Friday, October 23, 2020

Five Things The President Should Say About Climate Change

Many Republicans likely grimaced when they learned that climate change was among the topics for the final presidential debate: They assume that’s a tough one for the President and any conservative.

But the President has a lot of good news and a positive policy agenda to share. Here are five key points that the president should hit.

1. The United States has consistently led the world in technological development to address new challenges, and climate change is no different.

Most Americans agree that climate change is real and want the country to take action to reduce our carbon footprint. The good news is that we are already doing that, and more successfully than about any other nation.

From 2005 to 2017, U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell by 14 percent while the rest of the world increased emissions by 20 percent. Since then, U.S. emissions have only risen by 1 percent. America’s environment has improved and our carbon footprint has declined because of innovation: we are making traditional energy sources cleaner and using more renewable energy sources. This is the trend we want to continue.

2. Private companies are leading the way in developing improved renewable energy

Renewable energy producers are succeeding in the energy market, by finding more efficient and effective delivery methods. General Electric recently announced its Haliade-X offshore wind turbine, which will produce 45 percent more energy than any other offshore wind turbine today. Meanwhile, solar power utility production grew 74-fold from 2009 to 2018 and the small scale production on rooftops almost tripled in the four years following 2014. Finally, since its first use back in 1972, carbon capture and storage (CCS) usage has grown and today is being used through the United States with over two dozen additional projects in development across the country. The Shute Creek CCS facility captures approximately 365 million cubic feet per day of carbon dioxide, equivalent to removing more than 1.5 million cars from the road.

This kind of market-driven innovation is what we need, and would be stymied by heavy-handed government mandates such as those advanced in the Green New Deal.

3. Fracking and natural gas play an important role in America’s clean energy future.

Don’t attack Biden for his back-and-forth stance on fracking. Instead explain how critical fracking has been in creating a cleaner energy mix for America. The fracking boom of the early 2000s has made natural gas the main source of energy in America. The reliability of natural gas allows it to complement intermittent renewable energy sources while the affordability of the gas has led it to overcome coal and become the largest source of electricity in the United States, helping the nation to lower our emissions dramatically in the last two decades. Why would we want to reverse directions on this?

4. We need to improve energy storage capabilities so we can incorporate more renewable energy.

Climate change activists push for commitments by companies and nations to use a certain percentage of renewable energy by a certain year. As nice as these commitments might sound, we can’t scale up and rely solely on wind, solar and other renewable energy sources until we can store the energy produced by them. While energy storage technology has improved in recent years, it is nowhere near the capacity that commitments made by companies and nations across the world demand. In order to encourage private development of energy storage, the U.S. Department of Energy launched the Energy Storage Grand Challenge, a program designed to accelerate the development, commercialization and utilization of new energy storage technologies. This is the type of government policy that we need - innovative ways to incentivize the development of critical technology - not setting unrealistic goals or restrictive regulations.

5. The United States should continue to take a balanced approach to combating climate change.

Unrealistic energy mandates that lead to unreliable power are dangerous and destructive. We witnessed this in California, with the blackouts experienced by thousands in California. In Europe, we’ve seen mandates lead to crippling increases in energy costs, particularly harming lower-income families. America can do better. Americans need a reliable and efficient energy supply, while integrating cleaner technologies as the capabilities improve and further reduce our carbon footprint.

The United States has long been a climate leader. America should continue the work she’s begun by continuing to develop new and better technologies to combat climate change. We all want to fight climate change. But let’s take the practical and proven path forward.

Climate “catastrophe” myths, realities and why you should care

Those of us who reject the idea that mankind controls Earth’s thermostat do so for many reasons. As yet there exists no physical evidence to link the steady growth of carbon dioxide beginning in the 1950s with the erratic atmospheric temperature record which goes back to the 1850s. Nor has there been any acceleration in the historical record of storm frequencies or intensities, droughts, floods, wild–fires, species extinctions, and all the rest of unsupported propaganda announced daily in the media. The oceans are rising, but at a constant leisurely 7 inches per century.

It is more logical to assume Earth’s temperatures are a result of natural causes, as has been the case for all time even before man or animals walked the Earth. We know we are rebounding from a Little Ice Age that ended around the time Washington was fighting near Valley Forge. This warming has caused the release of carbon dioxide from the oceans, which is responsible for the greening of the Earth in recent decades. For the record the total warming of the atmosphere since 1880 has been about one degree centigrade, in contrast with predictions of a 3-4 degree rise by the United Nations supported computer models.

