Monday, December 02, 2019

Climate convert Jeremy Clarkson calls Greta Thunberg, 16, 'a stupid idiot' and a 'weird Swede with a bad temper' for offering no solutions to climate change while 'sailing across the ocean in a diesel-powered yacht'

Clarkson is Britain's bad boy.  Because of his popularity he can get away with words that other Britons could not

Jeremy Clarkson has branded the eco-warrior Greta Thunberg 'a stupid idiot' and a 'weird Swede with a bad temper' in an explosive interview.

The 59-year-old gave his candid thoughts on the 16-year-old during promotion for The Grand Tour.

Clarkson - who regularly calls out the activist on social media and in his column with The Sun - has accused her of being a hypocrite.

Dismissing her as nothing more than 'a stupid idiot,' Jeremy said her speech at the United Nations offered no solutions when she accused leaders of stealing her 'dreams and childhood'.

He told The Independent: 'I think she's a weird Swede with a bad temper. Nothing will be achieved by sailing across the ocean in a diesel-powered yacht, and then lying about the diesel engine.'

He added that we've been aware of climate change for quite some time, and now 'there's that weird Swede running around making all sorts of 'we're going to die' noises, so we're all aware of it.'

The journalist also discussed witnessing first hand the impact of climate change as he saw rivers reduced to puddles while filming The Grand Tour in Cambodia.

He added: 'But rather than having her jumping up and down and waving her arms in the air, you can actually go there and say, 'Bloody hell, fire! Look at what this climate change has done to this place.' 

'We simply said, 'Here's an example of it.' What do you want me to do now? Get on my carbon fibre yacht and go and shout at Donald Trump?'

He continued, criticising her for going to Chile for the climate change conference which was then moved to Madrid, saying that it made him 's*** himself laughing'. 

Previously in his column for The Sun, he called Greta 'naive'. 

The teen has come under fire from some critics for inciting fear among children with her climate activism. 


Recycling failure in Britain

England burnt more waste than it recycled last year, prompting campaigners to call for a moratorium on all new incinerator projects.

Recycling rates have fallen over the past five years in more than half of local authority areas and the nation incinerated 11.2 million tonnes of rubbish last year, compared with recycling and composting 10.9 million tonnes.

Critics say that the proliferation of energy-from-waste incinerators, which burn rubbish to provide electricity, has caused recycling to fall while adding to carbon emissions pollution.

The plants were welcomed in the 1990s as a way to divert rubbish from landfill while also generating electricity. There are 42 fully operational energy-from-waste plants in Britain and a further 20 either under construction or in late-stage commissioning.


The Green New Deal – welcome to super-austerity

Environmentalists are obsessed with driving down people's living standards.

The Extinction Rebellion (XR) protest that ended when angry passengers pulled climate activists off the roof of an underground train at Canning Town tube station was no mere tactical error. It was in line with the contempt towards the public inherent in environmentalist thinking. Although greens generally express their views in guarded ways, their goal is to impose drastic cuts in people’s living standards.

Unfortunately, it is all too common to hear critics claim that greens have their hearts in the right place, even if their tactics are sometimes misguided. For example, after the Canning Town incident, many argued that XR should have protested in central London rather than in one of its poorest areas. Others said the public transport system was the wrong target, as it should help provide a solution to the problem of climate change.

But such arguments miss the key point. The Canning Town protest was not a tactical aberration. Rather, it was entirely in keeping with green thinking. It exemplified the elitism that pervades the outlook, not just of activists, but also of mainstream environmentalism.

Just think about the protesters perched on top of the underground train. Essentially, they were asserting they were superior to the general public. Rather than attempting to convince the commuters of their case, they were insisting that the residents of Canning Town should know their place. When a passenger attempted to climb towards the protesters, he was kicked in the face.

No doubt many who sympathise with environmental ideas more generally would recoil at the suggestion they are elitist. They would argue that that their goal is not just to save the planet, but to make life better for people, too. However, those who take this view should look more closely at what is being said by green thinkers. They would see that greens’ ambition is to slash living standards far more harshly than anything the Tories have attempted over the past decade. Environmentalism is essentially an attempt by a section of the elite to make super-austerity socially acceptable.

Take the argument for what is often called a Green New Deal. At first glance it might seem like an enlightened plan, designed to bolster the economy and tackle environmental problems. It is anything but. In fact, it would make our economic plight far worse, while failing in the stated aim of providing a solution to climate change.

The term ‘New Deal’ harks back to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Back then, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to bolster the US economy with a combination of public spending and job-creation schemes. This time around, the idea is to combine stimulus measures with initiatives to tackle what is widely dubbed a ‘climate emergency’. Typically, this includes large-scale job creation, energy efficient houses, a shorter working week and shifting to renewables (primarily solar and wind). Often the different initiatives are combined – for example, proposals to employ large numbers of people to retrofit old houses so that they consume less energy.

