsewhere. This penicillin story is also fascinating.)

The Guardian has it completely backward. Utilizing Earth’s surface and subsurface bounties – God’s blessings – did not unleash COVID-19 and other viruses, bacteria and diseases. It helped save us from pestilences that have ravaged humanity throughout our time on this planet. It still does so today.

Diseases will always be with us. They will evolve, mutate, cross over from animals to humans, and try to ravage us for as long as we inhabit this magnificent planet. Never forget that it was the fossil fuels that so many detest which enabled so much of humanity to escape the deprivation, starvation and disease that kept human, health and civilizational progress to a barely measurable minimum until about 1800.

Imagine what would happen if abundant, reliable, affordable heat and electricity from fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric were replaced by limited, intermittent, weather-dependent, expensive wind, solar and battery power. The impacts on our healthcare and living standards would be horrific. Try to picture life in African villages and cities, where electricity, clean water, sanitation and healthcare are still almost nonexistent.

Imagine what our planet would look like, if we had to replace relatively few fossil, nuclear and hydroelectric power plants with millions of wind turbines, billions of solar panels and billions of backup batteries, sprawling across hundreds of millions of acres. We would have to open or expand thousands of mines, to provide the metals and minerals required to manufacture all that pseudo-renewable energy.

Disruption of ecosystems and destruction of biodiversity would multiply by orders of magnitude.

The Guardian article subtly but harshly criticizes hunting chimpanzees and other wild animals. But why do African villagers do that? It’s not rocket science. They are hungry! Living on the edge of survival.

And yet UN and EU agencies, eco-imperialist pressure groups, anti-development banks and divestment campaigners demand that they compound the misery of living without electricity, clean water and healthcare – by turning their backs on modern seeds, fertilizers, pesticides and tractors.

Instead, Africans are supposed to survive on whatever meager crops they can harvest using agro-ecology: primitive subsistence farming – and whatever might survive droughts and locust plagues. They’re also supposed to be content with bed nets and avoid using insecticides to kill insects that carry diseases like malaria, dengue and sleeping sickness.

The article next cites “disease ecologists” who claim these diseases increasingly come from “wet markets” that have recently “sprung up” to provide fresh meat for large urban populations. Wet markets have certainly been tied to the coronavirus. But they have been around for centuries, due to culture and tradition, as places to meet and gossip, as symbols of wealth, reflecting the belief that the meat is more natural and healthy. The reality that there is not enough farm-raised meat because agricultural practices in much of Asia and Africa are still antiquated.

In a final bit of absurdity, the author says the solutions to this modern crisis of disease outbreaks “start with education and awareness” – like the junk science, fake news and half-baked ideas thrown about in his article. Then the newspaper weighs in, railing that under the Trump administration “anger and cruelty disfigure public discourse and lying is commonplace.” But with financial help from readers, The Guardian can “keep delivering quality journalism” – like this story.

One has to wonder. If we can close restaurants and parks, and ban gatherings of more than ten people, can’t we quarantine nonsense about disease, mining, and wild ecosystems disrupted because we haven’t sufficiently adopted “clean, green, renewable, sustainable” wind, solar, battery and biofuel alternatives?

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Covid-19: a glimpse of the dystopia greens want us to live in

Greens just can’t help themselves. As the rest of us do what we can to tackle or withstand the Covid-19 crisis, they treat it as a sign, a warning from nature, a telling-off to hubristic, destructive mankind. The speed with which they have folded this pandemic into their misanthropic narrative about humanity being a pox on the planet has been shocking, but not surprising.

Right from the top of the UN, they have been promoting their backward belief that this virus is a reprimand from nature. Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, says ‘nature is sending us a message’ with this pandemic and other recent disasters, including bushfires in Australia and locust invasions in Kenya. Of course nature is doing no such thing, because nature is not a sentient being, however much the new religion of environmentalism might fantasise that it is.

The Guardian reports that Andersen thinks humanity’s ‘destruction of the natural world for farming, housing and mining’ is making pandemics more likely. In short, human growth, modern society itself, is now getting its comeuppance. We think we can farm and mine and, erm, build houses as we see fit, but here comes nature with her punishment: a terrible disease. This is positively Biblical. Gaia is God in this scenario, coming to punish us for our sins.

A group of scientists agrees with Andersen. They describe Covid-19 as a ‘clear warning shot’ from nature, telling human civilisation that it is ‘playing with fire’. This is the political exploitation of a horrible disease to the end of winding back human industry: what a low trick.

Britain’s chief bourgeois misanthrope, George Monbiot, was hot on the heels of the UN’s eco-medievalists. He says Covid-19 has shattered humanity’s self-serving myth that it has achieved ‘insulation from natural hazards’. There is a grotesque glee in the way Monbiot describes what Covid-19 has unleashed – ‘the membrane has ruptured’, he says, and ‘we find ourselves naked and outraged, as the biology we appeared to have banished storms through our lives’.

Monbiot also views this pandemic as a lesson from nature. The headline to his piece says: ‘Covid-19 is nature’s wake-up call to our complacent civilisation.’ And what is the content of nature’s violent lesson to disgusting mankind? It is to remind us that, for all our arrogance, we are actually ‘governed by biology and physics’.

There is something profoundly ugly in this. Monbiot and other greens seem to view Covid-19 as a disaster that will have an upside: it might roll back the Enlightenment-era belief that humankind can exercise dominion over nature and remind us that actually we are at nature’s mercy. They hope this disaster will restore nature’s power over the humanised world.

This is also why so many greens online have been sharing images of dolphins swimming near Venice or an absence of airplane trails over California. Because to them, these are signs of a benefit from Covid-19: the humbling of humankind, the reining in of our industrial and technological activity, and the reassertion of nature’s awesome power. If you see a disease as a political statement, as an opportunity to pursue your pre-existing misanthropic agendas, there is something very wrong with you.

Even though all of this is morally perverse, it is not surprising. For a long time, greens have viewed human beings as a pox, a virus in our own right, doing untold damage to the planet. Green god David Attenborough has said humans are ‘a plague on the planet’. Even when greens don’t use such explicitly hateful language, they constantly promote a view of human production and development as toxic and destructive.

And they latch on to everything from bushfires to floods, from plagues of locusts to melting ice-caps, as signs from nature, lessons from a furious Gaia. When religious crackpots blame floods on gay marriage, claiming God is punishing us for losing the moral plot, we rightly mock them. Yet greens offer merely a secular version of such backward, apocalyptic claptrap.

The truth is that if the Covid-19 crisis has shown us anything, it is how awful it would be to live in the kind of world greens dream about. Right now, courtesy of a horrible new virus, our societies look not dissimilar to the kind of societies Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion, green parties and others have long been agitating for. Fewer flights, industry halted, huge infrastructure projects put on hold. Less driving, less travelling, less human interaction. Over the past few weeks, as a result of our response to Covid-19, the ‘human footprint’ will undoubtedly have shrunk. And what an awful world it has become: smaller, quieter, more atomised.

We are all happy to make some sacrifices during this crisis. We are staying home, observing social distancing, and of course, most of us are not working or travelling. But we cannot wait to go back to a world in which factories crank back to life, airplanes scrawl their lines in the sky, and people can go anywhere and work, socialise, buy and eat to their heart’s content. Greens really should be careful when they talk about Covid-19, because it won’t be long before more and more people realise that this unpleasant emergency we are living through is just like the warped dystopia greens want to build.

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Fossil Fuels, Not the Green New Deal, Improve Human Welfare

For millennia, most humans toiled in a Hobbesian state of nature: Their lives were poor, nasty, brutish and short. People lived chronically at the brink of starvation, and they suffered through numerous pandemics, as well as with high infant mortality rates and a short life expectancy.

But then, something remarkable occurred: Mankind learned how to use fossil fuels, spurring the Industrial Revolution. “First coal in England, soon followed by natural gas, and then crude oil in the early twentieth century,” Steve Moore explained in his compelling book, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy.

As Moore notes, thanks to fossil fuels, production per capita soared, as did life expectancy and human population.

