Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dammed if you do and dammed if you don't‏

Renewables, Natural Gas Won’t Halt Warming until End-Century -- Says Stanford

A dramatic switch away from coal-fired power to lower-car­bon-emitting technologies such as wind, solar, hydroelectric and natural gas “may not yield a reduction in global warming until the latter part of this century,” according to a new study by Stanford University researchers.

What’s more, “technologies that offer only modest re­ductions in greenhouse gases, such as the use of natural gas and perhaps carbon capture and storage, cannot substantially reduce climate risk in the next 100 years,” according to an Institute of Physics summary of the study.

Ironically, “the rapid deployment of low-greenhouse-gas-emitting technologies (LGEs) will initially increase emissions as they will require a large amount of energy to construct and install,” according to the study summary.

“These cumulative emissions will remain in the atmo­sphere for extended periods due to the long lifetime of CO2 (carbon dioxide), meaning that global mean surface tempera­tures will increase to a level greater than if we continued to use conventional coal-fired plants.

“Delaying the rollout of the technologies is not an op­tion however; the risks of environmental harm will be much greater in the second half of the century and beyond if we continue to rely on coal-based technologies,” according to the study.

The Stanford researchers, joined by researchers at In­tellectual Ventures, “arrived at their conclusions through a set of simple mathematical models that calculated the ef­fect of switching energy technologies on the concentration of greenhouse gases, radiative forcing (the balance between absorbed and radiated energy from the sun) and global mean temperature.

“Coal-based power plants were used as the basis for comparison because they generate the most greenhouse gases per unit of electricity produced,” and so “replacing plants of this kind will have the greatest benefits on the climate,” ac­cording to the summary.

“These power plants were compared to wind power, nu­clear power, hydroelectric power, carbon capture and stor­age, and natural gas. Solar photovoltaics (harnessing the sun for electricity) and solar thermal (harnessing the sun for heat) were also compared.

“Achieving substantial reductions in temperatures rela­tive to the coal-based system will take the better part of a century, and will depend on rapid and massive deployment of some mix of conservation, wind, solar, and nuclear, and pos­sibly carbon capture and storage,” the researchers conclude.


Fakegate Illustrates Global Warming Alarmists' Deceit and Desperation

"People with sound science on their side do not need to forge documents to validate their arguments or make the other side look bad"

James Taylor

There never was a “leaker” in the shameful Fakegate scandal. In the end, there was only a forger, a fraudster and a thief. Alarmist scientist Peter Gleick has admitted that the latter two were one and the same person – himself. I suspect we will soon learn the identity of the forger, as well.

With the weight of damning evidence closing in on him, Gleick has admitted in his Huffington Post blog that he was the alleged “Heartland Insider” who committed fraud and identity theft, lying and stealing his way into possession of Heartland Institute internal personnel documents and then sending those private documents to global warming activist groups and left-leaning media. Gleick sent to the press an additional document, a fake “2012 Climate Strategy,” that he claims he did not write.

In short, Gleick set up an email account designed to mimic the email account of a Heartland Institute board member. Gleick then sent an email from that account to a Heartland Institute staffer, in which Gleick explicitly claimed to be the Heartland Institute board member. Gleick asked the staffer to email him internal documents relating to a recent board meeting. Soon thereafter, Gleick, while claiming to be a “Heartland Insider,” sent those Heartland Institute documents plus the forged “2012 Climate Strategy” document to sympathetic media and global warming activists.

While the legitimate Heartland Institute documents revealed personal, confidential and private information about Heartland Institute personnel, donors and programs, there was nothing scandalous in the documents. The documents merely showed the inner workings of an influential public policy organization operating on a budget that was quite small compared to environmental activist groups such as Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and Environmental Defense. Indeed, the internal documents refuted the false, yet often repeated assertions that the Heartland Institute’s powerful climate realism message is largely funded by Big Oil, Big Coal or Big Whatever.

The only thing that would seem to undermine the Heartland Institute’s credibility was the wording of the fake “2012 Climate Strategy” document. Computer forensics experts quickly discovered the climate strategy document was created by a different computer program and at a different time than the legitimate documents. The climate strategy document was also written in much different language, style, format and font than the legitimate documents. And long before Gleick confessed to being the fraudster and thief at the heart of the stolen documents, analysts noted a striking similarity between the language and style of the forged document and the language and style of Gleick’s public writings.

The real story in this Fakegate scandal is how the global warming movement is desperate, delusional and collapsing as global warming fails to live up to alarmist predictions. People with sound science on their side do not need to forge documents to validate their arguments or make the other side look bad. Also, people who are so desperate as to forge documents in an attempt to frame their rivals are clearly not above forging scientific data, studies and facts to similarly further their cause.

