After 'Net-Zero,' A Different Kind of Deluge

When The Pipeline was launched more than three years ago, it was among a small minority of websites specializing in energy topics that warned the world it was heading for catastrophe in embracing the dogma of Net-Zero carbon emissions by 2050. We pointed out that even if one were to accept the belief that the world is facing a “climate emergency”—it isn’t—moving from a world eighty percent reliant on fossil fuels for energy to a world reliant to the same extent on renewables such as  wind and sun would impose a drastic collapse in the world economy and living standards far worse than the impact of “climate change.”

Such arguments almost never got a serious government response or public attention. Mostly they were ignored—but not entirely. One occasional response was to concede that implementing Net-Zero would require some sacrifice on the part of ordinary people which, however, would be compensated for by a new Green Industrial Revolution, green jobs, and various environmental benefits.

But the degree of sacrifice required of everyone if we were to abandon fossil fuels entirely was never made clear. Financial estimates of its costs in higher taxes and energy prices were hard to find, and when found they were either unreliably low or so vast as to be hard to grasp. Undeterred, however, the Net-Zero caravan moved impressively forward from Copenhagen to Cairo to Glasgow with the U.N. and the world’s governments at its head, corporations, and investment houses dragged along in regulators’ wagons behind them, and loud angry crowds of NGOs and activists shouting “faster, faster” if anyone paused or questioned the direction of travel. Not many did. It was, after all, an inevitable matter of saving the world.

Fascism with an inhuman face, heading your way.

That was only yesterday. But with every revolution of the 24-hour news cycle, it seems more and more remotely in the past. “’Outraged and furious’: Germans rebel against gas boiler ban,” proclaimed a recent Financial Times headline on a story that householders were being forced by Germany’s energy transition policy —dubbed die Energiewende— “to install hearing systems power by renewables dubbed the ‘heat hammer.’”

“Treasury idiocy is killing North Sea Energy,” was the title the U.K. Times’s editors put on a column by the paper’s economic columnist, Juliet Samuel, that went on “The North Sea is critical to British energy security. Oil and gas supply more than two thirds of our overall energy. If the government has its way, North Sea industry will soon be in irreversible decline.”

It takes time for such stories to fight their way to the top of editorial agendas in major newspapers. But the technical and specialist media are full of them. Here, for instance, is Reinsurance News: “German reinsurance giant Hannover Re has opted to leave the Net-Zero Insurance Alliance, making it the third high profile re/insurer to leave the U.N.-convened alliance in less than a month. Unravelling, step by step...”

Unraveling? Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but the discipline that the U.N. and government regulators have been able to exert over Wall Street and U.S. corporations in the form of ESG and fossil fuel disinvestment is certainly coming under pressure. Exxon is a fossil fuel company, which might cast doubt on the importance of the slow turning of its tanker towards defending its core business. As the website ZeroHedge grasps, Exxon’s pushback against the financial regulations designed to suppress fossil-fuel investment sounds unusually firm: Exxon “said the prospect of the world achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 is remote and should not be further evaluated in its financial statements.”

And Exxon is not alone. Other oil and gas corporations—notably Beyond Petroleum—are scaling back their climate policy commitments to reflect the fact that they are in the oil business, not climatology, and that high and rising energy prices have been signaling the need for more investment in energy—and were doing so before Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine.

(No comment so far from former Bank of England governor and advisor to the U.N. and Boris Johnson on climate policy, Mark Carney, who wanted to place a fiduciary responsibility on corporate managers to avoid fossil-fuel investment on the grounds that it was at risk of losing their clients’ money because of risks that seemed to include the disapproval of regulators such as himself.)

Carney: not a peep.

Now, you might suppose that all these different reactions reflecting nervous “second thoughts,” even opposition, to Net-Zero policies indicate how savagely the lack of fossil fuels is biting voters and consumers. But according to the U.K. website tracking the composition of U.K. energy, the mix of British electricity on May 21 this year at 9.00 pm was 33 percent gas; wind and solar 20 percent between them; nuclear 19 percent; and imports of electricity 22 percent. The author’s main concern was shock that Britain relies on imports for more than one-fifth of its electricity which is certainly a valid concern. What is more important for our purposes here, however, is his revelation that renewables still amount to only one–fifth of the U.K.’s electricity generation after twenty years of multi-party backing of Net-Zero orthodoxy.

In other words, unless the British Net-Zero obsession is junked, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Net-Zero will have to be junked. So why hasn't it happened yet? The answer is that the British governments, its media, cultural, and scientific establishments, and all major political parties have imposed a uniform Net-Zero orthodoxy, sustained by a deep bureaucratic groupthink, on public debate and scientific discussion. Only a handful of people—notably the late Lord Nigel Lawson and the Global Warming Policy Foundation he founded—have sustained a serious and respectable intellectual critique of it over the years.

As a result there is a strong national consensus, especially among highly-educated people, in favor of the policy which at the extreme calls for punishment of dissenters and suppression of inconvenient evidence. We see the consensus operating not only in the unlawful obstruction of public order, traffic, and lawful economic activity such as mining or road-building by groups like Extinction Rebellion, but also in the failure of public authorities, including judges, to restrain or punish those illegal acts in pursuit of a cause generally regarded as good. And the fact that the consensus is strongest among the highly educated should be no comfort because recent psychological research suggests that well-educated people are less willing to change their minds and more able to defend their erroneous opinions than others.

It’s a class war, of course, at least potentially since blue-collar workers are less committed to Net-Zeroism, most likely to be adversely affected by it, and less resistant to changing their minds in the face of real-world evidence. Already, we see  signs of this coming conflict in the fights breaking out between activists blocking the road and people needing to get to work or even to hospitals and in the tendency of the police defending the activists rather rather than the motorists. More to come...

The Persistent Appeal of the 'Climate Apocalypse'

The fundamental appeal of environmentalism, and especially the "climate change" cult, is related directly to its central defect: the Malthusian view that humans are a pestilence on the planet, doomed to self-extinction—if, that is, we don’t turn over our lives wholly to a politically powerful (meaning tyrannical) elite. It is a perverse paradox that if you demonstrate to an environmentalist that the environmental apocalypse is not coming, it makes them very sad and angry. What explains this demented state of mind?

The neo-Malthusianism of modern environmentalism was riding high in the 1970s when an artificial, government-caused “energy crisis” combined with government-caused inflation to lend verisimilitude to the media-driven narrative that we were running out of everything and were hard up against the “limits to growth,” as one famous study of the era proclaimed on the basis of a garbage-in/garbage-out computer model. And who can forget the Carter Administration’s Global 2000 report released in 1980, which predicted, among other resource disasters, an acute global scarcity of oil by the year 2000 that would drive its price up to $200 a barrel.

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Malthus’s thesis that human population growth would outstrip available food and resources leading to catastrophic collapse has been repeatedly refuted. Virtually every environmentalist prediction of imminent doom over the last 50 years has been proven wrong, often by an order of magnitude, such that even environmentalists are occasionally embarrassed and promise to swear off the dismal Malthusian malt. But the environmentalist embarrassment never lasts long. They are like Alcoholics Anonymous drop-outs, who ditch their 12-step program and go on a bender at the next well-lit Malthusian tavern they wander by.

Rather than change their mind, environmentalists change the subject, invent new terms for their old-time religion, and grab at any issue that comes to mind to keep their apocalyptic narrative going. With the “limits to growth” thesis thoroughly debunked by the 1990s, environmentalists pivoted to a new model, ostensibly compatible with economic growth: “sustainable development.” The problem with “sustainable development” is that despite extensive intellectual effort (and even a presidential commission during the Clinton Administration), the idea ironically proved too flabby to sustain itself, never mind its openly anti-growth policy. Environmental scientist Timothy O’Riordan warned early on:

It may only be a matter of time before the metaphor of sustainability becomes so confused as to be meaningless, certainly as a device to straddle the ideological conflicts that pervade contemporary environmentalism.

But climate change became the ideal solution for the defects of their previous anti-growthism and dismal record at predicting a near-term apocalypse. First, "climate change" has a long timeline, and a distant apocalypse relives environmentalism of the failure of their imminent predictions, like Paul Ehrlich’s absurd pronouncement in 1968 that by the mid-1970s hundreds of millions would die from famine.

Second, it solved the stumbling block of resource abundance. In the 1970s, we were told that we had to embrace conservation and “renewable” energy like wind and solar power because we were rapidly running out of fossil fuels, arable farmland, and other resources. Today we are told that we have to embrace conservation and renewable energy because we aren’t running out of fossil fuels, farmland, and other resources fast enough! And the population bomb has fizzled out, too. It turned out to be a wet firecracker at worst.

Environmentalists thought climate change would be their ticket to ultimate power for the simple reason that energy is the master resource, and thus getting control of the planet’s energy systems would enable control of everything. While 30-plus years of climate policy has wreaked economic havoc (with worse to come), it has actually not made a dent in the ultimate goal of eliminating fossil fuels for the simple reason that fossil fuels are the only energy sources that work right now on a sufficient scale and reasonable cost—full stop.

Despite nearly 50 years of promoting “renewable” or “alternative” energy, the proportion of the world’s total energy needs supplied by fossil fuels is still around 80 percent—a figure that has hardly budged since 1980. This is infuriating to the climate cultists; hence the temper tantrums of True Believers who are acting out by defacing artwork and blocking traffic around the world.

The failure of “sustainable development” also has led environmentalists recently to embrace the old-time Malthusian religion under the candid banner of “DeGrowth.” Some environmentalists are back to arguing openly that we need to become poorer and lead less comfortable lives—if the species deserves to live on at all.

Wealthy economies should abandon growth of gross domestic product (GDP) as a goal, scale down destructive and unnecessary forms of production to reduce energy and material use, and focus economic activity around securing human needs and well-being. This approach, which has gained traction in recent years, can enable rapid decarbonization and stop ecological breakdown while improving social outcomes2. It frees up energy and materials for low- and middle-income countries in which growth might still be needed for development. Degrowth is a purposeful strategy to stabilize economies and achieve social and ecological goals, unlike recession, which is chaotic and socially destabilizing and occurs when growth-dependent economies fail to grow.

Be like Lucretia and kill yourself.

That’s right: climate change fanaticism is flirting with becoming the next Heaven’s Gate suicide cult. There are a spate of new books, taken seriously in the premier literary pages of the New York Review of Books and elsewhere, that call for “the death of the human species [as] the most life-affirming event that could liberate the natural world from oppression.” Another recent book, The Ahuman Manifesto: Activism for the End of the Anthropocene by Australian philosopher Patricia MacCormack, embraces cannibalism and necrophilia: “Our world is groaning under the weight of the parasitic pestilence of human life and yet our excessive resource is the human dead.”

This is not too far from John Kerry's arguing recently that we need to abandon large-scale agriculture, ignorant of the fact that advanced farming technology saves more land for conservation purposes. If you dig deep into radical "climate change" literature, you discover that settled agricultural production, the first step up from hunter-gathering tribes to civilization, is the original sin for their crackpot theology.

And therein lies the crux of the whole matter. The "climate change" argument isn’t actually rooted in science at all, but in eschatology. Human beings may be hard-wired for belief in some form of the apocalypse, and as such "climate change"  (and environmentalism generally) is a secular substitute for the End Times. This may not appeal to the masses at large, but it holds deep appeal to our nihilist chattering classes and power-hungry elites.

The green clerisy sees "climate change" not as a technical problem to be solved with innovation or traditional economic measures, but as a rift in the human soul requiring “radical transformation” of human civilization (Al Gore’s words) to solve. It is no exaggeration to refer to the "climate change" activists as a cult—Thermageddonites or Thunbergians perhaps?—as they display religious fanaticism centered on an old-time version of sin but without the promise of redemption, even after repentance and atonement.

Fortunately, like most extreme cults its appeal is limited, as most people are not obsessed with the apocalypse. Despite billions of dollars to promote climate porn and the capture of energy agenda-setting in most advanced nations, public opinion surveys repeatedly find a majority of the public rates "climate change" very low on their list of priorities; they can smell the hoax. But like other fanatical cults throughout history, it will do great damage before it expires, at which point the impulse toward radical eschatology will need to find another object for its predations. God help us.

THE COLUMN: Hoax of the Millennium

Today, and each day for the next two weeks, will address the issue of "climate change," which like Covid-19 and "Russian collusion," is one of the great hoaxes of the modern era, maliciously concocted out of whole cloth by people who mean to harm western civilization and using the cudgel of "compassion" and "concern" with which to do it. Of the three, the "climate change" hoax, which threatens the foundations of civilized life, is by far the most inimical. Please follow our series as we debunk the claims made by the apocalypticists and their media allies.

To begin: the climate is always changing. Only an illiterate or a fool cannot understand this elementary concept. There is no need to delve into any scientific studies based on wildly or deliberately inaccurate computer "models" to know this. There is no need to be emotionally stampeded by tiresome, and always wrong, Jeremiahs of doom like Paul Ehrlich. There is no truth in the statistical manipulation that proclaims a full 97 percent of "climate scientists" agree that changes in the climate are the work of mankind. You don't have to worry about carbon emissions. The Last Days are not upon us.

Worked for a while, until it didn't.

Yet. But the "climate movement" bids fair to undo everything Western man has accomplished in the fields of science, technology, and religion and replace it with a savage new primitivism that is both inhuman and godless. It relies on the patina of science to promote a culture based on fear and guilt, with the goal of reducing and taming the human population under the aegis of a small group of self-appointed bonzes.

Our writers will tackle this topic and more in the coming fortnight, but one thing is clear: you are being lied to on a massive scale by a quasi-Marxist mass-suicide cult -- think Jonestown on a global scale -- in order that you lower your standard of living, rid yourself of all earthly possessions, abandon your expectations for the future, stop having children, cease all consumption, and disappear from planet Earth.

There are many reasons for the rise and ascendancy of this contemptible sect, including the demise of the educational system, the return of superstition, the prolonged assault via some form or variant of Critical Theory upon all the institutions of Western civilization and, now, upon the essence of that civilization itself. Such "theory" teaches that property is theft, profit is exploitation, consumption is rapine, and the nuclear family is a form of oppression: everything must be questioned, attacked, and destroyed. Western civilization is, in their eyes, the ultimate expression of "white supremacy," and therefore must be liquidated.

The decline of traditional Christianity, the cornerstone of the European-American West, has gone hand in hand with the rise of its prospective replacement, a perverted and obscene form of dictatorial nature worship, which has induced an entirely unnecessary guilt trip over real and imagined sins against other cultures that now use their very lack of achievements in the sciences and the arts as a j'accuse against the West. That would be the very same West that has provided them with access to technology, medicine, transportation, and the philosophy of Greece, Rome, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment as well as the Judeo-Christian bible that has -- imperfectly to be sure -- guided man's behavior for nearly three millennia.

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It is imperative that we break the stranglehold this new form of demonic possession now has on our society. "Demonic" is not too strong a word. In Holland, the leftist government is attempting to forcibly seize farmers' land in order to take it out of food production to appease this new Moloch. Meanwhile in Ireland its government of mediocrities has been captured by the Green Party, which now holds all its important ministries, and has decreed that some 200,000 heads of cattle be culled in order to meet its "mandated" emissions targets -- a report that instantly made the poor beleaguered country a laughingstock around the world, and from which Éire now seems to be backing away. The fact that, historically, cattle have been integral to the country's sense of itself -- viz. the epic poem, Táin bó Cuailnge (The Cattle Raid of Cooley), which dates from the seventh century A.D. -- and was the standard by which wealth was measured means nothing to the Eurocrats in Dublin who function at Brussels' behest. Expect more of the same across Europe, which even now is struggling with soaring energy costs and reduced access to dependable sources of power.

The cattle of Ireland salute the Greens.

The bugbear du jour is "emissions," a nebulous, one-size-scares-all excuse imposing an otherwise clearly insane policy on a body politic that has never once voted to starve itself to death. Our feminized culture has been so browbeaten by the Left's shameless propaganda that the very sight of a wisp of smoke or the hint of a fart now gives a manipulated populace the vapors. Worst of all are "carbon emissions," which have been dishonestly linked to "climate change" and have created a perfect storm of panic and fear among the gullible.

Here is the truth, which instantly gives the lie to every claim made by the "climate crisis" crew: we ourselves are carbon-based life forms. Indeed, life is impossible without carbon:

Carbon is the graphite in our pencils, the diamond in our rings, the oil in our cars, the sugar in our coffee, the DNA in our cells, the air in our lungs, the food on our plates, the cattle in our fields, the forest in our parks, the cement in our sidewalks, the steel in our skyscrapers, the charcoal in our grills, the fizz in our sodas, the foam in our fire extinguishers, the ink in our pens, the plastic in our toys, the wood in our chairs, the leather in our jackets, the battery in our cars, the rubber in our tires, the coal in our power plants, the nano in our nanotechnology, and the life in our soils.

Carbon is life. It exists in every organic life form. Life is impossible without it. When combined with water, it forms sugars, fats, alcohols, and terpenes. When combined with nitrogen and sulfur, it forms amino acids, antibiotics, and alkaloids. With the addition of phosphorus, it forms DNA and RNA, the essential codes of life, as well as ATP, the critical energy-transfer molecule found in all living cells. The carbon atom is the essential building block of life. Every part of your body is made up of chains of carbon atoms, which is why we are known as "carbon-based life-forms." Chemically, we're just a bunch of inert compounds. What breathes life into us? The answer is the relationship between the molecules of energy and nutrients, fueled by carbon and water.

No, it's not.

Carbon, to put a theological point on it, is the breath of God that animated the clay of Adam and turned him into a man. To attack "carbon" as an evil is to attack yourself; to eliminate carbon is to eliminate humanity. And make no mistake: this is precisely the goal of the "climate-change" movement. 

There is a word for what is happening. Evil. And evil is never to be combated idly or half-halfheartedly but with the force of one's strength, mind, and body, fueled by the now-derided virtue of righteous anger. Which is to say: hatred. As I wrote in my 2015 book, The Devil's Pleasure Palace:

At multiple moments in our lives, we are forced to choose between good and evil – indeed, we are forced to define, or provisionally redefine, both terms, and then choose.

The terms have been defined. The battle is joined. You are hereby called to arms.

Prosperity per Kilowatt

The average middle class American family lives in a modest house or apartment, and owns a car or two, along with various modern amenities to make life a bit easier -- refrigerator, dishwasher, heating and cooling units, etc. And we are lectured ad nauseum by our social and economic "betters" -- a class whose prosperity depends on our productivity -- about our overreliance on these conveniences, which we've worked hard to build and to pay for. We've already been forced to curtail our few small pleasures in life, like occasionally dining out, because inflation -- caused in large part by the elite obsession with “climate change” -- has forced us to tighten our belts.

Meanwhile our elites tend to have multiple large homes that must be heated and cooled, luxury cars (yes, Teslas count), perhaps multiple refrigerators, massive use of electronics and digital technology, servants, and either own or have ready access to a private jet, a yacht, etc. Their loudly proclaimed devotion to Mother Gaia, and even their multiple (often carbon intensive) devotional practices, never seem to get in the way of their worldly pleasures.

Better living through penury.

How bad is this disconnect? To find out, let's see how many kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity are produced in three major nations per dollar of GDP output. Based on the Cantrill Ladder, a measurement system for quantifying life satisfaction, how satisfied do the people in these countries say they are?

In America, to create and maintain our lifestyles, we generate 4,152 TWh (Tera-Watt-hours; billions of kWh) of electricity and produce $20.49 trillion of goods & services (GDP), using 0.203 kWh to produce $1.00 of GDP, a kWh per dollar of GDP ratio of 0.203. Americans rank themselves at 6.89 on the Cantrill ladder (on a scale of 0-10; higher is better).

China, a nation our elites ignore in their climate plans, generates 8,484 TWh of electricity and produces $1.34 trillion of GDP, using over three times as much electricity and generating three times as much CO2 as America to produce $1.00 of GDP, a kWh per dollar of GDP ratio of 0.633. China reports a Cantrill satisfaction of 5.82.

In Nigeria, the most prosperous sub-Saharan African country, generates 31 TWh of electricity and produces $580 billion of GDP, using one-fourth of the electricity of America to produce $1.00 of GDP, a kWh per dollar of GDP ratio of 0.053. Nigeria’s residents report a “happiness and life satisfaction” metric of 4.98. It's not a surprise, but modernity -- and electricity -- makes people happier.

If we measure prosperity in kWh per dollar of GDP, America has a prosperity metric of 0.203, China of 0.633, and Nigeria of 0.053. Having the lowest living standard of the compared nations, Nigeria uses the least amount of electricity to produce $1.00 of goods. More readily available electricity would over time lead to the increase of their GDP, wages, education, infrastructure development, and standard of living.

And yet, western elites are actively trying to prevent Africa from modernizing. This modernity-for-me-and-not-for-thee looks suspiciously like the elite caricature of “colonialism,” which they themselves proclaim to be the root of all modern evils.

It is shocking, until you remember that they would happily see us living in squalor as well. Because ultimately their power and self-gratification is all they care about.

Biden Ratchets Up 'Climate' Radicalism

It is popular to say that the Biden Administration represents a third term for Barack Obama, but on climate and energy policy Biden is far more radical than Obama. Nothing makes this fact more evident than Biden’s new proposed regulations of greenhouse gas emissions from electric power plants.

Let’s do a brief review. President Obama also proposed in his so-called Clean Power Plan in 2015 to regulate power plant emissions through an obscure section of the Clean Air Act of 1970 (Section 111d), but the plan was blocked by the Supreme Court, and ultimately ruled unconstitutional in last year’s landmark West Virginia vs. EPA ruling that announced the new “major questions” doctrine that threatens the power of the administrative state across the board.

But set aside the law for a moment, and focus on the policy. Obama’s Clean Power Plan sought to impose new performance standards on power plants that would have forced most coal-fired plants to switch to natural gas, or mitigate their emissions by supporting energy conservation measures by their customers. Environmentalists didn’t like this “outside the fence line” option because it wasn’t tough enough on fossil fuels, and it proved to be one of the legal vulnerabilities of the plan.

Sure, this ought to work...

The proposed Biden plan, which many observers are calling “Clean Power Plan 2” (the Biden team hasn’t offered up name for their new plan yet), will eliminate almost all coal-fired power with much tougher emissions standards that not even natural gas plants can realistically meet, and eliminates the mitigation-through-conservation option. This change ironically might enable the Biden plan pass muster with the Supreme Court, though there are several reasons to think a new legal challenge may work.

The Biden climate crew has been very candid that their purpose with these rules is to eliminate coal and natural gas from America’s electricity mix by the middle of the next decade. In other words, while the Obama Clean Power Plan sought essentially to nationalize the electric utility industry with costly though modest emissions standards, the Biden plan seeks to pulverize the electric utility industry with openly prohibitive emission standards. They are not even trying to disguise their intention to kill coal and gas power.

Even if wind and solar power installations could be reliably scaled up in a decade to replace the existing fleet (a highly doubtful proposition, even with magical batteries), for such a system to have a chance of supplying our electricity needs will require thousands of miles of new transmission lines. The Biden plan also leaves the door open a tiny crack for carbon sequestration, by which a coal or gas plant could theoretically still remain in business if it can capture, at huge expense, its CO2 emissions and stuff them underground somewhere. But carbon sequestration, despite billions of dollars for research and demonstration projects over the last 20 years, still isn’t feasible, and would require thousands of miles of new pipelines to transport CO2, and large new deep injection underground storage sites.

Fooled 'em again!

One thing neither the “Inflation Reduction Act” nor the Biden clean power plan includes is permitting reform. Progressives in the Democratic Party remain resolute against any reform to our cumbersome permitting process on either the state or federal level, without which none of their dreamy green energy plans can succeed in a decade—or even three decades. (The Wall Street Journal last week reported on a “fast-tracked” wind power installation that took . . . 17 years to complete.)

Already the North American Electric Reliability Corporation is warning that there may be electricity shortages and blackouts this summer, as intermittent wind and solar power have not effectively replaced baseload coal and gas-fired plants that have been prematurely closed. If implemented, the Biden plan will make California’s electricity restructuring debacle of 20 years ago, which saw pervasive rolling blackouts and soaring utility rates, look like a picnic.

There is still a chance that a legal challenge to the Biden plan will succeed. The current Supreme Court appears willing to reconsider past decisions (especially the 2007 Massachusetts vs. EPA case that allowed the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide without specific instruction from Congress) that empowered the EPA to run wild with greenhouse gas regulation. But this kind of legal challenge takes time. It took seven years for the Supreme Court to toss out the Obama Clean Power Plan.

But the Biden Administration has not let legal niceties get in their way about anything, from Covid to student debt relief to the debt ceiling debate going on right now, and more. At the root of a proposal of dubious legal merit is the cynical calculation that the uncertainty of its legal status, combined with the relentless ESG (environmental, safety and governance) pressure on finance capital, will cause electric utilities to take steps to comply with the Biden plan, and lock themselves into "green energy" systems that will deliver brownouts.

This happened once before, with the E.P.A.’s stringent mercury rules back during the George W. Bush years. The Supreme Court ultimately voided the EPA mercury rules, but it was too late as the utility industry had already complied with them. At the time Obama’s EPA director Gina McCarthy boasted of how they had outsmarted the Supreme Court, and McCarthy is back as a senior Biden’s climate policy adviser. Looks like they are trying to run this bad faith playbook again.

The Fraudulent Foundations of 'Green' Ideology

The Global Warming — now "Climate Change" — fraud is crumbling. Not because the evidence of the fraud was missing earlier, if you took the time to look behind the propaganda, but because increasingly voters have caught on to the fact that that it’s all a power grab which will impoverish all but those grifting from it. Two of the major drivers of this farce have been the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). Both have engaged in serious data skullduggery.

Last week it was the IPCC which took a major hit to its credibility when it was made clear that its most dire predictions were of low probability. NOAA whose job it is to measure temperatures in the United States was exposed some years ago for having engaged in statistical fraud. It was shown to have made repeated data adjustments, all of which lowered previously measured temperatures to "prove" that past weather was cooler. Then it raised the present temperature data to claim present warming. The reason for this jiggering of data is to create a fake scenario of ever-increasing temperatures. In short NOAA has been cooking the books.

Would you buy a used car from this gigolo?

As the editors of Investor's Business Daily explained when this scandal broke:

There have been hot years and hot decades since the turn of the last century, and colder years and colder decades. But the overall measured temperature shows no clear trend over the last century, at least not one that suggests runaway warming. That is, until the NOAA's statisticians "adjust" the data. Using complex statistical models, they change the data to reflect not reality, but their underlying theories of global warming. That's clear from a simple fact of statistics: Data generate random errors, which cancel out over time. So by averaging data, the errors mostly disappear.

That's not what NOAA does. According to the NOAA, the errors aren't random. They're systematic. As we noted, all of their temperature adjustments lean cooler in the distant past, and warmer in the more recent past. But they're very fuzzy about why this should be. Far from legitimately "adjusting" anything, it appears they are cooking the data to show a politically correct trend toward global warming. Not by coincidence, that has been part and parcel of the government's underlying policies for the better part of two decades.

You might ask why a governmental agency would ignore its task in favor of promoting a political agenda. That is, if you are very naïve. The agency has “never offered a convincing explanation” as to why these inaccurate and misleading “adjustments” were necessary but unless you were asleep you know that the officials at the head of the government, beginning in the Clinton era, wanted some basis for their claim that we are facing runaway global warming to grab more power to themselves in order to manipulate the economy. And if you’ve any experience with federal bureaucracies you know that the workers in them quickly get the message.

It's not just jiggering the data at NOAA which has been exposed. Almost a year ago we learned that the agency has for years been improperly placing its weather monitoring surface stations so even the raw data it collects are corrupted.

The report, published by The Heartland Institute, was compiled via satellite and in-person survey visits to NOAA weather stations that contribute to the “official” land temperature data in the United States. The research shows that 96 percent of these stations are corrupted by localized effects of urbanization – producing heat-bias because of their close proximity to asphalt, machinery, and other heat-producing, heat-trapping, or heat-accentuating objects. Placing temperature stations in such locations violates NOAA’s own published standards (see section 3.1 at this link), and strongly undermines the legitimacy and the magnitude of the official consensus on long-term climate warming trends in the United States.

“With a 96 percent warm-bias in U.S. temperature measurements, it is impossible to use any statistical methods to derive an accurate climate trend for the U.S.” said Heartland Institute senior fellow Anthony Watts, the director of the study. “Data from the stations that have not been corrupted by faulty placement show a rate of warming in the United States reduced by almost half compared to all stations.”

“The original 2009 surface stations project demonstrated conclusively that the federal government’s surface temperature monitoring system was broken, with the vast majority of stations not meeting NOAA’s own standards for trustworthiness and quality. Investigations by government watchdogs OIG and GAO confirmed the 2009 report findings,” said H. Sterling Burnett, director of the Arthur B. Robinson Center on Climate and Environment Policy at The Heartland Institute who surveyed NOAA surface stations himself this spring. “This new study is evidence of two things. First, the government is either inept or stubbornly refuses to learn from its mistakes for political reasons. Second, the government’s official temperature record can’t be trusted. It reflects a clear urban heat bias effect, not national temperature trends.”

No, seriously, we're all gonna die.

People are finally catching on. We've all read about the political successes of the Dutch farmers. Fraser Nelson recently wrote a good summation in the Telegraph about other setbacks in the green movement throughout Europe:

It’s all moving quite quickly. Last autumn, Germany signed an E.U. target to ban the sale of internal combustion engine cars by 2035. It now opposes the idea, as do Italy, Poland and Czechia. That’s not to say the green agenda is collapsing under the pressure of public scorn: it’s simply being subjected to the kind of scrutiny that was never applied in the first place. How much will it cost? What will it achieve? Germany’s transport minister has been making a good argument: what’s the point in electric cars if the power that drives them comes from burning coal?

Rishi Sunak has been quietly dialling down the green agenda he inherited from Boris Johnson, using the language of Net-Zero while adding his own dose of realism. He has created the ‘Department for Energy Security and Net Zero’ – the first part of the job being the most important. So he has authorised new drilling in the North Sea and even the opening of a new coal mine in Cumbria, both projects over which Johnson prevaricated. His recent energy security speech was given in a fusion research centre in Oxfordshire: a nod to his hopes for technology, not diktats, to make the green running.

Just as I am certain the motivation for governmental agencies to cook the books is to please their bosses, I am certain that as more voters see the deleterious economic consequences of green ideology and its tottering weak foundations, political figures will realize it’s time to back off of this fraud.

When Hoaxes Collide

There's no shortage of things that can be blamed on "climate change." Here's a howler of a list taken just from the past few days: pirate attacks (The Guardian); the Biden border crisis (Rep. Pete Aguilar D-Calif.); the ancient Wooly Mammoth virus (French Prof Jean-Michel Claverie). Meanwhile, policies meant to address "climate change" have an actual body count, but that is barely commented upon at all. One rare exception, however -- the Economist has published some damning figures which demonstrate that higher fuel costs last winter killed more Europeans than did Covid-19.

Our modelling estimates that high energy prices claimed 68,000 lives …. Countries with the highest excess deaths typically experienced the biggest increases in fuel costs. If electricity last winter had cost the same as 2020, our model expected 68,000 fewer deaths across Europe, a decline of 3.6 percent.

Finland seems to understand the high cost to its people of soaring energy, andhas opted to increase energy output via a new (if "much-delayed") nuclear reactor, and reduce prices to consumers by "more than 75 percent." South Africa on the other hand has developed a super special means of getting ahead of its target for cutting emissions of greenhouse gas: thanks to its collapsing infrastructure, there's no energy at all.

South Africa is ahead of its target for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. Output of the climate-warming gases from the world’s 14th-biggest emitter is already falling even though its Nationally Determined Contribution, a target adopted by the cabinet in 2021, only forecast a decline from 2025. Power plant breakdowns are reducing industrial activity.

And that disaster is only snowballing.

South Africa is teetering on the edge of Stage 7 or 8 load shedding during the winter months, which would spell disaster for citizens’ quality of life and for the economy. But Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the new electricity minister, has a way of suggesting that blackouts might rise to higher and even unprecedented stages (possibly Stage 7 and 8) this winter, without explicitly saying so.

It’s winter there now, and if what's been happening in Europe is a harbinger of what’s to come, the South African “success” at beating its target for cutting greenhouse gases will also lead to a significant increase in their excess deaths. (Which may be part of the point.)

Q. What did S. Africa use before candles? A. Electricity.

At the same time the very basis for the demand that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced  to net-zero in coming years is daily undercut by even the data of its proponents. Last week, the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) took a major hit to its credibility. According to the Daily Sceptic, "recently-published research" shows that "42 percent of its climate scenarios rely on improbable rises in future temperature that even the U.N.-funded body believes are of “low likelihood.”' The IPCC itself actually admits the improbability of these scenarios, but that admission is “deeply buried” in the full Sixth Assessment Reports (AR6). "The authors [of this research paper] note that significant and important sections of the full IPCC work emphasize these improbable claims, potentially invalidating those sections of the report." The Sceptic continues:

The authors are damning about much of the IPCC’s work. In addition to emphasizing worst-case scenarios, it rewrites climate history, has a “huge bias” in favor of bad news against good news, and keeps the good news out of its widely-distributed Summary for Policymakers (SPM). One notable contradiction surrounds flooding, where the AR6 IPCC report states with “low confidence” that humans have contributed to it, yet the Summary for Policymakers promotes the opposite, stating that human influence has increased “compound” flooding.

In any event even if the U.N.’s worst case scenario is true, that we face a two in three chance of temperatures briefly rising by  1.5 C , it is probably a strategic mistake of them to publicize this. Judith Curry, one of the most respected climate watchers, noted:

Apart from warmer temperatures, what evidence is there of potential catastrophes? An observed increase in extreme weather events is not well justified, if you correctly account for the influence of multi-decadal ocean oscillations. So, what is the possible worst cast impact for 1.5 or 2.0 C warming on the timescale of the 21st century?

  • Collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet, possibly resulting in up to 2.5 m sea level rise as per the NOAA (2017) report (actually, the IPCC does not even make this case, they are predicting SLR of 1-2 feet). This extreme scenario, which would maybe justify all this, is regarded as extremely unlikely, and we are not presently on such a trajectory. In any event, if the WAIS collapses it is more likely to be due to the geothermal heat flux and volcanoes beneath the ice sheet. Recent research shows portions of the WAIS rising at a rate of 41 mm/yr, acting to protect the WAIS from collapse. MASSIVELY uncertain.
  • Species extinction. After alarming conclusions in AR4, the AR5 backtracked, and this new Report backtracks even further. What about the ocean – acidification and declining oxygen? Our understanding is in its infancy, but this needs to be looked at more.

In my opinion, even with erroneous attribution of extreme weather/climate events and projections using climate models that are running too hot and not fit for purpose of projecting 21st century climate change, the IPCC still has not made a strong case for this massive investment to prevent 1.5C warming.

I think she gives the proponents too much credit in suggesting they'll be retreating in shame — people who love predictions of doom and the media and institutions who profit from doom-saying will continue linking every supposed "crisis" to carbon emissions and "climate change," while hiding the negative impact their policies have on the most vulnerable among us. Hey -- it's worked so far.

Not the End of the World

If you find yourself wondering about the future of energy supplies across Europe (which will be a testing ground for the U.S.), here are a couple of eye-openers you won’t find mentioned in the America media:

And while the plant’s production is still in its early days, its launch has had a considerable effect on Finland’s energy prices, lowering the electricity spot price in the country from €245.98 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in December to €60.55 per MWh in April, a reduction of more than 75 percent.

The Germans, of course, stand opposed to Poland and Hungary's nuclear ambitions, and delays are expected to occur due to their opposition. Why, you might ask, would Germany oppose its neighbors' plans for to access to inexpensive, inexhaustible, and ultra-low carbon energy supplies? One answer is that Germany's ill-considered environmentalist program, die Energiewende, has brought about sky-high electricity rates in their own country. It would be awkward for them if their citizens could just look across their eastern border and see rates that were substantially lower. And, relatedly, they're concerned about their manufacturing sector having to compete with countries who aren't paying so much for energy.

Still, since successive German governments have insisted that "saving the planet" is priority numero uno (er, that is, nummer eins), and infinitely more important than trifling economic concerns, you'd think that they would applaud the expansion of the one true green energy throughout Eastern Europe, nuclear power. Except that, as you probably know, the most notable result of die Energiewende has been the decommissioning of Germany's own nuclear reactors, which have been replaced, largely, by carbon-intensive coal.

This, coupled with the fact that the media steadfastly refuse to celebrate Poland, Hungary, and Finland's nuclear transition, clearly demonstrates that all the fuss over "climate change" this has never been about the climate.

If the "climate change" case were fact-based, the arguments for it wouldn't rest so heavily on emotional appeals. Instead of global temperature data sets (unaltered by NASA or East Anglia) supporting a theory of “unsustainable warming,” which in fact doesn’t exist, we see apocalyptic fantasy movies and politicians who really ought to know better whining “we’re all gonna die in twelve years!”

As we’ve noted here often, the only solution going forward to provide inexpensive base-load electricity at scale, reducing the costs of everything in the modern world while protecting -- or increasing -- employment levels, and reducing any impacts of fossil fuels, is nuclear.

The new small modular reactors now being licensed are safe, efficient, and an inexpensive way to generate essentially inexhaustible amounts of electricity without killing birds and whales, nor deforesting millions of acres, and not destroying large tracts of land for the toxic promise of lithium batteries or huge landfills already filling with used-up turbine blades, toxic, used-up solar panels and lightly-scratched E.V. batteries.

Nothing about wind or solar is “Green,” once one delves into it. If we want a prosperous world full of modern conveniences, going forward, nuclear is key. Good to see that at least some of the world's leaders are finally recognizing it.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Mining

And just like that another ski holiday in the books. I always threaten that were I not entirely devoted to saving the planet I’d spend my days reviewing the top spas in the world… and I mean really work at it.  But this year I stayed behind a full three weeks to wend my way by train through Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and France.

Now I have to get back for the Queen’s Cup—and my clients. There’s not a chance I’ll go to my actual home in California this week… not with the mass invasion coming through, so it’s back to my childhood home in St. John’s Wood. As for California though, I don’t want to bring it up lest my father launch into another one of his—get out while you can speeches. He’s off California at the moment. Just prior to boarding I caught a television monitor showing migrants in the tens of thousands flooding into the U.S.  So scary. It was really not to be believed. Yet despite the horrific images, one feels so very bad for these souls—most of whom are escaping poverty brought on by climate change after all.

I had one glass of champagne, drifted off, and woke to the mad buzzings of my mobile. I swear the moment we crossed the Swiss border my phone started blowing up. Text after text from clients—and perhaps something to be said for the prosperity of the Swiss. And yes the timing was easily explained by proximity to a satellite tower but I felt the scold of their unwavering efficiency.

Icky smoke vs. clean wind power.

Truth is I didn’t have a solution for our problem and no amount of aromatherapied relaxation had brought any remedy.  There was a worldwide shortage of raw materials and we’ve brazenly promised "carbon neutral" by 2040. What had they been thinking? It wasn’t my idea but unfortunately I couldn’t solve this with a slick press launch and smiling glitterati. UGH!

Like a kid who imagines there just might be a sunken treasure near one’s country house I’d read up on how difficult the mining process was, hoping a layman’s take might find something previously overlooked. (Ever the Cheltenham girl.) What I found was that lithium doesn’t even occur naturally in its pure form.  It’s combined in small amounts in nearly all igneous rocks and in the waters of many mineral springs, so basically it’s everywhere but it’s a nightmare to extract it. Tedious and expensive and by some means you have to extract the lithium from the other things you just mined. Oh, and on top of that, it’s toxic, and dangerous. Why hadn’t we thought this through before we started shouting green promises from the rooftops?  

I also hoped that greed would solve this given it was being touted as ‘the next gold rush’ and ‘the new petroleum’ but it was time to admit defeat and call the geophysical engineer—my father. ‘Hi, Daddy!’ I said, trying to sound sunny and casual. ‘I’ve a small question…’

‘SELL!’ he bellowed,  ‘Burn the place down if you have to but get out of California!’

‘No, Daddy, I’m...’

‘Still on holiday?’ he interrupted.

‘No, on my way back to England, but thing is… well, it’s lithium. I just thought with your years in oil exploration you might have an idea’.

‘I do! Keep drilling for oil and drive a working car’, he said. Problem solved.

Now that's green.

I could feel the ozone facial escaping from every one of my pores. ‘DADDY!’ I shrieked, ‘I DON’T WORK FOR THE PETROLEUM INDUSTRY!’’

‘No, indeed’ he said, ‘I do. And we’ve been backing you up since the dawn of Earth Day’. UGH! Sometimes I find it best to just let him say his peace so I remained calm and focused on the Rhone Alps in the distance.

‘So if you were me…’, I began again, ‘And you wanted to keep your job… what about if I go over to Nigeria, make a really big deal of it, show how we plan to set up a mine and also draw attention away from China who just beat Tesla out of a bid for a mine?’ 

‘Now there’s an idea’, he said.  ‘No one is really covering the situation over there. And by situation I mean heavily armed gangs and vigilante militias, lucrative mass kidnappings, murder in the thousands, and over a million have been forced out of their homes over land disputes… so sure, why not pop over and suggest what they might do with their land instead’.

‘But isn’t this trouble primarily caused by climate change?’ I asked.

‘Well, you can make that claim, just don’t do it around me. Corruption is the problem. It’s true the cattle herders have a harder go of things during the rainy season now that their villages were burned and they are forced to live in the forest. But, go ahead: blame the flooding. And then later blame the drought. And if I may remind you, aliens are invading your beloved California and claiming it’s "climate change", because apparently it stops at the U.S. border’.

I hate it when he has a point. ‘OK, point taken, but China’s making a go of it’, I said.

Can't get much greener than a lithium mine.

‘Depending on what happens with China,’ he said. ‘Mind you they couldn’t beat the Japanese even with the help of the Soviet Union, the U.K., and the Americans.  But at the present they’re not exactly hawking lithium’.

‘This is bad’. I said. ‘And bad on me’.

‘Well you didn’t make the carbon-neutral promise, and you’ll smooth it out somehow. What about your green friend who’s come up in the world recently?’ 

‘Who?’ I asked.

‘Charles’, he said.

‘KING Charles?’ 

‘Yes, the very one’.

Hmm. He had a point. And I’d likely see the sovereign at the Queen’s Cup. That’s the thing with Daddy, often irreverent. And sometimes right.

Who's Afraid of Cow Farts?

Methane is a compound about which environmental groups can’t seem to make up their minds. Thirty or so years ago, methane was touted as a "cure" for “climate change” according to the Sierra Club and many like-minded environmental groups. More recently, it’s become the focus of massive new environmental regulatory efforts because it is a somewhat more powerful greenhouse gas when compared to carbon dioxide. Accordingly, the importance of global methane emissions have increased from “who cares?” to “Enviro freak-out Def-Con Level 2” in recent years. But interestingly enough, new evidence suggests that higher concentrations of methane in the atmosphere might actually be good for the environment, even by environmentalist standards.

As you may already know, methane is the primary ingredient of natural gas. It's also produced naturally, and in great quantity, when biological matter decays. When active human or animal life is involved the product of this decay is typically emitted as flatulence, which is rich in methane. This is a matter of endless amusement to those of us involved in the environmental industry, but also a matter of great concern to people worried about "climate change." Particularly where cows are concerned. Should future historians wish to define the current environmental movement, we can only hope that they start here: the environmental movement in the early twenty-first century was not only obsessed with cow farts, they spent untold amounts of money researching schemes to reduce their supposed environmental impact.

Thirty years ago many environmental groups were focused on carbon dioxide emissions generated from the combustion of coal. In that context carbon dioxide emissions from the combustion of natural gas were much preferable. When one burns natural gas, energy is generated from the oxidation of carbon and from the oxidation of the four hydrogen atoms that accompany each carbon atom in methane. Even better, environmental NGO's used to believed, one can burn natural gas using a technology called "combined cycle" that is roughly twice as efficient as burning coal to generate electricity. The two effects combined would lead to a massive reduction in carbon dioxide emissions if natural-gas-fired power plants replaced coal-fired power plants. The Sierra Club and other environmental organizations recognized this and for a number of years were champions of the natural gas industry and combined cycle power.

Simple chemistry.

But at the start of the the new millennium those groups were faced with a conundrum. They had been too successful. It became more and more difficult to get people worked up about coal-fired power when the industry had been essentially decimated in America. Environmental groups, like all special interest organizations, require an evil antagonist if they are going to survive. With coal becoming increasingly irrelevant and natural gas filling the gap, natural gas transitioned from being the solution of the 1990s to the problem as it is portrayed today.

The environmentalist playbook features two standard attacks on natural gas. The first is the undeniable fact that burning natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, emits carbon dioxide. The fact that it emits significantly less carbon dioxide per unit of energy created than coal matters little in their minds. In the minds of these malicious zealots, any amount is too much.

The second involves the fact that natural gas is typically around 95 percent methane and methane is a greenhouse gas. It's actually a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. When the E.P.A. first started to inventory greenhouse gases it assigned a Global Warming Potential (GWP) of 21 to methane. This meant that, according to the agency, 1 pound of methane gas in the atmosphere would retain the heat equivalent to 21 pounds of carbon dioxide.

The E.P.A. would later upgrade methane’s GWP to 25, and then again to 28. For many of us chemists these adjustments were baffling. A compound’s ability to retain heat, or more correctly to reflect certain wavelengths of energy, is a matter of its physical and thermodynamic properties. We generally treat those as inalterable once they have been established through sufficient research.

That is not to say that any scientific data deemed “established” should not ever be questioned. But modifying the thermodynamic properties of methane gas so quickly and significantly raised more than a few eyebrows. After all, there is a tendency for many in government and academia to accept research that supports their preferred causes and preconceived effects without much discussion, especially where "climate" is concerned. Relatedly, research that challenges preconceived notions in the environmental field tends to be dismissed as being either intellectually flawed or knowingly prejudicial.

You talkin' to me?

Now, the Biden administration has allocated billions of dollars to reduce methane emissions in the United States, to help combat "climate change." The evidence cited includes an increase in methane emissions in America and worldwide and the increased GWP values assigned to methane emissions. There is big money to be had for anyone who can turn methane into carbon dioxide. Such folks are supposedly saving the planet by a factor of 28 times!

But here's a real hiccup in the environmentalist narrative -- new research suggests that methane in the atmosphere may also have a partial cooling effect on the atmosphere as well. The extent to which this particular theory is accurate remains to be seen. The ultimate take-home should be this: atmospheric interactions that regulate the climate and produce weather are enormously complex. Attempts to reduce our understanding of the phenomenon we call “climate change” to any one or two variables in that massive and complicated equation are worse than misguided and counter-productive.

In closing, let us consider the following. If you happen to own land that includes abandoned gas or oil wells that are emitting methane the Biden administration will gladly pay you a bunch of money to burn that methane and turn it into carbon dioxide. Should not the same logic apply when you use a stove that uses methane-rich natural gas in your home? As I see it, cooking on a gas range isn’t merely about feeding your family, it saves the planet!