Sunday, February 14, 2021

The Renewable Energy Pipe Dream

"Green" energy produced by wind and solar simply cannot meet the power demands of the modern world.

The biggest problem with the renewable energy sources of wind and solar is the fact that they are severely limited by their inherent unreliability. The “green” energy produced by wind and solar is neither constant nor controllable enough to meet the ever-increasing energy demands of a modern world.

First of all, no matter how loudly ecofascists tout renewables as a “solution” to the ostensibly disastrous problem of climate change, that doesn’t negate the reality that wind and solar fail badly in being a viable alternative to fossil fuels or nuclear energy. The simple fact is that solar only works when the sun is shining and there is nothing obscuring the panels (approximately 18% of the time) and wind turbines only work when the wind is blowing (approximately 40% of the time). One of the most glaring factors that serves to demonstrate their inadequacy is the fact that all renewable energy systems are necessarily backed up by either fossil fuels or nuclear power — energy sources that are reliable, consistent, and controllable.

Further highlighting the severe limitations of wind and solar is the natural environment’s impact on this technology. For example, cold weather not only diminishes the energy output of wind turbines but often reverses it. When the temperature drops below zero these wind turbines are shut down and actually consume electricity in order to keep their components warm to prevent damage and malfunction, turning these already lackluster energy producers into energy consumers.

Of course the ecofascists answer to the innate unreliability conundrum of renewables is batteries. They claim that by storing all the excess energy produced during the peak operational periods of wind turbines or solar panels, the innate unreliability problem is “solved.”

However, the problem here is twofold. First, the battery storage capacity needed simply does not exist, nor is it likely to ever exist. As American Experiment’s Issac Orr observes, “A recent analysis by the consulting firm Wood Mackenzie estimates there will be about 741 gigawatt-hours of battery storage in 2030. This amount equates to 741,000 megawatt-hours (MWh). … In 2019, the state of Minnesota consumed 72 million megawatt-hours of electricity. This means the amount of battery storage expected to be in existence for the entire world would be the equivalent of just one percent of Minnesota’s annual energy consumption.”

Second, there’s the high cost of battery storage. Orr notes, “Current cost estimates for battery storage are about $250 per kilowatt-hour, which equates to a cost of $250,000 per megawatt-hour. This means the cost of all the expected battery storage in the world (741,000 MWh by 2030) would cost $185 billion to build, and this doesn’t even begin to include the cost of building the wind turbines and solar panels needed to charge the batteries!” And again, that would meet just 1% of Minnesota’s current annual energy consumption.

We’re really only scratching the surface here. There are certainly favorable aspects of renewable energy, and this isn’t a black-and-white calculation, no matter how much leftists tell us this is a “moral” choice. Not to put too fine a point on it, however, given the reality of the laws of physics, the day the world’s energy needs are fully met by wind and solar is the day pigs will fly.


Suspect Science Threatens US Farming – Again

Modern American agriculture has wrought miracles over the past 70 years. Conventional farm production per acre and overall nearly tripled, corn (maize) production increased 500% from 20% less land – and farmers used less water, less fuel, less fertilizer, and fewer pesticides and other chemicals for every bushel of food they harvested. They did all this using hybrid and genetically engineered seeds, tractors guided by GPS, equipment that can space seeds precisely to the inch and apply chemicals in amounts suited to soil characteristics that can change every few feet, and numerous other high-tech advances.

By using weed control chemicals, they avoid having to till and break up the soil, protecting soil organisms and dramatically reducing erosion, conserving soil moisture, sequestering carbon, saving time and tractor fuel, and allowing more land to be conserved as wildlife habitat instead of being planted in crops.

It’s thus surprising and troubling that environmentalist groups continue to attack the foundations of that success – especially GMO seeds and safe, effective, repeatedly tested, constantly monitored chemicals like glyphosate and neonicotinoid pesticides.

Another long-term target is atrazine, used to prevent the growth of broadleaf and grassy weeds among corn, sorghum, soybeans, and sugarcane, on golf courses and lawns, and along highways. It is the second most widely used herbicide, after glyphosate (Roundup) and controls glyphosate-resistant weeds. Over a dozen government studies since it was first introduced in 1958 have concluded it is safe for humans, animals and the environment.

