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

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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 bĂȘte 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 JosĂ© 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.”




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