Wednesday, March 09, 2022

UK: Green power or confusing failure?

Robert Ellis

I am at a loss to understand the ‘Green Movement’.

I fully understand their concern about the use of fossil fuels, which may be causing an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, although actual limits of acceptability and reasons for them have never been stated – or at least widely publicised.

I fully understand their concern about the destruction of wildlife and the natural environments in general, though the majority of ‘Green’ supporters seem to come from the most unnatural environments on earth – cities. I suspect that most ‘Greens’ would be lost if they had to live in a rural environment.

What I fail to understand is their proposals for alternatives that will not adversely affect our standards of living. I have never heard any coherent suggestions.

If coal-fired power stations are bad, then so are coal mines – at least for thermal coal. That I understand. But why is this the same for coal used in industrial processes?

And if coal power stations are bad, why are there so many objections from the Greens to building dams for hydroelectric power, securing water supplies, creating wind generators, and nuclear power – all of which will help replace coal-fired power stations?

Why has there been no push to build combined cycle gas power stations, which are much more thermally efficient than coal-fired power stations, even if they are not so economical? Maybe it is just because it is far easier to destroy than to build, to condemn rather than develop practical alternatives and be accountable.

And the ‘Green’ demographic also appears to be strange.

The majority are from wealthy and middle-class groups, including education, public service, and the media but their politics are far closer aligned with the older socialist movements.

Perhaps it is a class problem…

Labor used to represent blue-collar workers – poor people with no real voice. They were vocally socialist, wanting more of the wealth generated by work to flow to the workers. They still spruik that same type of story, but the Labor leaders are no longer representative of workers. Few have ever been in the workplace and most have moved from university into politics, sometimes through the legal profession. Workers have had their lot improved and the union movements, which were the backbone of the Labor party, have all but disintegrated (apart from those in the public services, who are perhaps the best treated of all working groups). So, the Greens are not Labor supporters, they are of a different ‘class’ and they have their separate socialist group which aligns itself with Labor.

Maybe it is just another problem associated with wealth in the developed world?

Most citizens of developed countries have never experienced poverty, or any kind of want. They have never experienced wars or real economic depressions. They have never had to fight for all the freedoms and benefits they now have. That was the work of generations passed, bequeathed to them.

Maybe they just assume that life will continue as it is despite the changes that they proclaim to want to introduce. It is easy to make political statements when you never have to accept responsibility for their implementation.


Green Energy Mogul Musk Says U.S. Must Increase Oil and Gas Production

In the wake of rising oil prices, last Friday evening Tesla CEO Elon Musk posted to Twitter that he thought the United States should increase oil and gas production. Musk is correct and his admission is significant, coming from the head of largest, most successful electric vehicle manufacturer in the world. Tesla is a company that stands to benefit from higher oil and gas prices. Musk’s tweet indicates he better understands America’s real energy needs and the damage high oil and gas prices impose on the economy, than either the corporate media or the Biden administration.

Musk, who is a vocal public investor in “green” energy technology, says despite lower gas prices having the ability to negatively impact Tesla, sustainable energy sources cannot quickly overcome America’s dependence on Russian oil and gas imports.

“Hate to say it, but we need to increase oil and gas output immediately. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary measures,” Musk said. “Obviously, this would negatively affect Tesla, but sustainable energy solutions simply cannot react instantaneously to make up for Russian oil and gas exports.”

Musk is entirely correct that, except to the extent government interferes with oil and gas production, delivery, and use, the oil and gas industry is able to quickly react to shortages in supply.

Even the International Energy Agency (IEA) has suggested as much, releasing a 10-Point-Plan for the European Union to replace Russian oil and gas that emphasizes the need to quickly ramp up other sources of fossil fuels to replace the Russian gas. For the short-term, the study recommends restarting previously shuttered coal-fueled-power plants, and replacing Russian natural gas by converting gas-fired plants to burn oil.

Oil prices began climbing shortly after Biden became President, well before the Ukraine war began. This was due in part to post-pandemic demand recovery. However, as detailed in a recent report from The Heartland Institute, the most important factor driving higher oil and gas prices were a series of anti-fossil fuel policies implemented by the Biden administration. Heartland’s analysis found that the average American household spent $1,000 more on energy costs in 2021 than the year prior, largely due to Biden’s energy policies.


Sorry, Mainstream Media, Wildfires Are Declining, Not Increasing, Amidst Modest Warming

A firestorm, pun fully intended, erupted as dozens of mainstream media outlets, large and small, touted a report this week from a team of researchers associated with the United Nations claiming wildfires are on the rise due to climate change. This is false. Data show conclusively wildfires have declined dramatically over the past century even as the earth has modestly warmed.

The BBC, PBS, the St. Louis Post Dispatch, and Health Day were among the dozens of media outlets uncritically parroting the claims made by a team of researchers that wildfire seasons are worsening due to climate change. The stories also all uniformly claim that unless something is done to lessen future climate change, wildfires will be more frequent and intense in the future.

The story from the St. Louis Post Dispatch by Health Day reporter, Robin Foster, titled, “Climate Change Bringing More Catastrophic Wildfires: UN Report,” was typical of the corporate media’s coverage of the report. Foster writes:

Devastating wildfires around the world will only grow in number in coming decades as climate change further fuels the chances of out-of-control blazes, a landmark report from the United Nations warns.

“The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.

