Thursday, June 27, 2019

Eliminating fossil fuels would risk a descent into darkness

Inventiveness plus boldness equals progress. Liberal “activists” who want to revolutionize the nation’s energy resources demonstrate political moxie, but if their campaign to substitute renewable sources for fossil fuels — oil and gas — succeeds it will take more than happy thoughts to keep the lights on.

Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, pledges to donate $500 million to a campaign to shutter the nation’s remaining coal-fired power plants by 2030. The billionaire told the Class of ‘19 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology the other day that his Bloomberg Philanthropies, in partnership with the Sierra Club, played a role in closing 289 coal-fired plants — half of the nation’s existing power plants — since 2011. He says he’ll try to pull the plug on the rest, all to save the planet from the changing climate.

“Building on the success of the Beyond Coal campaign, I’m committing $500 million to launch @BeyondCarbon the largest-ever coordinated campaign to tackle the worst climate crisis our country has ever seen, Mr. Bloomberg tweeted last week. “This is the fight of our time.” The money will be spent primarily on funding environmental organizations adept at lobbying government officials to go “green.” He aims to take out clean-burning natural gas power plants as well. “By the time they are built, they’ll be out of date because renewable will be cheaper,” he told the graduates.

The sometime Democrat joins other party notables in their quixotic crusade to rid the world of fossil fuels, thus avoiding the combustion that climate alarmists contend produces global warming. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s $30 trillion Green New Deal, Joe Biden’s $5 trillion Clean Energy Revolution, Jay Inslee’s $3 trillion Global Climate Mobilization dream of a world powered by windmills, solar panels and other carbon-free technologies, all in hopes of preventing the thermometer from rising a fraction of a degree by the year 2100.

You don’t need a degree in advanced mathematics from MIT to see that the numbers don’t add up. Despite a generation of obsession with climate issues, most U.S. electricity is still generated by fossil fuels. Natural gas produces 35.1 percent of the kilowattage, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and coal is responsible for 27.4 percent.

In contrast, all the sunshine, windmills and waterwheels that climate fanatics are banking on to keep wheels of progress turning, generate only 17.1 percent of the nation’s electricity. About 7 percent comes from water over the dams. Wind and solar contribute 6.6 percent and 1.6 percent. The fossils generate the rest.

If fossil-fuel power plants are to go the way of the clipper ships over the next decade, something must replace them. Going solely solar would require installing solar panels over an area of land nearly the size of West Virginia. Generating just 20 percent of U.S. energy needs from wind would require mounting turbines on an area encompassing land the size of New Hampshire and Vermont. About 900 hydroelectric plants were demolished between 1990 and 2015 owing to opposition from environmentalists outraged by harm to fish ecosystems. Nuclear plants would get similarly rough treatment at the hands of fanatics frightened by the prospect of nuclear power.

Solar and wind power flit across the landscape intermittently, requiring an alternate source, like coal or gas, to make electricity when nature takes a break. Environmentally friendly Europeans find that a lack of reliable backup when nature takes that break increases the risk of electrical grid failures. German engineering, as good as it is, has not been able to eliminate the effect of “green” politics, which would replace fossil and nuclear power with renewables. The result is 172,000 localized blackouts in Germany in 2017.

Poverty was a constant companion of humanity until modern times. The proportion of people worldwide living in poverty was cut in half between 1990 and 2010, according to the World Bank, an achievement unprecedented in human history. It was the result of a rapid boost in global energy production — up 43 percent during that period, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Nearly 81 percent of that power was generated by fossil fuels, such as oil and gas.

A billion people around the globe still suffer extreme energy poverty, with no access to electricity. Everyone gets a hint of what that means when storms knock out the power, and everything in the house stops. Fumbling occasionally for candles is a mere inconvenience, but life beyond carbon — entirely dependent on sunshine and a breeze — would be insanity.


Polar Bear Numbers Could Have Quadrupled

Researcher says attempts to silence her have failed

Polar bear numbers could easily exceed 40,000, up from a low point of 10,000 or fewer in the 1960s.

In The Polar Bear Catastrophe that Never Happened, a book published today by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Dr Susan Crockford uses the latest data as well as revisiting some of the absurd values used in official estimates, and concludes that polar bears are actually thriving:

My scientific estimates make perfect sense and they tally with what the Inuit and other Arctic residents are seeing on the ground. Almost everywhere polar bears come into contact with people, they are much more common than they used to be. It’s a wonderful conservation success story.”

Crockford also describes how, despite the good news, polar bear specialists have consistently tried to low-ball polar bear population figures.

They have also engaged in a relentless smear campaign in an attempt to silence her in order to protect the story of a polar bear catastrophe, and the funding that comes with it.

A few unscrupulous people have been trying to destroy my reputation”, she says. “But the facts are against them, and they have failed”.


Those who believe in the existence of adequate non-fossil alternatives essential to achieve a “carbon-neutral” U.S. — much less global — energy balance anytime soon, or at any cost, are dreadfully misguided

Nevertheless, there are very understandable reasons why such delusions continue to persist.