The Center for Biological Diversity and other groups opposed to synthetic chemicals nevertheless sued the Environmental Protection Agency, claiming endangered species had not been properly considered during the pesticide review process. The courts gave EPA limited time to analyze possible effects on listed species and determine whether there is “moderate” or “strong” evidence that species and habitats on the Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) “threatened or endangered” list (as well as candidates for listing) will likely be killed or otherwise adversely affected by commonly used herbicides and insecticides.

Once EPA finishes its “biological evaluation” of each chemical, it will pass the baton to the FWS for more in-depth, but still insufficient analyses of effects on each species – also under tight court deadlines.

Faced with a court-ordered deadline and lacking the data, funding, and personnel for adequate evaluations of each listed species, EPA resorted to satellite imagery, statewide crop and atrazine use data, computer models, algorithms, extrapolations, and best guesses – plus available toxicity studies of rats, hamsters, other lab animals, and plants tested for the pre-emergent weed control chemical’s effectiveness. Data were not available (or were not used) at the county level, and certainly not at the farm or habitat level.

It produced a document claiming that 1,013 species and 328 endangered or threatened habitats are “likely to be adversely affected” by somehow encountering atrazine if it is inadvertently sprayed on them, small amounts “drift” into their habitats, or animals wander into a sprayed yard, farmer’s field or golf course.

These numbers represent most of the endangered or threatened species and critical habitats in the continental United States. The numbers would have been higher, except that, as EPA notes, atrazine manufacturers “committed to limit use of atrazine products” to the continental USA.

Ultimately, the agencies must decide whether to let current rules stand – or restrict or ban atrazine nationwide, regionally or near some or all of the species’ habitats and occasional stomping grounds.

EPA’s list includes 36 amphibians, 207 aquatic invertebrates, 190 fish, 47 reptiles, 108 birds, 99 mammals, 160 insects and invertebrates, and 948 plants. At least 8 of the species are already extinct, and dozens more live in the mountaind, deserts, and other areas that will likely never be touched by atrazine.

It’s a commendable effort – may be the best possible under the circumstances. It’s just not good enough, not for decisions with such monumental, far-reaching implications for America’s agriculture, especially since these evaluations are likely to be grounds for many more lawsuits against other vital chemicals.

Agency findings are presented in complex equations, over 100 pages of explanations of data and methodologies, and mind-numbing, almost incomprehensible spreadsheets that can involve over 1,800 rows and 30 columns. They’ll probably impress citizens and courts, politicians and journalists with the expertise, precision, and detail they supposedly reflect. But in reality, in the end, it’s mostly GIGO: multiple uncertainties in, multiple black-box analyses conducted, multiple faulty conclusions out.

The EPA analysis begins with species whose actual populations and presence in specific parts of possible ranges and habitats are mostly unknown. It then utilizes statewide crop planting and atrazine use data, averaged out and applied to possible habitats and individual plants or animals – which as individuals or a species may react very differently to different amounts of atrazine, and may contact them as direct or drifting spray, diluted promptly or over weeks in soil or water, ingested or contacting the skin.

Other unknown factors include the number of sprays per year; by hand, tractor, or aircraft; wind speed and direction and ambient temperature at the time of spraying; distance to habitat or individual plant or critter; amounts actually making contact over time; and whether an individual or species reacts to some unknown amount of atrazine the same way a laboratory animal did, with lethal or sublethal effects.

Even assuming a wildly optimistic 90% confidence level for each of these 12-15 or more unknowns, calculating the ultimate “strongest” evidence of harmful impacts requires multiplying the 90% (0.9) confidence for each element – thus 0.9 x 0.9 twelve or more times. The best possible scenario ends up being 28% or less confidence that the agency conclusions are valid.

That is useless and unacceptable. Decisions affecting our farms produce and dinner tables must not be made so cavalierly, on the basis of such patently insufficient evidence and rank guesswork.

But suppose they do ban atrazine. What guarantees will we have that this will prolong the existence of species that are already marginal and threatened by countless other human and natural factors? None.

