Leslyn the Green?

We are living in a time of unprecedented mediocrity in our governing class and consequently the voting public have lately been searching for leadership outside of the traditional channels. That is what happened in 2016, when a batch of Republicans presented themselves as the next Mitt Romney only to be steamrolled by Donald Trump, largely because he represented the concerns of actual voters rather than those of the consultant class. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders nearly did the same thing in the Democratic Party twice.

Even so, outsider candidates by their very nature tend to have thin political resumes, and that should put us on our guard. One need only consider the example of Chief Justice John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush after a mere two years as a judge and having apparently spent an entire life studiously avoiding taking hard positions on anything. Well it worked -- the Democrats had nothing to pin on him, and he got on the court, but neither did the Republicans have any real reason to trust him. The recent abundance of headlines beginning "Roberts Joins Liberals" should serve as a warning to all of us.

In that spirit, I want to call your attention to a recent piece by Dan McTeague at Canadians for Affordable Energy examining the environmental policies of current Conservative darling Leslyn Lewis. Like a lot of conservatives who pay attention to Canadian politics, I have found Lewis to be a breath of fresh air because of her unwillingness to apologize for her beliefs. As J. J. McCullough put it in a recent WaPo write up,

Lewis... is black, female, unapologetically Christian and unafraid to embrace sharply ideological causes. She has taken explicit aim at progressive tropes such as “identity politics” and speaks openly of wanting to impose moderate — though still dramatic — “pro-life policies” to rein in Canada’s regime of broadly unregulated abortion.

Even so, McTeague has zeroed in on some of Lewis's energy priors which had escaped my notice:

As part of the environmental policy section of her leadership platform, Lewis commits to reducing regulation around energy projects (good!), but she also insists on supporting green technology and tax credits for businesses with green plans. Indeed, subsidies for green energy companies are central to her environmental strategy.

She has thought this through, and in a very significant way: prior to running for office, Lewis practiced as a lawyer, specializing in environmental and energy law. Just last year, in 2019, she completed her PHD in law at Osgoode Hall in Toronto. In her PhD thesis, titled, Attracting Foreign Investments for Green Energy Projects in Sub Saharan Africa, Lewis focuses on third world countries that are at a disadvantage when it comes to green energy, as they often cannot afford the patents to build the green infrastructure, and thus have to rely on oil and gas. Lewis laments the “dependency” on oil and gas in ways we have been hearing for years from the Canadian left. With her PhD in hand, it is unlikely that any candidate in Canadian history has been more intellectually prepared to dish out massive subsidies to the green lobby.

Surprising and concerning. Read the whole thing -- there's a lot more in there -- and then maybe spend some time looking over Derek Sloan's leadership campaign site before you make your final ballot ranking decisions.

No Nukes? Then Stop 'Thinking Green'

A report issued last month by the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California Berkeley asserts that the United States can achieve environmental utopia in a mere 15 years. Entitled 2035: Plummeting Solar, Wind and Battery Costs Can Accelerate Our Clean Energy Future, the study is sure to be referenced ad nauseum by progressive candidates and journalists during this election season. On its surface, the report appears to address the two biggest public perception problems that renewable energy faces: cost and reliability. The authors claim that we can make changes to our electrical infrastructure to ensure that 90 percent of all energy generated by 2035 is derived from “clean” sources, that we will actually save money by so doing, and that executing this plan will not have any significant detrimental impact on power availability or reliability.

It must be said that 2035 is a step or two above AOC’s “Green New Deal” fantasy in the sense that it at least acknowledges there are challenges involved in repowering the largest economy on planet earth we should probably consider. That is not to say that 2035 is entirely realistic about how to address those challenges. It’s not. But we may take some slight comfort knowing that there at least a couple of people obsessed with the green energy fantasy who have a vague awareness that electrical generation, transmission and distribution are rather complex topics. Baby steps people – baby steps.

Before we get into the weeds, you should understand that despite what politicians and PR types have said, and will continue to say, the 2035 plan does not claim that the delivered cost of renewable sources of energy will be cheaper than that of conventional sources in fifteen years, nor should one confuse the term “clean energy” as used in the plan with the term “renewable energy” as it has been traditionally used by environmental activists.

The 2035 plan claims that net renewable energy costs will be lower if its recommendation are followed, but only if one ignores tax credits and factors in nebulous economic benefits associated with fractional reductions in conventional air pollutant and greenhouse gas emissions. The report also places nuclear energy and hydro-power on the “clean” side of the energy-generation balance sheet. While this author and many a like-minded scientist have long agreed that both sources of energy are indeed quite clean, as well as being cheap and reliable, few environmental groups have agreed, particularly in the case of nukes.