“Average real income per capita — on a global basis — is now 10 to 20 times higher than at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution,” Moore added. “Each variable (GDP per capita, life expectancy, human population, carbon dioxide emissions), shows an advance of approximately sixteen-fold over the past one hundred years … with world economic product increasing from $2 to $32 trillion.”

Fossil fuels and the flowering of the modern world provided the tools needed for reducing world poverty and hunger. And we could be making significantly more progress too, if it weren’t for the fact that the world is burdened today with ignorant warnings about human extinction and the imminent end of the world caused by the very same fossil fuels that have unquestionably improved human life for more than a century.

Alarmists tell us the oceans are rising at a frightening pace and will soon engulf major cities and coastal shores all over the world — despite ample evidence that such fears are not warranted.

These assertions are often nothing more than politically motivated fearmongering. In many cases, it seems unlikely the alarmists actually believe their own dire warnings.

Take Barack Obama, for example. He recently invested $11.5 million in a Martha’s Vineyard estate so close to the ocean you can actually throw a football from his backyard into the sea.

Obama isn’t alone, of course. Coastal real estate markets, many of which are located in deep-blue parts of the country full of people who supposedly believe climate change is on the verge of destroying the world, reveal the absurdity of alarmist sea-level claims. Despite the alleged “existential crisis” of climate change, coastal property values are rising dramatically.

Despite all the erroneous and misleading claims, as well as the hypocrisy, the left continues to promote policies that will “fix” the present climate crisis—all while conveniently giving them the power they have always craved.

The best example of these policies is the Green New Deal (GND), which would replace fossil fuels with more expensive, less reliable renewable energy sources, at a cost of many trillions of dollars. If enacted, the GND would completely decimate the U.S. economy. The stock market would collapse, and America would fall back into recession. Unemployment would soar, millions of jobs would be lost, and wages would plummet.

Just as importantly, the environment would be wrecked as well. A new study published by the Heartland Institute and authored by Paul Driessen, a senior policy analyst for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, documents that replacing fossil fuels and nuclear energy with wind power “would require 2.12 million (wind) turbines on 500,682 square miles (equivalent to) the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon, and much of West Virginia.” This would not only destroy habitats for countless animal species, it would also kill millions of innocent birds and bats.

Unfortunately, the wanton environmental damage wrought by a switch to wind and solar power does not end there. The mining of toxic rare earth minerals that are necessary for wind and solar equipment is among the most environmentally destructive activities on the planet.

Further, the necessary construction of thousands of miles of new transmission lines needed to bring power from remote wind and solar farms to urban population centers would cause additional habitat destruction and spark wildfires like the ones that recently ravaged California.

Making matters even worse, the wind power industry has yet to devise an acceptable plan to recycle or dispose of the monstrous-sized wind turbines when no longer usable.

In the end, the Green New Deal would destroy both the environment and the economy. The only “good” it would ultimately provide is for the ruling class in Washington, DC, whose power would be greatly enhanced, and their buddies in the renewable energy industry, who would receive bucketloads of taxpayer cash to prop up their ordinarily unprofitable businesses.

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For more postings from me, see  DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC and AUSTRALIAN POLITICS. Home Pages are   here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  

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Friday, March 27, 2020



Virtue Signaling of Plastic Bag Ban Ends Quickly in a Pandemic

Mindless virtue signaling doesn’t fare well in a real crisis.

As the nation and the world confronts a deadly pandemic, and citizens, businesses, and governments do all they can to tamp down the spread of the coronavirus, some useless measures instituted in less turbulent times will go by the wayside.

One of these useless measures is plastic bag bans, which have been proliferating in recent years with the aid of environmentalist activists.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu issued an order Saturday telling all grocery and retail stores to move away from reusable bags and transition to disposable plastic and paper bags.

“Our grocery store workers are on the front lines of #COVID19, working around the clock to keep NH families fed,” Sununu, a Republican, said on Twitter. “With identified community transmission, it is important that shoppers keep their reusable bags at home given the potential risk to baggers, grocers, and customers.”

This comes just over two months after the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed legislation to ban plastic bags in the state. The legislation remains in committee in the state Senate.

New Hampshire is not alone.

New York state has put its recently passed ban on plastic bags on hold for now.

In fact, states and cities around the country have been suspending their plastic bag bans too. And there is a growing call for places that still have the bans in place to bring them to an end during the outbreak.

These actions reveal the fact that not only are the bans marginal or even detrimental in their environmental impact—more on that later—but they are also a public health hazard.

Reusable plastic tote bags are a good carrier for bacteria and viruses, the coronavirus included. As John Tierney wrote for City Journal, numerous studies have provided evidence that reusable bags are unsanitary.

In one study that Tierney highlighted, published in the Journal of Environmental Health in 2018, researchers planted a surrogate virus on the bags of three shoppers who went into grocery stores. After they bought their groceries and checked out, researchers found the virus “on the hands of the shoppers and checkout clerks, as well as on many surfaces touched by the shoppers, including packaged food, unpackaged produce, shopping carts, checkout counters, and the touch screens used to pay for groceries.”

This is a scary prospect as countless Americans have their only contact with the general public when they go to grocery stores, making the efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 much more difficult.

Of course, some climate activists aren’t going to be dissuaded, even at this time.

Larissa Copello de Souza, a campaigner at Zero Waste Europe, said, according to The Wall Street Journal: “We cannot forget and disregard the other big current challenges we are also currently facing.”

By this she means climate change and plastic buildup.

“Promoting the use of reusables is certainly one of the greatest practices we can have to address those issues,” Souza said.

The problem with this mentality, beside perhaps misplaced priorities, is that the plastic bag bans are ineffectual even if the primary concern is the environment.

A study in Australia by University of Sydney economist Rebecca Taylor demonstrated that bans on plastic shopping bags do not significantly cut down on waste; more people buy thick garbage bags to line their trash cans after the bans are put in place.

The bottom line is, the current crisis has revealed the misguided nature of plastic bag bans, and now cities and states must move quickly to prevent these bans from exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic.

In the coming days, Americans will have to take many actions and adjust their lives to stop the spread of COVID-19. Serious times and serious matters will force us to abandon virtue signaling and restore common sense.

Suspending bans on plastic bags is a good sign that’s happening already.

SOURCE 





Dead weight: The problem with plug-in hybrids

The batteries and electric motors in hybrids are HEAVY so damage fuel economy if little used

Plug-in hybrids took a blow recently when the government included their like, as well as conventional hybrids, in the 2035 ban of petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. Is the inclusion fair?

In terms of what they actually emit in so-called ‘real-world conditions’, quite possibly, in spite of the technology. New research has suggested that PHEVs emit as much as three-times their homologated figures for CO2, and consume three-times as much fuel, in ‘real-world’ conditions.

When it comes to petrol and diesel vehicles, ‘real world’ emissions and efficiency figures can be compared with figures reported from lab tests that are used to homologate them. Typically, those real-world figures are a small degree worse than those obtained in testing, due to varying conditions, performance and driving habits. That degree is a curiosity, rather than a serious issue. Indeed, some drivers can achieve better figures through careful driving.

In the case of PHEVs, the difference between testing and real-world figures can be stark. New research by The Miles Consultancy (TMC) indicates that the most popular PHEVs can triple the severity of their stated emissions and fuel consumption figures. Likewise, testing by Emissions Analytics, found alarmingly high consumption and emissions figures from PHEVs whose batteries were not charged.

“On the evidence of our sample, one has to question whether some PHEVs ever see a charging cable,” Paul Hollock, TMC’s managing director commented. “In a lot of cases, we see PHEVs never being charged, doing longer drives and this is not a good fit for a lot of car users.”

Imagine a driver of a conventional car had the option of tripling its efficiency but didn’t, either through laziness or a lack of awareness. This is more or less what is happening with many PHEVS. Using the plug-in element of a PHEV, keeping the battery charged to get those superb efficiency and emissions figures, is optional. Not charging doesn’t mean you’ll be stranded, so people can neglect to do so.

The problem is with driving habits and not the technology. Plugging in is an option, and one that isn’t always taken. Worse still, when it isn’t taken, you end up with an internal combustion vehicle, with the same or a similar engine as non-hybridised variants, lugging the extra weight of a hybrid system not in use.