And what next for conventional farmers? There is no substitute for atrazine or other modern herbicides, which are more effective, less toxic, and more biodegradable than their predecessors. In their absence, corn yields would decline nearly 40% – and growers would have to control weeds by hand (by thousands of migrant workers and their children) and by regularly tilling their fields. Food prices would soar.

Tilling means tractor mileage and fuel would skyrocket, crops would need far more water and irrigation, soils would lose their integrity and many organisms, carbon sequestration would plummet, and millions of tons of farmland would erode annually. Millions more acres would have to be planted to get today’s corn and other yields – and much of that acreage would come from land that is now wildlife habitat.

It’s the “precautionary principle” at its very worst – always focusing on alleged risks of using chemicals – never on the risks of not using them; always highlighting risks a technology might cause, but ignoring often far greater risks it would reduce or prevent.

Finally, if environmentalists, courts, and regulators truly are concerned about chemical threats to these and other species, they would not look only at conventional, synthetic chemicals – but at organic chemicals.

Atrazine has an LD50 of 3090 for rats, meaning it takes 3,090 milligrams per kilogram of body weight to kill half of a test group of rats that ingest it orally. Copper sulfate used on thousands of organic farms is ten times more toxic: an LD50 of 300. It is deadly to fish, hugely harmful to avian reproductive systems, and highly toxic to humans. The LD50 for rotenone is 132; a little bit will kill every fish in your favorite woodland pond. Pyrethrin (LD50: 200-2,600 mg/kg) and neem oil (LD50: 3,540) positively slaughter bees! Yet they (and more such nasties) are approved for organic farming all over the US, EU, and world.

When will environmentalists sue to have dangerous organic pesticides banned? When will courts and federal agencies initiate studies of their effects on these 1,795 threatened and endangered species?

It’s time we all focused on how and where atrazine is actually used – and whether any endangered species would actually be exposed to it (and harmed by it) under conditions of actual use.


UK: Why greens love lockdown

Greens now want harder, longer lockdowns to tackle climate change. Are they mad?

Over the past year, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has caused untold damage to people’s lives. Discussing whether draconian policies are effective, or whether there may be other ways of managing the crisis, has been muted by angry ripostes – you will be branded a ‘denier’ or a ‘granny-killer’. To disagree is to have blood on your hands.

But surely, despite these tensions, most people want the whole thing to be over? It doesn’t seem so. One tendency seems to hope that lockdown is just the dawn of an age of confinement. Greens, after a year at home on full pay, believe this is the beginning of a bright new era of global environmental consciousness and good international governance, in which lockdown will be the norm.

The question at the centre of this bizarre, anti-human dystopianism is, ‘Will Covid help us save the planet?’. That was asked by last Sunday’s edition of the BBC’s Big Questions. spiked’s Fraser Myers, outnumbered by George Monbiot, Extinction Rebellion activists and neo-Malthusian population-obsessives, appeared on the show. He was interrupted every time he tried to counter the greens’ celebration of locking people in their homes. Such is the BBC’s absorption into the green and lockdown orthodoxies that it apparently could not find, in a population of 65million people, more than one dissenting voice.

For Monbiot, the logic of lockdown was simple enough. ‘What we’ve discovered with the pandemic is that when people are called upon to act, they’ll take far more extreme action than environmentalists have ever called for’, he said. In Monbiot’s view, all that was required to elicit the obedience of the population was for the government to make it ‘abundantly clear that we have to do this for the good of all’. But this is not true.

If it were true, there would not have been the need to pass emergency legislation, to force businesses to close, and to abolish gatherings, including protests, all under threat of fines of up to £10,000. Which is far in excess of what most people could afford without serious consequences, including the loss of their home.

Moreover, there are countless reports of local authorities and the police failing to understand the regulations they were enforcing and exceeding their authority. People have stayed at home because there was nowhere to go to, and nothing to do, and because they do not want to break the law, and because they have been terrified of the virus. A July survey of British people’s estimation of the deaths caused by Covid found that (excluding ‘don’t know’) they overestimated the number of fatalities by up to 10 times. A third overestimated by 10 to 100 times, and 15 per cent overestimated by over 100 times.

