Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Gavin Newsom’s Brilliant Plan to Create More Energy Shortages

California Governor Gavin Newsom had a pretty bad summer. His state is still in the throes of a coronavirus pandemic, he’s had problems with riots and political unrest, and he can’t beg, borrow, or steal enough power to keep the lights on.

Fortunately, he has a plan. Close the beaches to deal with the pandemic, make nice with rioters so they don’t totally burn down the cities, and promise the people that he has a plan to deal with the rolling blackouts.

Will he throw open his state to offshore oil drilling? Will he allow drilling on state lands? Will he expand hydraulic fracturing?

Nothing so mundane, I’m afraid. You see, Gavin is allergic to fossil fuels. To prove it, he ordered that within 15 years, no gasoline-powered cars will be sold within the state. He is also demanding an end to fracking.

Assuming that residents of California haven’t suddenly developed an interest in walking, they are going to have to be driving something. So Newsom wants Californians to use electric vehicles to get around.

As Forbes‘ David Blackmon points out, there’s only one teensy-weensy problem with that plan.

Think about it this way: Newsom contemplates the elimination of millions of cars that generate their energy through the use of gasoline and diesel in just 15 years. He proposes to replace them all with EVs or supposedly hydrogen powered cars as their feasibility continues to advance.

The thing is, those millions of new EVs have to have their batteries charged regularly, just as users of gas-powered cars must fill up their tanks every few hundred miles. The energy needed to power the charging stations which charge those batteries must be generated either by hooking them up to the state’s power grid, or by hooking them up to a generator, most often one that is powered by either gasoline, diesel or natural gas.


California’s electrical needs will grow at exactly the same time Newsom is reducing the amount of electricity the state can generate. I’m sure the governor has all sorts of charts and graphs showing that the energy shortfall from the ban on fracking and a massive increase in the use of electrical power can disappear if the state puts up enough windmills and solar panels.

Sort of like the last time someone raised that point when he assured Californians that despite the decline in power-generating plants, the wind and solar industry could make up the difference.

How’d that work out for ya, Gav?

Maybe he could initiate an electrical plant building crash program to make up the difference?

The big complication for Gov. Newsom here is that the policies he and his predecessors have adopted for his state’s power generation sector have rendered the building of substantial new baseload power plants fired by fossil fuels or nuclear economically and environmentally unfeasible. In fact, the state’s final nuclear facility is scheduled to be decommissioned by 2025, eliminating that source of clean energy for California consumers entirely.

What Newsom and his supporters propose to affect here is a massive transfer of energy generation capacity from the state’s transportation sector, in the form of internal combustion engines, to its power sector. They apparently believe that enormous transfer of generation capacity can be handled entirely through the installation of more windmills and solar panels, given that they have basically made the building of any other energy generating source unfeasible, if not illegal.

This seems like energy hubris on an historic scale.

More like stupidity and arrogance.

Newsom blamed the summer power shortages on the industry. His friends in the solar and wind industries had overpromised how much power they could deliver in a crunch. Why should Californians believe them now?


Say No to Biden’s Dim Bulb Energy Schemes

President Donald Trump’s energy policies have created an America that is energy independent for the first time in 60 years. That means we produce more energy than we consume. As a result, the price we pay now at the pump and to heat our homes is relatively affordable.

But Dan Kish, a distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute for Energy Research said that could all change if Joe Biden is elected president. Kish said Biden’s Green New Deal energy plan would make America wholly reliant on countries like China and Russia.

On his campaign website, Biden touts that his energy policies would “go well beyond the Obama-Biden Administration platform” and even “go much further” than the Paris climate agreement.

Biden even touts that he oversaw the failed 2009 Recovery Act, part of the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus. That’s nothing to be proud of considering that under this program taxpayers lost more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in loans to startups including Fisker Automotive, Abound Solar and Solyndra, which all went bankrupt after receiving large government loans intended to help them bring green technologies to market.

“Trump solves the energy problem and Biden’s proposals cause energy problems,” said Kish, who has more than 25 years of experience in natural resource and energy policy, including as chief of staff for the Republicans on the House Resources Committee.

Kish said Trump and Biden could not be further apart in terms of their energy agendas.