It is both striking and telling how global warming activists have failed to condemn the acts of forgery in the Fakegate scandal. For global warming activists, the ends justify the means – any means necessary to sell their alarmist message, even if they must sink to forgery and fakery.

It is also worth noting that Gleick repeatedly claims in his confession that his misconduct was motivated by a desire to create a rational public debate on global warming and that he was trying to fight back against the people he claims are seeking to prevent such a debate. Yet in January 2012 the Heartland Institute cordially invited Gleick to publicly debate me at our 2012 annual benefit dinner. All Gleick would had to have done is defeat me in that debate and he could have accomplished his twin goals of promoting public debate and embarrassing the Heartland Institute. Yet Gleick declined to participate in such a fair and open debate, and then on the very next day committed his acts of fraud and theft against the Heartland Institute.

Beyond our invitation to Gleick, the Heartland Institute has cordially invited dozens of scientists who believe humans are creating a global warming crisis to give presentations and to debate skeptics at our annual global warming conferences. Only one such scientist has ever accepted our offer.

If Gleick is indeed concerned about people preventing a public debate on global warming, he perhaps should have targeted his global warming activist colleagues rather than the Heartland Institute.


The High Priests of Eco-Destruction

Michelle Malkin

Rick Santorum is right. Pushing back against Democrats' attempts to frame him as a religious menace, the GOP presidential candidate forcefully turned the tables on the White House: "When it comes to the management of the Earth, they are the anti-science ones."

Scrutiny of the White House anti-science brigade couldn't come at a better time (which is why Santorum's detractors prefer to froth at the mouth about comments he made four years ago on the existence of Satan). It's not just big-ticket scandals like the stimulus-subsidized Solyndra bankruptcy or the Keystone pipeline debacle bedeviling America. In every corner of the Obama administration, the radical green machinery is hard at work -- destroying jobs, shredding truth and sacrificing our economic well-being at the altar of environmentalism.

--Take Obama's head of the National Park Service, please. While serving as the Pacific West regional director of the NPS, Jon Jarvis was accused of at least 21 instances of scientific misconduct by Dr. Corey Goodman, a high-ranking member of the National Academy of Sciences. Extensive information about Jarvis' alleged role in cooking data about a California oyster farm's impact on harbor seals at Point Reyes was withheld during the 2009 nomination process. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has ignored complaints and follow-up from both Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Sens. James Inhofe and David Vitter.

The National Research Council determined that the NPS had "selectively" slanted its report on the oyster farm. The federal Marine Mammal Commission found that "the data and analyses are not sufficient to demonstrate a causal relationship" between the farm's operations and harbor seal health. In a letter blasting the NPS for bullying the small oyster farm, Feinstein -- normally a reliable eco-ally -- concluded earlier this month that the "crux of the problem is that the Park Service manipulated science while building a case that the business should be shuttered."

Given Salazar's own role in manipulating science while building his case for the White House offshore drilling moratorium -- actions for which several federal judges spanked Salazar in the past two years -- it's no wonder he's looking the other way. Remember: Two years ago, Salazar and former Obama eco-czar Carol Browner falsely rewrote the White House drilling ban report to wholly manipulate the Obama-appointed panel's own overwhelming scientific objections to the job-killing edict. Despite repeated judicial slaps for their "determined disregard" for the law, the Obama administration continues to suppress documents related to that junk science scandal. Last month, House Republicans threatened to subpoena the Interior Department for information. Call it a greenwash.

--Water wars and the Delta smelt. The infamous, endangered three-inch fish and its environmental protectors continue to jeopardize the water supply of more than 25 million Californians. Federal restrictions have cut off some 81 billion gallons of water to farmers and consumers in Central and Southern California. Previous courts have ruled that the federal biological opinions used to justify the water cutoff were invalid and illegal. Last September, the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California admonished two federal scientists for acting in "bad faith." The judge's blistering rebuke of the Obama administration scientists concluded that their slanted testimony about the delta smelt was "an attempt to mislead and to deceive the Court into accepting what is not only not the best science, it's not science."

GOP Rep. Devin Nunes, who represents the hard-hit San Joaquin Valley area, noted that Salazar recently "doubled down on the illegal policies of the Department of Interior and attacked critics as narrow minded and politically motivated. Ironically, these were the same basic criticisms levied against his department by the federal court."

While Salazar manufactures a new biological opinion on the matter to get the courts off his back, unemployment and drought plague the Central Valley. And the White House stands by its "scientists."

--Dams in distress. In Siskiyou County, Ore., local officials and residents announced last week that it intends to sue Salazar and Team Obama over their potential removal of dams on the Klamath River. Once again, the administration's systematic disregard for sound science and the rule of law is in the spotlight.