The obvious reason the distorted ideas mentioned above are so prevalent is that more than a billion dollars a day is spent world wide promoting efforts to stop climate change regardless of man’s inability to do so. Much of that money is spent attempting to stop the use of fossil fuels which if ever achieved would destroy civilization as it is known today except in the most impoverished nations.

Major reasons why Earth’s climate has continued changing through billions of years are: variations in radiation coming from the sun, variations in Earth’s orbit and tilt, variations in cloud cover, ocean current oscillations, volcanism, drifting of the continents and many other poorly understood variable factors. It is incredulous that our government spends $billions of your taxes trying to pin down the earth’s thermostat with a few minor variables fed into mathematical computer models that never have nor ever will give sensible answers.

Prior to the industrial revolution which began in the early 1800s the temperature was as erratic as today with many periods in the past 12,000 years warmer than today. Alternating cold periods really made life most difficult with life expectancies below 30 years until fossil fuels came along to lessen man’s burden. Now in all parts of the world lifespan has risen above 70 years regardless of climate. Instead of terrible catastrophes predicted by environmental activists, humanity prospers.

The soaring global warming that was predicted never occurred, so it was renamed climate change where the activists could never go wrong as the climate and weather are always changing. They were terribly wrong about the warming. According to the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Agency, the warmest decade on record was the 1930s. NOAA records show that 23 state high-temp-erature records were set in the 1930s while only two state high-temperature records were set in the past 20 years.

And yet the real apocalypse is not global warming, it is the elimination of fossil fuels and nuclear power, which must be avoided at all cost or we will have to give up our very way of life. Without these fuels modern agriculture and food delivery services will no longer be able to feed the world’s people. Neither wind turbines nor solar panels, nor the enormous batteries required to back up these intermittent sources, nor anything made of concrete or steel or many other materials, can be manufactured without fossil fuels.

But fear not about vital materials or processes playing out as a result of environmental zealots or political wrong-headedness. Realistically the effect of any significant cut-back of fossil fuels will be much higher energy costs followed by soaring prices for all products we use including food, water, transportation, and housing. Any administration attempting such cutbacks will be faced with protests from the entire population wishing to have their comfortable lives restored. These inevitable effects have already occurred in several European countries and Australia as they attempted to cut back on fossil and nuclear fuels. Few of us desire to live without our I-Phones or Amazon deliveries, so it will be amusing to watch environ-mentalists boast about operating without carbon-based fuels in the coming decades as their lives come crashing down around them.

In reality, worldwide, a wind or a solar power plant has never and can never replace a coal or gas fired electrical generation plant, but always must remain a parasitic appendage to the electric grid. Because of intermittency, wind or solar plants create only erratic bursts of electricity, thereby placing stress on the grid, a grid that must maintain rock steady voltage and fre-quency even on cloudy and windless days. This can only be accomplished by supplementing the intermittent wind or solar power with electrical power from fossil fuel sources capable of changing power rapidly.

A further insanity regarding wind and solar are the areas they require to produce the same 1000 megawatts derived from a typical fossil fuel power plant taking up less than one square mile of land. A comparable wind farm consists of over 3000 turbines and requires over 200 square miles of land area. An equivalent solar farm would require millions of panels covering about half that amount of land.

Renewable energy zealots claim that industrial-scale batteries will solve the intermittency problems by storing power from the wind and solar farms, and then returning a steady stream of electricity as needed. Batteries with sufficient capacity to do this are now and will always be unaffordable. This includes even Elon Musk’s Tesla batteries which are planned for a huge solar facility near Las Vegas. Some such batteries are already being installed by electrical utilities around the country on a smaller scale. Keep your eyes peeled for future brownouts and blackouts resulting from these questionable projects.

We ran some numbers on Colorado’s desire to be an all renewable state, requiring shuttering all coal and gas fired power plants. With a population of 6 million Colorado would require 5.6 megawatt hours of battery storage costing over one trillion dollars or about $167,000 per person. Assuming battery storage for a family of four, using Tesla battery packs needing replacement every ten years, the cost of batteries alone would approach that of a mortgage on a $2 million home. Solar energy supplements with government subsides can reduce the cost of energy for some homeowners in some areas, but being totally off the grid is either expensive or without many amenities.

One of the main factors affecting rising electricity prices and higher utility bills, is the increased use of subsidized renewable energy. Operating costs for coal and nuclear power has traditionally been between 2 and 3 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and natural gas has been between 3 and 10 cents a kWh, while wind power with government subsidies is between 15 and 25 cents a kilowatt hour.