“The entire world depends on concentrated energy sources like oil, natural gas, and coal. But Biden wants to ban anything that produces carbon dioxide by 2035,” Kish said. That means America would have to rely solely on renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, which Kish said would put us at the mercy of China because China “controls the supply chain of everything needed for the solar and wind energy infrastructure.”

Kish said that the degree to which the United States would be dependent on China for our energy would be far worse than our past energy reliance on the Middle East.

“At the peak of our dependency, we relied on [the Middle East] for about 20 percent of our oil,” explained Kish. But he says under a Biden green energy plan, we would be relying far more on China.

Kish noted that the new fracking technology which allows energy companies to drill horizontally into veins of oil and gas plays a large role in our new energy independence.

“Trump wants to continue his idea that America should be energy dominant and Joe Biden wants to go down this road of stopping us from using the oil and gas and coal that we have in enormous abundance, all based on climate,” Kish said.

Kish noted that the environmental movement started with the goal to have cleaner air by reducing vehicle pollutants. He said we have achieved that goal.

“We have cleaner air than we’ve ever had,” Kish said. He added that a car today driving down the highway at 70 miles per hour puts out less emissions than a car just sitting in the driveway with its engine turned off did 50 years ago.

While Americans are enjoying affordable, reliable energy now, we should not become complacent in this election. If Biden wins the presidency, his policies would make us energy dependent on China, giving Beijing control of the entire supply chain for the Green New Deal. It’s almost as if we could call it the China New Deal.


Science is now just another wing of politics

When science so readily attaches itself to politics, policies and candidates, it loses all claim to objectivity.

Earlier this month, Scientific American broke with what it claims is its 175-year history of political neutrality to endorse US presidential candidate, Joe Biden. According to the magazine’s editorial: ‘The evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the US and its people.’ Strong stuff. But what field of science produced this judgement? Physics, perhaps? Chemistry? Biology? None of them, of course. The truth is that institutional science has willingly politicised itself and prostituted itself to power to such an extent that it no longer understands the difference between politics and science.

SciAm’s editorial, though, is not as much an endorsement of Biden as it is a shrill moral litany of Trump’s crimes: his handling of the pandemic and of healthcare, and his battles with national and global bureaucracies. Biden, by contrast, argued the editorial, ‘is offering fact-based plans to protect our health, our economy and the environment’. Really? Are scientists so easily moved by such crass good-vs-evil political framing?

SciAm was not alone in nailing its political colours to the mast. In the journal Science, editor Herbert Holden Thorp wrote recently that ‘Trump lied about science’. But this view, too, requires rather more interpretation than science. Among Trump’s deadly crimes listed by Thorp was ‘the opening of colleges and schools’. The bastard!

The problem for the editorial teams of both publications is that assent to scientific facts and the drafting and execution of policy are different things. In no area is this confusion more clear than climate change. It was President Barack Obama who, in 2013, said:

‘Heatwaves, droughts, wildfires, floods all are now more frequent and more intense. We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence. Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.’

Obama’s speech epitomises the problem from the other side. It was not the ‘overwhelming judgement of science’ that extreme weather events on their own or together were more frequent and intense. At best, this remains a matter of controversy. Moreover, extreme events would have to become very many times more frequent and intense to register as greater problems than extreme weather has caused America in the past – let alone become America’s most urgent problems. Obama, who Biden served as vice president, departed from the facts here. But few scientists rushed to condemn him for this.

Put simply, Obama’s speech flattered institutional science and the global political institutions which President Trump has sought to withdraw the US from – namely, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the 2015 Paris Agreement. But neither assent to nor dissent from facts and science have anything to do with the president’s political choices.

After all, it’s not as if the WHO has covered itself in scientific glory during this pandemic. Why wouldn’t a president ask questions about his country’s support for it? And similarly, as I have pointed out many times on spiked, the Paris Agreement is fundamentally anti-democratic. That might lead some to conclude that the basis of such a claim is ‘science denial’, but this would be to repeat the mistake of confusing political and scientific arguments. Climate change can be understood (and dealt with) as a problem without yielding sovereignty to undemocratic global technocracies.