Salazar is expected to make a decision by the end of March on environmentalists' demands that four private hydroelectric dams be demolished to protect salmon habitats and "create" demolition and habitat restoration jobs. Opponents say Salazar has already predetermined the outcome. Green activists blithely ignore the massive taxpayer costs (an estimated half-billion dollars) and downplay the environmental destruction the dam removals would impose. GOP Rep. Tom McClintock put it most charitably: "To tear down four perfectly good hydroelectric dams at enormous cost is insane."

People of faith aren't what's bedeviling America. Blame the high voodoo priests of eco-destruction in Washington who have imposed a green theocracy on us all. Science be damned.


Aren't High Gas Prices What Democrats Want?

David Harsanyi

Gas prices are spiking. That's great news, right? We have to wean ourselves off the stuff. At least that's what we've been hearing for years. Oil is dirty. We import it from nations that hate our guts (like Canada!). And moreover, we're running out. Oil is "finite." Finite much in the way water is finite.

So why aren't Democrats making the case that the spike in prices is a good thing? Isn't this basically our energy policy these days? How we "win the future"? If high energy prices were to damage President Barack Obama's re-election prospects, it would be ironic, considering the left has been telling us to set aside our "dependency" -- or, as our most recent Republican president put it, "addiction" -- for a long time.

If Democrats had their way, after all, we would be enjoying the economic results of cap-and-trade policy these days -- a program designed to increase the cost of energy by creating false demand in a fabricated market. As the theory goes, if you inflate the price of fossil fuels, the barbarians might finally start putting thought into how peat moss might be able to power a toaster.

In 2008, Steven Chu, Obama's (and, sadly, our own) future secretary of energy (sic) lamented, "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe." The president, when asked whether he thought $4-a-gallon gas prices were good for the American economy, said, "I think that I would have preferred a gradual adjustment."

How gradual? Like, what, four years? Or is it eight?

Part of "figuring it out" surely had something to do with the recent decision by Obama to nix the Canadian Keystone XL pipeline project that would have pumped 700,000 barrels of oil per day into the United States. More oil just means more excessive, immoral, ugly energy use.

Well, get used to it. You can't take three steps without stepping over some potential 10-billion barrel reserve of dead organisms.

According to the Institute for Energy Research, there is enough natural gas in the U.S. to meet electricity demand for 575 years at current fuel demand, enough to fuel homes heated by natural gas for 857 years and more gas in the U.S. than there is in Russia, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and some place called Turkmenistan combined. Oil? The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States could soon overtake Saudi Arabia and Russia to become the world's top oil producer. There are tens of billions of easily accessible barrels of offshore oil here at home -- and much more oil around the world.

Yes, gas prices have spiked an average of 14 cents a gallon in the past month and about 30 cents a gallon since last November, according to AAA. Oil prices jumped to a nine-month high -- more than $105 a barrel -- after the Iranians shut down their own energy exports to Britain and France so they could start a much-needed nuclear program, which is, no doubt, for wholly peaceful purposes.

Given the fundability of commodities and the track record of civilization in the Middle East, we'll likely always have to deal with occasionally painful fluctuations in the price of energy, regardless of what we do at home -- drilling and new pipelines included. Still, fluctuations have a lot better track record than price controls.

Subsidizing quixotic green companies or creating carbon credits won't stop the rules of basic economics. If the gas crunch starts hitting the economy, it's doubtless that we will get an earful of populist hand-wringing and that we'll hear the administration once again blame wealthy speculators and nasty oil companies.

Yet in the end, high gas prices are part of the plan. This is what the administration wants.


British Public to get new rights to block 'eyesore' windfarm plans

A subtle way of stopping most of them. A classic British "fudge", backing down without appearing to back down

Resident's will win new powers to block the eyesore of onshore windfarms in an overhaul of planning laws, David Cameron announced last night.

The Prime Minister said the Government would act to ensure that only those windfarms which win local approval are given the go-ahead.

He hinted that the Coalition is preparing to beef up its National Planning Policy Strategy – due to be published next month – in order to let those living nearby have power of veto over the location of the turbines, which are widely regarded as unsightly.

Mr Cameron insisted that some onshore wind energy will form part of the mix of energy supply in future but, he added, ‘if, and only if, local people have a proper say in planning decisions’.

The Prime Minister made the declaration in a letter to 101 Tory MPs who called for the Government to ditch generous subsidies to build windfarms.

His intervention is a hint that the Government is looking favourably at a series of amendments to the planning strategy that were tabled by Tory MP Chris Heaton-Harris. He wrote to Downing Street calling for a cut in the subsidy for windfarms and a rethink on planning laws.

Mr Cameron responded: ‘Planning works best when communities themselves have the opportunity to influence the decisions that make a difference in their lives.

That must include local communities having their full say on onshore wind farm planning decisions.

