Sailing Into the Abyss

The year is 2013. I am a passenger on a container ship as it voyages for twenty-seven days from Hong Kong to Southampton. Magellan, the third largest container ship in the world, is powered by a huge engine, equalled in size by only one other in the merchant fleet. For the mechanically minded; it is a marine diesel, fuel-injected, internal combustion, two-stroke engine, generating 109,000 hp. It has fourteen pistons, each almost a metre in diameter. I can vouchsafe that it is very large and loud.

On this voyage, the ship is carrying the equivalent of nearly 10,000 standard-sized containers. Containers, which can be more than double the length and taller than standard-sized, can hold up to about 28 tonnes of cargo.

Why mention any of this? A container ship provides a practical and grounding lesson on the realities of modern economic life that school children might be taught. As distinct, that is, from being brainwashed with fairy tales of sustainable development.

Magellan today: there's a metaphor here somewhere.

The lesson might begin thus: Our way of life, our prosperity, our ability to help those among us in need, are all critically dependent on growing, mining, making, trading and transporting things. Needed are entrepreneurship, business acumen, skill, hard work and, critically, cheap and plentiful supplies of energy.

A series of questions might follow to generate discussion. Apropos: If it takes around 4,700 tonnes of marine diesel fuel at $550 per tonne to shift one-hundred thousand tonnes of cargo from Hong Kong to Southampton, how many batteries charged by wind and solar farms would it take and how much would it cost? For mathematics students this would be an instructive introduction to imaginary numbers.

Another question might go like this. Is it possible for us to enjoy the ownership of cell phones, computers, flat screen TVs, cars, and all of our other modern conveniences without the dirty business of their manufacture and shipment? For students of anthropology, this may throw light on the development of cargo cults among primitive peoples. And talking of cargo cults, adult classes might be held for those who vote for green parties who seem equally prone to thinking that goods simply appear out of thin air.

Other instructive questions could be posed for the tutelage of students and greenies alike. Me, I want to stop there and turn back to the crude diesel which powers large ships. According to those who estimate these things, shipping accounts for around 2.5 percent of man-made CO2 emissions. Twice the emissions of Australia by the way. And as Australia is under pressure by the great and good, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson included, to prostrate itself before the deity of net-zero emissions by 2050, it isn’t surprising that shipping is also in the firing line.

No emissions please, we're Norwegian.

The International Maritime Organisation’s voluntary goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least half by 2050 compared with 2008. Bear in mind that tonnages shipped are on course to be far higher in 2050 than they are now. The goal might be described as aspirational. Think of the late Soviet Union’s five-year plans. Even so, it is not going to be nearly enough to satisfy the zealots, when net-zero is their goal.

Norway is doing its bit.  Reportedly, as from January 2026, Norway intends to ban cruise ships from sailing through its fjords unless they generate zero emissions. How to bring this about? I don’t know. However, the Norwegian shipping line Hurtigruten announced in 2018 that it would run its ships on dead fish and other rotting matter. Smelly business. Fish at risk. Has limitations.

In an article in Forbes, development economist Nishan Degnarain echoed the UN in calling for shipping to urgently ditch fossil fuels. He claims that shipping is the sixth-largest emitter after China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan; which, though mixing categories, is about right. What to do?

Degnarain doesn’t mention dead fish. He lists four possible solutions. These come out of a report by the international conservation group Ocean Conservancy. The report was launched at U.N. Climate Week, held virtually in New York in September 2020. Here are the putative solutions:

  1. Electrification, in other words batteries
  2. (Green) Hydrogen fuel cells
  3. Ammonia
  4. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

To take them in reverse order. Environmentalists aren’t keen on LNG. Apparently, it leaks methane in transit. And, anyway, “cleaner” though it is, it is still a foul fossil fuel. Ammonia carries a risk of blowing up and when burnt emits the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Just a guess, but fuel cells powered by green hydrogen might not be quite ready for widespread installation in ships. One solution mooted is the onboard conversion of sea water to hydrogen. I simply assume that’s a joke. And in that same amusing vein, electrification is clearly a risible solution for ocean-going vessels. Consider the magnitude of the problem.

Leave aside the 30 million or so recreational and fishing boats in the world; lots pumping out CO2. As of the beginning of 2020, there were around 56,000 merchant ships trading internationally. This encompasses 5,360 container ships, over 17,000 general cargo ships, more than 12,000 bulk cargo carriers, around 8,000 crude oil tankers, nearly 6,000 chemical tankers, over 5,000 roll-on roll-off ships, and some 2,000 LNG tankers. All running on fossil fuels, overwhelmingly crude diesel, with a bit of LNG thrown into the mix.

Is it possible to get your head around refitting and/orreplacing this fleet so that it's emissions free? Maybe, if you’re an airhead and assume as-yet uninvented technologies will somehow save the day. If burdened with common sense and realism, you will know that it can’t be done. It is Panglossianism on stilts.

This is the situation. Western world leaders, without political opposition, have bought completely into "global warming" alarmism. Extraordinary, but that is the least of it. They are buying into delusional solutions to a non-problem. You’re sane and trying to figure out what the heck’s going on? Forget it. Just cling onto the rails as they do their damnedest to sail us into the abyss.

Actually, the Earth Didn't 'Heal' Itself

Early on in the pandemic, former Greek finance minister (and current lefty activist) Yanis Varoufakis posted the following now-infamous  tweet:

It was a perfect example of what the very online call "saying the quiet part loud," an admirable tendency of Varoufakis. The idea was that the δῆμος (or the plebs for us descendants of western Europe) were responding pretty well to the unprecedented government intrusion into their everyday lives, and that post-Covid we should extend the state of emergency in order to put an end to "climate change."

It was essentially the opening salvo of the Build Back Better/Great Reset discourse, and also anticipated the  "Earth is Healing Itself" trope which emerged shortly thereafter. Since the Earth is doing such much better with us behind closed doors, went this line of thinking, perhaps we should stay there.

Well, unfortunately for Varoufakis and other likeminded leftists, the lockdowns don't seem to have effectively laid the groundwork for their green utopia. Jim Geraghty points out that climatologists are now saying that "carbon dioxide emissions fell by [only] 5.8 percent" due to the Covid-related lockdowns, which "merely amounts to a short-lived 'blip'" on the scale of global CO2 emissions. Geraghty explains the significance of this finding:

The global impact of COVID-19 is difficult to overstate. The earth literally grew quieter for several months, causing human-caused vibrations around the globe to be cut in half. At least 3 million excess deaths in 2020, a global working-hours impact four times worse than the 2008-2009 financial crisis, about $4 trillion in lost productivity, a huge drop in global gross domestic product, school closures for roughly 1.5 billion children around the world. This is about as big and bad as anyone could imagine, short of World War Three or the apocalypse. And if this kind of a halt to all kind of human activity wasn’t enough to have a significant impact on reducing carbon dioxide emissions, then no change in human behavior is going to make a significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

In point of fact, it's hard to conceive of a more illustrative and visceral argument for our side of this debate. "You want to use the power of the government to massively reduce carbon emissions? Well, remember how awful the Covid lockdowns were? You'll have to do a lot more than that."

Great Reset hardest hit.

Lucky for all of us, higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere seem to have some real benefits, most especially for plant life and global crop yields. And then there's the fact that technological innovations like the improvements in fracking techniques, have enabled America's transition away from high-carbon coal to low-carbon natural gas, contributing to our leading the world in total emissions decline since 2000.

So maybe true lovers of the planet should consider leaning into the American energy revolution and embracing their ancient enemies, fracking and nuclear power, and stop lobbying for western nations to heavily invest in China's toxic waste generating solar panels, which are, by the way, built using coal-fired power plants.

A man can dream.

In London, the G7 vs. Humanity

The assembly of clowns, charlatans, and senile old men pretending to be President of the United States are about to deliver themselves of a malignant mouse and call it progress:

G7 leaders were on Sunday urged to take urgent action to secure the future of the planet, as they finalised new conservation and emissions targets to curb climate change, and wrapped up a three-day summit where revived Western unity has been on show.

Veteran environmentalist and broadcaster David Attenborough told the gathering of the world’s richest nations the natural world was “greatly diminished” and inequality was widespread. “The question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet?” he said.

“If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history.”

With all due respect to Sir David, bunkum.

What's got into Boris Johnson? Apparently his brush with Covid-19 has permanently addled his pate and he is now all but indistinguishable from your average lefty climate nut. And don't be fooled by the "building back greener" trope -- if "green energy" were real, we'd have been using it long since. Instead, it's just more toffish nonsense from the Davos crowd, part of the Great Reset they have in store for us.

Enjoy your friend green cicada and bat-butt soup while you have the chance -- things will get much, much worse.

 

Deus lo Vult -- but Whose God?

Fighting on multiple fronts often ends badly. Not always. Israel fought on three fronts in the Six-Day War and won but then there was no survivable fallback option. Maybe that was the pivotal factor. In any event, this isn’t about warfare in the usual sense. However, it is about survival. Survival of our way of life and the forces which threaten it.

There are many foundational features of our Western way of life. The centrality of the traditional family. National cohesiveness. Trust as a default. Free market forces. Numbers of individual freedoms. A lot to undo. Time and chance cometh even to Marxists and their ilk.

Take over schools and colleges and teach children that their sex is matter of choice; that family settings are equivalent however structured; that the contrary opinions of others are hateful; and, if white, that they suffer from racial animus consciously or not and, if of colour, that they’re victims. Promote equity, diversity and inclusion at the workplace. In other words, ennoble the old prejudice of valuing appearance over competence. And the job is half done.

1099: where is Godfrey of Bouillon when we need him?

Enter climate change alarmism. Little in common you might think with wokeism. True at one level. At another, both strike at our way of life. Cheap, reliable and abundant energy is key to progress and prosperity. Costly, unreliable and intermittent energy will make us poorer. If only that were the end of it. Impoverishing changes can’t be foisted onto societies without accompanying coercion. Such is the scale of the changes envisaged that only overwhelming force will do it. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

The inroads of renewable energy and electric cars is miniscule as of now. But imagine: everyone is made to drive electric cars; to rid their homes of all heating besides electric; to insulate their homes; and, inevitably, to economise on, and regularly shut down, their power usage. Little or no meat, more nut burgers, complemented with insect pie, if you want to get really green (around the gills). Those in charge will need to devise ways of making people and businesses obey. Free market forces on both the supply and demand side will be so compromised as to be unrecognisable.

Then comes chance, delivering the coup de grâce. To wit, Covid-19 and, its disciple, Covid-fearmongering. It could not have been better timed if it had been planned. Klaus Schwab and his billionaire fellow travellers filled a straight flush. The Great Reset (unveiled in May 2020) was off and running. Australia, The Lucky Country, is a case study into a possible dismal, unlucky, future.

From Bastard to Conqueror in 1066: never underestimate the enemy.

As I write in early June, the entire Australian state of Victoria is in its fourth lockdown after just a handful of positive tests. People hundreds of miles from the scene have been ordered to stay close to their abodes and mask up. Yet only three people are in hospital; only nineteen in the whole of Australia. None in ICUs. No-one has died of the virus this year.

In Australia, eradication is the name of the game. What this means is that the virus, unlike any virus heretofore known to man, must behave. For, if it keeps misbehaving and escaping from one of those quarantine hotels, which leak like sieves, lockdowns will be never-ending. Remember, along with North Korea, Australia shares the distinction of preventing its citizens from leaving; lest they want to return.

Greg Sheridan is a sensible and sober foreign affairs journalist. Sadly, he is one of many who’ve been struck with Covid derangement syndrome. This is a taste of his writing; this time in the Australian newspaper on June 3: “But this cunning, adaptive and supremely successful virus is by no means beaten yet... And if we ever do get to that possibly mythical land beyond Covid…”

Putting Covid behind us, you see, is akin to reaching Camelot. Pause here. There is a threatening truth in that. A $200 million 500-bed quarantine centre is to be built close to a Melbourne airport. It’s Australia; it will take a longish time to build. Most everyone will have been vaccinated. Those flying in will most definitely have been vaccinated. Those in the know obviously know something that we don’t.

Having had more infections, most countries don’t suffer from delusions of eradication. Nevertheless, it would be extremely hopeful to expect a return to reason any time soon. I suspect that the world will be tangling gormlessly with Covid or son-of-Covid for some time to come. Vaccine-resistant strains will keep on popping up. Sheridan notes that of the people infected in Victoria several of them had been vaccinated. He says that the strain called Kappa is more probably more vaccine-resistant than Delta. Can anyone keep up with this increasing menu of virulent strains?

If it were only a morbidity with less outreach; like heart disease or malaria, as examples, which kill many more people. But alas, no, Covid is striking out at some of our foundational freedoms. Freedom of movement. Freedom of assembly. Freedom from enforced medical treatment. Freedom to worship. Freedom of speech – promote Ivermectin if you dare. Freedom from discrimination.

Alesia, 46 BC: are we Vercingetorix, or Caesar?

A fellow at my gym said to me, OK don’t have the jab but don’t take up a hospital bed if you get sick. This wouldn’t be said of someone with the flu or someone whose lifestyle contributes to their sickness or makes them prone to accidents. Here’s another Australian newspaper journalist, Peter van Onselen (June 5): “Most [getting seriously ill or dying] will be anti-vaxxers who arguably get what they deserve.”

Fascism creeps down from governments to apparatchiks to journalists to woke corporations to the police to scolds on the street. And once it takes hold, will it ever really go away? Might I  be more optimistic if I lived, say, in Florida or South Carolina? I’m not sure. Can any jurisdiction hold out indefinitely against vax passports? Their citizens won’t be able to travel and move freely. “Papers please” will likely become part of the new world-wide normal.

Add it together. What do you see? I see the Great Reset or one of its possible manifestations. Big government, loss of freedoms, loss of family values, loss of social cohesion, loss of trust. Bear in mind, this anti-Enlightenment prospective leaves out the cultural dislocation which is arising from mass controlled (and uncontrolled) immigration, particularly from the Islamic world. I didn’t want to get too depressive. It’s bleak.

But not time to give up. Backs against the wall nowhere to go. Truth on our side. An empire of lies on the other.

Black Monolith or Energy Black Hole?

Remember the famous scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the monolith first appears? The proto-humans all gather round and practically worship the thing as a god. The same sort of thing is going on in Hawaii as we speak, except the monolith is one giant freaking battery and the worshippers are not ignorant apes, but enviro-nuts, which are pretty much the same thing now that I think about it.

The Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) project is being built on eight acres of land in Kapolei on the island of Oahu. When complete, the giant battery will be capable of storing up to 565 megawatt hours of electricity and dispatching up to 185 megawatts. In other words, it can put 185 megawatts onto the Hawaii grid for up to three hours.

By law, all electricity generated in the state of Hawaii is supposed to be produced using 100 percent renewable fuels by the year 2045. The island’s lone coal-fired power plant, with a rated capacity of 203 MW, is due to be forcibly retired next year. Plus Power, the company developing KES, says the battery will enable the grid to operate reliably once the coal plant goes down for good: “The 2022 completion of the KES project will ensure that the AES coal-fired plant will end operations, supporting the state’s goal of shifting from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy generation.”

Average hourly demand in Hawaii is about 1,000 megawatts. That’s average demand, peak demand – which is what really matters when talking about grid stability – is considerably higher. But, for purposes of this analysis, we’ll use the average, which leads us to an important question: can a battery that can satisfy a little less than 20 percent of demand for a period of three hours replace a coal-fired power plant that has the capacity to satisfy 2- percent of demand more or less continuously?

The answer, which should be obvious to any high-school physics student, is no. A battery does not produce electricity, it’s just a place for electricity produced elsewhere to hang out for a while. In the case of the state of Hawaii, most of that electricity is, has been and will continue to be produced by burning oil. Roughly 65 to 70 percent of Hawaii’s electricity is generated by combustion of petroleum liquids according to data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Funny, it doesn't look like a monolith.

About 17 percent of electricity was generated from renewable sources, primarily wind and solar. That’s not bad, but it’s not anything close to the 100 percent goal. Worse, it’s likely that the battery will be primarily charged using electricity produced by burning oil, not by using electricity generated from renewable sources. The problem is the bugaboo that always affects wind and solar: capacity factor.

Capacity factor is a measure of how much electricity a power generation asset produces compared to what it theoretically can produce. If a plant is rated at 100 megawatts, but generates on average 40 megawatts, we say its capacity factor is forty per cent. Most nukes operate at capacity factors in the high nineties. Coal fired base-load plants are generally in the eighties, sometimes the low nineties.

Wind and solar have crappy factors because, even in Hawaii, the sun don’t always shine and the winds don’t always blow. Solar panels don’t have much to do at night and their efficiency drops significantly on cloudy days. Wind turbines can’t operate in calms or near-calms and, perversely, also have to shut down if the wind is too strong.

The Descent of Man: Feeling good about feeling good.

Again using EIA data, we find that last year the combined capacity factor for wind and solar was about 27%. So, while the total capacity of all renewable generation assets on Hawaii, 746 megawatts, sounds impressive compared to average daily demand, those assets will only generate about 200 megawatts on average. And when they are generating electricity it makes a whole lot more sense to pack it on the grid than sending it on a short vacation to the battery. The only time the battery will be charged using renewables is during those rare instances where there is a significant excess of renewable power. Most of the time, it’ll be charged up courtesy of fossil-fuel combustion.

Of course the battery will make a fine story for those who don’t understand how electricity works and allow eco-nuts to feel good about themselves. Will it do much of anything to help Hawaii meet its 100 per cent renewables mandate? Nope.

The Fake News of 'Beyond Coal'

When one happens to be a scientist with an expertise in environmental issues like yours truly, one has the opportunity to digest a disturbing number of misleading, eye-rolling headlines in the mainstream media as heavily-biased journalists vainly attempt to present accurate information about environmental issues.

Even by that ridiculously low bar, the headline that appeared in the May 5 edition of the Chicago Tribune rates as the most misleading, unscientific and mindlessly hysterical that I have ever seen. A major metropolitan newspaper in the United States actually printed the following:

Burning natural gas is now more dangerous than coal.

Pollution from natural gas is now responsible for more deaths and greater health costs than coal in Illinois, according to a new study highlighting another hazard of burning fossil fuels that are scrambling the planet's climate.

Researchers at Harvard University found that a shift away from coal during the past decade saved thousands of lives and dramatically reduced  from breathing particulate matter, commonly known as soot. But the numbers declined only slightly for gas, another fossil fuel that by 2017 accounted for the greatest  risks.

About half the deaths from soot exposure that year can be attributed to the state's reliance on gas to heat homes and businesses, the study found. Coal is more deadly only when used to generate electricity.

The alarming findings raise questions about whether Gov. J.B. Pritzker's proposed transition to a zero-carbon economy would move fast enough in phasing out the use of gas—not only to blunt the impacts of climate change but also to ensure Illinoisans breathe clean air.

The term “fake news” hardly covers it. This is “farcical news,” “fanciful news,” “delusional news,” etc. Yeah, journalists are not scientists. I get it. But, how sad it is to consider there is not one editor at the Trib who might have enough passing knowledge to think something like “that really doesn’t sound right, maybe we should take a second look.”

The essence of the Trib’s story, written by staff enviro-propagandist Michael Hawthorne, may be summarized thus:

Hawthorne does not actually use the accepted environmental terms “fine particulate” and “PM-2.5” in his story. Instead, he calls fine particulate “soot.” Certainly, that’s a much more appealing term to someone attempting to create a narrative, but it has little to do with reality. When you call in a chimney sweep to remove actual soot from your fireplace, almost none of the black gunk he or she will brush off is anything close to 2.5 microns in aerodynamic diameter.

Anyway, the problem with this particular narrative is the same one that always occurs when people with an agenda attempt to dragoon science into supporting their political agenda: they use that portion of the science that helps them and ignore (willingly or ignorantly) any of the science that disproves their premise.

I can accept that the amount of PM-2.5 generated though the combustion of natural gas now exceeds the amount of PM-2.5 generated by through the combustion of coal. At least theoretically. The amount of PM-2.5 generated by the combustion of natural gas is relatively so tiny that it is very, very difficult to accurately measure using accepted EPA test methods. In the enviro-biz, one errs on the side of caution, meaning that PM-2.5 emission rates attributed to natural gas are likely inflated.

Doesn’t really matter though, since the amount of PM-2.5 emissions that can be tied to electrical generation of any kind is trivial. Based on the last verified National Emissions Inventory (NEI) of 2017, the total amount of PM-2.5 emissions generated across America was 5,706,842 tons/year. Of that, EPA attributed 107,270 tons/year of fine-particulate emissions to fossil fuel combustion used to generate electricity. That’s less than 2 percent of all national PM-2.5 emissions.

Wondering about the biggest source of PM-2.5 emissions? Glad you asked. The 2017 NEI attributes 4,188,615 tons/year of PM-2.5 emissions to “Miscellaneous Sources.” That’s a shade over 73 percent of the total. Miscellaneous sources are non-industrial, non-transportation related sources of all kinds. In this case, the vast majority of miscellaneous sources consist of wildfires – many of which are the result of pitifully irresponsible forest management in blue states like California – and natural erosion.

Back in the nineties and early 2000s, environmental NGOs like the Sierra Club were all-in supporting natural gas. They recognized that natural gas combustion was inherently cleaner than coal combustion and that the amount of greenhouse gas produced using natural gas was far lower than that amount of greenhouse gas produced using coal on a per megawatt generated basis. They gleefully accepted donations from natural gas producers in order fund initiatives like the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign.

Chesapeake Energy, the nation’s second largest natural gas producer, was a big Sierra Club supporter back then, presumably because Chesapeake executives hoped that going “beyond coal” would help their bottom line. They didn’t have the foresight to see that once the enviros actually went beyond coal, natural gas would be the next target of opportunity. I’ve been told by people I trust that several Chesapeake shareholders were something less than pleased when the Sierra Club pivoted from being a natural gas supporter to a natural gas opponent, which is where they and most of their fellow environmental NGOs remain today. In the business of environmental advocacy, as is the case with any other big business, one has to follow the money.

It’s a disappointing story, but I fear that Chesapeake will be far from the last company to jump at the bait when an environmental NGO offers them absolution in return for thirty pieces of silver.

The Fossil Fuels Must Go Through

There is something surrealistically ironic about Joe Biden's Emergency Order to mobilize tanker trucks -- anything -- to keep the fossil fuels going. On the one hand it is a backhanded admission of how vital the products transported by the Colonial Pipeline are. On the other it is a reminder of how policy errors can progressively cascade through the system, one mistake compounding the others.

The federal government issued a rare emergency declaration on Sunday after a cyberattack on a major U.S. pipeline choked the transportation of oil to the eastern U.S. The Colonial Pipeline, responsible for the country’s largest fuel pipeline, shut down all its operations Friday after hackers broke into some of its networks. All four of its main lines remain offline.

The emergency declaration from the Department of Transportation aims to ramp up alternative transportation routes for oil and gas. It lifts regulations on drivers carrying fuel in 17 states across the South and eastern United States, as well as the District of Columbia, allowing them to drive between fuel distributors and local gas stations on more overtime hours and less sleep than federal restrictions normally allow. The U.S. is already dealing with a shortage of tanker truck drivers.

Why is there a shortage of tanker truck drivers? One reason is the Covid-19 lockdown. "We've been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it," said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the National Tank Truck Carriers. "It certainly has grown exponentially."

Warning: driver shortages ahead.

More fundamentally truck driving has become an unattractive lifestyle choice for young people. "The trucking industry relies heavily on male employees, 45 years of age or older... With an alarming amount of these drivers retiring within the next 10-20 years, we are quickly approaching a dangerous cliff." Given the 18-20-year-old group has the highest rate of unemployment of any age bracket that may sound surprising, but it less so when the strict regulatory requirements for commercial driver's licenses are taken into account.

It is telling that one of the first things Biden did to increase fuel-trucking capacity was to relax federal restrictions. For too long public policy has taken the availability of labor and energy for granted. "There are now more jobs available than before the pandemic. So why aren't people signing up?" asks NBC.

Economic impact payments, or stimulus checks, have also played a factor for some who are sitting out the labor market, some employers say. Factory owners and employers lament that the generosity of unemployment benefits and stimulus payments have some workers avoiding returning to work because they make more money not working.

“I had one guy quit who said I can make more on unemployment. I’ll take the summer off,” said Robert Stevenson, CEO of Eastman Machine Company, a producer of machines that cut specialty fabrics for industry. “I told him I can’t guarantee you’ll have your job back. He said, ‘I’ll take my chances.’”

It's easy to throw away capacity when you've got enough. Activist Kendall Mackey was willing to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline to make a statement. “The Keystone XL pipeline was never about any single pipeline. It’s about establishing a litmus test rooted in climate science and climate justice for government projects and infrastructure.” Gail Collins wrote in the New York Times that “my instinct is to always side with the folks who don’t want to drill for more oil.”

Oil -- who needs it?

Only a few had the wit to realize the years of fat don't last forever.  As Robert McNally wrote on CNN the years of lean eventually come. "When oil prices next boom (and trust me, they will), investors will resume interest in pipeline projects and whoever is in the White House may regret Keystone XL's cancellation because the United States will have to rely more on less stable trading partners for oil."

The cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline by the Russians no less is a reminder that old fashioned national security, fuel stockpiles and working class labor still matter in the real world. When you need them you really need them. Well might Joe Biden mimic Augustine's famous prayer: "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."

Abolish fossil fuels and rednecks, but not yet.

Stepping Up, or Stepping Back?

Of all the environmental topics I write about, the one I almost never write about is "climate change." The topic has beaten to death over thirty years and frankly it bores me. Like Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Highway, the one thing I cannot abide is boredom.

However, President Biden, or possibly his puppeteers, recently felt obliged to say it was time for America to “step up” to fight climate change. Folks of my persuasion would have preferred that the president asked his audience to “step back” instead. Specifically, he could have asked them to step back and consider all the things the United States has done to tilt at this particular windmill.

We’ve made massive reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions over the last twenty years. We’ve shut down scores of coal-fired power plants. We destabilized the grid in many parts of the country by relying on inherently unreliable sources of power to a degree that makes sane electrical engineers weep. Oh, by the way, we have not only allowed unreliable sources of power to threaten grid reliability, we subsidized the people who built them!

Apocalypse now!

What's more, we got rid of the incandescent light bulb, which of course resulted in a massive drop in electrical demand all across the country. (If you’re a liberal and you happen to read this, that last sentence is what we on the right call “sarcasm” – it’s part of something known as a “sense of humor”).

We drive electric cars, we have greenhouse gas trading programs, we’ve got state mandates, we’ve got municipal mandates, we’ve got corporate initiatives and we’ve got half the population spending 98 percent of their waking day worrying about a problem that the other half doesn’t believe exists and that we can’t possibly solve even if it did. Can we get some credit? Just a little, maybe?

There is one thing of which a writer who chooses to write about climate change can be absolutely certain: nothing he or she says is going to change anyone’s mind. The last person to change his mind about "climate change" was a small town shopkeeper in rural Kentucky back in 2007.

With that in mind, let me just make a couple of general observations about climate change that the reader may find interesting.

First, I don’t believe it is any coincidence that global warming fears began to “heat up” about the time the Cold War ended. Up through 1991 everyone was worried, more or less, about the possibility of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. But while everyone was worried, nobody does worry like the left. They’re in love with it. And, no surprise, the problem that caused them to wring their hands about nuclear weapons was – wait for it – America! But for our evil, war-mongering, imperialistic selves, the world would not have to suffer under this shadow of doom. The hysteria reached its peak when Reagan was elected, with liberals and journalists wailing that the Gipper would hit the "nukem" button immediately after taking the oath of office.

Then this terrible thing happened to the Left: the Cold War ended. Worse, from their perspective, we won! You’ve got millions of Americans who pretty much hate America, who have spent literally decades engaged in self-loathing and fear-mongering, sure that crazy conservatives were going to wipe out all life on earth unless they somehow could be made to see the light. So if it wasn't "climate change" now, it would be  something else. The issue really doesn’t matter, so long as the modern liberal can demonstrate his or her moral superiority whilst showing how all of us on the right are knuckle-dragging cretins who can’t be trusted to cross the street, much less run a country.

It's unbear-able!

Observation two: there are three sets of people involved in what should be a climate-change debate, but is in fact an environmental shoe-throwing contest. Set one is actual, accredited climatologists who understand the myriad of factors that influence climate – which, if I have to say it, include a whole lot of things beyond carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere. This group includes accredited climatologists like Gavin Schmidt on what I call “the alarmist” side, and accredited climatologists like Roy Spencer on what the other side calls “the denier” side.

Alarmists like Schmidt know that folks like Spencer are every bit as qualified as they are to opine on climate change. I doubt if any serious alarmist climatologist buys what the left’s PR professionals routinely pumps out to smear “denier” climatologists: that they have sinister motives! They lie and know they lie! They are religious fanatics! They’re beholden to Big Energy!

Rather, I believe that the alarmists have fallen victim to that classic failing of academia: hubris. They have fallen in love with their hypothesis. They are so invested in it that they can’t imagine possibly turning back, much less actually doing so. They’ve chosen their hill to die on and if doing so means turning a blind eye to professional colleagues getting crapped on by media-relations types, congressional staffers, and ignorant journalists, well that’s just the price one has to pay. The end justifies the means.

Set two is slightly larger: it involves two subsets. The first is the group of people who are not expert climatologists, but who are good enough scientists to digest most – not all – of the arguments about actual science that we can find and make reasonable judgments on the worth of those arguments. That includes many chemists (including me and my two chemist brothers), physicists, statisticians, meteorologists, etc.  We’re not fluent in the climatologist’s language, but we understand enough of it to offer an educated opinion.

Unfortunately, this group also includes wanna-be second-level “experts," of whom Al Gore is the ultimate example. These are folks who pretend that they are qualified to decipher and comment on expert opinions, but who are actually about pushing the liberal agenda by using "climate change" as an excuse. When we on the right talk about liberals using "climate change" to promote socialism, this is who we mean.  They are the type of "scientists" who've been a bane on science since "consensus" demanded that ground-breaking pioneers like Archimedes, Copernicus, Galileo and Lemaître who dared to question orthodoxy be demonized. Consensus defenders are and have always been scientists so sure of their own infallibility that they can justify scorn in order to dismiss any idea that might possibly undermine their own theories.

Don't confuse me with facts.

Set three? Everybody else. The ultimate decision makers, unfortunately. When young, every generation believes that it’s discovered the mistakes their parents made. I know I did. In some cases one actually does, but in many others one finds later in life that the old-timers actually got a lot of things right. The trend right now, as I see it, is that more and more of the younger generation will chose to lock onto the fraudulent snake-oil salesmen and will tip public policy in their favor. They may eventually figure out they've been had, but by then it will be too late.

Waiting for Genghis Khan

The Guardian has a cheeky post entitled "Why Genghis Khan was good for the planet":

Genghis Khan, in fact, may have been not just the greatest warrior but the greatest eco-warrior of all time, according to a study by the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Energy. It has concluded that the 13th-century Mongol leader's bloody advance, laying waste to vast swaths of territory and wiping out entire civilisations en route, may have scrubbed 700m tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere – roughly the quantity of carbon dioxide generated in a year through global petrol consumption – by allowing previously populated and cultivated land to return to carbon-absorbing forest.