“This is all very confusing for motorists,” said Nick Molden, chief executive of Emissions Analytics. “The problem is the official figures are very sensitive to assumptions about how PHEVs are being charged and driven.”

Proprietors of popular plug-in hybrid models responded to scepticism around their vehicles. A spokesman from Mitsubishi UK cited a survey of Outlander owners that found 96 percent charged at least once a week, and 68 percent charged every day. Even so, Mitsubishi itself recently announced a scheme to incentivise owners to plug-in, offering 10,000 free electric miles’ worth of charging.

Kia, meanwhile, has emphasised that ultimately, ”responsibility lies with the owner, but used correctly, a PHEV will improve fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions”.

Ultimately, be it an issue of education or laziness, the fact that PHEVs give drivers the option of not running them at maximum efficiency compromises their effectiveness. Their potential to offer a great compromise is known. If you’re a PHEV owner and you’re hot on plugging it in, then you’re doing it right. Unfortunately, the unpredictable human element is where they fall short.

In 2020, as the offering of competent viable longer-range fully electric vehicles flourishes, the question of PHEV’s real-world relevance to the cause of emissions and consumption reduction burns ever-more.

“By the end of the year, most new models of fully-electric vehicle will be able to cover 150 miles on a single charge, and the need for plug-in hybrids will inevitably decline”, said Ewa Kmietowicz, transport team leader at the Committee on Climate Change.

Whether their inclusion in the ban is fair or not perhaps isn’t the question. For now, their effectiveness remains in doubt, given that the problem with plug-in hybrids is people.

SOURCE 





Migratory Bird Treaty Act reform will clarify longstanding confusion

A century-old statute enacted to protect birds that cross international boundaries has become the object of conflicting legal interpretations, sowing confusion over what kinds of acts leading to the injury of death of a protected species can be punished by a fine or even a prison sentence.

Now, the Trump administration’s Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS), a division of the Interior Department, is stepping in to define the scope of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) to provide regulatory certainty to the public, industries, states, tribes, and other affected parties.

By proposing to codify FWS’s existing interpretation that the prohibitions of the MBTA only apply to actions “directed at” migratory birds, their nests, or their eggs, FWS is taking a significant step toward clarifying confusion that has resulted from no fewer than five recent conflicting circuit court of appeals decisions on the scope of the MBTA, as well as conflicting interpretations by the Obama administration and the Trump administration..

The muddled legal interpretation of what constitutes a “take” of a protected bird under the MBTA has opened the door to protracted litigation as the public has struggled to understand what the law actually says.

Obama vs. Trump Interpretations

On Jan. 10, 2017 – ten days before the Obama administration left office – the Solicitor General at the Obama Interior Department issued a legal opinion, according to which any act that takes or kills a migratory bird – regardless of the violator’s intention or state of mind – falls within the scope of the MBTA as long as it results in the death of a bird. But on Dec. 22, 2017, the Trump administration issued its own Solicitor’s Opinion concluding that an otherwise lawful activity that results in the incidental take of a protected bird does not violate the MBTA.

In its proposed rulemaking, FWS codifies the Trump Solicitor’s Opinion. As pointed out in CFACT’s public comments submitted to FWS on March 18:

The proposed codification differentiates between wanton acts of destruction and criminal negligence, on the one hand, and the accidental or incidental take of a protected bird, however regrettable, on the other. U.S. law has long differentiated between harm caused by intent and harm caused by accident. The proposed rulemaking extends that practice to the MBTA.

The rulemaking would also change how FWS administers the MBTA by determining that an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the most efficient and comprehensive approach for considering the potential impacts of this action on the environment. Until recently, such a proposal would have been a fool’s errand because of the extraordinary delays long associated with the NEPA process. However, with the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) having recently proposed a long-overdue streamlining of the NEPA process, CEQ’s rulemaking – assuming it survives legal challenges – compliments what the Service is proposing to do with regard to the MBTA.

Court Battles Loom

Both the Trump administration’s clarification of the MBTA and its reforms of the National Environmental Policy Act will be challenged in court by environmental groups. If they survive those challenges, at least some of the litigation and red tape that have surrounded environmental policy for decades will be trimmed back.

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California Would Have Low-Cost Housing If Government Allowed It: The Mortenson Experiment

Predominantly environmental building codes prevent it

Chris Mortenson, a San Diego developer, hired an architect to find out what type of SRO (single-room-occupancy) building he could develop for very low-income people, many of them homeless, if unnecessary state and local regulations were ignored. SROs are basically apartment buildings that typically have rooms without kitchens and shared bathrooms at the end of hallways. SRO units are no-frills, but they are safer and cleaner than the streets.

Here’s what the architect came back with:

* A four-story building
* 10-by-12-foot units (about half the size required by the existing building code)
* Microwave in each unit
* Sink in each unit
* Toilet in each unit (partitioned, but not separated)
* Communal showers at the end of each hall

Remarkably, San Diego waived its building code, and the building was built for less than $15,000 per unit, allowing people to rent each room for $50 per week. The building was immediately filled with grateful occupants.

Mortenson conducted his experiment in the late-1980s. Today, the inflation-adjusted costs would be about $34,000 per unit to build and $110 per week to rent ($440 per month), still a bargain. The cost to build one apartment unit to code in San Diego County ranges from $192,000 to $375,000, according to an analysis by Xpera Group. The average monthly rent in San Diego for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,808, according to RentJungle.com.

Mortenson showed that it is possible to build affordable, yet profitable, SROs if the government gets out of the way. Government is the root cause of unaffordable housing in California (for more on this topic see How to Restore the California Dream: Removing Obstacles to Fast and Affordable Housing Development).

The San Diego experiment was discussed in the book The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America by Philip K. Howard, who wrote that building codes “dictate minimum room dimensions, require that bathrooms and kitchens be separate from rooms for every other use, and mandate hundreds of other details. Good ideas and technological advances fill every page of the code book. Who can object to any of this? No one, provided society can afford it.” Low-income people, however, cannot afford it, resulting in more homelessness as building codes make it impossible to build inexpensive housing in California.

Building codes have eradicated low-cost housing for decades. Sold by politicians as “getting rid of substandard housing” and “improving the lives of poor people,” William Tucker explains in Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis, “buildings are condemned as ‘firetraps,’ for not having adequate ventilation, not providing kitchen or bathroom facilities, and for not offering people ‘a decent place to live.’” Too often, the streets become the next home for people forced out of low-cost housing by burdensome, idealized codes.

Politicians and bureaucrats argue that “it’s in the best interests of poor people” to have their apartments “upgraded to code” lest they live in “crowded unsanitary substandard deathtraps.” The problem, of course, is that every so-called “improvement” will price many people out of a home, pushing some to the street. Howard notes that “the virtual extinction of single-room-occupancy buildings illustrates the side effects of this drive toward mandated perfection.”

In addition to building codes, some cities have eliminated SROs using density limits, occupancy restrictions, or “urban renewal” projects that raze entire neighborhoods, often targeting minority communities. (Walter Thompson wrote an excellent historical series on the disgraceful Fillmore project in San Francisco: “How Urban Renewal Destroyed the Fillmore in Order to Save It” and “How Urban Renewal Tried to Rebuild the Fillmore.”)

Philip K. Howard reminds us that,

Real people tend to have their own way of doing things—a little borrowed, a little invented, and so forth. Law, trying to make sure nothing ever goes wrong, doesn’t respect the idiosyncrasy of human accomplishment. It sets forth the approved methods, in black and white, and that’s that. When law notices people doing it differently, its giant heel reflexively comes down.

Inexpensive housing would be built in California if government allowed it. Instead, streets teem with 151,000 homeless people, a human and moral tragedy caused, in part, by government barriers to housing development in California.

SOURCE 





Australia: Inland mineral bonanza on hold

MAJOR projects across out-back Queensland worth almost $3 billion — which could create jobs and change the fortunes of hard-hit country towns — are sitting on the drawing board, a major pipeline report has revealed. Outback Queensland covers two-thirds of the state but has just a few hundred million dollars of funded infrastructure projects, the annual report card by the Queensland Major Contractors Association and the Infrastructure Association of Queensland says.