Rather than seeking to allay unfounded fear, and despite their putative emphasis on ‘The Science’, lockdown hawks capitalised on this overestimation of risk to fuel their cheap, utilitarian moral arithmetic. This may have been effective during this pandemic, in which threats are perceived as immediate, and the lockdown is presented as an extraordinary measure with an end in sight. But a climate lockdown would be forever. And in order to sustain it, the green misanthropes would need to take even greater liberties with the facts and stats.

According to Monbiot, ‘billions’ of people will soon suffer from climate change. But in reality, even the most dramatic projections suggest that for a long time – that is, centuries – climate change will be undetectable, except in meteorological statistics at the broadest, global level. Attempts to measure fatalities attributed to the consequences of climate change have been beset by radical, historically unprecedented improvements in society. If there is a link between climate change and fatalities, then it is only possible to conclude that climate change has saved countless millions of lives. In order to sustain the notion of climate change as a grave risk, researcher-advocates have had to invent counterfactual worlds, in which there is no global warming, to claim that risks in this, the real world, are indeed increasing, despite material evidence to the contrary: the fact that we are living longer, healthier, wealthier lives.

It is the ‘wealthier’ part that really bothers the greens. ‘There’s all this conversation that assumes that we can have whatever we want and make tiny little changes in our lifestyles and that will be enough’, said UCL population ethicist Karin Kuhlemann on The Big Questions. ‘I do not think people will change their relationships to the natural world. They won’t restrain consumption willingly. We need to dramatically reduce our impact on this planet.’ How? ‘People have to understand that just because you can do something because it’s available to you… doesn’t mean that you should do it.’ The ‘it’ in question, of course, is having children, which ‘creates lifetimes of consumption’ that are apparently not sustainable for the ‘planet’.

So, whereas Covid lockdowns are intended to contain a virus and prevent it from overwhelming the NHS, climate lockdowns are intended to constrain human reproduction and consumption, to prevent us from overwhelming the planet.

Some greens have been excited about how great lockdown is since last March. They wrote, from the comfort of their nice homes, on their full pay, about how fresh the air was, how clear the skies, and how prominent the birdsong. It was Kuhlemann’s colleague at UCL, Mariana Mazzucato, who in September really spelled it out: ‘Under a “climate lockdown”, governments would limit private-vehicle use, ban consumption of red meat and impose extreme energy-saving measures.’ In order to save ourselves from this fate, ‘we must overhaul our economic structures and do capitalism differently’, she claimed.

It is hard not to notice that academics’ demands for radical changes to society are invariably underpinned by threats. Like many greens, Mazzucato claims that ‘Covid-19 is itself a consequence of environmental degradation’, and that this makes the reorganisation of society an imperative on which many millions of lives depend. This is simply not true. According to Our World in Data, the global burden of communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases fell from 471million DALYs (disability-adjusted life years) in 1990 to 288million in 2017. In 1990, 82,000 DALYs per 100,000 people were lost to diseases of all kinds in low-SDI (Socio-Demographic Index) countries, but this fell to 47,000 by 2017. The reason for this progress is made explicit by a plot of communicable disease burden against per capita GDP. Wealth is by far the greatest vaccine.

The obvious consequence of Covid and climate lockdowns, then, would be to reduce our ability to respond to actual emergencies, to spend on healthcare and public-health measures. It seems clear that green thinking is first and foremost driven by authoritarian impulses, which are subsequently given only a superficially plausible rationale. That is to say that the desire to reorganise society, which depends on hollow critiques of consumer and corporate capitalist society, exists prior to the facts, and yet are traded in the public sphere as obviously true, unimpeachable facts. No doubt, there are problems with the objects that animate greens’ and neo-Malthusians’ worldview: consumerism, ‘neoliberalism’, and the inauthenticity of (post)modern life. But the idea that they have driven us to the point of material crisis – from the weather, from diseases or from Gaia herself – is simply bullshit. Despite Covid and despite climate change, we have never been so safe, and the world has never before seen as much progress as it has since 1990.