An amusing thought. But it'd have been funnier if we hadn't just sat through a year of pandemic and lockdowns which, at least early on, the green movement were positively giddy about. Remember when anti-human phrases like "The Earth is Healing Itself" trended on Twitter almost daily in the opening months of the pandemic? When we heard over and over again that, because of the pandemic, "carbon emissions are down!," "The air is cleaner!," and (my personal favorite) "The fish are returning to Venice!"? Of course, this crowing died down a bit when the mounting death toll and cratering employment numbers made it just too ghoulish.

Which is to say, the idea that environmentalists might be in favor of a modern day Mongolian warlord thinning out the human population to help us achieve Net-Zero isn't actually that ridiculous. That being so, it is worth noting that when The Guardian jokes that calling for the return of the Great Khan might "not [be] a guaranteed vote-winner for the Green party's next manifesto," they really just mean "let's not give the game away too soon."

In the Union Halls, Strange Bedfellows

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. At what point to labor unions finally figure out that the Democrat Party is not their friend, that modern Democrats are anti-capitalist, anti-working class socialists of at least the limousine-liberal variety, and that members of the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition are simply not to be trusted with vital matters of public policy, especially at election time?

Such reflections arise after reading this Politico story, in which once again the blind and the gullible have fallen for Joe Biden & His Media Robinettes:

Biden's green energy plans clash with pledge to create union jobs

President Joe Biden touted his $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a "once-in-a-generation" effort to tackle climate change while creating millions of "good paying jobs." Some unions warn that it may ultimately cost a lot of jobs, too.

Labor groups, echoed by Republicans in Congress, are cautioning that Biden's plan to hitch the jobs recovery to massive green energy investment could backfire because of the quality of employment it will create and the economic devastation it could cause on rural communities.

The president's push to decarbonize the economy will mean eliminating the kind of steady, fixed-location jobs that come with coal mines or fossil fuel power plants. The Biden plan would require the construction of vast numbers of solar, wind and battery projects, along with potentially new pipelines for carbon dioxide and hydrogen. But construction jobs are temporary and require mobility, and once those projects are complete, they'll need few workers to maintain them and keep them operating.

"The jobs that he talked about yesterday were construction jobs," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, a day after the Biden speech. "We're not seeing anything concrete that our members can look at and say, 'OK, that's where I'm gonna fit in.'"

Well, how about that! The chimera of "clean energy" should always be read as "bogus energy," not to mention "no jobs." One of the lies behind the claims of "renewable" energy is the implication that such energy will always be readily available and will take next to no effort to extract from Mother Gaia. The wind blows and the sun shines most every day, right? And once your solar panels and scenery-disfiguring windmills are up and running, presto!

It's witchcraft...

No more brutal rape of the virgin Earth. No more big sweaty men with dirty paws and grimy fingernails laboring in claustrophobic coal mines or broiling in the west Texas oilfield. Why, this is energy that even the most fastidious Ivy League poetaster can be proud of: just flip a light switch and you're good to go. Why, you can even plug in your electric car as you would a toaster and know that while your muffin is browning up the Earth has begun healing.

The complaints underscore the difficulty Biden will have in pursuing his two most ambitious goals: reviving the labor market by generating millions of jobs for unions — which traditionally thrive in old-line industries — and transforming the U.S. into a clean economy where electric vehicles and battery storage replace coal, natural gas and oil as energy sources.

Difficulty? Impossibility is more like it. There aren't "millions of jobs" lurking in "green" technology, except may in dumping the wind turbines at the bottom of the Marianas Trench when civilized people finally wake up to the environmental destruction they've created in the name of... preventing environmental destruction.

Environmentalists defend the plan as a necessary move away from old technologies to battle climate change. And others say Biden's plan does include tax incentives for manufacturing and a vision for developing a supply chain that could provide the kind of blue-collar, high-skill jobs that used to be in power plants.

Note the operative words in bold. Any story that includes the word "could" in a context of advocacy is lying to you: the word should be "won't."

While unions are strongly supportive of the administration's pro-labor stance, they worry that the end-goal — if not executed properly — could have devastating effects on their members. “From our perspective, if the jobs aren't there when the mine closes, this plan fails," Smith said. "There's a very large disconnect between what the aspirations are here and what's going to end up actually happening on the ground.”

Biden fought to bring white, blue-collar workers back into the Democratic fold after the party lost them to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, and the administration is seeking to prove that this can be both the most pro-labor and anti-carbon presidency in history. But the reality may prove troublesome.

Ya think? Oh well, sin -- or vote -- in haste, repent at leisure. And learn to code, because unless traditional sources of energy production survive, union members will be looking for new jobs in the great green near-future.