Our planning reforms will put local communities in the driving seat by giving new powers to neighbourhoods to write their own plans. ‘Top-down regional targets will not trump local concerns and aspirations of local residents when local plans are made.’

The Prime Minister also said local communities would collectively win financial benefits from new wind turbines. At present only landowners see a profit. ‘We are committed to ensuring local communities capture the full economic benefit from hosting renewable energy projects, including retention of all the business rates they pay,’ he added.

At least 4,500 more turbines are expected to be constructed as the Government attempts to meet legally binding targets for cutting carbon emissions.

Critics say wind farms are inefficient because the wind cannot be guaranteed to blow when there is the greatest need for energy.

Equally, several wind farm operators were paid to actually shut down last year when it was too windy – because they produced more energy than the National Grid could handle.

The Prime Minister did not back down entirely. He refused to budge on the MPs’ concern that the Government should slash the subsidy for windfarms by more than the 10 per cent already announced. The subsidy is blamed for driving up energy bills.

He said: ‘Onshore wind plays a role in a balanced UK electricity mix, alongside gas, nuclear, cleaner coal and other forms of renewable energy.

‘A portfolio of different supplies enhances energy security and prevents the UK from becoming over-reliant on gas imports.’
He also said the Government should promote green jobs.

Mr Heaton-Harris said he would lead a delegation to Downing Street to discuss the issue further. He told the Daily Mail: ‘I’m hopeful given what he says about planning and how that is being addressed. This is the opening of a conversation.’

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said: ‘I’m quite encouraged by this. I’ve got one of these windfarms in my constituency. 'Everyone objected locally but it was imposed by a government official anyway.

'Apart from the farmer whose land it is on, no one sees any benefit from it at all. Everyone else suffers because their houses fall in value.’


No good deed goes unpunished: The high cost of solar

Residents of Hawaii were dismayed to see this recent front-page headline: “Hawaii Solar Savings Spark Higher Electric Bills.”

Since so many consumers have sought electrical savings from installing solar panels, the state-monopoly electric utility is losing revenue and now needs to make it up in higher rates.

At least Hawaii’s perennially sunny weather will likely mean that the return on investing in solar panels will still pay off for residents, as they mostly only need to buy electricity at night.

The calculus is far different in the cold and dark northern climes of Germany. A recent article in Der Spiegel, “Solar Subsidy Sinkhole: Re-Evaluating Germany’s Blind Faith in the Sun,” points out that the German government has invested more than €100 billion ($132 billion) in solar subsidies over the past 11 years, yet,
For weeks now, the 1.1 million solar power systems in Germany have generated almost no electricity. The days are short, the weather is bad and the sky is overcast.

German citizens get dinged a “green energy surcharge”—an additional €200 ($265) a year for the average family—over and above the cost of their actual electricity use, for which they already pay the second-highest rates in all of Europe. Because German policy is so solar-dependent, when the sun doesn’t shine (a/k/a “winter”), Germany has to import its power from nuclear-power generators in France and the Czech Republic, and even resorted to powering-up an old oil-fired plant in Austria. Not exactly “green.”

As Der Spiegel concludes: "Solar energy has the potential to become the most expensive mistake in German environmental policy."

Not surprisingly, the decision to pursue this policy was based on calculations assuming “conditions that hardly ever exist outside a laboratory.”

A not-unusual situation when it comes to projections for proposed government “investments.”

Ignoring such experience, and apparently neither learning from the fed’s big losses in “renewable” energy, New York State passed the “Power New York Act of 2011,” calling for increased reliance on solar energy. As most of us are aware, New York also habitually suffers from “winter”. Also bad and overcast weather. Yet the cost-benefit analysis commissioned by the very legislators who set these solar energy goals concluded that solar energy is a great option for New York State.

This despite the study’s actual findings. As distilled by the New York Times:
The financial scenarios vary widely. It could cost New York State ratepayers anywhere from $300 million to $9 billion to install solar power between 2013 and 2049. The report said that under the most likely conditions, the cost would be about $3 billion and the installations would increase electric bills by up to 3 percent in any given year. In other words, the costs exceed the benefits.

Needless to say, cost-benefit calculations and investments in solar can and should be made only at the individual level, divorced from subsidies, “rebates,” and other schemes passing costs along to others. Solar can certainly make good economic sense, especially for those of us in sunny locations. If combined with the repeal of state utility monopolies, solar holds even more promise, with the benefits of competition and innovation, such as customers being able to connect to two-way grids allowing them to sell excess energy generated back to their utility provider.

Indeed, if one thinks only of the incredible innovations in telecommunications since the repeal of Ma Bell’s government-protected monopoly, the possibilities may be virtually endless.

But if continued along the line of current centrally-planned “renewable energy” schemes, no one should be surprised to see shortages and higher costs in yet another realm of government’s expanded heavy hand.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


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