The report was prompted by a string of deadly blazes around the globe in recent years, burning the American West, vast stretches of Australia and even the Arctic.

Had Foster bothered to exercise a modicum of curiosity, as might be expected of a good investigative journalist, she would have found wildfires in the United States and around the world have, in fact, declined in recent decades.

As presented in Climate at a Glance: Wildfires, data on wildfires from the U.S. National Interagency Fire Center from as far back as 1926 show current acres burned in the United States, are approximately 1/4th to 1/5th of the amount burned annually in the 1930s.

What is true of the United States is true for the world in general. For instance scientists reported in a study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Geophysical Research, analyzing global wildfires back to the year 1901, “a notable declining rate of burned area globally.” In addition, NASA satellites have documented a global long-term decline in wildfires. NASA reports satellites have measured a 25-percent decrease in global lands burned since 2003. That is an objective scientific fact.

To the extent wildfires in recent years have modestly increased from what they were in the 1990s, as explained in multiple Climate Realism stories, here, here, here, and here, for example, the reason is largely due to changed forest management policies and increased urban incursion into formerly wild forested areas historically prone to wildfires.

Even the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) bows to the data. In its Sixth Climate Assessment Report, the IPCC reports no increase in wildfires globally and states it has only, “medium confidence [emphasis theirs] that weather conditions that promote wildfires (fire weather) have become more probable in Europe, Northern Eurasia, the U.S., and Australia over the past century.”

Although the IPCC says it has “high confidence that fire weather conditions will become more frequent at higher levels of global warming in some regions,” weather conditions are only one factor contributing to wildfires. Fuel load is the most important factor and, as the past century has shown, regardless of the weather fuel load can be managed to reduce wildfire incidences and severity.

When examining breaking new alarming climate research, which claims various extreme weather events, like wildfires, are worsening due to climate change, reporters should look upon the research with a jaundiced eye, and exercise a bit of skepticism before promoting such reports. Remember and repeat the mantra, “follow the data, follow the data, follow the data.” Data or peer reviewed research generally exists for most types of extreme weather, and when examined current weather events don’t seem so extreme or historically unusual.


Court Blocks Biden Administration Changes to Trump-era Social Cost of Carbon Rules

A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Biden administration’s implementation of a “social cost of carbon” metric to be used for federal actions and regulations.

The injunction was came in a lawsuit filed by Louisiana, on behalf it and Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming

Arbitrary Standard, Didn’t Follow Rules

The plaintiffs argued the SCC metric used by the Biden administration was arbitrarily set by the Interagency Working Group (IWG), without following the proper procedures.

The states also argued the SCC metric would unjustifiably increase the costs of energy production and other activities.

Judge James D. Cain Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, agreed, issuing an injunction barring the use of the interim SCC standard from being used to set regulations and in federal contracting, leasing, and permitting.

The injunction does not address the science underlying the standard, but rather blocked its implementation for running afoul of the 1946 Administrative Procedure Act because the SCC did not undergo the requisite notice-and-comment process.

Cain ruled the President lacks the authority to enforce the estimates as they are substantively unlawful under the APA and contravenes existing law. Cain also concluded the government acted beyond congressional authority by basing regulatory policy upon global considerations.

At the heart of the ruling is the court’s determination that the “major questions doctrine,” under which the bureaucracy cannot on its own authority impose new obligations of vast economic and political significance unless Congress speaks clearly on the issue, had been triggered by an executive order issued by Biden.

Louisiana AG Reacts

The multi-state lawsuit was spearheaded by Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

This ruling is only a first step in a longer fight, said Landry in a press release following the ruling.

“Biden’s attempt to control the activities of the American people and the activities of every business from Main Street to Wall Street has been halted today,” said Landry. “Biden’s executive order was an attempt by the government to take over and tax the people based on winners and losers chosen by the government.

“Agriculture, energy, and virtually every other manufacturing industry is at stake; and today, a federal judge in Louisiana recognized that the federal government does not have this reach,” said Landry. “While our fight is far from over, I am pleased the Court granted preliminary relief against the President’s unacceptable and unauthorized executive overreach; and I remain committed to seeing this case through to the end – fighting every step of the way for the workers and job creators in Louisiana and throughout our Republic.”

Interim Versus Final Actions

Critics of the decision claimed Cain wrongly interpreted interim SCC values as final and binding values, but interim values have real policy impact, said Devin Watkins, an attorney Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), in a recent post.

“Non-final actions do not yet have legal effect, yet these “interim” IWG values are causing direct legal effect and as such are a final agency action,” wrote Watkins. “The final agency action doesn’t need to directly harm the plaintiffs by itself; it just needs to cause particularized harm that is imminent, and in this case, that harm is already occurring.

“These harms are ongoing harms against the states, and this injunction can prevent those harms from continuing to occur,” Watkins said. “As such, the states have standing.”

Dubious Models

The models used to calculate the SCC are highly subjective, not grounded in real world data but rather based on extreme scenarios generated by climate models, says Kevin​ Dayaratna, Ph.D., is the principal statistician and a research fellow with the Heritage Foundation.

“It’s disturbing and quite frankly dangerous to put these models in the hands of policymakers who can manipulate them to achieve any result that they want to rubber stamp their agenda,” said Dayaratna. “We applaud the judge’s decision to prohibit the social cost of carbon in rulemaking, and hope lawmakers also realize the flaws in these models.”




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