In the UK, the Green New Deal is often associated with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, although Corbyn sometimes talks of a ‘green industrial revolution’ instead. In the US, it is associated with the left-wing of the Democratic Party, represented by, for example, presidential candidates such as senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (widely known as AOC), the New York congresswoman, has also proposed legislation designed to address climate change and economic inequality.

Less widely known in the UK is that the new European Commission has made the Green New Deal – renamed the European Green Deal – its priority for the next five years. Meanwhile, the United Nations Environment Programme unveiled a Global Green New Deal over a decade ago.

Nor should it be forgotten that political leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have supported it in the past. Barack Obama was an advocate when he was US president and Gordon Brown supported it as British prime minister. Fortunately, neither managed to proceed far in implementing it. The term itself was used by Thomas Friedman, a high-profile New York Times columnist, as far back as January 2007.

If Green New Deal measures were implemented on a large scale, they would lead to economic disaster. Consider, for example, the Labour Party’s support for a four-day working week. In a parallel universe, where productivity was rising strongly, this could be a desirable policy. It would mean people would have more spare time in which to do what they want. But in our historical moment, when productivity growth is stagnant, it would effectively mean slashing incomes by a fifth. This, of course, is not a mistake. It is the goal of the policy. It is entirely in line with the drive to curb consumption.

Indeed, there is no need to speculate about what a Green New Deal would look like in terms of energy consumption and carbon emissions. It has already been tried on an enormous scale in Germany, with the promotion of renewables since 2000, and the phasing out of nuclear power announced in 2011. The Energiewende (energy transition) has involved spending many billions of euros with only minimal cuts in carbon emissions. Even Der Spiegel, Germany’s leading news magazine and a strong supporter of the Energiewende, has had to concede the programme so far has been a failure. Germans have had to pay far more for their energy bills, while their energy supply is yet to be decarbonised.

In fact what the economy needs is to find ways to increase production rather than curb consumption. As Phil Mullan has argued on spiked, a key element of such a policy is to allow the process of creative destruction to take place. That would mean rejecting the still dominant approach to economic policy, which involves central banks keeping the economy afloat by simply pumping money into it. Inefficient firms should be allowed to go bankrupt, while new firms and new technologies should receive government backing.

As it happens, such an approach could help address problems associated with climate change. It is completely in line with the need to improve existing technologies and develop new ones.Technology, such as new forms of nuclear-fission reactor, could provide ways to generate more energy, while polluting less than in the past. Renewables have a place, but it is likely to be limited as the sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow.

Two recently published books on the Green New Deal show that even the most radical-sounding forms of green thinking are inherently reactionary.

On Fire is a collection of essays and speeches by Naomi Klein, a high-profile Canadian political activist with ties to AOC. It includes contributions to the Guardian, the Nation and the New York Times, as well as a speech at the Labour Party conference in 2017. The Case for the Green New Deal by Ann Pettifor, a British economist with close links to Corbyn, is less engagingly written, but more coherent. Pettifor tries to make a logically argued case for the Green New Deal, while On Fire, as a collection of articles, is inevitably more of a hotchpotch.

Although Pettifor provides a clearer exposition of the ideas of key green thinkers, she sometimes makes claims that are either ignorant or outlandish. For example, she argues that the concept of economic growth barely existed before the Second World War. It is true the terminology has changed over the decades. But the idea of increasing prosperity was central to economic thought from the mid-18th century onwards. Classical economic thinkers such as Adam Smith, David Ricardo and Karl Marx may not have used the term ‘economic growth’, but the concept was central to their work. Instead they used terms such as capital accumulation or expansion of capital.

Marx’s critique of capitalism, for instance, centered, in essence, on the idea that the market system systematically created barriers to generating sufficient economic growth. In Marx’s view, its weakness was that it did not provide enough growth. Greens today argue the opposite, that capitalism generates too much growth.

Despite their stylistic differences, Klein’s and Pettifor’s arguments have much in common. For a start, both employ the language of radicalism. Klein talks of her preferred policy measures as ‘bold’ and ‘ambitious’, while Pettifor calls for radical action and progress.

But they share a warped view of radicalism. Both contend that consumption levels need to be curbed, and that the public should be prepared to make do with less. They argue that people should eat less meat, consume less energy and fly less (although greens activists are typically all too eloquent when it comes to justifying their own airmiles). They also redefine prosperity in the non-economic terms of family relationships, and disparage the consumer tastes of the public.

