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.


"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.


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.


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.


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.



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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