To be perfectly clear: any candidate or environmental group that signs off on 2035 is, de facto, a nuclear power advocate. And most welcome they shall be! Jump on in guys, the water’s fine and radiation free, but feel free to grab a banana at the snack bar if you need some rads.

If we’re going to fairly assess the 2035 plan, we need to understand three key concepts that are central to managing a power generation and distribution system: load, dispatchability and capacity factor.

Load, in the power generation sense, is a measure of electrical demand. In general, a given distribution system on the grid will require a minimum amount of power on the lines at all times, day or night. This is called “base load” and is typically filled by generation assets that run steadily at all times. At the other extreme there is power that is only briefly needed because of intermittent increased demand, like during the hottest part of a summer day when air conditioners are working their hardest. This condition may last for a few hours, depending on season and location, and is called “peak load.” In between, we have intermediate load.

Dispatch refers to how the folks managing a portion of the grid ensure there is enough power to meet load demand. These are assets with which the grid operator (often, but not always, referred to as an Independent System Operator, or ISO – the acronym we’ll use to refer to the grid manager for the balance of this piece) has to work. “Dispatchable” assets are those that the ISO knows will be available over a given time period and whose maximum power output is a fixed, known quantity. The ISO uses dispatchable assets to develop a plan, including dispatch order, to ensure that each day’s demand forecast can be reliably filled, plus a reserve amount of generation in case the forecast is off a bit. Non-dispatchable assets are those generation assets whose availability and generation capacity cannot be reliably and consistently known due to the nature of the asset.

Lights on, everybody's home.

Finally, capacity factor is a measure of how much power a generation asset can produce compared to how much it actually produces. A power plant that runs at 100 percent capacity-factor is generating the maximum amount of power possible, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Another plant that generates 50 percent of the power it's capable of generating and runs only half the time available earns a 25 percent capacity factor (0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25).

In order to manage the grid reliably, ISOs want to fill in load requirements using dispatchable sources of energy as much as possible. The best, most reliable, sources of dispatchable power are those that typically run at high-capacity factors. According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, coal-fired power plants, combined-cycle natural gas-fired plants, and nuclear power plants typically run at capacity factors between 80–90 percent each.

Both wind and utility-scale solar plants are classified as “non-dispatchable” by the Department of Energy. To understand why, let’s compare capacity factors. Capacity factors for wind and solar vary by region, but EIA has developed historical data that defines the boundaries. Wind farms rarely exceed 40 percent in the best cases and 20–30 percent are more typical. Utility-scale solar plants, which generate far less power than wind in most places, typically operate in the 20–30 percent range and sometimes closer to 10 percent.

Anyone claiming that they can run the nation’s power grid solely on "renewables" inevitably runs into this basic problem: neither wind nor solar is sufficiently reliable to do anything but “gap fill,” while dispatchable sources are running to provide most of the load, along with sufficient excess dispatchable capacity available to pick up the slack when/if wind and solar sources drop off.

The solution to this problem proposed in 2035 is fourfold: 1) include nuclear and hydro in the mix, both of which are dispatchable and can provide reliable base load, 2) grudgingly allow some natural-gas generation to remain in place, 3) buy a crap-load of battery storage capacity, and 4) build every bit of wind and solar capacity one possibly can and run it as hard and as often possible whenever conditions allow.

Technically, there is much about this scheme that is laughable and some aspects that are downright dangerous. Unfortunately, space considerations preclude discussing these issues in detail in this particular article. Economically, both EIA and the folks at the Goldman School acknowledge that the Levelized Costs of Power generated by wind is typically more expensive than power generated by nukes or fossil fuel-fired sources. It is only by including tax credits and – in Goldman’s case – the fanciful economic benefits supposedly accompanying further coal plant retirements that one can begin to claim that the 2035 plan is economically sound.

It’s not. It’s another fanciful exercise designed to solve an equally fanciful problem in the fanciful presumption that even if climate change represented a clear and present danger to the globe any unilateral action taken by the United States could have the slightest effect. However, we should look on the bright side and be thankful that at least a tiny bit of reality has somehow made it’s way into this particular plan.

Baby steps.