Often the arguments for restricting consumption come alongside a demand for the redistribution of wealth. But they are not arguing that the vast bulk of the population should have higher living standards. Rather they are saying that all except those living in the direst of circumstances should be prepared to make sacrifices. In other words, large inequalities are used as a way of trying to get the public to accept a kind of super-austerity.

Common to both books is the frequently stated assumption that humanity is constrained by natural limits. Resources are limited, so the argument goes, therefore we have to give up on economic growth. Pettifor in particular focuses on the limited energy resources she claims are available (frequently referring to thermodynamics to give her argument a scientific veneer). From this she concludes that a ‘steady state economy’, that is a stagnant one, is the only solution.

Pettifor seems unaware that the adherence to limits was first challenged centuries ago. To be fair to Klein she has some inkling that this is the case. Francis Bacon, the founder of the scientific method, argued as far back as the early 17th century that man can transcend the limits that he faces. Klein quotes his argument that nature should be ‘put in constraint, moulded, and made as it were new by art and the hand of man’.

In relation to energy use, for instance, this would mean finding ways to generate more energy, rather than rationing its use. Given the huge amounts generated by conventional and nuclear means, as well as the massive amounts of solar radiation that bombard the earth, it is hard to conceive of any practical limit to energy production. The main challenge is to find the best way to harness these resources. Over time, it will also be necessary to develop better technology so that the energy supply can be decarbonised.

But rather than find ways to go forward to a better future, the advocates of the Green New Deal prefer to hold us back. Rather than working out how the world can become more prosperous they insist that we must make do with less. Like the XR protestors at Canning Town, Klein and Pettifor are hectoring the rest of us from on high and insisting we know our place.


Why “green” energy is a terrible idea

There are lots of reasons, actually, but Charles Rotter of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) does a good job of explaining some of them:

Ask them for details, and their responses range from evasive to delusional, disingenuous – and outrage that you would dare ask. The truth is, they don’t have a clue. They’ve never really thought about it. It’s never occurred to them that these technologies require raw materials that have to be dug out of the ground, which means mining, which they vigorously oppose (except by dictators in faraway countries).
Using wind power to replace the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours that Americans consumed in 2018, coal and gas-fired backup power plants, natural gas for home heating, coal and gas for factories, and gasoline for vehicles – while generating enough extra electricity every windy day to charge batteries for just seven straight windless days – would require some 14 million 1.8-MW wind turbines.

Those turbines would sprawl across three-fourths of the Lower 48 US states – and require 15 billion tons of steel, concrete and other raw materials. They would wipe out eagles, hawks, bats and other species.

Fifteen billion tons. That’s 30 trillion pounds.

Using solar to generate just the 3.9 billion MWh would require completely blanketing an area the size of New Jersey with sunbeam-tracking Nellis Air Force Base panels – if the Sun were shining at high-noon summertime Arizona intensity 24/7/365. (That doesn’t include the extra power demands listed for wind.)

Solar uses toxic chemicals during manufacturing and in the panels: lead, cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide and many others. They could leach out into soils and waters during thunderstorms, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and when panels are dismantled and hauled off to landfills or recycling centers. Recycling panels and wind turbines presents major challenges.

Because wind turbines don’t last long–20 years–those massive disposal problems are now coming to the fore. Every wind turbine contains 45 tons (90,000 pounds) of non-recyclable plastic that must be disposed of in landfills. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to decommission each wind turbine.

Using batteries to back up sufficient power to supply U.S. electricity needs for just seven straight windless days would require more than 1 billion half-ton Tesla-style batteries. That means still more raw materials, hazardous chemicals and toxic metals.

I have never seen a coherent explanation of how batteries can be produced and deployed so as to store the vast quantities of electricity needed in the U.S. alone. It would cost a prohibitive $133 billion to buy batteries sufficient to store one state’s electricity–Minnesota’s–for 24 hours. Minnesota is an average sized state, so that corresponds to around $6.6 trillion for 24 hours storage for the U.S. That is much more than the entire budget of the U.S. government. This assumes that such batteries exist, which they don’t.

Bringing electricity from those facilities, and connecting a nationwide GND grid, would require thousands of miles of new transmission lines – onshore and underwater – and even more raw materials.

Providing those materials would result in the biggest expansion in mining the United States and world have ever seen: removing hundreds of billions of tons of overburden, and processing tens of billions of tons of ore – mostly using fossil fuels. Where we get those materials is also a major problem.

If we continue to ban mining under modern laws and regulations here in America, those materials will continue to be extracted in places like Inner Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, largely under Chinese control – under labor, wage, health, safety, environmental and reclamation standards that no Western nation tolerates today. There’ll be serious pollution, toxics, habitat losses and dead wildlife.

Even worse, just to mine cobalt for today’s cell phone, computer, Tesla and other battery requirements, over 40,000 Congolese children and their parents work at slave wages, risk cave-ins, and get covered constantly in toxic and radioactive mud , dust, water and air. Many die. The mine sites in Congo and Mongolia have become vast toxic wastelands. The ore processing facilities are just as horrific.

Meeting GND demands would multiply these horrors many times over. Will Green New Dealers require that all these metals and minerals be responsibly and sustainably sourced, at fair wages, with no child labor – as they do for T-shirts and coffee? Will they now permit exploration and mining in the USA?

“Green” energy is basically a hoax. The world runs on fossil fuels, and will continue to do so until nuclear energy is adopted on a mass scale, or another reliable, high-intensity energy source is discovered.


The rise of solar power is jeopardising the WA energy grid, and it's a lesson for all of Australia

In Western Australia, one of the sunniest landscapes in the world, rooftop solar power has been a runaway success.

On the state's main grid, which covers Perth and the populated south-west corner of the continent, almost one in every three houses has a solar installation.

Combined, the capacity of rooftop solar on the system far exceeds the single biggest generator — an ageing 854 megawatt coal-fired power station.

But there is now so much renewable solar power being generated on the grid that those responsible for keeping the lights on warn the stability of the entire system could soon be in jeopardy.

It is a cautionary tale for the rest of the country of how the delicate balancing act that is power grid management can be severely destabilised by what experts refer to as a "dumb solar" approach.

"We talk about 'smart' this and 'smart' that these days," said energy expert Adam McHugh, an honorary research associate at Perth's Murdoch University. "Well, solar at the moment is 'dumb' in Western Australia. We need to make it smart."

An isolated solar frontier

Mr McHugh's remarks come at a time of profound change in the energy industry across the globe.

But nowhere is the change being more acutely felt than in Western Australia. Stuck out on its own at the edge of the continent, he said WA had become "a laboratory experiment in the uptake of rooftop solar". "We're at the front of the curve, the bleeding edge," Mr McHugh said.

"The technology that we're seeing being developed rapidly around the world is flowing into Western Australia at a more rapid rate, potentially … than anywhere else on the planet."

While much of the debate about the intersection of climate and energy policy is focused on the eastern states — and its national electricity market (NEM) — WA is hurtling towards a tipping point.

At heart of the state's problem is its isolation.

Unlike states such as South Australia, which has even higher levels of renewable energy, WA cannot rely on any other markets to prop it up during times of disruption to supply or demand.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO), which runs WA's wholesale electricity market (WEM), said the islanded nature of the grid in WA made it particularly exposed to the technical challenges posed by solar.

AEMO chief executive Audrey Zibelman said these challenges tended to be most acute when high levels of solar output coincided with low levels of demand — typically on mild, sunny days in spring or autumn when people were not using air conditioners.

On those days, excess solar power from households and businesses spilled uncontrolled on to the system, pushing the amount of power needed from the grid to increasingly low levels.

Ms Zibelman said WA's isolation amplified this trend because the relative concentration of its solar resources meant fluctuations in supply caused by the weather had an outsized effect.

Low-power days become a big problem

The only way to manage the solar was to scale back or switch off the coal- and gas-fired power stations that were supposed to be the bedrock of the electricity system.

The problem was coal-fired plants were not designed to be quickly ramped up or down in such a way, meaning they were ill-equipped to respond to sudden fluctuations in solar production.

"What's changing in the WEM is the fact that rooftop solar is now our single largest generator," Ms Zibelman said. "That has really made a huge difference in terms of how we think about the power system.

"The concern we have for the first time in probably the history of this industry is you start thinking about sunny days during the spring or [autumn] when you don't have a lot of demand, because you don't have a lot of cooling going on.

"And that becomes an interesting issue because you have lots and lots of solar and very little demand. "We've never worried about a system around low demand. You're always worried about the highest periods of the summer.

"What we're recognising now is that the flexibility we need in the system is one [issue] that we have to think about — how do we integrate solar and storage better? And these are new problems that we have to solve."

Rolling blackouts possible within three years

In a "clarion call" earlier this year, AEMO said that if nothing was done to safeguard the grid, there was a credible danger of rolling blackouts from as early as 2022 as soaring levels of renewable energy periodically overwhelmed the system.

At worst, AEMO warned there was a "real risk" of a system-wide blackout.

It said 700MW of demand was the floor below which it would struggle to ensure that voltage and frequency levels stayed within acceptable limits. "At that point, we worry about the voltage," Ms Zibelman said.

"But also it's that [point] we worry about the other generators, because below that level you actually have demand that's smaller than the smallest generator. "So if something trips off, it's very hard to respond."



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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great to have Jeremy Clarkson on our side.

Here's one of my favorite of his excellent shows.