This confusion runs deep in today’s most high-pitched political claims. One reason for this is that science is increasingly expected to carry the moral, economic and political weight for increasingly worthless political campaigns. Scientific authority – institutional science – can easily produce estimates of a political leader’s policy failures in the crude terminology of body counts. But such estimates are not like the isolation of a gene that causes a disease, or the identification of a new particle.

The SciAm editorial, for example, claims that ‘In his ongoing denial of reality, Trump has hobbled US preparations for climate change’, and that the ‘changing climate is already causing a rise in heat-related deaths’. But ‘heat-related deaths’ turns out not to be a phenomenon that is as easily detected by science as it is explained by economics. Wealthier people do not drop dead in the heat. Global agreements to cut carbon emissions will arguably make many Americans significantly poorer – destroying industries and hiking up the cost of energy. Poverty increases people’s exposure to extreme weather (climate changing or not). Meanwhile, the curbs these international agreements place on democracy hobble the public’s ability to improve their conditions. Besides, it is a cascade of unsound assumptions – not science – which link extreme-weather events to their putative social consequences. An entirely ideological worldview is required to believe the promise that a global climate institution can make things better for anyone at all, least of all for the poor.

The idea that policies can be ‘fact-based’ or ‘science-based’ is itself an ideological claim, no matter how hard we wish for it to be otherwise. Scientists making such claims try to pass themselves off as honest brokers. But they fail to ask scientific questions that might cause them to see ‘heat-related deaths’ as an economic problem, rather than a meteorological problem. The idea that a global bureaucracy established to enforce a ban on combustion will do more for poor people than making them wealthier is a demonstration of the cynical contempt that today’s champions of ‘science’ hold for ordinary people. They think that poverty is a function of weather. Trump might appeal to voters who know and can see for themselves that it is not.

The notion of the Green New Deal was established on the US left to overcome the obvious green indifference to people’s living standards. ‘Biden’, says the SciAm editorial, ‘wants to spend $2 trillion on an emissions-free power sector by 2035’, and this agenda ‘will produce two million jobs for US workers’. It sounds fantastic. But it is a fantasy. Simple arithmetic reveals that each job will cost a million dollars to ‘create’, whereas the green infrastructure will yield no net benefit to Americans, who will have to pay the extra in increased costs of living.

The thing that has typically restrained such absurd political advocacy in the past has been the idea that science could see past the petty world of politics and ideology. Scientific authority comes from the scientific method, which aims to weed out the influence of ideology and other interests. But there is science as a process, and science as an institution. As democratic processes have been emptied of competing political visions, scientific authority has been increasingly sought in lieu of political vision to give a seemingly objective purpose to politics. But the idea that institutional science, by virtue of the scientific method, escapes political ideology is equivalent to the idea that clergymen can commit no evil, by virtue of their membership of the church.

This political expectation of science both precedes the science and precludes scientific and democratic debate. In 2014, Obama’s then science adviser, John Holdren, attacked Professor Roger Pielke Jr, whose work, claimed Holdren, lay outside the ‘scientific mainstream’. Pielke, despite being consistently and categorically ‘pro-climate’, has upset ambitious climate policymakers for pointing out that alarmism, rather than science, underpins the urgent case for such policies. ‘When a political appointee uses his position not just to disagree on science or policy but to seek to delegitimise a colleague, he has gone too far’, wrote Pielke in reply to Holdren’s poorly conceived smear campaign.

The Democrats’ war on scientific dissenters intensified the following year, when Representative Raúl Grijalva, now chair but then a member of the House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, launched an investigation into seven academics. Grijalva demanded university authorities provide disclosure of the researchers’ (including Pielke’s) funding sources and all private correspondence relating to testimony they had given to congressional meetings. The investigation was roundly condemned as an attack on academic freedom and yielded nothing except harassment and smears.

In the mid-2000s, author Chris Mooney made a name for himself documenting what he called a ‘Republican war on science’. This framing led ultimately to Mooney believing, on no more a scientific footing, that the brains of Republicans and Democrats had different structures – meaning that the former had less aptitude for science than the latter. This pathological view of politics and science is clearly more than science can bear. Yet complaints about this burden put on it by political advocates from science are few and far between.