Now It's Six Months to Doomsday

Stop me if you've heard this one before:

World has six months to avert climate crisis, says energy expert

The world has only six months in which to change the course of the climate crisis and prevent a post-lockdown rebound in greenhouse gas emissions that would overwhelm efforts to stave off climate catastrophe, one of the world’s foremost energy experts has warned. “This year is the last time we have, if we are not to see a carbon rebound,” said Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency.

“The next three years will determine the course of the next 30 years and beyond,” Birol told the Guardian. “If we do not [take action] we will surely see a rebound in emissions. If emissions rebound, it is very difficult to see how they will be brought down in future. This is why we are urging governments to have sustainable recovery packages.”

Carbon dioxide emissions plunged by a global average of 17% in April, compared with last year, but have since surged again to within about 5% of last year’s levels.

Now, hold on there, pardner. What we have here is an argument from authority, which posits that we must accept the equation that carbon dioxide = pollution. Furthermore, we must also accept the thesis that the entirely unnecessary coronavirus lockdown has been a happy event that has reduced said "pollutants" to near-optimal levels, but that the bad old days will soon be upon us again if we don't stop the increase in pink elephants... er, carbon emissions, right now.

The corrupted "scientific" Left has been moving in this direction practically from the start of the coronavirus hoax. As I wrote on this site recently:

It's long been obvious that the panic over the coronavirus -- and the draconian "solutions" to it -- is all part of the warmup for "climate change" strictures as we go forward. Having accustomed both the European and American publics to the thoroughly unconstitutional restrictions placed upon the citizenry in the name of "safety," the surging Left will use them as the template for how they plan to destroy the Western economies and functionally enslave the people as the sheep shout hosannas for having been saved from the invisible bug. They're prepared to elide the public's temporary fixation on the Wuhan virus, which has put some "green energy" projects on the back burner, and bring on their punitive Green New Deal as soon as the immediate crisis is over.

By leveraging a variation of the annual flu into a hair-on-fire international, media-fueled panic, the "climate-change" crew has succeeded in getting many of their policy prescriptions implemented in a flash by preying on peoples' fears and politicians' limitless thirst for exerting power. Throw in the manipulated figurehead of a damaged Swedish teenage scold standing in for the Oracle of Delphi, climatology division, and you have a movement that was only briefly shouldered aside by the mayhem of BLM/Antifa, but is now roaring back.

The media is doing its part to slow the reopening of the economies by constantly harping on the number of new Wuhan Flu infections, especially in the United States -- handy, because they can beat President Trump with it, laugh at the red states who are now discovering the extent of the virus via the very same testing the media was shouting for  two months ago -- as if infection = death. But simplistic equations is what the America media is all about these days.

According, the IEA is now prepping its part of the battlespace with a new report, which begins:

The unprecedented health emergency and economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic risks to be a setback for clean energy innovation efforts at a time in which faster progress is needed. The report quantifies the needs for technology innovation and investment for a cleaner and more resilient energy sector at net-zero emissions. It identifies key technology attributes that can help accelerate innovation cycles.

This is a lie, of course -- far from being a "setback," the lockdowns provide the framework the Left has long been seeking for the imposition of draconian economic measures. For our own good, of course.

The report also offers five key innovation principles for delivering net-zero emissions. It highlights issues requiring immediate attention, such as the importance of governments maintaining research and development funding at planned levels through 2025 and considering raising it in strategic areas.

Ever helpful, Britain's left-wife Guardian sums up the report's key findings:

[The IEA has} set out the first global blueprint for a green recovery, focusing on reforms to energy generation and consumption. Wind and solar power should be a top focus, the report advised, alongside energy efficiency improvements to buildings and industries, and the modernisation of electricity grids.

Creating jobs must be the priority for countries where millions have been thrown into unemployment by the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdowns. The IEA’s analysis shows that targeting green jobs – such as retrofitting buildings to make them more energy efficient, putting up solar panels and constructing wind farms – is more effective than pouring money into the high-carbon economy.

Proving once again the validity of our own John O'Sullivan's Law that "all organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing," the IEA was founded in 1974 in response to the Arab oil embargo and resulting "energy crisis," an event that gave the U.S. soaring gasoline prices, the 55-mph speed limit and the wholly useless Department of Energy under Jimmy Carter. The eventual weakening of the cartel got American speed limits back to where they ought to be, and the advent of fracking and American energy independence brought prices down. The DoE, of course, is still with us.

Originally, the IEA was supposed to keep the supplies of oil coming in order not to crippled the Western economies. Now, having been taken over by a cabal of its enemies (the late Robert Conquest's Third Law of Politics), it works precisely against its initial objectives and mandate. But such is the way of all Western institutions these days.