One reason behind this facetious fantasy has resulted from massively funded “renewable energy” industry subsidy-seeking propaganda campaigns.

Another is due to great successes of ideological anti-fossil activists in conflating carbon dioxide emissions with “climate pollution,” polar bear perils, and virtually any other “crisis” de jour.

A third, and one that I find particularly disturbing, is because even information sources we should expect to trust, continue to perpetuate a disingenuous and dangerous myth that non-fossil “alternatives” can meet any truly significant U.S. energy needs.

In preparing for this article, I checked data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) with a very basic question. I simply wanted to confirm exactly how much U.S. energy is supplied by wind and solar systems.

The stock answer I got back was that we get “11% of our electricity from renewable sources.”

But that wasn’t what I asked.

Rather, I wanted to know how much total energy (always measured in BTUs) comes from wind and solar, respectively, (not just electricity which constitutes only 37 percent of total energy consumption.)

I also hadn’t asked about “renewables,” of which wind and solar are relative bit players within that 11 percent of 37 percent.

Determined digging unearthed some well-buried facts that are important to know about.

First, 80 percent of all U.S. energy comes from fossil sources, with another 8.6 percent contributed by nuclear. Of that remaining “renewable” 11 percent, nearly half (a whopping 45 percent) comes from CO2-emitting biofuels.

While wind reportedly accounts for only 2.4 percent of total U.S. energy, I believe that even this paltry amount exaggeratedly conflates energy payed for through preferential production tax credit subsidies versus energy consumed to meet actual demands.

Having offered this caveat, wind is still credited with providing a relatively piddling 21.3 percent of the 11% total renewable contributions.

In comparison, hydropower — a true renewable and reliable source that environmental activists love to hate, produces, more than wind (25.1 percent) and releases no CO2.

Solar energy is even more anemic than wind, providing 6 percent of renewable sources, less than 1 percent of total U.S. energy.

Wind and solar are not only pitifully puny sources, they are also enormously costly and unreliable.

A dirty little secret is what the wind industry refers to “generating capacities” which are typically nowhere close to the best-case 10-15% average total outputs we might actually expect to get.

Building more will place them in increasingly marginal and worse wind sites.

Intermittent utility-scale wind and solar power won’t ever replace fossil and hydropower. This is because balancing out the power grids on a second-to-second basis requires an equal and reliable amount of spinning reserve power that’s immediately available to kick in when the wind isn’t blowing or clouds cover the Sun.

Most often these spinning reserves are provided by coal or natural gas-fueled turbines operated in the most inefficient way possible. Balancing a grid, requires repeatedly cranking up — throttling down — a turbine; much like driving a car in stop-and-go traffic.

Also consider that constructing a two-megawatt wind turbine requires about 260 tons of steel which, in turn, requires about 300 tons of iron ore processed by about 170 tons of coking coal which is transported by fossil fuel. It will never generate as much energy payback during its short 15-year or less operating lifetime as was invested in building it.

Nevertheless, don’t expect any of these painful realities to be factored into competing liberal green electioneering fantasies.

Leading presidential energy free lunch candidate Joe Biden has proposed a sweeping “Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.”

As sample goals, on his first day in office, Biden will ask Congress to pass an “enforcement mechanism” requiring “clear legally-binding emission reductions” aimed at attaining net zero-carbon emissions by 2050.

As president, Biden will establish “a target of reducing the carbon footprint of U.S. buildings 50 percent by 2035.” The federal government will apply zoning “as a tool to battle climate change” by altering local regulations to eliminate urban sprawl by forcing more people to live closer to public transportation.

A President Biden would ban new oil and gas permitting on public lands and waters, as well as conserve 30 percent of America’s lands and waters by 2030.

Rigorous Biden fuel economy standards will ensure that all future light- and- medium-duty vehicles are electrified, and taxpayers will also finance a half-million charging outlets by the end of 2030.

Be assured that those ubiquitous charging stations — and most particularly the ignorance behind them — would wind up charging the nation and public a whole lot more than we can possibly imagine.


Oregon GOP Won’t Return Until Expensive Carbon Tax Bill Is Scrapped

One of the runaway Oregon Republican senators said they won’t return to the state until the “inefficient, complicated, and expensive” carbon tax is scrapped and a bipartisan solution is found.

Oregon State Senator Tim Knopp appeared on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning from an undisclosed location as he and other 11 Republicans remain in hiding to block the looming climate change legislation – all while the state police were authorized by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown to round them up.

He said that the Republican walkout was warranted given the damage the legislation would inflict upon the people of Oregon but stressed that they too want to combat climate change.

“We do want to take action on climate change but this was a carbon tax and one of the most inefficient, complicated, and expensive ways to address [the reduction of] carbon dioxide emissions.”

“All we’re saying is it shouldn’t cost thousands of manufacturing jobs, raise the gas tax by 20 cents a gallon to start out with, and raise natural gas prices for people who heat their home by almost 50 percent. We think there’s a better way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and so we’re holding out and the only way we could do that and stop this vote is by not providing a quorum for Democrats to roll over us,” he added.