Similarly, calls to ‘unite behind the science’ come from campaigners across the world, all of a similar political bent. Yet asking what ‘the science’ actually is or says typically yields accusations of ‘science denial’, rather than explanation. ‘Unite behind the science’, but don’t question it. Because only Republicans, climate-change deniers, creationists and Brexiteers might have the sort of dysfunctional mental hardware that dares to question science, right?

Science has nothing to do with it. There is nothing that any Democratic-supporting scientist, journal editor or campaigner can say about their opposite numbers’ candidates that is not true of their own. It turns out that politicians lie, and take liberties with facts, even when they hide behind science. And now scientific journal editors not only seem to be confused about where science ends and politics begins, but they also mistake their own political outlooks for science itself. The only logic of it is that to challenge the party that had declared itself the champion of (institutional) science would be to declare hostility to science.

That academia has become dominated by a political tendency is hardly news. The shameless advocacy for political candidates by seemingly reputable journals is a new development, but it merely formalises entrenched positions. Behind it is not, as they like to think, arguments from scientific objectivity, but arguments that are as questionable and take as many liberties with facts as any presidential candidate’s. They depend on a whitewashed role of institutional science during the Covid-19 crisis, and on extremely alarmist interpretations of climate change and on other things that may well only count as ‘science’ because increasingly politicised institutional science has excluded challengers from its ranks – just as Grijalva’s witch hunt, Holdren’s censure, and Mooney’s slander intended.

When institutional science attaches itself to politics, to support candidates, it loses any claim to objectivity, and any ability to speak truth to power. Science and SciAm will be unable to say anything about either president’s claims without bringing their own conflicted positions to the spotlight. If Biden wins, scientific institutions like important journals will become mere cronies. And if Trump wins, they will look like bitter losers. Scientists risk creating a situation in which society will no longer trust in the objectivity of institutional science. They have squandered scientific authority on a political gamble. Perhaps if scientists had been more questioning of both Obama and the Democrats they might have spared themselves the ordeal of Trump.


Jacinda Ardern vows to ban plastic cutlery, straws and single-use coffee cups as part of her new waste policy

This is crazy. Single use things are a major help in avoiding virus infections

Jacinda Ardern has vowed to ban plastic cutlery, single-use coffee cups and fruit stickers if she wins the election.

The New Zealand prime minister announced her new zero waste police on Sunday and pledged $50million to research plastic alternatives, pending ballot results on October 17.

Businesses will have five years to find substitutes to everyday plastic items, such as disposable cups and lids, straws and drink stirrers.

‘By 2025 we will phase out single use and hard to recycle plastic items such as drink stirrers, cutlery, some cups and lids, produce bags, straws, cotton buds and stickers on produce,’ Ms Ardern said, according to Stuff.

‘All of these items currently have non-plastic alternatives, and some we will be able to phase out before 2025.’

The Labour leader accelerated the policy after she received a series of letters from children who expressed concern over waste. ‘The letters really made a mark on me,’ she said

It is expected to be welcomed by businesses and generate employment opportunities for plastic alternative manufacturers.

About $3million was previously given to packaging company Pact to develop a range of recycled food packaging for deli foods, meats and bakery trays at its Auckland location.

While Labour previously announced an intention to ban single-use plastics, it did not include a time frame.

The announcement comes as the nation is plunged into a recession for the first time in a decade following the draconian lockdowns enforced to curb the spread of COVID-19.

New Zealand saw its economy shrink by a record 12.2 per cent in the June quarter.

The eye-watering figures, released in September by Statistics New Zealand, are significantly more severe than Australia’s record seven per cent plummet during the same period.

The nation went into a strict lockdown on March 25 and emerged from it on June 8 as part of an elimination strategy.

Residents were ordered to stay home to prevent the deadly virus from spreading.

Figures showed construction activity was down 26 per cent, manufacturing fell by 13 per cent, and household spending was down by 12 per cent when compared with the previous quarter.

Stats NZ spokesman Paul Pascoe said the closure of New Zealand’s borders since March 19 had also had a huge effect of some sectors of the economy.

‘Industries like retail, accommodation and restaurants, and transport saw significant declines in production because they were most directly affected by the international travel ban and strict nationwide lockdown,’ he said.

‘Other industries, like food and beverage manufacturing, were essential services and fell much less.’

Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the lockdown was necessary to save thousands of lives and get on top of the virus so the economy could bounce back faster.



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