Seen from this perspective, green demands for climate lockdown should be viewed as a greater risk to us than infectious diseases and extreme weather. The only way they can make their arguments for a ‘better world’ is to fantasise about saving us from imminent crises. They cannot actually offer anything positive at all.

Society has failed to grasp the extent to which green imperatives are ideological fantasies. Green claims are routinely taken at face value, rather than interrogated, to see what kind of world greens really want. One thing we can be sure of now, however, is that as soon as the climate lockdowners get what they want, they will simply move the goalposts. In December, the Guardian’s global environment editor, Jonathan Watts, claimed that, despite nearly a year of grounded flights, immobilised cars, a loss of 10 per cent or more of GDP, and a record plunge into further debt, lockdown had not done enough and was ‘too short to reverse years of destruction’. Now we know what lockdowns look like, it should sharpen our minds to the danger not from climate change, but from environmentalism.


John Kerry Is a Hypocrite and Should Not Be Taken Seriously on Climate Change

President Biden declared January 27 “Climate Day” at the White House, during which he unveiled his administration’s extensive plan to fight climate change. Along with signing several far-reaching executive orders that will undermine America’s recent energy independence and eliminate thousands of high-paying energy jobs, Biden introduced his Climate Czar, John Kerry.

According to Biden, “John has been deeply involved; the Secretary has been deeply involved in climate issues as a senator and one of the leaders, legislatively, as well. And I don’t think anybody knows more about the issue and the damage that’s been done by some of the executive orders of the previous administration.”

Kerry, a climate change ideologue on par with Al Gore, began his speech with the requisite fearmongering, “The stakes on climate change just simply couldn’t be any higher than they are right now. It is existential. We use that word too easily, and we throw it away,” said Kerry.

Of course, Kerry declined to give one iota of evidence to support his position that climate change is indeed an “existential” threat. That would be because climate change zealots like Kerry do not rely on science to inform them on matters such as climate change. He simply parrots talking points provided by radical environmentalists and globalists with “green” agendas.

If Kerry was actually interested in the science of climate change, he would be well aware that Earth’s climate has been shifting for millions of years, well before humans harnessed fossil fuels.

However, putting aside the global warming debate, Kerry’s lifestyle is not in-line whatsoever with his words about the existential threat posed by climate change. And actions speak louder than words when it comes to climate change, or so we have been told.

John Kerry, the Paul Revere of climate change, owns multiple lavish homes. His primary residence, a $12 mansion just off Martha’s Vineyard, shows us that he is not all that concerned about sea-level rise from climate change. Kerry’s home also emits far greater carbon dioxide than most Americans’ homes.

And John Kerry, who constantly reminds us that global warming is an “existential crisis” owns a private jet, which he uses to traverse the world. In fact, Kerry has owned his Gulfstream jet since 2005, meaning that for the past 16 years he has been trekking around the globe spewing untold amounts of carbon dioxide.

John Kerry also owns multiple cars and yachts, amid his vast array of gas-guzzling, carbon dioxide emitting vehicles.

In other words, the newly named Climate Envoy, who constantly lectures hardworking Americans that they need to reduce their carbon footprint and drastically change their way of life is an utter hypocrite when it comes to practicing what he preaches.

Like most global warming fanatics, including Al Gore, Kerry lives by the adage, “Do as I say, not as I do.”

However, his hypocritical lifestyle is only the tip of the iceberg. As Climate Czar, Kerry is on a mission to destroy the fossil fuel industry, and the millions of direct and indirect jobs the industry supports.

As Kerry put it, “Coal plants have been closing over the last 20 years. So what President Biden wants to do is make sure those folks have better choices, that they have alternatives, and they can be the people who go to work to make the solar panels.”

By “better choices” Kerry means choices that elites like him deem “better.” And his disregard of the thousands of hardworking Americans who he dismissively says can “make the solar panels” shows how out of touch this man is with the “folks.”

John Kerry is not a climate scientist, he is a lifelong politician. He is also a hypocrite who lectures the world about the dangers of greenhouse gases while he flies in private jets and lives like a king, spewing much more carbon dioxide in one month than most people will over their entire lifetimes.

When it comes to his harangues about climate change as an existential threat, Americans should simply ignore John Kerry.




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