But with the global heat on to move to renewables, outback Queensland and its 82,513 residents could be sitting on a new-age gold mine with "significant mineral resources and value-added processing which would support global efforts to move to a clean energy economy including bauxite/alumina/aluminium, nickel, copper, cobalt, silver, lead, zinc and rare earths metals, particularly in the North West Minerals Province centred around Mount Isa and Clon-curry", the report says.

It is also the site of some of the state's biggest planned renewable energy projects, including the Aldoga Solar Farm, worth $120 million. While the solar farm is funded, a long list of big projects are still on the drawing board, including the Kidston Solar Project Stage 2 ($140m), Kidston Transmission Project ($100m) and the Kidston Pumped Hydro Storage Project ($200m) along with the massive Copperstring Transmission Line worth $1.5 billion.

QMCA boss Jon Davies said a big impediment to developing the North West Minerals Province was the State Government-owned rail line which is susceptible to floods.

"There's big opportunities for developing the North West Minerals Province," he said. "There are plans to upgrade (the rail line). That is an area that the government could look at expediting."

Without government support, the huge swath of state remains captive to the mining and commodities market, with 94 per cent of projects unfunded. "In 2019-20 there is only $70m in funded activity, while $225m remains unfunded," the report says.

"Funded activity only peaks at $82m in 2022-23, supported by a section of the $238m Mount Isa to Rockhampton Corridor Upgrade and the $120m Aldoga Solar Farm,"

The report says the outback region has the lowest ratio of "funded to unfunded" major project work in Queensland. "Ninety-four per cent of activity in the pipeline is currently unfunded," it says. "The negative outlook ... is further highlighted by the proportion of unfunded project activity which is considered 'unlikely' — more than 50 per cent of the $3bn unfunded total."

From the Brisbane "Sunday Mail" of 22.3.20

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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

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Thursday, March 26, 2020



UK: Almost 3m elderly people turn off heating as ‘they cannot afford energy bills’

Around 2.8 million people over the age of 65 are set to ration their energy usage out of worry that they cannot afford their energy bills, according to new research by Compare The Market.

A further 84% think the cost of energy presents a ‘real threat’ to elderly people living in the UK.

Although a minority, 8% of respondents admit that their health suffers because they limit the amount of heating they use during the winter and 17% say they eat less or buy cheaper food to offset the cost of energy bills.

Findings of the research also suggest 18% of people over 65 are on ‘uncompetitive’ Standard Variable Tariffs, equating to 2.1 million elderly people who are currently on more expensive deals.

It said the cost of energy has increased by £106 in the last year – the average energy bill now stands at £1,813, up from £1,706 in 2018.

Peter Earl, Head of Energy at Compare The Market, said: “These findings should make sober reading for policy makers and energy company chiefs alike.

“We hear a lot of commentary about how today’s over 65s are more financially secure than previous generations, but such a broadbrush perception risks leaving millions of elderly people out in the cold and overpaying for their energy in silence.”

SOURCE




Perspective: Are wind farms better in theory than they are in practice?

Wind turbines. Some people love ‘em, some people hate ’em. Environmentalists love them, so do people who rent land to energy companies and receive a regular check. People who live close without a paycheck, and who have their viewshed filled with towering machines — not so much love.

But wind energy keeps growing. CNBC business news reported in February that “Wind has become the ‘most used’ source of renewable electricity generation in the US.” The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports wind capacity totaled 103 gigawatts (billion watts) at the end of 2019. Generation from those windmills reached 300 million megawatt hours (one megawatt hour is one million watts for one hour), 26 million more than hydro production. Over the next few years the industry is expected to invest $62 billion or more into new projects.

But all this investment comes at considerable cost to taxpayers. For the first 10 years of production, wind energy producers get paid federal production tax credit (PTC) worth $23 for each megawatt-hour they produce. In some markets, that subsidy can exceed the wholesale price of electricity. When subsidies, grants, and tax credits given by states are added to the federal subsidies, turbines can sometimes be installed and operated nearly free. Warren Buffett, whose companies build and operate wind farms, has said, “We get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the reason we build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

The average house uses about one kilowatt (1000 watts) of electrical energy every hour. A 1000 megawatt (million watt) dam is said to power one million homes. A 1000 megawatt wind farm, on the other hand, is said to power 300,000 homes, because the wind, on average, only blows 30 percent of the time. A more accurate statement would be to say it powers one million homes 30 percent of the time. The other 70 percent of the time, hydro, fossil fuel, or nuclear is supplying the power. When Amazon, or Facebook, or any other company says they buy all “green power,” that’s not what they get. When the wind farm they bought the power from is idle, they get whatever the grid is supplying, and the wind farm buys grid power to meet its obligations.

Before wind turbines, Northwest dams provided 98 percent of needed power for Northwest homes and industry.

“Only about 15% of the wind power in the [Columbia] Gorge is used locally, the rest is shipped south,” Gretchen Bakke said in her book, The Grid. “The high voltage DC line that carries electricity from the Gorge has a capacity of 3100 megawatts, half of L.A.s peak capacity. When the wind is blowing hard, this line won’t carry it. May 19, 2010. 1000 windmills were lazily spinning on the Columbia Rim Gorge. In an hour, they were at full throttle as a storm rolled out of the East. Suddenly almost two nuclear plants worth of power was added to the grid—the largest spike the Northwest had ever experienced…in May the dams are at capacity. Spilling water was the only option. And that option kills fingerling salmon. … The balanced power system in the Northwest that has taken a century to build is now out of kilter because of wind and solar.”

Wind now provides about 7 percent of the electrical energy in the Northwest. That is not an increase in renewable power because it only subtracts from hydro. Fossil fuel and nuclear stay the same because they cannot ramp up and down rapidly to compensate for wind generation. Some years, spring runoff is so great dams can’t curtail production and still meet spill requirements for salmon. In 2011 Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) had to cut off coal, natural gas, and wind generators to prevent overloading the grid. Federal power was supplied to them for free to serve their customers. That was OK for fossil fuel users, but wind generators were unhappy because they lost kilowatt-hour production subsidies from Uncle Sam. So they went to court, and when reductions were mandated again in 2012, BPA paid renewable producers $2.7 million for 47,000 megawatts of power not produced. You can see the problem with Northwest wind: It blows in the spring when hydro is abundant, and is often idle during summer heat and winter cold.

Nevertheless, we have it, and I decided to check the nuts and bolts of winds farms near me. Some of my friends say they produce no usable power because the wind is too slow and infrequent. Wind farms also use power from the grid when the wind is not blowing, and some say they never break even on power used vs. power produced. My clue that this was important is the fact that for at least three Public Utility Districts in nearby counties with wind farms, the farms are their biggest customers. But getting exact information on grid use by wind farms proved elusive. Turbine manufactures and wind farm operators don’t know or don’t want to release that information. One study from the University of Minnesota concluded grid consumption was about 50 kilowatts for a Vestas V82 1.65 megawatts turbine, or about 8.3 percent of its reported production.

Puget Sound Energy has a wind farm, Hopkins Ridge, in Columbia County, Washington, and an office in Dayton. So I sent them a long list of questions. The farm consists of 87 turbines, with a total nameplate capacity of 156.7 megawatts. Their website claims an annual output of 404,000 megawatt hours, or 29.4 percent of nameplate capacity. That seemed high to me, considering all that I had heard about low wind speeds and idle machines from residents. So I challenged that figure. The comeback was, “During the period 2006-2018, Hopkins Ridge generated 179 times more power than was consumed as station (grid) power.” So whatever the grid use is, it seems insignificant compared to power produced. It should be noted that all generating facilities use grid power when not generating, to run lights, heating and cooling, computers, etc.

At Hopkins Ridge, the turbine generators turn on a ratio of 111 to 1, meaning at the governed blade speed of 16 rpm, the generator is at full capacity — 1800 rpm. What wind speed is required for full production? Recently I went to Hopkins Ridge with a stopwatch to measure turbine speed. Surface wind speed was about 15 mph. Most turbines were turning at maximum, 16 rpm. Blade speed is governed by pitching the blades according to wind speed. Grid power is used to pitch the blades and power the magnetic field of the generator.

Presently there are 4714 wind turbines installed in the states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, with a nameplate capacity of 8281 megawatts. These overwhelm the grid at times, but when they are most needed — late summer, fall, foggy and cold winters — they often stand silent. Too much power when we don’t need it; no help when water supplies run low. In my opinion we should stop installing them and shift subsidies to grid improvements and power storage projects.

SOURCE




Germany Proves How Essential Natural Gas Is

No country ever has spent more money forcing the adoption of renewable energy than Germany. Passed in 2010, Germany’s Energiewende is an “energy transition” based on relentlessly installing as much wind and solar power capacity as possible, with little to no consideration to cost.

The Energiewende demanding the use of renewables could ultimately cost the country as much as $4 trillion by 2050. Already costing hundreds of billions of dollars, wind and solar now generate just ~18% and ~8% of Germany’s electricity, respectively, and still account for just a small fraction of total energy needs

Yet, the reality is that natural gas is also quickly becoming an even more important source of energy in Germany. Not just as a vital standalone energy source providing 25% of all energy consumed, gas is the backup fuel needed for intermittent wind and solar. As the energy policy advisor to the U.S., Germany, and the other 34 developed, rich OECD nations, the International Energy Agency (IEA) touts gas as the backbone of the electric power system, to have a flexible, reliable grid where gas supports renewables.

In fact, Germany is now looking at building LNG (liquefied natural gas) import facilities to loosen the grip of heavily resourced Russia, which supplies 50-60% of Germany’s gas. The ruling CDU, the Christian Social Union (CSU), and the Social Democratic Party (SPD) have a coalition agreement to build LNG infrastructure.

Germany wants to add three or four terminals to help expand Europe’s total LNG import facilities to nearly 35, a “dash to gas” that is extremely telling for a continent that has deployed massive funding and policy support to force more wind and solar into the system. IEA’s message is simple: LNG is becoming increasingly essential to help stop Vladimir Putin’s goal energy hegemony to exploit Germany’s energy unrealism that “only wind and solar” are required.

Amid energy hemming and hawing, Germany has already been forced to construct the nearly completed Nord Stream 2 pipeline to link even more to politically risky Russia. The U.S. remains confident, however, that its current sanctions on Nord Stream 2 will block the project from being completed.

Indeed, Germany offers a number of lessons for the U.S. and the world – a series of energy warnings that we must heed. Illustrated by Germany’s plan to eliminate both coal and nuclear, which effectively is happening here in the U.S., gas only becomes more essential.

Further, massive payouts to force more wind and solar power into the system can only last for so long, and there are physical and cost limitations that not even rich countries can ignore forever. To illustrate, as tax breaks run out, opposition grows, barriers to new power lines persist, and construction approvals slow, there is a major shortage of new wind projects: “Germans fall out of love with wind power.”

Many though probably see this slowdown in German wind as a positive, financially drained of the levies to pay for renewables subsidies. The “renewables only” tunnel vision has helped soar Germany’s electricity prices for families to being three to four times more expensive than they are here in the U.S.: “If Renewables Are So Cheap Why Is Germany’s Electricity So Expensive?”

After Denmark, Germany has had the highest electricity prices in the world. In fact, ridiculously high energy prices have sadly created a new term in Germany: energy poverty, “Renewable Energy Mandates Are Making Poor People Poorer.”

In contrast, global natural gas prices today are the lowest they have been in over 10 years, strengthening the economic argument for switching to gas. The U.S. has been at the forefront of an LNG export boom that continues to make gas more viable for rich and poor countries alike. LNG is the fastest-growing traded commodity in the world because natural gas is the world’s go-to fuel.

U.S. LNG must help lower Germany’s over-dependence on Russia, especially important now since other traditional suppliers Denmark and the Netherlands face major production problems of their own. The U.S. has been touting its “Freedom Gas” for Germany and the rest of Europe.

Starting in 2016 and soaring to third place last year, the U.S. is set to become the world’s top LNG exporter within four or five years – that is how fast our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission wants the industry to grow.

And this makes also makes perfect sense from an environmental perspective. Not just backing up wind and solar, the International Energy Agency specifically credits more gas usage as to why the U.S. has been cutting CO2 emissions faster than any other country – in “the history of energy.”

That is crucial enough to repeat: the shale gas revolution and the free market of the U.S. has us slashing emissions faster and much more cheaply than the renewables and regulation obsessed nations like Germany. Indeed, “U.S. Department of Energy’s Winberg: Tech will solve CO2 emissions.” Even Germany’s goal for more hydrogen means more natural gas: production processes center on pulling it from methane – or, natural gas itself.

But what does Germany’s requirement for more natural gas really say about the energy needs of the fast-growing poor countries, and the expectations that we wealthy Westerners should have for them?

After all, Germany is a rich country, has had almost no population growth for many decades, and has low incremental energy needs – the exact opposite of the 85% of the global population that still lives in undeveloped nations.

Just think about it: despite years of promises to effectively “get rid of them,” oil (33%) and gas (25%) still supply almost 60% of Germany’s primary energy needs (not all that surprising since wind and solar are strictly sources of electricity, a secondary energy source that accounts for just 20-30% of all energy demand).

If Germany cannot survive on just “wind and solar” how are the poor countries supposed to?

Unlike Germany (ditto California, New York, New England states), these still developing nations must put low costs – and the desperate need for more energy-enabled human development – at the forefront. It is just too bad that this is apparently so inconvenient for some of us most fortunate.

SOURCE






Greta Thunberg self-isolates with coronavirus symptoms

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate change activist, has revealed that she has self-isolated after showing coronavirus symptoms.

Where a member of a household has displayed symptoms, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has said all residents should self-isolate for 14 days. Elsewhere, foreign governments have issued similar guidance.

Having travelled around central Europe, visiting Brussels and Hamburg to lead school strike events, Ms Thunberg, 17, decided she should stay at home.

She took to social media to urge young people in particular to take the virus seriously, noting that she did not feel particularly ill.

While Ms Thunberg has not been tested for coronavirus, because her home country of Sweden does not currently test for it outside hospitals, she said it is "extremely likely" she has had it.

In an Instagram post, she wrote: "The last two weeks I’ve stayed inside. When I returned from my trip around Central Europe, I isolated myself (in a borrowed apartment away from my mother and sister) since the number of cases of Covid-19 (in Germany for instance) were similar to Italy in the beginning.

"Around 10 days ago I started feeling some symptoms, exactly the same time as my father – who travelled with me from Brussels.

"I was feeling tired, had shivers, a sore throat and coughed. My dad experienced the same symptoms, but much more intense and with a fever. In Sweden you can not test yourself for Covid-19 unless you're in need of emergency medical treatment.

"Everyone feeling ill is told to stay at home and isolate themselves. I have therefore not been tested for Covid-19, but it’s extremely likely that I’ve had it, given the combined symptoms and circumstances.

"Now I’ve basically recovered, but – and this is the bottom line – I almost didn’t feel ill. My last cold was much worse than this! Had it not been for someone else having the virus simultainously (sic) I might not even have suspected anything.

"Then I would just have thought I was feeling unusually tired with a bit of a cough. And this it what makes it so much more dangerous.

"Many (especially young people) might not notice any symptoms at all, or very mild symptoms. Then they don’t know they have the virus and can pass it on to people in risk groups.

SOURCE






Smoke from Australia's bushfires killed far more people than the fires did, study says

Smoke is particulate pollution and the study below looked at a standard measure of that pollution: PM2.5. And there is a great deal of prior research on pollution of that sort.  

The conventional assumption is of course that inhaling such pollution is bad for you.  The Australian experience would however seem to show that is is NOT very bad for you.  Australians were not dying like flies while experiencing it. They seemed to be going about their business in their usual way, in fact.

So how have the authors below got their apparently alarming findings:

Modelling garbage.  They had no real data on the health of  Australians at the time at all. They just used conventional assumptions to estimate what the effects would have been. But the conventional assumptions are crap, to use a technical term.  The existing research on particulate air pollution (PM2.5.)shows effects that range between no effect and effects that are so weak that no confidence can be placed in them. See here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

The conventional assumptions take the occasional tiny effects that turn up in some research to build a great castle on, if you will forgive my prepositional impropriety. So you get statements that pollution causes such and such an ailment, without mentioning the very fragile evidential basis for such a posited effect.