Since Germany became largely dependent upon wind and solar sources, average energy rates have risen to above 35 cents per kWh, compared with U.S. rates of 10 to 13 cents. Unless free markets are again allowed to govern our energy industries we can expect our energy prices to also double and triple in coming years under any federal administration that promotes renewable energy.

Today 29 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have renewable Energy Mandates designed to force utilities to purchase certain specified percentages of their electricity from renewable energy sources. This is anything but a free market in energy. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the states with renewable mandates have electricity prices that average 26% higher than those without. How much more would we pay if renewable sources became the sole source of our electricity?

Coal, oil and natural gas have been the overwhelming choices of fuels particularly for developing countries. Worldwide fossil fuel usage doubled during the period from 1980 through 2015 and expanded by more than a factor of five in both China and India. Meanwhile instead of the predicted terrible climate disasters, life expectancy grew by 15% (from 65 to 75 years) in China and by 34% (from 49 to 66 years) in India; monthly income increased by 1500% in China and 400% in India. Infant mortality rates decreased by 70% in China and by 58% in India, and malnutrition plummeted by 40% in both countries during that same 35–year period of increased use of abundant and affordable fossil fuels.

Surprise, surprise all major measures of U.S. air and water pollution decreased during this period. All these beneficial numbers relate directly to the availability of inexpensive energy from carbon–based fuel. Carbon dioxide continued to increase this entire period, increasing the growth rates of our forests and food crops while having absolutely no negative bearing on our planet. There is more! Over the period we are discussing, climate related deaths declined 98% to near zero. Why? Again, more available inexpensive energy enabled more people to be rescued and saved from fires, floods, and storms, etc., and hospitals have become steadily more effective. Sadly, if Mr. Biden claims the Presidency of the United States, the nation probably will begin to move backward in time just as Europe appears to have done.

The example of Europe is pertinent. In June 2000, the European Union (EU) launched the European Climate Change Programme which promoted the build–out of wind and solar capacity. Feed-in tariffs established artificially high prices for electricity from wind and solar sources, while mandates established priorities for the renewables over conventional sources.

Wind turbines were constructed and installed by the thousands and roof–top solar panels by the millions, costing the various governments more than a trillion dollars between 2000 and 2016. Residential electricity prices soared across Europe, approaching 40 cents per kWh in both Germany and Denmark. Large subsidies are now required for both renewable and conventional energy in order to keep the lights on. California is headed down this road regardless of who claims the Whitehouse in November, and several other states are also flirting with these disastrous anti-fossil-fuel policies. These are crazy times when brilliant German engineers stoop down to shoot themselves in the foot. Can we be far behind

A staggering rise in dishonesty

The UN did as only the UN can do, putting out a supposedly authoritative scientific report on a “staggering” rise in climate disasters over the last 20 years that was seized upon with enthusiasm by the usual suspects. Regrettably the report itself turned out to be a climate disaster when it was pointed out that according to the data in the report disasters have been declining globally over the past 20 years. Calls for the report’s retraction went unheeded, naturally, the fact that the conclusions were the exact opposite of the evidence being considered insufficient grounds for the UN to admit error.

If you’re wondering how they could be so stupid, it’s tempting to say lots and lots of practice. And to point to the undoubted fact that climate alarmists have become so accustomed to running the table in the media and politically by dismissing their opponents as moral and mental defectives that they’ve become lazy. But the technical answer is that they compared 2000-2019 with an earlier period, 1980-1999, in which data was known to be collected far less rigorously, so the number of disasters in the earlier period was understated.

As Paul Homewood observed, after citing readily available and widely known details of the process, “Put simply, many more disasters are recorded nowadays because of better reporting systems. But this does not mean more are actually occurring.”

If you think the UN was cherry-picking, you’re right. If you think it was shamelessly cherry-picking, you’re completely right. As Homewood shows, the improved (and better-funded by USAID) data collection system kicked in right at the end of… well, you saw it coming, right? The 1990s. Indeed, “there is a sharp jump in 1999/2000”. Exactly the break between the two data sets the UN compared. It’s not a subtle error; indeed it is hard to convince oneself it is innocent though as so often, people very sure of what they’re going to find often manage to find it in a process of unconscious self-deception rather than the deliberate deceit of others.

Homewood’s point is underlined by one category in which we do seem to have fairly reliable data, namely deaths from natural disasters or, as the UN prefers to call them, “climate-related disasters”. Deaths are more likely to be noticed and recorded than other less serious results even of very serious events. And, he says, “Note that despite the claimed increase in disasters, the death toll has nearly halved”, from 995,300 deaths due to “3,656 climate-related events” in the earlier period to 510,837 deaths due to a reported “6,681 climate-related disasters” in the latter.