The bill would limit greenhouse gas emissions and auction pollution allowances for carbon that businesses want to emit, with a lowering cap.

The bill would reduce emissions to 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035 and 80 percent by 2050. Critics say it will hurt the business community and exacerbate a divide between the liberal, urban areas and rural parts of the state.

Knopp confirmed that the state police is indeed after the runaway Republicans, with the police superintendent being “firm” on him in asking for his return.

“I politely declined his offer and he indicated that at any time he would be prepared to facilitate my return to the capital,” the lawmaker said.

The state senator said that the bill the Democrats are pushing for doesn’t address the real sources of carbon emissions, including the forest fires that are ruining the state, and the fact that people in Republican districts are opposed to it.

“When you tell them what it actually does and not just go with talking points about it being clean energy jobs, people are very opposed to it, and statewide I think they would be too. One of the things we’ve said is, if you’re so confident that people want this, let’s refer it to the people of Oregon, let’s let them debate it and let’s let them vote on it which we have that process here in Oregon,” he said.

If Oregon adopts the legislation, it would be the second state after California to adopt such a policy, raising questions whether the legislation is more beneficial to the state of California rather than Oregon.

“The state of California needs more carbon credits and so really this is a great deal for the state of California, not so great of a deal for Oregon and small businesses and the people who get their livelihood,” Knopp said.

“There’s a factory that makes paper towels … with 2,000 blue collar jobs, union jobs, and that plant right now is at risk because of this bill and we just find that unacceptable and we’re going to stand with these people, and fight as long as we possibly can and we hope to win,” he added, noting that they are likely to remain in hiding until June 30th at midnight, the date when the legislative session constitutionally ends.


City of Sydney climate debate a microcosm of political decline

Chris Kenny

We have shrunk from a lively public square as a clearing house for the issues of the day into darkened silos of hate-filled barbs, cultivated on social media and thrown into a new public debate that doesn't so much seek to win contests over ideas but to shout down, silence and demonise opponents.

A little example of how sad this has become played out this week in the Sydney City Council where a motion was passed declaring a climate emergency in the NSW capital. The Sydney councillors happily took to the Town Hall steps displaying a "climate emergency" banner and waving flags - apparently sharing their delight about drawing attention to our impending doom.

The motion they passed was nonsensical and alarmist. It accused a federal government committed to the Paris climate targets of presiding over a "climate disaster" and warned of heatwaves and rising sea levels creating chaos in the Pacific as it declared an official "climate emergency" in concert with other activist groups and organisations worldwide.

A Liberal Party councillor, Craig Chung, pointed out how ludicrous the motion was and tried to amend it. When his amendments were rejected, he voted for the motion regardless. On Sky News' The Kenny Report yesterday I asked him why.

"The language is absurd, this was the fundamentalist Clover (Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore) at her best, using alarmist language and warning us that the world is going to end," Chung said.

"The reality is that I'm a Liberal councillor in the city of Sydney, the majority of the seats are taken up by the Clover climate fundamentalists and while the language that she uses is completely alarmist and is completely catastrophising what is going on, some of the contents of that motion are things that we really need to address, and if I want to sit at the table, if I want to be there taking part in the policy debate, I've got to get a seat at the table."

This seemed worrying; Chung knew the motion was ill-founded but went along it all the same. It sounded like he was dragooned into it. It seemed inappropriate for him to support a motion he knew was nonsensical just to fit in.

"This Left group, they love to preach the idea of free speech and being inclusive," Chung explained, "but I tell you what the moment you don't get involved in their motions and the moment you cut yourself out, you get called all sorts of names, last night I was called a flat-earther and a coal lugger despite the fact I do think we need to take some action.

"The gallery was full of people, Clover supporters, all of these people who were absolutely jeering me and cheering Clover. I moved an amendment, that was absolutely jeered by the gallery there, an amendment that took out the language of the warnings and catastrophising and moved an amendment that said we need to do this and we need to do it rationally and calmly. But that was voted down unanimously.

"We're not talking just about the Clover Moore people, we are talking about the Labor Left rump that are there as well, these are people who absolutely don't want to hear from anybody else."

Chung should be strong enough to stand up to this sort of political grandstanding and argue and vote for what he believes is right. But however courageous or timid he might be, it can be no excuse for his opponents.

"That's the way the city of Sydney runs, that's the way Clover Moore runs business there, this is a closed shop for Clover Moore. This is about her preaching to her choir, about getting a headline, but actually offering no solutions," Chung said.

So this councillor voted for a motion that condemns the federal government for doing nothing (something Chung knows is false) and spreads alarmist fearmongering (something Chung abhors).

"I know that some people will criticise me for (supporting the motion) but at the same time, if I don't do that I'm never going to get a seat at the table, I'm just going to have slogans thrown at me and abuse thrown at me, I need to be able to stay at that table to maintain a rational debate."

Nobody should give in to bullies, it only encourages them. But I fear this pointless debate in Sydney's Town Hall tells us much about the deterioration of our national political discussion.



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.  

Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


No comments: