Friday, May 27, 2022

Real Threats to Biodiversity and Humanity

by Paul Driessen

References to climate change almost guarantee funding, even for research topics of little interest beyond academia and eco-activists. Polls reveal that most people worry most about energy and food prices, crime, living standards, Putin’s war on Ukraine, and increasing efforts to control their lives.

A recent study by Rutgers University scientists sought to determine how much diversity is required among bee species to sustain wild plant populations. They concluded that ecosystems rely on many bee species to flourish – and “biodiversity is key to sustaining life on Earth,” especially with many species “rapidly going extinct due to climate change and human development.”

US Geological Survey wildlife biologist Sam Droege says wild bees are generally “doing fine.” However, they definitely face challenges, primarily due to habitat loss, disease, and competition from managed honeybees and bumblebees – not to pesticides, since most wild bee species don’t pollinate crops.

That brings us to one of Wokedom’s favorite topics: intersectionality – in this case, actual connections among bees, climate change, habitat losses, and threats to our energy, living standards, and freedoms.

Simply put, the gravest threat to wildlife habitats and biodiversity (and to people’s rights, needs, and living standards) is not climate change. It is policies and programs created, implemented, and imposed in the name of preventing climate change.

Let’s examine habitat and biodiversity threats – without asking whether any climate changes today or in the future are still primarily natural, or are now driven by fossil fuels. Let’s just look at what purported solutions to the alleged “climate crisis” would likely do to the planet and creatures we love. In reality:

The most intensive land use – and thus greatest habitat destruction – is from programs most beloved, advocated, and demanded by rabid greens: wind, solar, biofuel and battery energy, and organic farming.

Team Biden is still intent on getting 100% hydrocarbon-free electricity by 2035. It wants to eliminate fossil fuels throughout the US economy by 2050: no coal or natural gas for electricity generation; no gasoline or diesel for vehicles; no natural gas for manufacturing, heating, cooking or other needs.

America’s electricity demand would soar from 2.7 billion megawatt-hours per year (the fossil fuel portion of total US electricity) to almost 7.5 billion MWh by 2050. Substantial additional generation would be required to constantly recharge backup batteries for windless, sunless periods. Corn-based ethanol demand would disappear, but biofuel crops would have to replace petrochemical feedstocks for paints, plastics, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, cell phones, wind turbine blades, and countless other products.

This is just for the USA. Extrapolate these demands to the rest of a fossil-fuel-free developed world … to China and India … and to poor countries determined to take their rightful places among Earth’s healthy and prosperous people – and “clean, green” energy requirements become monumental, incomprehensible.

We’re certainly looking at tens of thousands of offshore wind turbines, millions of onshore turbines, billions of photovoltaic solar panels, billions of vehicle and backup battery modules, and tens of thousands of miles of new transmission lines. Hundreds of millions of acres of US farmland, scenic areas, and wildlife habitats would be affected – blanketed with enormous industrial facilities, biofuel operations, and power lines.

Add in the enormous and unprecedented mining, processing, and manufacturing required to make all these energy-inefficient technologies – mostly outside the United States – and the land use, habitat loss, and toxic pollution would gravely threaten people, wildlife, and the planet.

Let’s take a closer look, now just from a US perspective, but knowing these are global concerns.

Solar power. 72,000 high-tech sun-tracking solar panels at Nevada’s sunny Nellis Air Force Base cover 140 acres but generate only 32,000 MWh per year. That’s 33% of rated capacity; 0.0004% of 2050 US electricity needs. Low-tech stationary panels have far lower efficiency and generating capacity, especially in more northern latitudes. Meeting 2050 US electricity needs would require Nevada sunshine and nearly 235,000 Nellis systems on 33,000,000 acres (equal to Alabama).

Triple that acreage for low-tech stationary panels in less sunny areas. For reference, Dominion Energy alone is planning 490 square miles of panels (8 times Washington, DC) just in Virginia, just for Virginia. Then add all the transmission lines.

Wind power. 355 turbines at Indiana’s Fowler Ridge industrial wind facility cover 50,000 acres (120 acres/turbine) and generate electricity just over 25% of the time. Even at just 50 acres per turbine, meeting 2050 US power needs would require 2 million 1.8-MW wind turbines, on 99,000,000 acres (equal to California), if they generate electricity 25% of the year.

But the more turbines (or solar panels) we need, the more we have to put them in sub-optimal areas, where they might work 15% of the year. The more we install, the more they reduce wind flow for the others. And some of the best US wind zones are along the Canada-to-Texas flyway for migrating birds – which would mean the massive, unsustainable slaughter of cranes, raptors, other birds, and bats.

Go offshore, and even President Biden’s call for 30,000 MW of electricity (2,500 monster 12-MW turbines) wouldn’t meet New York State’s peak summertime electricity needs.

Biofuels and wood pellets. America already grows corn in an area larger than Iowa, to meet current ethanol quotas. Keep-fossil-fuels-in-the-ground lobbyists need to calculate how many acres of soybeans, canola, and other biofuel crops would be needed to replace today’s petrochemical feedstocks; how much water, fertilizer, labor, and fuel would be needed to grow harvest and process them; and how much acreage would have to be taken from food production or converted from bee and wildlife habitat.

Climate activists also approve of cutting down thousands of acres of North American hardwood forests – nearly 300,000,000 trees per year – and turning them into wood pellets, which are hauled by truck and cargo ship to England’s Drax Power Plant. There they are burned to generate electricity so that the UK can “meet its renewable fuel targets.” And that’s just one “carbon-neutral” power plant. That’s one year to slash and burn the fuel, and fifty years to regrow replacement trees. This is not green, sustainable energy.

Organic farming. Environmentalists dream of converting all US (and even all global) agriculture to 100% organic. That would further reduce wildlife habitats – dramatically – especially if we are to simultaneously eliminate world hunger … and replace petrochemicals organically.

Organic farms require up to 30% more land to achieve the same yields as conventional agriculture, and most of the land needed to make that happen is now forests, wildflower fields, and grasslands. Organic farmers (and consumers) also reject synthetic fertilizers, which means more land would have to be devoted to raising animals for their manure unless human wastes are used. More lost wildlife habitat.

They reject modern chemical pesticides that prevent billions of tons of food from being eaten or ruined but utilize toxic copper, sulfur, and nicotine-based pesticides. They even reject biotechnology (genetic engineering) that creates crops that are blight-resistant, require less water, permit no-till farming, need fewer pesticide treatments, and bring much higher yields per acre. Translation: even less wildlife habitat

There are alternatives, of course. Government mandates and overseers could require that “average” American families live in 640-square-foot apartments, slash their energy use, ride only bicycles or public transportation, and fly only once every few years. They could also switch us to “no-obesity” diets.

Indeed, “scientists” are again saying we “common folks” could “reduce our carbon footprints” by eating less beef and chicken, and more insect protein, ground-up bugs – or roasted bumblebees. Or we could just reduce the number of “cancerous, parasitic” humans. (Perhaps beginning with wannabe overseers?


Joy for environmentalists as California blocks bid for $1.4bn desalination plant

A California coastal panel on Thursday rejected a longstanding proposal to build a $1.4bn seawater desalination plant to turn Pacific Ocean water into drinking water as the state grapples with persistent drought that is expected to worsen in coming years with climate change.

The state’s Coastal Commission voted unanimously to deny a permit for Poseidon Water to build a plant to produce 50m gallons of water a day in Huntington Beach, south-east of Los Angeles.

Poseidon said it was disappointed in the decision.

“California continues to face a punishing drought, with no end in sight,” a company statement said. “Every day, we see new calls for conservation as reservoir levels drop to dangerous lows. We firmly believe that this desalination project would have created a sustainable, drought-tolerant source of water.”

The vote came after a heated meeting before the commission attended by dozens of supporters and critics of the plan. It was considered a crucial decision on the future of the plant after years of other hearings and delays.

Poseidon’s long-running proposal was supported by Governor Gavin Newsom but faced ardent opposition from environmentalists who said drawing in large amounts of ocean water and releasing salty discharge back into the ocean would kill billions of tiny marine organisms that make up the base of the food chain along a large swath of the coast.

“The ocean is under attack” from climate change already, Commissioner Dayna Bochco said. “I cannot say in good conscience that this amount of damage is OK.”

Other critics said the water would be too expensive and was not urgently needed in the area where it would be built, which is less dependent on state and federal water due to an ample aquifer and water recycling program.

Commissioners cited those issues in following a staff recommendation and rejecting the proposal. They also cited the energy cost of running the plant and the fact that it would sit in an earthquake fault zone.

Before voting, the 12-member commission heard hours of comments from scores of people packed into a hotel meeting room in the Orange county city of Costa Mesa in addition to those tuning in online.

At the meeting, supporters wore orange and yellow construction vests and toted signs saying “support desal!”

Opponents carried signs reading “No Poseidon” and “Do not $ell our coast.” One woman who wore a plankton costume and held a sign reading “I am a plankton – please do not kill me!”

California has spent most of the last 15 years in drought conditions. Its normal wet season that runs from late fall to the end of winter was especially dry this year and as a result 95% of the state is classified as in severe drought.

Newsom last summer urged residents to cut consumption by 15%, but since then water usage has dropped by only about 3%. Some areas have begun instituting generally mild restrictions such as limiting how many days lawns can be watered. More stringent restrictions are likely later in the year.

Much of California’s water comes from melting snow and with a far below normal snowpack, state officials have told water agencies they will receive only 5% of what they have requested from state water supplies beyond what’s needed for critical activities like drinking and bathing.

Desalination removes salt and other elements from ocean water to make it drinkable. Those elements are discharged back into the sea, while the water can be channeled directly to consumers or used to replenish a groundwater basin. The country’s largest seawater desalination plant is already operating in nearby San Diego county, and there are also coastal plants in Florida.

The idea of desalination has been debated for decades in Huntington Beach, a coastal community south-east of Los Angeles known as “Surf City USA” that relies on its sands and waves for tourism. Discussion of the project has recently focused on the impact of climate change on regional water supplies and on sea level rise in the low-lying coastal area where the plant would be built.

More than two decades ago, Poseidon proposed building two desalination plants – the one in San Diego county, and one in Huntington Beach. The San Diego county plant was approved and built, and desalinated water now accounts for 10% of San Diego county water district’s water supplies.

But the Huntington Beach project has faced numerous delays. In 2013, the Coastal Commission voiced concerns that the proposed use of intake structures to quickly draw in large volumes of water from the ocean would damage marine life. Poseidon, which is owned by Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, conducted additional studies and resubmitted the plan with a proposal to mitigate marine damage through restoration of nearby wetlands.


The Modern World Can't Exist Without These Four Ingredients. They All Require Fossil Fuels

Four materials rank highest on the scale of necessity, forming what I have called the four pillars of modern civilization: cement, steel, plastics, and ammonia are needed in larger quantities than are other essential inputs. The world now produces annually about 4.5 billion tons of cement, 1.8 billion tons of steel, nearly 400 million tons of plastics, and 180 million tons of ammonia. But it is ammonia that deserves the top position as our most important material: its synthesis is the basis of all nitrogen fertilizers, and without their applications it would be impossible to feed, at current levels, nearly half of today’s nearly 8 billion people.

The dependence is even higher in the world’s most populous country: feeding three out of five Chinese depends on the synthesis of this compound. This dependence easily justifies calling ammonia synthesis the most momentous technical advance in history: other inventions provide our comforts, convenience or wealth or prolong our lives—but without the synthesis of ammonia, we could not ensure the very survival of billions of people alive today and yet to be born.

Plastics are a large group of synthetic organic materials whose common quality is that they can be molded into desired shapes—and they are now everywhere. As I type this, the keys of my Dell laptop and a wireless mouse under my right palm are made of acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, I sit on a swivel chair upholstered in a polyester fabric, and its nylon wheels rest on a polycarbonate carpet protection mat that covers a polyester carpet. But plastics are now most indispensable in health care in general and in hospitals in particular. Life now begins (in maternity wards) and ends (in intensive care units) surrounded by plastic items made above all from different kinds of PVC: flexible tubes (for feeding patients, delivering oxygen, and monitoring blood pressure), catheters, intravenous containers, blood bags, sterile packaging, trays and basins, bedpans and bed rails, thermal blankets.

Steel’s strength, durability, and versatility determines the look of modern civilization and enables its most fundamental functions. This is the most widely used metal and it forms countless visible and invisible critical components of modern civilization, from skyscrapers to scalpels. Moreover, nearly all other metallic and non-metallic products we use have been extracted, processed, shaped, finished, and distributed with tools and machines made of steel, and no mode of today’s mass transportation could function without steel. The average car contains about 900 kilograms of steel and before Covid-19 struck the world was making nearly 100 million vehicles a year.

Cement is, of course, the key component of concrete: combined with sand, gravel and water it makes the most massively deployed material. Modern cities are embodiments of concrete, as are bridges, tunnels, roads, dams, runways and ports. China now produces more than half of the world’s cement and in recent years it makes in just two years as much of it as did the United States during the entire 20th century. Yet another astounding statistic is that the world now consumes in one year more cement than it did during the entire first half of the 20th century.

And these four materials, so unlike in their properties and qualities, share three common traits: they are not readily replaceable by other materials (certainly not in the near future or on a global scale); we will need much more of them in the future; and their mass-scale production depends heavily on the combustion of fossil fuels, making them major sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Organic fertilizers cannot replace synthetic ammonia: their low nitrogen content and their worldwide mass are not enough even if all manures and crop residues were recycled. No other materials offer such advantages for many lightweight yet durable uses as plastics. No other metal is as affordably strong as steel. No other mass-produced material is as suitable for building strong infrastructure as concrete (often reinforced with steel).

As for the future needs, high-income countries could reduce their fertilizer use (eating less meat, wasting less), and China and India, the two heavy users, could also reduce their excessive fertilizer applications, but Africa, the continent with the fastest-growing population, remains deprived of fertilizers even as it is already a substantial food importer. Any hope for its greater food self-sufficiency rests on the increased use of nitrogen: after all, the continent’s recent usage of ammonia has been less than a third of the European mean. More plastics will be needed for expanding medical (aging populations) and infrastructural (pipes) uses and in transportation (see the interior of airplanes and high-speed trains). As is the case with ammonia, steel consumption has to rise in all low-income countries with underdeveloped infrastructures and transportation. And much more cement will be needed to make concrete: affluent countries to fix decaying infrastructures (in the US all sectors where concrete dominates, including dams, roads, and aviation get a D grade in nationwide engineering assessments), in low-income countries to expand cities, sewers and transportation.

Moreover, the unfolding transition to renewable energies will demand huge amounts of steel, concrete and plastics. No structures are more obvious symbols of “green” electricity generation than large wind turbines—but their foundations are reinforced concrete, their towers, nacelles, and rotors are steel, and their massive blades are energy-intensive—and difficult to recycle—plastic resins, and all of these giant parts must be brought to the installation sites by outsized trucks (or ships) and erected by large steel cranes, and turbine gearboxes must be repeatedly lubricated with oil. These turbines would generate truly green electricity only if all of these materials were made without any fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels remain indispensable for producing all of these materials.

Ammonia synthesis uses natural gas both as the source of hydrogen and as the source of energy needed to provide high temperature and pressure. Some 85% of all plastics are based on simple molecules derived from natural gas and crude oil, and hydrocarbons also supply energy for syntheses. Production of primary steel starts with smelting iron ore in blast furnace in the presence of coke made from coal and with the addition of natural gas, and the resulting cast iron is made into steel in large basic oxygen furnaces. And cement is produced by heating ground limestone and clay, shale in large kilns, long inclined metal cylinders, heated with such low-quality fossil fuels as coal dust, petroleum coke and heavy fuel oil.

As a result, global production of these four indispensable materials claims about 17 percent of the world’s annual total energy supply, and it generates about 25 percent of all CO2 emissions originating in the combustion of fossil fuels. The pervasiveness of this dependence and its magnitude make the decarbonization of the four material pillars of modern civilization uncommonly challenging: replacing fossil fuels in their production will be far more difficult and costly than generating more electricity from renewable (mainly wind and solar) conversions. Eventually, new processes will take over— but currently there are no alternatives that could be deployed immediately to displace large shares of existing global capacities


Australia is already at Net Zero

Prof. Ian Plimer

Australia has a landmass of 7,692,024 square kilometres with a sparse inland population, greenhouse gas-emitting livestock, and heavy industry.

Combined with the transport of livestock, food, and mined products over long distances to cities and ports and the export of ores, coal, metals, and food for 80 million people, there is a high per capita emission of carbon dioxide. If for some perverse perceived moral reason we reduce our emissions of plant food, then we let millions in Asia starve. Our food exports contribute to increasing the standard of living, longevity, and health of billions of people in Asia.

The forestry, mining, and smelting industries have been under constant attack by green activists who are happy to put hundreds of thousands out of work and destroy the economy. They train their sights on the cheapest and most reliable form of electricity and want to replace it with unreliable subsidised wind and solar power simply because the burning of fossil fuels emits carbon dioxide which they fraudulently deem is a dangerous pollutant. The next target will be food-producing farmers. They, like the forestry and mining industries, have nowhere to go if destroyed by green activists. Australia cannot import food if there is no export revenue generated to pay for imports.

With inflation and debt on the rise, Australia has far greater economic priorities than to shift the whole economy into uncharted waters, increase energy costs, destroy a successful efficient primary industry, decrease employment, and decrease international competitiveness because its emission of the plant food carbon dioxide is deemed sinful. It is a very long bow to argue that Australia’s emission of one molecule of plant food in 6.6 million other atmospheric molecules has any measurable effect whatsoever on global climate.

Ice core shows that atmospheric carbon dioxide rises follow natural temperature rises and, in past times when atmospheric carbon dioxide was up to 100 times higher than now, there were ice ages and no runaway global warmings. Furthermore, it has never been shown that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming. Why even bother about the minuscule Australian carbon dioxide emissions when the big emitters don’t?

Annual Australian per capita carbon dioxide emissions are in the order of 20 tonnes per person. There are 30 hectares of forest and 74 hectares of grassland for every Australian and each hectare annually sequesters about one tonne of carbon dioxide by photosynthesis. Australia has 4 per cent of the world’s global forest estate, the world’s sixth largest forested area, and the fourth largest area of forest in nature conservation reserves. On the continental landmass, grasslands and forests remove by natural sequestration more than three times the amount of Australia’s domestic and industrial carbon dioxide emissions. The expansion of woody weeds, crops, reduction in regular burning, and vegetation clearing restrictions further increases natural sequestration.

Australian forests adsorb 940 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per annum compared to our domestic and industrial emissions of 417 million tonnes. Add to that the absorption of carbon dioxide in continental Australia to the carbon dioxide adsorption of 2,500,000 square kilometres of continental shelf waters and Australia sequesters some five times as much carbon dioxide as it emits. Australia does more than its share of the heavy lifting for global sequestration of carbon dioxide.

Australia’s net contribution to global atmospheric carbon dioxide is negative. We are already at Net Zero. This is validated by the net carbon dioxide flux estimates from the IBUKI satellite carbon dioxide data set.

None of these calculations involve the fixing of biological carbon compounds and atmospheric carbon dioxide into soils. Soils contain two or three times as much carbon dioxide as the atmosphere, soil carbon increases fertility and water retention and reduces farming costs. Natural sequestration in Australia locks away carbon dioxide and to lock it away carbon dioxide by industrial sequestration in deep drill holes is a foolish fashionable way of wasting large amounts of taxpayer’s money.

Using the thinking of the IPCC, UN, and activist green groups, Australia should be very generously financially rewarded with money from poor, populous, desert, and landlocked countries for removing its own emissions from the atmosphere and the carbon dioxide emissions from many other nations. By this method, wealthy Australia can take money from poor countries.

Net Zero has nothing to the environment and climate change and is all about power and the transfer of hard-earned wealth.




Thursday, May 26, 2022

A Warmist fanatic

I think that most Warmist belief is instrumental. It gives the believer something -- usually a claim to virtue. But by ditching her job and abusing her employer, the woman below would seem to have shot herself in the foot. She must have been totally convinced by the tales of doom that warmists regularly spout

image from

A woman who had worked for Shell for 11 years has quit spectacularly, dropping a bombshell video on social media that accused the oil and gas company of causing “extreme harm”.

Caroline Dennett, a senior safety consultant, claimed Shell had a “disregard for climate risks” and was “fully aware” it was causing “extreme harm” to the world’s climate, environment, nature and people.

She revealed she had sent an email to Shell’s executives and 1400 staff outlining her reasons, for quitting including “completely failing on their safety ambition to do no harm”.

“I can no longer work for a company that ignores all the alarms and dismisses the risks of climate change and ecological collapse,” she wrote on LinkedIn.

“Because, contrary to Shell’s public expressions around Net Zero, they are not winding down on oil and gas, but planning to explore and extract much more.

“I want Shell execs and management to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they really believe their vision for more oil and gas extraction secures a safe future for humanity.

“We must end all new extraction projects immediately and rapidly transition away from fossil fuels, and towards clean renewable energy sources.

“Shell should be using all its capital, technical and human power to lead this transition, but they have no plan to do this.”

The criminal justice graduate began working with Shell after BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, with her company specialising in evaluating safety procedures for high risk industries.

Ms Dennett admitted it could damage her business and career but was inspired to make a stand after watching footage of protesters from climate action group Extinction Rebellion urging the company’s employees to leave.

“I don’t know what impact this action will have on my business and career, and it’s possible my reputation may be damaged in the eyes of people I have worked with,” she added. “However, I feel like there is no other choice I can make.”

In 2020, several Shell executives left its clean energy sector left after reports they were frustrated by the company’s slow transition into greener fuels.

A Shell spokesperson said: “Be in no doubt, we are determined to deliver on our global strategy to be a net zero company by 2050 and thousands of our people are working hard to achieve this. We have set targets for the short, medium and long term, and have every intention of hitting them.

“We’re already investing billions of dollars in low-carbon energy, although the world will still need oil and gas for decades to come in sectors that can’t be easily decarbonised.”


Public opinion about nuclear power should be based on fact, not made-for-TV contrived drama

Following HBO’s award-winning miniseries on Chernobyl, Netflix creators have decided to take a shot at Three Mile Island. But they whiffed. Their documentary “Meltdown: Three Mile Island” misses completely the important lessons of TMI — and it comes at a time that we must give serious, well-informed consideration to building new nuclear plants.

We’ve been down this road before.

In March 1979, the blockbuster movie “The China Syndrome” debuted in theaters coast to coast. The provocative thriller, starring real-life activist Jane Fonda as a courageous TV reporter who saves the world from nuclear catastrophe, planted the obvious question in every viewer’s mind: “could that really happen?” The nuclear industry — of which I was a part — scoffed, calling it “fantasy.”

Bad answer. Three weeks later, the Three Mile Island accident shook us to our core. Timing is everything.

“The China Syndrome” was right in sync with the blossoming anti-nuclear movement of that time. Its underlying premises reinforced the perceptions of the anti-nukes: that nuclear power plants are inherently unsafe, operated by dummies (Homer Simpson was still in the wings), and managed by corporate “suits” more concerned with revenues than safety and determined to keep the public in the dark.

Four decades later, the new Netflix TMI series follows that same tired script.

At first, the real-life drama at TMI seemed to parallel the Hollywood narrative. There had never been an accident like TMI; it came upon us, out of the blue, at 4:00 a.m. on a quiet mid-week morning. In-plant, the first few hours were a perfect storm of confusion, misunderstanding, and increasingly frantic actions. Communications between the plant and the outside world were sporadic and unclear.

That day and in the days following, public uncertainty — fueled by contradictory reports and a rampant rumor mill — morphed into public panic, anger, and distrust. Media, largely in a vacuum, stoked the flames, and the activists had a field day.

I was there. It was ugly.

Over time, however, perspective and reality inevitably take root. The TMI accident, the intense scrutiny that followed, and the decade-long post-accident opened the book on nuclear power, for anyone willing to pay attention. In summary:

The accident revealed serious blind spots in nuclear plant operation and training practices.

At the same time, it validated the principle of defense-in-depth. In particular, the massive containment — a reinforced concrete, post-tensioned, steel-lined structure — proved to be worth its weight in gold, protecting public and environment from the dangerous materials inside the plant.

Extensive, independent epidemiological assessment of area residents confirmed that the accident had caused no significant health consequences.

The decade-long cleanup was completed safely, and the plant placed in a stable, monitored condition. It remains so today.

TMI, the first (and only) core melt accident in the U.S., proved to be an invaluable learning experience, leading to profound changes in nuclear plant training, operation, and oversight. The accident rendered a billion-dollar plant unusable — but with no injury to plant workers, the public, or the environment, it was nonetheless a remarkably inexpensive lesson.

While that positive outcome might have been a springboard for substantial expansion of nuclear power in the U.S., that has not happened, primarily for two reasons: shaken public and investor confidence in nuclear energy, and competition from cheap natural gas. Post TMI years have seen outstanding performance of the operating nuclear fleet, but essentially no growth.

Now, however, we are wakening to the reality that precipitous shift from fossil fuels to solar and wind — compounded by inflation and war — has led to shortages in energy supply and soaring costs. The importance of energy independence and the folly of our retreat from nuclear have never been more obvious. Clearly, it is time to think seriously about new nuclear. And just as we do, here comes Netflix, resurrecting anti-nuclear themes that were dispelled four decades ago.

While masquerading as a documentary, “Meltdown: Three Mile Island” follows the formulaic “China Syndrome” storyline — the courageous whistleblower who saves civilization (in this case, from a calamitous event that is scientifically impossible), against a background of depressing music and grainy black and white film clips interspersed with angry and anguished interviews. It’s contrived drama, not information.

Resurgence of nuclear power in the U.S. faces many more daunting challenges than a silly TV documentary that plays back old fears and ignores hard won reality. I’d never make it as a movie producer, but it seems to me that Netflix viewers would have been better served by the true story of TMI — a real life event with more than enough drama for any viewer, and an upbeat ending to boot.


Helping the Greenies Understand Fossil Fuels

Climate-change environmentalists worry that the Earth is too warm. They seem to think they know what the temperature of the planet should be. Those who do not share their certitude about what the correct temperature of the Earth is, call these folks “warmists” or “greenies.”

The big bane of the greenies, their bête noire (excuse my French), is fossil fuels. The greenies are especially vexed by ICE, the internal combustion engine. That’s because ICE vehicles run on fossil fuels, the petroleum products petrol (gasoline) and diesel. That such engines have been used in virtually all vehicles for a century is of no concern to the greenies; ICE vehicles have gotta go, lest the world end in twelve years.

Greenies disapprove of carbon and fret about carbon footprints, even though they themselves are carbon-based lifeforms, one assumes. Fossil fuels consist of hydrocarbons.

The problem with burning hydrocarbons in ICE vehicles, according to the greenies, is the release of carbon into the atmosphere. But ICE vehicles can get around the carbon problem by using the other element in hydrocarbons. Hydrogen is the fuel in a HICE, a hydrogen internal combustion engine. The only exhaust from HICE vehicles is water.

ICE vehicles designed to run on fossil fuel can be retrofitted or adapted to run on hydrogen. This writer first learned of this when a local newspaper reported on Roger E. Billings, who converted a Model A to work on hydrogen. Fuel cells can also use hydrogen to produce power for electric cars.

But although hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, hydrogen production on Earth can entail fossil fuels. So, whether one burns it in an ICE or uses it to produce electricity for fuel cells, how green can hydrogen really be?

And how green are the Tesla and the other new electric cars? It has often been noted, at least on Fox News, that electric cars aren’t really green and eco-friendly when their batteries are recharged with electricity from power plants that burn fossil fuels. But even in areas where batteries are recharged from windmills or solar farms or nuclear power, they’re still not all that green. You see, the materials and energy used to manufacture windmills and solar panels involve fossil fuels.

The prospect of ending our reliance on fossil fuels is daunting for more reasons than replacing an energy source. Some of a barrel of crude oil is used for non-energy products, like plastics. Everywhere one looks in today’s world, one sees plastics. This keyboard I’m typing on sure looks like it’s plastic to me. How do the greenies propose to replace all the other products, even food, like cattle feed, that come out of a barrel of oil? Because of the war in Ukraine, American farmers are short on fertilizers, which are made from petroleum. Petrochemicals are used throughout today’s economy.

Personal transportation, that the greenies think so monstrous, may be the least technological problem in getting off of oil. It’s all the petrochemicals that aren’t destined for energy that seem to form more formidable problems. And if they can’t come up with replacements for petrochemicals, then they’ll need to keep drilling.

One wonders if your average greenie understands that one can’t use a barrel for just anything; we can’t turn an entire barrel just into plastics or whatever one likes. The distillates that go into petrol and diesel must be used for those products; they can’t be used to make plastic, fertilizer, cattle feed, asphalt, etc.

In “How to take the ‘petro’ out of the petrochemicals industry,” one reads of “electrosynthesis,” a replacement process which aims to get us the chemicals we need without having to drill for oil. However, in “Can the world make the chemicals it needs without oil?” one reads:

Harry Gray, a chemist at the California Institute of Technology… has analyzed what's needed to displace fossil fuels with electrosynthesis. Of making commodities [i.e. replacements for petrochemicals] by electrosynthesis, he says, “I think we'll be there within 10 years.”

So science is not yet able to replace the myriad petrochemicals the world needs. And we’ve only just begun to replace the world’s fleet of cars with electric versions. But folks are suffering now. They need relief ASAP. Inflation is raging.

Unfortunately, the greenies like inflation. They think high prices will get folks to go green, even though their green businesses are subsidized by the government and aren’t very green, as they depend on fossil fuels.

There’s a way to take the edge off the crisis we’re currently enduring, and that’s to consume less, to drive less, to conserve, to not be so damn wasteful. And if Americans were to do these things, the dreadful inflation they’re enduring should begin to abate. This should be the year that Americans don’t take a summer vacation. Take a “staycation” this summer.


An Alarmed Solar Industry Says a U.S. Trade Probe of China Will Totally Fry It. Then Why Is the Business Sunny Side Up?

Publicly, big solar developers and many climate change activists are sounding the alarm about an ongoing probe of trade abuses by Chinese manufacturers.

Abigail Ross Hopper, CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, last month described the U.S. Department of Commerce investigation as “the most serious crisis we have faced in our collective history.”

Heather Zichal, a former White House energy adviser under President Barack Obama, said the examination of China’s trade practices “drives a stake through the heart of planned solar projects.”

The New York Times reported last month that the “solar industry is 'frozen’ as Biden administration investigates China” over allegations solar producers there are offshoring work to avoid tariffs.

But CEOs of some of the biggest solar players in the U.S. tell a different story to investors and followers, according to a RealClearInvestigations review of earnings call transcripts and solar project plans.

Amazon last month announced 37 new solar projects around the world, including in the U.S., while power plant developer Seaboard Solar announced it is working on multiple projects in New York state. A $75 million project is moving ahead in Minnesota, while two plants by Dominion Energy are starting construction in Virginia this year.

Kirk Crews, CFO of NextEra Energy, which trumpets itself as the world’s largest producer of wind and solar energy, told Bloomberg that if the investigation found that China circumvented tariffs by offshoring, “it would be unwinding a decade of trade practice.”

But Crews told analysts in an April investor call that despite the federal investigation, “we remain comfortable with our current development expectations for wind, solar and storage.”

Several other major solar producers also have announced they are moving ahead on projects this year, including Duke Energy and SOLV Energy.

“Even with trade cases, solar demand has continued to grow -- Solar jobs are still expanding,” said Tim Brightbill, a Washington, D.C.-based lawyer for domestic solar producers whose complaint last year also alleged China was avoiding tariffs.

The disconnect between public and private words and deeds illustrates a solar industry that presents itself as on a progressive mission to save the planet actually behaving more like a traditional big business. It is managing expectations in the political and business arenas through messaging geared to those separate audiences. Behind the words is a highly competitive business focused on keeping costs low -- even if that means sourcing cheaper materials from Chinese companies, some of which are accused of relying on highly polluting coal power, using slave labor, or violating trade agreements.

The Commerce Department launched its probe in response to a petition filed in February by a U.S. competitor to Chinese producers, Auxin Solar, a small California-based solar parts maker, which alleged that China was avoiding tariffs by routing its production through four Southeast Asian countries.

Auxin alleges that manufacturers in those four countries – Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Cambodia – are Chinese enterprises that use the factories for panel assembly, the last step before shipment and installation. Plants in those countries “use affiliated Chinese input suppliers and a fully integrated Chinese supply chain to circumvent the existing [tariffs],” according to Auxin’s complaint.

The complaint maps the alleged movement of solar parts to the four countries from China, as direct imports of Chinese solar parts to the U.S. have dipped over the last three years while increasing from the four Southeast Asian countries.

It cites one Vietnamese company, Boviet Solar, a subsidiary of Chinese company Boway, which noted on its website in 2017 that its attractiveness to solar producers is that “Vietnam is not a U.S. listed anti-dumping and countervailing region. No tariffs influence Boviet’s U.S. business, and those cost-savings ultimately trickle down to the buyer.”

U.S. companies produced a record number of panels in 2020, up 24% over 2019, according to a report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Roughly 80% of the components and equipment for those panels come from Chinese-linked operations.

“The discourse of cheapness dominates everything now in solar,” said Dustin Mulvaney, a professor in the Environmental Studies Department at San José State University, who studies solar power commodity supply chains. Mulvaney said there is no way to police the supply chain, as components needed to build panels are integrated into the system. The origin of the components, he said, is hard to trace.

The major area of concern is the Chinese region of Xinjiang, one of the world’s leading production and mining hubs for solar, where the gross domestic product has doubled since 2012, despite being accused by several countries of using forced labor. The Chinese government has denied the accusation.

A 2021 report by Horizon Advisory, a geopolitical consultancy, names Chinese solar firms Daqo New Energy, East Hope Group, GCL-Poly, and Jinko Solar among the companies in the Xinjiang region using forced labor, which the companies deny. An estimated 45% of polysilicon, a key component of solar panels, is produced in Xinjiang.

Products made with forced labor are banned in the U.S., and some U.S. solar companies have further signed a non-binding pledge to avoid factories known to use forced labor.

But sidestepping human rights concerns, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the national nonprofit trade association of the solar energy industry in the United States, asked its members in April to sign a petition against Auxin’s complaint, warning “there is not sufficient capacity to meet U.S. demand anywhere else in the world except China.” The association claims that investigating the complaint “will also make it impossible to meet President Biden’s climate goals,” which include making 40% of the U.S. power supply solar powered by 2035.

The Biden administration is caught between the statutory duty of the Commerce Department to investigate possible tariff circumvention and its stated imperative of growing the solar industry, an urgency heightened by renewable energy mandates in 38 states, including 12 that require 100% clean energy by 2050.

If the industry has its way, China will play a large role in achieving such goals – however environmentally unfriendly the process may be. Last year, China announced plans to construct 43 new coal plants, in part to meet the demand for more panels.

“The amount of fossil fuel energy it takes to get materials from China is already high,” said Tom Beline, an attorney who is representing Auxin in its complaint. “These parts are produced using coal plants, using international freight that also uses fossil fuels. By the time the parts arrive here in the U.S., the carbon footprint is enormous.”




Wednesday, May 25, 2022

UK: Windfall profits for offshore wind

It has been an interesting year for Ormonde, a small offshore windfarm in the Irish Sea, just off Barrow-in-Furness. The chief excitement was that during last summer, replacement blades being installed on one of its machines fell into the sea. It was lucky that there were no injuries as a result.

But 2021 was also interesting because of all the ups and downs in the wind sector: a wind drought lasting for much of the year, and the dramatic surge in market prices for electricity in the autumn. Ormonde is the first offshore unit to report financial results covering those events, so I was keen to see how it has performed.

The net effect is that the windfarm is sitting very pretty indeed. While its output was down around a third (!), its average selling price tripled, from £30 to £99/MWh(!), so its sales income doubled to £34 million. Of course, the surge in market prices only really applied to the final four months of the year, so those figures suggest that the windfarm is currently making over £200/MWh. Which is good going against the £30 they averaged in 2020.

And to make their year even better, on top of that, they have their Renewables Obligations subsidy. Of course, that is based on the number of megawatt hours they produce, so that revenue stream is down sharply, but overall they earned £75 million on their 350,000 MWh of output, so overall that’s £214/MWh. My estimate of Ormonde’s levelised cost is up slightly, at £154/MWh.

Moreover, you can see that they are going to make an obscene amount of money in 2022, assuming output returns to normal and market prices remain high. Of course, the latter assumption is questionable, given that UK wholesale gas prices have fallen away dramatically, as pipelines struggle to deliver all the LNG that is arriving in the UK to where it is needed (mostly in the EU). However, this is expected to be temporary relief only, after which market prices should return to their previous highs, other things being equal.

That being the case, it is not inconceivable that Ormonde’s sales will hit £100 million in 2022, with £50 million of subsidy on top. That would be around £287/MWh. And because a windfarm’s costs are virtually all fixed, all that extra revenue flows right through to the bottom line. That means operating profits rising from the £13 million that Ormonde has averaged each year in its ten-year life, to perhaps £85 million next year. Quite good for a small windfarm with net assets of £167 million. Yes, they could earn the build cost of the windfarm back in just 2-3 years!

A windfall indeed.


Low-Cost Gel Film Can Pluck Drinking Water From Desert Air

Another instance of humanity's great talent for adaptation

More than a third of the world’s population lives in drylands, areas that experience significant water shortages. Scientists and engineers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a solution that could help people in these areas access clean drinking water.

The team developed a low-cost gel film made of abundant materials that can pull water from the air in even the driest climates. The materials that facilitate this reaction cost a mere $2 per kilogram, and a single kilogram can produce more than 6 liters of water per day in areas with less than 15% relative humidity and 13 liters in areas with up to 30% relative humidity.

The research builds on previous breakthroughs from the team, including the ability to pull water out of the atmosphere and the application of that technology to create self-watering soil. However, these technologies were designed for relatively high-humidity environments.

“This new work is about practical solutions that people can use to get water in the hottest, driest places on Earth,” said Guihua Yu, professor of materials science and mechanical engineering in the Cockrell School of Engineering’s Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering. “This could allow millions of people without consistent access to drinking water to have simple, water generating devices at home that they can easily operate.”

The new paper appears in Nature Communications.

The researchers used renewable cellulose and a common kitchen ingredient, konjac gum, as a main hydrophilic (attracted to water) skeleton. The open-pore structure of gum speeds the moisture-capturing process. Another designed component, thermo-responsive cellulose with hydrophobic (resistant to water) interaction when heated, helps release the collected water immediately so that overall energy input to produce water is minimized.

Other attempts at pulling water from desert air are typically energy-intensive and do not produce much. And although 6 liters does not sound like much, the researchers say that creating thicker films or absorbent beds or arrays with optimization could drastically increase the amount of water they yield.
The reaction itself is a simple one, the researchers said, which reduces the challenges of scaling it up and achieving mass usage.

“This is not something you need an advanced degree to use,” said Youhong “Nancy” Guo, the lead author on the paper and a former doctoral student in Yu’s lab, now a postdoctoral researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s straightforward enough that anyone can make it at home if they have the materials.”

The film is flexible and can be molded into a variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the need of the user. Making the film requires only the gel precursor, which includes all the relevant ingredients poured into a mold.

“The gel takes 2 minutes to set simply. Then, it just needs to be freeze-dried, and it can be peeled off the mold and used immediately after that,” said Weixin Guan, a doctoral student on Yu’s team and a lead researcher of the work.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and drinking water for soldiers in arid climates is a big part of the project. However, the researchers also envision this as something that people could someday buy at a hardware store and use in their homes because of the simplicity.


EPA Spent $5.3M in Covid Aid on Environmental Justice Programming

Under the guise of Covid-19 relief in 2021, Congress gave the Environmental Protection Agency $5.3 million for its Environmental Justice Small Grants Program. With another $2.2 million in "baseline [Environmental Justice] appropriation,” the grants were awarded to 99 organizations to address “health outcome disparities from pollution and the COVID–19 pandemic.”

In practice, these grants had virtually nothing to do with addressing the pandemic, according to a report.

In one project, a nonprofit named Speak for the Trees, used its grant money for storytelling and tree walks to “increase awareness and dialogue surrounding inequitable tree canopy cover and its implications on the health of residents living in [environmental justice] communities,” according to Fox News.

Another nonprofit, Teaching Responsible Earth Education, received funding to “establish an empowering, school curriculum-integrated environmental education program for younger students propelling their awareness of problems like climate change and the injustices they create.”

Other grants went to projects like building electric vehicle charging stations. While this may seem like a reasonable EPA project, Congress designated the $5.3 million from the American Rescue Plan Act for Covid relief and recovery.

The EPA defended these projects to Fox News by saying that the American Rescue Plan funding, “allows communities to implement solutions that can improve conditions related to COVID-19 such as air quality issues.”


Australia: Green True Believers now rule

It’s much worse than we thought. The ALP will govern in its own right, but will be forced into extreme positions by a Green-left Senate.

The first thing to recognise is that the result demonstrates a new consensus.

There are some differences between the ALP, the Coalition, the Teals, and the Greens. To placate its funders within the union movement the ALP will seek to abolish the ‘gig’ economy and promote a 5 per cent wage rise, something the Greens would also support. But that apart, the consensus represents a goal of abandoning the fossil fuel burning energy industry and coal and gas exports; differences are essentially confined to the pace at which this happens.

Replacing the socialist-free enterprise divide that conditioned political dualities during the 20th century, we now have the belief in global warming as the key delineator.

The vast majority of politically actives within society are undeterred by or unaware that there has been no significant warming over the past 30 years or that warmings and coolings were a feature of planet earth long before fossil fuels were burned. They are convinced that Armageddon is upon Australia with fires, floods, and rising sea levels resulting from human-induced global warming. These, the new True Believers, further believe that if Australia (with one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions) ceases to burn fossil fuels we will restore some imagined ecological nirvana. And, unchastened or unaware of this year’s five-fold increase in wholesale gas and electricity prices, they believe this will come at a trivial cost.

The Teal candidates, (described by Peta Credlin as, ‘Greens with nice clothes and designer handbags’) represent the left of the Coalition and have captured six Liberal blue-ribbon seats in major cities to add to their two incumbents.

Such success would not have been possible without the $12 million spent by Simon Holmes à Court and his affluent supporters (many of whom have vested interests in an outcome that promises more subsidies for renewables).

But Clive Palmer spent $70 million, which yielded very little.

The difference was that the Teals had the support of an army of devotees, many of them the result of the long march through the institutions that has indoctrinated a generation and a half of schoolchildren into accepting the green illusion.

Some National MPs representing coal districts and a handful of Coalition Senators like Gerrard Renwick, Matt Canavan, and Alex Antic depart from the delusionary climate consensus and recognise the importance of coal and gas for power generation as well as exports. There may be others, like Peter Dutton the presumed new leader, who were previously muted.

The Teals’ success may bring a split in the Coalition. Such an outcome was foreshadowed by Liberal leftist Senator, Simon Birmingham, though he saw this as a formal rupture between the Liberals and the Nationals, when the central Climate Change issue divides both parties (some more successful Nationals MPs, like Darren Chester in Gippsland, are pro-climate action). Simon Birmingham would take the federal Coalition along the path adopted in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, a path that would leave it in permanent opposition to the ALP/Greens.

If the Coalition parties split, the conservative elements would develop policies covering a range of matters beyond energy and climate change to include freedom of speech, regulation reform, and spending cuts.

But forging such a new party would be a formidable challenge. The Freedom Friendly parties which include One Nation and Liberal Democrats and, incongruously, Palmer United, failed to exploit any presumed gap from the Coalition adopting green policies. Taking the Senate vote, compared to the Coalition (at 33 per cent) and the ALP (at 30 per cent), these parties (plus the shooters, fishers, farmers) got 11.3 per cent. The Greens and their close allies got 14.6 per cent.

The freedom parties’ vote has hardly grown. Senate, swings to the freedom parties, as illustrated below, were much lower than those to the greens and their allies – they were even lower than the 1.95 per cent swing achieved by Legalise Cannabis Australia!

The fact that fewer than 12 per cent of people unambiguously voted against green mysticism suggests that, in terms of political tactics, the Coalition could have done worse than prosecute the campaign on a me-too climate change platform. But this is, in part, because for six years they failed to explain the importance of reliable energy to the economy both for supplying domestic power and for its share of the export revenues (half and growing). Nor did they make a dent in unwinding the institutional forces feeding the climate change agenda.

The policies the electorate has endorsed are profoundly against the nation’s economic interests and must lead to an economic collapse. For a poor country, like Sri Lanka, going the Full Green Monty quickly unravelled the economy. Australia, though, has fabulous natural wealth and a desperate government may be able to avert disaster by cashing-in much of that, since, even after the excessive spending of the Turnbull/Morrison/Frydenberg era, debt remains at only 54 per cent of GDP, half that of many European countries, America, and Canada.

World recession and rising interest rates may however expedite an unravelling of the economy. In any event, we need political leadership which explains the operations of the economy with the hope that the people through a democratic process will recognise where their true interests lie.




Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Biden’s Big Lie: ‘Green’ Energy Doesn’t Save Money, It’s 4 to 6 Times MORE Expensive

President Joe Biden keeps claiming that wind and solar energy are going to save money for consumers. But more government subsidies to “renewable energy” is a key feature of the White House anti-inflation strategy recently announced by Biden.

He probably got that idea from John Kerry, the administration’s climate czar, who recently claimed that “solar and wind are less expensive than coal or oil or gas.” Pete Buttigieg, the Biden Transportation secretary, makes the same claims about the thousands of dollars that motorists can save if they buy electric cars.

This couldn’t be more wrong.

Proponents of “green” energy boondoggles are often masters at playing with the numbers, because that is the only way that wind and solar electricity generation make any sense. Advocates such as Kerry love to focus on the low operating costs of solar and wind since they don’t require constant purchases of fuel.

Ignoring the relatively short lifespan of solar and wind components, as well as the high initial investment, can make it appear as though solar and wind operate at lower costs than fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Let’s get the facts straight. The cost isn’t just what you pay at the retail level for gas or power. It also includes the taxes you pay to subsidize the power. A 2017 study by the Department of Energy found that for every dollar of government subsidy per BTU unit of energy produced from fossil fuels, wind and solar get at least $10.

That’s anything but a money saver.

The reason the subsidies are so high is that solar and wind have additional costs compared to their more reliable competition. “Green” energy sources are non-dispatchable, meaning their output can’t be changed to match demand. The wind doesn’t blow harder, and the sun doesn’t shine brighter, just because electricity use is peaking.

Conversely, fossil fuel entities—such as a coal plant—can ramp up generation when we need it most and ramp down when demand falls.

Widespread adoption of solar and wind generation would necessitate expensive batteries on a large scale to ensure that people still have power when the wind stops blowing or when the sun stops shining—like it does every single night.

So, unlike reliable and flexible natural gas, solar and wind require large-scale storage solutions: massive banks of batteries that are hardly environmentally friendly but are also extremely expensive. And since batteries don’t last forever, they add to both the initial expense and maintenance costs during the life of a solar or wind energy generating station.

The same problem exists with electric cars. The sticker price on EVs is considerably higher than for conventional gas-operated cars, and the so-called savings over time assume that the electric power for recharging is free. But it isn’t and power costs are rising almost as fast as gas prices.

Factors such as these are consistently ignored by Kerry and other “green” energy activists.

To genuinely evaluate dissimilar energy sources and provide an apples-to-apples comparison, the U.S. Energy Information Administration uses the Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and the Levelized Cost of Storage (LCOS). These measures consider the initial costs, the lifespan of generation and storage systems, maintenance and fuel costs, decommissioning expenses, subsidies, etc., and compare that to how much electricity is produced over a power plant’s lifetime.

The numbers don’t lie: “green” energy is a complete waste of resources.

The LCOE and LCOS for solar and on-shore wind farms are four times as expensive as natural gas. But offshore wind takes the cake—it’s six times as expensive as natural gas.

Imagine paying four to six times as much every month for the same electricity! That’s the green paradise world that the Biden administration wants for America.

Yet, it’s even worse than that because electric power costs greatly affect the cost of producing nearly everything else. In the case of producing aluminum, for example, a third of the total production cost is electricity alone.

Imagine what quadrupling electricity prices would do to the prices of all the goods and services that people buy. If you think inflation is bad now, just wait until the nation is dependent on wind and solar—then you’ll see REAL price increases.

And despite official government data contradicting their own claims, the Biden administration—including Kerry—continues spouting simple untruths on wind and solar. They hope that no one will check their fantastic facts.

To the left, wanting it to be true, makes it true.

All the while, the middle class is being crushed by $4-a-gallon gasoline and businesses everywhere are buckling under $5-per-gallon diesel. The Wall Street Journal warns that electric power blackouts could be coming because of overreliance on wind and solar power.

At some point, if this push for green energy continues, the whole nation will start to look like California, where gas is $6 a gallon, the lights go out, and electric cars are stranded because of rolling blackouts. If that’s our “green” future, then Americans should want nothing to do with it.


Stop New York’s climate madness before it drives electric rates into orbit

Word from the former head of the Public Service Commission, John Howard, that the state’s carbon-free-energy law will cost New Yorkers “hundreds of billions” in higher energy bills.

And his numbers come right from documents released by the state Climate Action Council, which is tasked with figuring out how to make the plan work.

That is beyond question more than New Yorkers can pay: All this madness will do is fuel the exodus out of the Empire State before the plan finally becomes so obviously insane that it gets abandoned.

Then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act into law in 2019, as he polished his credentials for a potential future presidential run. Advocates for the Climate Action Plan admit the capital investments needed will surpass $300 billion, but Cuomo & Co. simply ignored the costs, since they expected to be long out of office before reality hit home.

Instead, Albany can pretend that Con Ed and other utilities will pay the bills, not taxpayers. Except that utilities only get their income from ratepayers, who are the taxpayers.

Biden’s road to record-high gas prices may soon lead to rationing
The transition requires not just vast new wind-and solar farms, but new transmission lines and enormous investments in batteries and other power storage, because “green” energy is utterly weather-dependent.

Shorn of subsidies, wind and solar are also far more expensive, so even if the infrastructure were free, utilities bills would still spike.

Honesty about all this would’ve sunk the plan, so Cuomo hid the truth, and the Legislature went along. Heck, Gov. Kathy Hochul is still pushing this insanity in a bid to bolster her immediate political future. So much for her vows to deliver the “transparency” that Cuomo didn’t.

Kudos to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie for at least nixing Hochul’s push to immediately ban new-building natural-gas hookups statewide, another favorite of the climate warriors even though gas is the lowest-carbon fossil fuel.

Heastie, like anyone who seriously looks at the numbers (including all the utility execs gamely trying to comply with the plan) surely knows the law’s mandated transition away from all fossil fuels by 2050 simply isn’t achievable, not just with current technology but any now on the horizon.

We guess the speaker just figures calling out left-wing nonsense isn’t his job. But Howard, a former Cuomo appointee and Assembly staffer, now has the freedom to sound the alarm. “The Legislature, either through its silence or total lack of actions, has given this commission nearly the exclusive responsibility to reach into New Yorkers’ pockets to pay for the CLCPA mandates,” he thundered at a public PSC session.

That is, Con Ed, National Grid and so on will take the early steps, then ask their regulators for rate increases to fund them, which the unelected PSC will grant — until the public finally wakes up to demand relief.

Not that Howard’s the only Democrat crying foul. Transport Workers Union Local 101 President Constance Bradley has also warned that Hochul’s expanded zero-emissions plan would “wipe out thousands of good union jobs.” And TWU International President John Samuelsen gave the big picture: Democrats need to “decide whether they’re for the working people or the elites.”

Indeed, since New York gets so much of its tax income from the rich, sticking the cost in utility bills instead is another burden on the poor and working class.

Who also can’t invest in home generators to keep the lights on when the blackouts hit: Empire Center experts want the current plan will within a few years leave the state up to 10% short of being able to meet peak demand.

The sooner the state abandons this madness, the better. Consider it one more reason to vote out every New York Democrat you can come November.


Why investors need not worry about climate risk?

At the start of the movie Jerry Maguire, Jerry (played by Tom Cruise), writes a mission statement titled “The Things We think But do Not Say,” and shares it across his company. Jerry’s late-night revelation was to call for his company to have fewer clients, to focus less on making money. That message was not well-received by his bosses. Jerry was quickly fired.

Last week, HSBC’s Stuart Kirk, the head of responsible investing in the bank’s asset management group, had a Jerry Maguire moment in the form of a short talk given at a corporate conference on sustainable investing. And just like Jerry, he has subsequently been suspended by the bank with his continued employment appearing unlikely. I’ve seen many presentations by corporate ESG (environmental, social and governance) leaders. Such presentations are generally platitudinous and focused on conveying the reality or the impression of responsible corporate behavior — typically to make existing clients happy or to recruit new clients.

Kirk’s presentation was different. It probably made no one happy and certainly didn’t gin up new business for HSBC. His talk was titled “Why investors need not worry about climate risk” and can be seen in full below. I’d wager that it has been viewed more times than any other corporate ESG talk.

The virality of Kirk’s remarks resulted not simply because the substance of his talk, but the way in which he delivered it — flippantly and with some comments seemingly designed for outrage, such as “Who cares if Miami is six metres under water in 100 years?” Even if offered in jest, anyone remotely familiar with discussions of climate will know that being seen to deemphasize or diminish the importance of climate action will be quickly targeted by climate activists.

It is thus not surprising that Kirk’s comments quickly led to calls for him to be fired from his job. For instance, Christiana Figueres, former executive secretary of the Framework Convention on Climate Change, called Kirk’s comments “outrageous” and demanded that he be fired (below).

On the one hand, I do have some sympathy for Kirk. Of course I do. Eight years ago I lost a job writing for Nate Silver at 538 after writing a column drawing on my peer-reviewed research which explained that the economic and human costs of disasters depend much more on what and where we build than on increasing extreme events. Nothing I wrote was wrong — indeed much of it came straight out of the IPCC — but I (and my publisher) were widely attacked for being out of sync with the climate zeitgeist. The remedy was for Silver to express contrition and to eliminate my voice.

But on the other hand, Kirk’s presentation was insulting, flippant and tone-deaf. Surely, Kirk should know that discussions of climate, and in ESG circles especially, are as much (if not more) about expressing a shared set of values and tapping into the enormous ESG market as they are about the math and science of risk. A charitable interpretation of Kirk’s talk was that he was telling his community that their emperor was naked, less charitably he was raising his middle finger to his professional peers and the broader climate movement. If this was Kirk’s goal, then the talk was a rip-roaring success.

His boss is not pleased. Over the weekend, the CEO of HSBC, Noel Quinn, felt compelled to take to social media to distance himself from Kirk and his remarks, calling them a distraction (below). No doubt Kirk will be looking for new employment sometime soon, and it is hard to see how he can continue to work in any capacity in corporate ESG.

But lost in the furor over Kirk’s remarks and his subsequent punishment is the fact that he raised some important issues that should be discussed openly among those responsible for public and private finance. This was perhaps the greatest failure of his talk — the delivery not only eclipsed the content, but it has also made it much harder to raise these issues in the future. Who in the ESG industry will dare to raise legitimate concerns or express doubts about methods and results? Finance is very often about risk, and understanding risk requires much more than expressions of what we value, but also hard questions, uncomfortable answers and open debate. I suspect we will have even less of these things in the ESG community going forward.

Let’s review some of the important issues raised by Kirk that have largely been ignored in the drama.

One important issue raised by Kirk is the amount of true hyperbole found in remarks given by leaders in finance. Kirk illustrated such remarks by calling out Mark Carney, the United Nations, Henry Paulson, the World Economic Forum and the Bank of England. Let me be clear, Kirk is not wrong to call out each of these statements as hyperbolic. Each of the statements that he highlights in the slide below are demonstrably and empirically wrong. You cannot find support for any of them in IPCC reports. However, it is one thing for a tenured full professor to call out such nonsense, it is another thing altogether for a participant in a $50 trillion-dollar industry to do the same.

Kirk also identified a paradox that comes straight out of the IPCC and is found across the scientific literature. The climate-GDP paradox is that climate change is often warned to be among the world’s greatest financial risks (examples above) and yet if you look at the projections of the IPCC and the associated scenarios, every single one of them — even the most extreme — project a future of incredible global and individual wealth. Kirk illustrated this point in his presentation with the following chart, which shows global GDP growth to 2100 after ~doubling the IPCCs extreme assumptions or the impact of climate change on GDP this century.

We have identified the climate-GDP paradox in our recent work and it is perfectly understandable and reasonable that an expert in global finance would raise this issue. It is a legitimate paradox in the work of the IPCC and the expert climate community. The larger issue here is that the scenarios of the IPCC generally do not consider climate impacts on growth (i.e., as a feedback within scenarios) and thus lead to what we have called “obvious internal inconsistencies” — such as regions projected to be uninhabitable in 2100 are also projected to have incredible wealth:

For instance, the [extreme] SSP5-8.5 baseline projects currently-developing regions will have substantially higher GDP per-capita by 2100 than currently-developed regions have today (Dellink et al 2017, IIASA 2018), while at the same time other studies project that a forcing level of 8.5 W m−2 in 2100 would render many of these same regions uninhabitable by 2100 (Mora et al 2017).

The reality is that under most methods applied across the literature to project future climate change, the associated impacts are generally small. Swiss Re, the global reinsurance company, dealt with the climate-GDP paradox by simply multiplying projected future impacts by a factor of 10 “to simulate the increasing severity of outcomes from nonlinearities.” This certainly amps up future impacts but at the same time it is of course a completely ridiculous methodological approach to projecting risk.

Indeed, as Kirk was giving his talk last week the Network For Greening the Financial System released the results of a survey of financial institutions and credit rating agencies, which found a lack of evidence in risk differences in ESG investing versus non-ESG investing:

Results from the survey show that conducting risk differential analysis between green and non-green activities and/or assets is not a straightforward exercise and that there is still no clear historical evidence of such risk differentials.

With climate or transition risk not yet identifiable in existing and historical portfolios, and IPCC projections that future financial impacts of climate change will be absolutely dwarfed by future GDP growth, it is of course appropriate for those in the ESG community to raise some questions about the tools we are using to peer into the cloudy future. Silencing uncomfortable questions will not make the issues go away, any more than Donald Trump’s wacky proposals to stop COVID-19 testing would have made the pandemic go away. I have no doubt that some of the furor over Kirk’s remarks is being used to overshadow the legitimate points that he did raise.

Kirk also calls out unrealistic assumptions used by central banks to project future financial risks associated with a transition to a green economy. Again, Kirk is right to identify certain assumptions as being unrealistic or implausible, meaning that the subsequent analysis or stress testing may be misleading. Indeed, I have made similar arguments on the pages of the Financial Times about how central banks systemically misuse implausible emissions scenarios in their analyses of financial risks. The misuse of extreme scenarios is endemic in the ESG community and beyond when discussing climate and transition risks. It is right to highlight these issues, because the misuse of scenarios is itself a major risk to global finance.

Kirk also raises issues related to the importance of adaptation in responding to climate, and how it is overshadowed by mitigation. This of course has been a challenge in climate policy for decades. However, like the other worthwhile points raised by Kirk, this one was lost in the irate reactions to the offensiveness of his presentation.

In one sense, Kirk is just the latest person to get crossways with the climate lobby and to suffer career repercussions as a result. In another sense, far more significantly, this episode is indicative of the deep pathologies of a community that often seems to value political fealty over intellectual substance. Kirk may indeed be the wrong messenger to head up a major ESG practice, but the questions he raises should be taken seriously by the ESG community nonetheless.


New Australian Leftist government already feeling heat over its emissions-reduction strategy

To meet the climate change promise that Labor took to the federal election, the Albanese government must boost renewable energy to 82 per cent of supply by 2030, put a carbon-trading scheme on big business and spend billions on infrastructure and new technologies.

But before the final numbers are even counted, the ALP is under pressure to do more.

The Greens have demanded tougher action to win their support in the Senate, and conservation and investor groups have been quick to insist that Labor lifts its target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 per cent by 2030.

Labor’s policy for the election would cost $75bn by 2030, equal to 3 per cent of GDP. Billions of dollars will be spent upgrading electricity networks, electric vehicles will be given special tax ­advantages, and a new $15bn ­National Reconstruction Fund will provide finance and investment for renewables and other low-emissions technologies.

The centrepiece of Labor’s plan is a revised safeguards mechanism which would become a cap-and-trade carbon market for the nation’s biggest emissions industries. A new body would decide which major companies were forced to cut their emissions, with the total amount of emissions ­allowed across the economy to be reduced each year.

Offsetting emissions is expected to spawn a range of new industries in the agriculture and land care sectors.

Modelling for Labor before the election estimated its climate change policies would result in lower electricity prices for consumers and thousands of new jobs. But it did not calculate the inflationary impact of forcing businesses outside of the electricity sector to act.

Labor’s plan was more ambitious than the Coalition policy of cuts of 26 to 28 per cent by 2030 but below the demands of the teal independents for a 60 per cent cut and the Greens demand of net zero by 2035.

Mr Albanese has said his government would legislate the new target. But to get the changes through parliament it must win support in the Senate from either the Greens or Coalition senators.

“Labor’s goal to have 82 per cent of our electricity generated by renewables by 2030 is a step in the right direction, but the new government must reconsider its position on new coal and gas projects”, Ms O’Shanassy added.

The Investor Group on Climate Change said the election outcome offered an opportunity to reset and align Australia’s economic policies with climate goals.

The group said stronger Paris-aligned 2030 targets were needed to unlock $131bn in investment in clean industries and new jobs across the economy by the end of the decade.

Mr Albanese has made climate change a defining policy for his government. He has pledged to raise it with the leaders of the US, Japan and India at the Quad meeting in Tokyo this week.

To signal its new approach, Labor will seek to host a meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

This year’s meeting will be held in Egypt where a decision will be made on the venue for 2023.

Labor’s commitment to cut emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 is broadly in line with the pledges of other major countries.

To meet the target, emissions will need to fall to 351 million metric tonnes, or “Mt”, in 2030 in Paris budget accounting terms.

The ALP policy is projected to set Australia on a net-zero pathway by 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement.

For this to happen, renewable energy penetration will need to grow to 82 per cent by 2030 compared to 68 per cent under business as usual.

The worst thing for the Liberal and National parties going forward would be to engage in another round of climate…
The Labor government has signalled $24bn in public investment to be matched by $51bn in private sector investment. During the election campaign, Labor said annual average electricity bills were projected to be $275 lower by 2025 and $378 lower by 2030.