It’s revealing that the report itself refers to “events” in the earlier period and “disasters” in the latter. Because it’s not science, it’s propaganda in the worst sense of that word.

Australia: Financial case for Snowy Hydro 2.0 just doesn't hold water

A boondoggle initiated by former PM Turnbull to placate the Greenies

To begin, the true cost has not been admitted but is creeping up. This cost is in two parts – money paid by the government to take full ownership of Snowy Hydro and the cost of the project itself. The federal government, which only had shares in 13 per cent of Snowy Hydro at the start of this process, paid NSW and Victoria $6.3 billion to buy them out, based on a “fair market value” for Snowy Hydro of $7.8 billion. Allowing for inflation, this was more than double the value estimated as part of a failed privatisation attempt in 2006. The government’s total investment was increased to $9.18 billion with an equity injection/subsidy of a further $1.38 billion.

Sure, the government will now stand to get the full dividends but these are shrinking, as revealed in the latest annual report published this week ($218 million last financial year?), and indicate a poor investment return, even pre-Snowy 2.0.

In March 2017, the project was estimated to cost $2 billion. In April last year, a contract for part construction was let at $5.1 billion, to a syndicate made up of Italy’s Salini Impregilo, South Africa's Clough and US company Lane Construction. The latest cost estimate, declared in the recent Standard and Poor credit assessment, was $5.7-$6.2 billion, which excludes many significant costs, especially transmission, bringing the government’s total exposure to date to more than $15 billion.

It is significant that S&P downgraded the credit standing of Snowy Hydro to near junk status in September, even though the capital injection was ostensibly to prop up the credit rating so a final investment decision could be made.

S&P also noted that: "We could lower our ratings if we were to believe that ... timely and adequate support from the government is not forthcoming." They also said: "We expect that Snowy will not undertake any other major projects (such as additional gas-fired generation) in a manner that would place pressure on the balance sheet of the company, or without appropriate support from the shareholders."

This provides important context to Morrison’s threat to use Snowy to build gas-fired generation in the Hunter if the private sector fails to commit by April next year to provide an adequate replacement for the Liddell coal-fired power station.

Snowy Hydro has claimed exaggerated net benefits of $4.4 billion to $6.8 billion, way short of the likely cost. The business case just doesn’t stack up, with costs seriously understated and revenues overstated. The government has made extraordinary, open-ended commitments to Snowy – and taxpayers are carrying the risk.

The Australian Energy Market Operator's Integrated System Plan has indicated that Snowy 2.0 will not be needed for another 10 years, not today, as Snowy management has claimed. This is evidenced by the historically low use of the pumped storage component of Tumut 3 station. AEMO forecasts less than half the output that Snowy has assumed. Far more efficient and cheaper storage alternatives are available.

The government also claims that Snowy 2.0 will put downward pressure on electricity prices and create jobs. Yet its own modelling shows higher prices from 2032 to 2047, and these price forecasts exclude the significant costs of transmission. Generation may push prices lower, but pumping will push them higher. At 2000MW, Snowy 2.0 will be the largest demand in the market, and pumping is required for 133 per cent of the time of generation due to losses. Moreover, how much of pumping power will be coal-fired?

As to jobs, the partial EIS suggests just eight to 16 operational jobs after construction.

As a pumped hydro project Snowy 2.0 also has its weaknesses - the 27-kilometre gap between the two reservoirs is about double the longest anywhere else in the world, resulting in high water friction losses, and the storage capacity of the lower reservoir is smaller.

The significance of the environmental impact on Kosciuszko National Park should also not be dismissed. This includes the project's size, which covers thousands of hectares, including hundreds of hectares of crucial habitats; the dumping of millions of cubic metres of spoil (some contaminated); more than 100 kilometres of access roads and tracks; clearways measuring 120 to 200 metres wide for the 10 kilometres of two double-circuit 330kV transmission lines; depressed water tables above the tunnel; the compounding of bushfire damage; and the visible scars on the landscape. It is certainly the largest, and perhaps the only, significant commercial/industrial project allowed in our national parks.

It should also be recognised that this project is not vital to the transition to renewables and it creates about 50 million tonnes of greenhouse gases during construction and operation.

Even though government spending is essential to our COVID-19 recovery, taxpayers want assurances of value for their money. Energy experts have been sceptical about Snowy 2.0 from the outset. It is essential that there be a full and genuinely independent assessment of the project before another dollar is committed or spent.




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