So after that useless modelling it will be interesting if the authors do something more useful in the future -- such as comparing actual recorded deaths and morbidity during the smoke affected period with the same period in the previous much clearer year.  My hypothesis -- based on the actual prior research -- is that deaths and disease in the same period of the two years will differ trivially, if at all.

The "study" is just a grab for government funding


Smoke pollution that blanketed Australia’s south-east for many months during the bushfire crisis may have killed more than 400 people, according to the first published estimate of the scale of health impacts – more than 10 times the number killed by the fires themselves.

The figures, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, are “definitely alarming”, according to Chris Migliaccio, who studies the long-term effects of wildfire smoke at the University of Montana in Missoula and was not involved in the research.

Lead author Fay Johnston, an epidemiologist at the University of Tasmania in Hobart, estimates 80% of Australia’s population of about 25 million was blanketed by smoke this summer.

“The fires were unprecedented in Australia’s history, in terms of vast amounts of smoke, the huge populations affected by the smoke and the long duration,” she said.

Sydney experienced 81 days of poor or hazardous air quality in 2019, more than the total of the previous 10 years combined.

“When you’re affecting millions of people in a small way, there are going to be enough people at high enough risk that you’re going to see really measurable rises in these health effects,” Johnston said.

As data on hospital admissions, deaths and ambulance callouts was not yet available to researchers, Johnston and her team instead modelled the likely medical consequences of the pollution, which is the “the only other way to get a quick ballpark idea of the health impacts,” she said.

To come up with a picture of the overall health burden of smoke exposure, they looked at existing data on death rates and hospital admissions to get a baseline. They then modelled how the known levels and extent of smoke exposure across the southeast, during the height of the crisis from 1 October to 10 February, would have affected these.

Their results estimate that over this period there were 417 premature deaths, 3,151 extra hospitalisations for cardiorespiratory problems and 1,305 additional attendances for asthma attacks. This compares to 33 who reportedly died as a direct result of the bushfires.

Many of the deaths and hospitalisations are likely to have been older patients with heart disease or lung problems, such as chronic bronchitis or emphysema – but severe asthma attacks will likely have resulted in deaths in younger people too, Johnston said.

In patients with pre-existing cardiorespiratory issues, smoke exposure promotes inflammation, stresses the body and makes blood more likely to clot, increasing the risk of a heart attack. “In someone at high risk, subtle changes due to stress … can be the precipitating factor for a very serious or terminal event,” she said.

Guy Marks, a respiratory physician and epidemiologist at the University of New South Wales in Sydney who was not involved in the research, said the findings “highlights the importance of the health consequences” and is useful in estimating fire-related deaths that may not have been recognised as the result of smoke exposure.

The findings concur with previous studies of the health consequences of wildfire smoke in North America, but the numbers “are more drastic, potentially as a result of the unprecedented nature of the exposure,” Migliaccio said. He added that while previous studies found increases in hospital visits, the addition of large numbers of premature deaths in the Australian study is significant and disturbing.

Migliaccio said that due to climate change increasing the frequency and severity of wildfires “these types of exposures are increasing in number and intensity, making this kind of research vital.”

To look into just such effects, a consortium of 10 air pollution researchers from across Australia, led by Marks and including Johnston, have already put up their hands for $3m in government funding, which became available in the wake of the crisis.

The research proposal, funding of which has yet to be confirmed, aims to plug significant gaps in knowledge about the health impacts of bushfire smoke and how these might be mitigated.

Marks says that questions he and his colleagues hope to address include whether there is anything unique about health effect of air pollution caused by bushfires, what the long-term effects of exposure are, and what the effects might be on newborn babies and pregnant women.

The researchers – all members of a collaborative consortium, The Centre for Air Pollution, Energy and Health Research (CAR), funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council – also hope to study whether it’s possible to filter air to make indoor refuges safe from pollution, and if public health advice can be improved.

SOURCE 

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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

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Plastic bags and the coronavirus

"The eight states where lawmakers have imposed plastic bag prohibitions are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon and Vermont, according the National Conference of State Legislatures," columnist Patrick Gleason writes. "Six of those statewide bag bans were enacted as recently as 2019. Hundreds of cities, towns, and counties have also imposed a bag ban or tax. All of these laws seek to force or encourage the use of reusable shopping bags, which pose a public health risk at any time and especially during the current pandemic."

Not just during a pandemic. A 2011 study was undertaken by researchers at the University of Arizona and Loma Linda University. They collected reusable bags at random from grocery shoppers in California and Arizona, after which they conducted interviews with their owners.

What they discovered was problematic, to say the least. First, most owners seldom, if ever, washed their reusable bags. Second, many used them for multiple purposes.

The result of such practices? "Large numbers of bacteria were found in almost all bags and coliform bacteria in half," the research stated. "Escherichia coli were identified in 8% of the bags, as well as a wide range of enteric bacteria, including several opportunistic pathogens. When meat juices were added to bags and stored in the trunks of cars for two hours, the number of bacteria increased 10-fold, indicating the potential for bacterial growth in the bags."

It gets worse. A 2012 study revealed that nine members of a soccer team contracted the norovirus, described by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a "very contagious virus that causes vomiting and diarrhea" simply by touching a reusable bag, or eating the food contained in it. In what might be seen as the essence of unthinking behavior, the bag had been stored in a bathroom. "That might seem like an outlier," columnist Angela Logomasini explains, "but people cart these bags all over the place, touching surfaces on public transportation, taking them into public bathrooms, and other places, creating lots of opportunities for the bags to pick up bacteria and viruses."

Such opportunities were not limited to picking up bacteria and viruses. A 2018 study published by the National Environmental Health Association used a non-infectious proxy virus to assess the probability of norovirus transmission related to reusable bags. It revealed that shoppers with such bags transmitted that virus all over the store, including high concentrations of it on the hands of the shoppers themselves, as well a grocery checkout clerks.

According to the 2011 study, washing such bags would remove more than 99.9% of the bacteria on them. A survey conducted at the University of Arizona, however, revealed that only 3% of bag owners ever wash them.

Now add coronavirus to the mix. Any questions?

New York has seen the light — sort of. The ban the state enacted has been pushed back from the initial enforcement date of April 1 to May 15. Yet almost unbelievably, there is resistance to the idea from the state's Department of Conservation commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC continues to encourage New Yorkers to transition to reusable bags whenever and wherever they shop and to use common-sense precautions to keep their reusable bags clean," Seggos. "We have consistently said since the beginning of our outreach campaign that we will focus on education rather than enforcement."

Such zealotry is unsurprising. The entire environmentalist movement has a cultish aspect to it, which brings us to the central aspect of that cult, namely global warming. For decades, a transnational movement promoted by elites as "settled science" and aimed at supplanting national governance has morphed into a full-blown campaign replete with the hysterical prediction that the world has less than a dozen years left between now and planetary armageddon.

Whether that brand of hysteria will take a back seat to the current pandemic remains to be seen. Yet all along, the underlying assumption of this movement is that higher global temperatures will be catastrophic. That many of the movement's predications have yet to materialize is largely irrelevant. Yet perhaps even more inconvenient, it is quite possible that it might be our best hope for containing coronavirus.

A study posted on March 10 and revised on March 20 asserts that "high temperature and high relative humidity significantly reduce the transmission of COVID-19, respectively, even after controlling for population density and GDP per capita of cities."

It's only one study, and pushback will be inevitable as such assessments are antithetical to the globalist agenda. Thus, entities like the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that climate change will cause about 250,000 additional deaths per year by the 2030s. That would be the same WHO whose dubious relationship with China likely exacerbated the spread of coronavirus. Instead of holding the ChiComs accountable for their pathetic and secretive response, the organization's director-general, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, praised Chinese President Xi Jinping's "political commitment" and "political leadership."

That would be the same Dr. Tedros who tried to appoint former Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe as one of the organization's ... goodwill ambassadors.

The real tell regarding this seemingly corrupt group of bureaucrats? As reported by NBC News, WHO spends more money on travel, including first class and business flying, than the combined budgets for tuberculosis, AIDS, and malaria. "This may just speak to how misplaced international priorities are, that WHO is getting so little for these disease programs," stated Michael Osterholm, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Minnesota.

Moreover, here's a question few ever ask: How many lives will be saved by global warming? Studies conducted in the UK in 2009 under the aegis of Professor William Keatinge of the University of London revealed more people die from excess cold than excess heat, yet such studies are rarely, if ever, part of any debate about global warming. Moreover one rarely hears about studies that show global warming could increase the amount of arable land for farming.

Proof positive? Certainly not, but one should be quite suspect of any agenda aimed at concentrating power beyond national borders to organizations accountable to no one but themselves.

Speaking of borders, an agreement between the United States and Mexico on banning all nonessential travel between the nations was implemented last Friday. Illegals attempting to cross the border will be returned — even those asking for asylum. Apparently both nations now recognize the necessity of border enforcement. So does the European Union, which not only has closed national borders, but erected barriers in an effort to contain the virus.

However the latest crisis plays out one thing is certain: We will never be the same nation again, and all agendas will be reassessed. Here's hoping those which elevate politics — especially transnational politics — above all other considerations will be the first casualties.

SOURCE 




"Clean, renewable" energy is neither

Eco-warriors are besotted with the myth that energy can be clean and renewable. The truth is that any "renewable" energy requires massive environmental impacts.

These impacts consume enormous amounts of environmental resources, which would make the most ardent environmentalist blush with shame if they only knew about them. Greens have so ensconced themselves in a humongous bubble of ignorance that it's doubtful if any but a handful know what I'm about to tell you.

And if that handful does in fact exist, they are keeping what they know to themselves as a closely held secret. Because if the truth got out, it would be the end of the environmental movement.

The vision of environmentalists is a peaceful, harmonious world in which human beings tool along on wind and solar energy alone, burn not an ounce of fossil fuel, and leave no human imprint on the environment at all. It's a beautiful, serene picture which has absolutely nothing to do with reality.

In this mythical world, the energy of the wind and the sun is captured and stored in batteries. There's your first problem, right there. As Mark Mills and Alexander Ackley write in The International Chronicles, "A single electric-car battery weighs about 1,000 pounds. Fabricating one requires digging up, moving and processing more 500,000 pounds of raw materials somewhere on the planet." If, however, you burned gasoline, you could deliver the same number of vehicle-miles over the battery's life span of seven years at 1/10 the total tonnage.

The green machines at some point must be decommissioned, which will generate millions and millions of tons of waste. By 2050, the International Renewable Energy Agency calculates that disposing of old solar panels alone will constitute more than double the tonnage of all today's global plastic waste. And waste is the word. A solar or wind farm that stretches as far as the eye can see can be replaced by a handful of gas-fired turbines, each about the size of a tractor trailer.

Both wind and solar require far more in the way of materials and land than fossil fuels. Just one wind turbine takes 900 tons of steel, 2500 tons of concrete, and 45 tons of plastic THAT CANNOT BE RECYCLED. Wind turbines last about 20 years, and since there is no way to recycle the materials, they have to be dumped in landfills. And with blades that are 120 feet long, they're too big for convenient disposal even there.

A wind farm in Minnesota trucked more than 100 of these monster blades to the Sioux Falls Sanitary Landfill in South Dakota. But the director of the Sioux Falls Public Works Department says they're done. "We can't take any more unless they process them before bringing them to us. We're using too many resources unloading them, driving over them a couple of times, and working them into the ground."

If a wind farm includes 100 turbines, that means there are 500 million pounds of concrete which has been poured into what used to be farmland. How is that concrete going to be disposed of?

There is not even a moderately inexpensive way to get the energy that wind farms generate to the cities which need them. Cities are built near flat farmland, while the wind blows on high ridge lines.

And there are health hazards to these giant bird blenders. Germany, which is shifting radically to wind, has discovered these wind farms produce so much noise that, according to one poor unfortunate soul, it "drives you insane at night." Germany is actually now paying hush money to people who live near these farms. They're getting direct handouts from the government essentially to keep quiet. So the turbines can keep making noise, but the people can't.

Building enough wind turbines to supply one-half the world's electricity needs would require nearly two billion tons of coal to make the concrete and steel, and two billion barrels of oil to make the composite blades. We'd consume immense amounts of hydrocarbons in a radically stupid attempt to avoid consuming hydrocarbons.

Well, at least that leaves solar as an environmentally friendly, sustainable, and renewable source of energy. Except of course for the MINING of silver and indium, which will jump 250% and 1200% respectively in the next several decades. Demand for rare earth minerals required for the manufacture of solar panels will rise 300% to 1000% by 2050 to meet the goals of the Paris Accords.

The production of electric cars will require a 2000% percent increase in the production of cobalt and lithium. This will require mining operations in remote wilderness areas with a high degree of undisturbed biodiversity, which is where the cobalt and lithium are found.

One of the dirty secrets is that wind farms must be heavily propped up with taxpayer subsidies because no one in his right mind would build one otherwise. Warren Buffet, for instance, owns MidAmerican Energy. Said Buffett, "On wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That's the only reason to build them. They don't make sense without the tax credit."

Engineers joke about discovering "unobtanium," a magical energy-producing element that "appears out of nowhere, requires no land, weighs nothing, and emits nothing."

Bottom line: "clean, renewable" energy is neither. It's an environmental disaster. Fossil fuels, on the other hand, are readily accessible, affordable, and have a much, much smaller environmental footprint than all renewables. Gentlemen, start your engines.

SOURCE 




Renewable Energy Industry Seeks to Scam Public During Health Crisis

A coalition of House Democrats, environmental advocacy groups, and renewable energy trade associations are looking to take advantage of the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic by sneaking several renewable energy tax credits into an economic stimulus bill.

Let’s set aside for a moment the question of whether or not such stimulus packages are actually effective. The idea that renewable energy tax credits have anything to do with responding to the COVID-19 situation is, on its face, ridiculous. The focus of public policy in the wake of an extreme economic shock should be on allowing price signals to properly convey information to energy producers and consumers and on eliminating regulatory barriers that might prevent economic actors from adjusting to the changing circumstances presented by COVID-19.

But, it appears that House Democrats will instead use this situation to once again hand out favors to the renewable energy industry. Unsurprisingly, House Democrats plan to provide this support by promoting several tax credit provisions that they, along with environmentalists and renewable energy groups, failed to codify during the 2019 end-of-year funding package. These tax credit provisions would likely:

Provide batteries and electricity storage systems the same investment tax credit currently offered to PV solar

Extend the investment tax credit for solar

Extend the current production tax credit for wind

Extend the investment tax credit for offshore wind

Increase the number of vehicles that are available the electric vehicle tax credit

Of course, the renewable energy industry has a long history of taking advantage of economic stimulus bills. In the wake of the financial crisis in 2009, the renewable energy industry lobbied hard for the introduction of new tax credits, most of which were eventually included in the 2009 stimulus bill.

It should be obvious to any outside observer what this pattern says about the nature of the renewable energy industry. Although people in the industry often claim that renewable energy does not need the support of the government, we continue to see the renewable energy industry take advantage of every opportunity to benefit from government handouts.

As IER has explained in the past, renewable energy tax credits distort energy markets in several ways that ultimately raise energy prices for consumers. Lawmakers should therefore reject the renewable energy industry’s attempt to take advantage of another economic downturn.

SOURCE 





Eleven million jobs at risk from EU Green Deal, labor unions warn

The European Green Deal risks deepening economic and social divisions between east and western EU countries, trade unions say, warning the 27-member bloc risks imploding before it reaches its 2050 climate neutrality goal.

Trade unions have stepped up warnings that the Green Deal put forward by the European Commission in December last year will put millions of jobs at risk, without any assurances that workers in affected industries will have a future.

“We are talking about almost 11 million jobs directly affected in extractive industries, energy intensive industries and in the automotive industry,” said Luc Triangle, secretary general of IndustriAll, a federation of trade unions.

“Those jobs won’t necessarily disappear,” Triangle told EURACTIV in an interview. “But there needs to be a future perspective for jobs in these industries,” which is currently not clear, he said.

Last week, the European Commission tabled a groundbreaking EU Climate Law, aimed at putting into hard legislation the EU’s goal of becoming the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050.

The EU executive is now expected to follow-up with an industrial strategy on Tuesday (10 March), outlining new growth areas for Europe as it moves towards a greener and more connected future.

But while the draft strategy places great focus on digitalisation, it contains little for traditional manufacturing sectors like steelmaking, automotive and chemicals, which are expected to be hit hardest by the transition to net-zero emissions.

“It’s easy to say we need to reach ambitious climate targets by 2050 and 2030,” Triangle said. “But the industrial strategy should give the answer on the ‘how’ we will get there. And at the moment, we don’t have those answers yet”.

Green transition will require ‘Herculean effort’, EU admits
The European Union will need to “re-orient most, if not all” of its policies in order to protect vulnerable regions and workers in industries affected by the transition to a green economy, the EU Commission’s vice-president Frans Timmermans has said.

A new migration wave from Eastern Europe

Trade unions are particularly worried about the social and economic divisions that the green agenda risks creating between poorer eastern EU countries and their richer western neighbours.

According to Triangle, the green transformation “will be much easier in Nordic or western European countries” than in poorer EU member states like Poland, Bulgaria and Romania, where employment in some regions can be entirely dependent on a single, heavily-polluting industry.

“This could have a major impact on internal migration inside the European Union,” Triangle pointed out, saying “close to 22 million people” have already left Eastern Europe to find work in richer western and Nordic countries over the last 20 years.

“Well, this will only increase if we don’t manage this transition right,” he warned.

Politicians in Eastern EU member states have stepped up warnings that the green transition risks deepening divisions inside the EU. Traian Băsescu, a former Romanian President, said the European Green Deal “will definitely create tensions” between east and western EU countries, which have other economic priorities than the green transition.

Such economic and social discrepancies “are likely to generate huge tensions inside the EU, which could lead to some countries considering the possibility of leaving the Union altogether,” he told EURACTIV in a recent interview.

Basescu: European Green Deal risks pushing 'two or three countries' towards EU exit

The European Green Deal “will definitely create tensions” inside the EU, and risks pushing “two or three countries” to leave the Union altogether, warns former Romanian President Traian Basescu, saying the real priority in Romania is to build new infrastructure like motorways and exploit natural gas resources from the Black Sea.

EU risks disintegrating before reaching climate goals

Triangle echoed those warnings, saying the Green Deal risked putting the entire EU project in jeopardy if it ignores the social aspect of the transition.

“The divisions within Europe are already such that if the European Green Deal neglects the social dimension, there is a serious risk to see the EU disintegrate before it is decarbonised,” he warned.

According to trade unions, there is a genuine risk that the Green Deal ends up putting entire industrial sectors on their knees, and discredit EU climate policies in the eyes of the general public.

“Climate policies will only fly if you can sell them to the public opinion, if you can do that without social disruption in the industries and in the regions concerned,” Triangle said. “The social dimension is hugely important in order to make this whole climate policy sellable,” he said.

The European Commission is highly aware of the social aspects of the Green Deal, and insisted repeatedly that the transition to a climate-neutral economy should leave no-one behind.

But it is also convinced that a green industrial revolution is underway and that future growth lies in low-carbon industries. Last year, the executive calculated that the EU’s GDP will increase by 2% by 2050 if the bloc slashes its emissions to a net-zero level.

“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen after winning a confirmation vote in the European Parliament last November. “Our commitment is that no-one will be left behind,” said Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans when asked about worries over the costs of the transition in Eastern EU countries.

New EU chief flags climate policy as Europe’s 'new growth strategy'

The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, cited climate policy as the most pressing issue facing her new executive team, which was officially confirmed by a vote in the European Parliament on Wednesday (27 November).

Where is the money?

However, those promises are insufficient for trade unions who say the EU also needs to put money where its mouth is.

“It’s clear that our industries want to make the step to net-zero emissions. But there is a need for financial support. Without financial support and real investments, we will not be able to make that leap forward,” Triangle said.

According to estimates, European industries need to invest €250 billion on an annual basis for the next ten years if in order to stay on track with the 2050 climate neutrality objective.

“Where is the money for those investments?” Triangle asked. True, the European Investment Bank will be turned into a climate bank, with 50% of lending dedicated to climate objectives as of 2025. And there is a reshuffling of the EU budget, with 25% dedicated to the climate, trade unions admit.

But there is hardly any new funding to support the green transition, Triangle said, pointing to the “discrepancy between the high level of ambition on climate targets” and discussions over the EU’s next long-term budget, which some countries want to cap at 1% of their Gross National Income.

According to Triangle, the investment funding issue is particularly acute for energy-intensive industries, like steel and chemicals, which are hardest to decarbonise.

“That’s the problem for us with the 2030 targets: If we want to increase the objective to a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, I can assure you that energy-intensive industries will not be able to deliver. The technologies will be ready for commercialisation only after 2030, for example on low-carbon steel, which is only at pilot stage,” Triangle said.

This is where the industrial strategy could help, trade unions believes.

“For us it is important to keep an integrated industrial value chain in Europe. In the future, we will continue to need steel and chemicals produced in Europe,” Triangle said.

“We are expecting a lot from this industrial strategy”.

A European Green Deal with justness for all?
A fund originally conceived to convince Poland to sign up to the EU’s 2050 climate target has now turned into one of the most contentious aspects of both the Green Deal and the long-term EU budget.

SOURCE 





Turbine battle heating up in Beeville, TX

BEEVILLE – As one side fights to have the county offer a tax abatement to a proposed wind farm in north Bee County, another said that these towers will only benefit the few who have them built on their property.

During Monday’s court meeting, March 9, more residents showed to plead their case to commissioners.

Austin Brown, landowner in northwest Bee County, reminded that the wind farms proposed by Orsted affect more than the property where each is built.

“Do you want to live in a county that has these 400- to 600-foot towers flickering day and night and causing noise?” he asked.

Brown, a certified ranch real estate appraiser, said property values decrease 25 to 40 percent where the wind farms are located.

“Those wind towers will not be on my property, but they may be on the property adjoining my property,” he said. “Do you want to have the basis of the underlying tax value of this county depleted in that manner?”

As a certified ranch manager, he is also worried about the aesthetics of the towers.

“You are to be commended for the stand you have taken on this project,” he said referring back to the court’s recent decision not to create the reinvestment zone that would make an abatement possible. “This is one of the prettiest counties in Texas.

“This county needs to decide if it wants to be turned into an industrial wasteland.”

Mark Uhr, property owner in Bee County and real estate broker in Rockport, said that he has seen the affect these turbines have on the value of property.

“And now my people that live in the backside of Copano, they can see 400 blinking lights all night long, and it has depreciated the value of that waterfront property.”

Eric Barnett, with Lincoln Clean Energy and Orsted, said during a previous meeting that the towers proposed have sensors that only flash when aircraft are near.

Both Charlie Westmoreland and Garrett Tindol, with Tindol Construction, countered saying that the wind farm companies leave the county in better shape than before they arrive.

“... the revenue and the just goodwill that was brought to these communities with the wind farm coming in was just astronomical,” Westmoreland said, referring to his west Texas experiences. “Not only did it benefit the sheriff’s office, the police departments and the local EMS, it also benefited the road and bridge department.

“When these projects come into town, they’re bringing in 80-foot wind turbines, and the infrastructure has to be upgraded to accommodate this.”

When the county departments cannot keep up with the work, Westmoreland said, the wind farm company pays to have a contractor repair the roads.

“And when the project is completed and the wind turbines are in operation, basically the wind farm turns over these roads to the county in excellent condition,” he said. “And there’s also normally a maintenance agreement of about a year where the contractor goes in and just maintains these roads to make sure everything’s good to go.”

Tindol, co-owner of Tindol Construction which has contracted for construction of wind farms in other parts of the state, said, “We have had success adding new businesses and jobs in the area with all the activity at Chase Field.

“But do we really feel that is enough?

“With (Texas Department of Criminal Justice), one of the largest employers in the county, and now with one of those prisons closing, we need the Helena wind project to help us pick up the slack more than ever.”

The court has not had the abatement back on their agenda since it was denied last month.

SOURCE 

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