The safeguards mechanism carbon trading scheme will be applied to facilities that emit more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2e per year across a range of sectors, including mining, oil and gas extraction, manufacturing, transport, and waste.

Labor modelled its policy on recommendations by the Business Council of Australia for emission baselines to be reduced gradually over time. Peak business groups have argued this would be in line with commitments already made by corporations to be carbon neutral by 2050. Businesses will be able to offset their emissions through internal abatement or external offsets from Australia’s carbon farming sector.

Industry will be given flexibility to discover low-cost abatement opportunities and invest in long-term emissions reduction technologies.

According to modelling published by the ALP, emissions covered by the safeguard mechanism have grown 7 per cent since its commencement in July 2016, rising to 140 Mt of CO2e in 2020-21 to be 17 per cent above 2005 levels, or just over one-quarter (28 per cent) of national emissions.

Without action, big companies were projected to overtake the electricity sector as Australia’s largest emitting policy segment in the early 2020s.

Labor said improvements to the Safeguard Mechanism were projected to deliver 213 Mt of GHG emissions reductions by 2030.

It said investment in industry abatement was estimated to create 1600 jobs by 2030, with five out of six of these jobs to be created in regional areas.




Monday, May 23, 2022

Oceans are hotter, higher and more acidic, climate report warns

A great array of events are described below but attributing them to global warming is just an assertion. But there is one aggregate which could support a generalization about climate -- and that is the degree of warming over the last 150 years. And that figure is given below. It was 1.11 degrees, which is very slow and trivial warming indeed. If such warming repeats itself there would be NO cause for alarm. Such a slow and slight warming would be easily adapted to

The world's oceans grew to their warmest and most acidic levels on record last year, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Wednesday, as United Nations officials warned that war in Ukraine threatened global climate commitments.

Oceans saw the most striking extremes as the WMO detailed a range of turmoil wrought by climate change in its annual "State of the Global Climate" report. It said melting ice sheets had helped push sea levels to new heights in 2021.

"Our climate is changing before our eyes. The heat trapped by human-induced greenhouse gases will warm the planet for many generations to come," said WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas in a statement.

The report follows the latest U.N. climate assessment, which warned that humanity must drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions or face increasingly catastrophic changes to the world's climate.

Taalas told reporters there was scant airtime for climate challenges as other crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and war in Ukraine, grabbed headlines.

Selwin Hart, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's special adviser on climate action, criticised countries reneging on climate commitments due to the conflict, which has pushed up energy prices and prompted European nations to seek to replace Russia as an energy supplier.

"We are ... seeing many choices being made by many major economies which, quite frankly, have the potential to lock in a high-carbon, high-polluting future and will place our climate goals at risk," Hart told reporters.

On Tuesday, global equity index giant MSCI warned that the world faces a dangerous increase in greenhouse gases if Russian gas is replaced with coal.

The WMO report said levels of climate-warming carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere in 2021 surpassed previous records.

Globally, the average temperature last year was 1.11 degrees Celsius above the preindustrial average - as the world edges closer to the 1.5C threshold beyond which the effects of warming are expected to become drastic.

"It is just a matter of time before we see another warmest year on record," Taalas said.

Oceans bear much of the brunt of the warming and emissions. The bodies of water absorb around 90% of the Earth's accumulated heat and 23% of the carbon dioxide emissions from human activity.

The ocean has warmed markedly faster in the last 20 years, hitting a new high in 2021, and is expected to become even warmer, the report said. That change would likely take centuries or millennia to reverse, it noted.

The ocean is also now its most acidic in at least 26,000 years as it absorbs and reacts with more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Sea level has risen 4.5 cm (1.8 inches) in the last decade, with the annual increase from 2013 to 2021 more than double what it was from 1993 to 2002.

The WMO also listed individual extreme heatwaves, wildfires, floods and other climate-linked disasters around the world, noting reports of more than $100 billion in damages.


Banker busted for ‘saying the quiet bit out loud’ on climate change

HSBC has suspended a senior executive in charge of responsible banking after he gave a presentation downplaying the risk of climate change to investors at a conference called Moral Money, hosted in London by the Financial Times newspaper.

In his address, Stuart Kirk said that the average life of a loan at HSBC was six years, so any impacts of climate change that happened after that timeframe were irrelevant to investors.

“Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages, and that’s a really nice place. We will cope with it,” he said, incorrectly, in the address made last Friday evening, Australian time.

Kirk said he accepted climate science and supported an economic transition, but that it should be viewed by investors as an opportunity rather than a threat.

He said that “nut jobs” had been warning of apocalyptic events throughout his career and had always been proved wrong, and lamented that an undue focus on climate had caused increased regulation and, in turn, more work for his team at the bank.

Kirk was particularly scathing of the former governor of both the central banks of England and Canada, Mark Carney, who famously spurred the global financial sector to recognise the threat of climate change with an address in 2015 now known as the Tragedy of the Horizons speech, arguing that climate change presented a huge economic threat to the world.

Kirk dismissed Carney’s argument, saying retired central bankers needed to find ways to fill their time and arguing that, as the world got richer over coming years, it could afford to pay for things such as increased firefighting budgets in a changing climate.

Kirk’s speech prompted outrage after it was given and, early this morning, the FT reported that Kirk had been suspended pending an internal investigation.

Dan Gocher, head researcher for the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, said the speech was an example of a banker “saying that quiet part out loud” and that, though it was now common for large financial institutions to voice support for social and ethical investing, many did not yet have their hearts in the cause.

He said it also reflected the inequality of outcomes in climate change. Investors were aware that when climate change starts hitting particular countries or markets, they can simply move their supply chains to safer environments, protecting investors’ wealth, but not people.

“I think that’s the thing that it exposes – it’s a very rich person’s view of the world, especially while the subcontinent baking 50 degrees in April and May.”

The bank’s chief executive officer Noel Quinn distanced itself from Kirk’s comments, calling them “inconsistent” with HSBC’s strategy, Bloomberg reported, adding that a bank spokesperson declined to comment.


Houston, we have a problem!

JUST over a year ago, the Texas electricity system was on the verge of a catastrophic total collapse. As it was, millions of Texans went without power for days after a winter storm knocked out much of the state’s wind farms. Hundreds died as a result.

Naturally, the renewable lobby tried to shift the blame on to gas power plants, some of which tripped out as the grid became unstable. But without the immediate back-up provided by those gas plants, the grid would have totally collapsed and the whole state would have been without power for weeks.

Fast forward, and Texas is again facing a shortage of power, as a heatwave this week has led to near record levels of demand for air conditioning.

Facing another crisis, ERCOT, the body which is responsible for running the Texas grid, has been begging customers to cut consumption of electricity. ‘We’re asking Texans to conserve power when they can by setting their thermostats to 78 degrees or above and avoiding the usage of large appliances (such as dishwashers, washers and dryers) during peak hours between 3 pm and 8 pm through the weekend,’ pleaded the CEO Brad Jones. I don’t know about Texans, but 78F sounds like heating, not air conditioning to me!

Naturally, the media has rushed to blame the crisis on a ‘record heatwave caused by climate change’. This is, you will not be surprised to know, fraudulent nonsense.

Temperatures peaked at 98F in San Antonio and 94F in Houston, but neither of these temperatures are unusual for May in these cities:

No, the real problem is the closure in recent years of reliable coal power plants and their replacement by unreliable wind power.

Since 2010 4GW of coal capacity has been lost, a cut of a fifth, while no new gas capacity has been added in net terms. Worse, demand for electricity has increased by 15 per cent, as the Texas population and economy continues to surge.

Texas is therefore effectively short of 20GW of dispatchable power capacity. And it does not take a genius to work out that wind power is low during anti-cyclonic heatwaves.

Given that we are still only in May, heaven help the Texans when they get a real heatwave!


Coal, gas to be the sticking point in the new Australian Senate: Bandt

Bandt is a nasty old Trotskyite but seems to have conned the Greens into thinking he is one of them

Greens leader Adam Bandt says Labor’s support for new coal and gas mines will be a sticking point between the parties in the Senate, saying it will be a “very critical question” in the next parliament.

Riding high behind the Greens' shock victories in the Brisbane seats of the Labor-held Griffith and Liberal-held Ryan, Mr Bandt asserted the party could end up with six seats in the lower house if voting in Macnamara and Richmond broke their way.

But with Labor likely to gain a majority in the lower house, attention has turned to the Senate, where Anthony Albanese will need to negotiate with the crossbench to ensure his legislative agenda can be passed.

“But on the question of climate, the big issue is coal and gas. And we were clear about that during the course of the election and we said to tackle the climate crisis, we can't open up more coal and gas mines now,” Mr Bandt told Radio National on Monday morning.

“And Labor went to the election saying they back the Liberals in opening more coal and gas mines. That is going to be something we were going to need to talk about in this Parliament. We can't put the fire out while we're pouring petrol on it.”

The Greens' demands for their support could put a raft of energy projects in jeopardy, including the Northern Territory's Beetaloo gas basin and mega-mines mooted for Queensland's Galilee Basin.