 

 

 

 

 

The Coming Covid Curveball

It seems like every morning we wake up to the news that some entity, public or private, is unveiling a "bold new initiative" in response to "the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," which everyone who has been paying attention knows they've wanted to do already.

Take baseball. I'm a big baseball fan, but not of current MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, a man who doesn't seem particularly fond of the game he presides over. Others have noticed this -- here's an article from a few months back entitled Does Rob Manfred Hate Baseball? and another called Rob Manfred Is Ruining Baseball. The gist of them is that Manfred, worried that baseball is less exciting than the other major sports, has spent his five years as commissioner whittling away at the things that make the game unique. For the most part his rule changes have been aimed at making the games shorter, but his efforts have been for naught -- the average game is now three minutes longer than it was when he took over, and viewership is down.

This, of course, hasn't deterred Manfred. He's pushed ahead with plans to, for instance, institute a new, Reality TV informed playoff format whereby,

The team with the best record in each league would get a first-round bye, and then the other two division winners and the wild-card club with the best record could end up picking their opponents in a televised seeding showdown.

This is, to put it mildly, gimmicky as hell.

For the most part Manfred's tinkering has been confined to the edges of the game, and he would probably tell you that that's why it hasn't had the desired effect. That, unfortunately, he has been cursed with conservative, history obsessed fans who are resistant to alterations which make today's game less like the one played by Joe DiMaggio and Hank Aaron. Which is to say, he'd probably dislike me as much as I dislike him.

But a man can dream, and for years we've heard whispers that Manfred's great aspirations included increasing offense by imposing the Designated Hitter on the National League, which has resisted this innovation since the 1970s; starting extra-innings with a runner on second base to speed things up (or, a fan might say, limit the amount of baseball fans were getting for free); and contracting the Minor Leagues, so that MLB resources could be directed away from entertaining yokels in, say, Dayton, OH or Montgomery, AL, and towards virtue signalling social justice initiatives which get lots of applause from the great and the good.

And then came the miracle Rob Manfred had been been praying for: the Wuhan novel coronavirus, which, thanks to the incompetence of politicians like Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, spread like "a fire through dry grass” throughout the nursing homes of the northeastern United States (as healthcare analyst Avik Roy has pointed out, 42 percent of U.S. deaths from Covid-19 have occurred in the 0.6 percent of the population who reside in nursing homes and assisted living facilities).

But, more to the point, it gave him an excuse to make big changes to the game purportedly for the sake of player safety. And what changes did he implement? Imposing the DH on the National League; beginning extra innings with a runner on second; and the elimination of up to forty-two minor league teams.

I think that this is a pretty good (and comparatively innocent) illustration of what is going on across America right now.

California, for instance, raised its gasoline tax again this month, so that it now sits at 50.5 cents per gallon. Why would California's politicians be so foolish as go ahead with this hike during an economy-destroying pandemic (what you might call Pulling a Trudeau)? Well,

“Driving is way down, so in theory this is a great time to catch up on highway investment,” observed Ronald Fisher, an economics professor at Michigan State University. While less driving temporarily means less revenue from a gas tax, it also means less disruption from road work. Fisher also pointed out that the state typically contracts with private companies to perform such infrastructure repairs, which means proceeds from the higher gas tax could actually serve as a stimulus for the California economy in the form of job creation.

Right...

In another example from the Golden State, Gov. Gavin Newsom has formed a Recovery Task Force to address California's dire financial situation in the wake of the pandemic. It is co-chaired by uber-environmentalist and failed Democratic Presidential candidate Tom Steyer (a bad sign), and, shockingly, it has concluded that green energy has the potential to be a “huge job creator," according to Steyer. As if this were something which had just occurred to him. Environmentalist Hal Harvey concurs,

[Steyer's] right. Clean energy can be the economic engine for California.... The path is clear: Decarbonize the electric grid, then electrify everything—creating good jobs and thriving clean tech industries along the way.

Which is to say that the powers that be are using this moment of disruption to enact their preexisting agendas. They're taking advantage of your exhaustion, your inclination to give in, in the hope that sometime soon everything will go back to normal. And that's why we need to be especially vigilant right now.

At the center of baseball is a psychological game between pitchers and batters, where the former works to make the latter think that one pitch is coming his way, and then throws him another. Fastball inside, fastball outside, fastball inside, fastball outside. And then comes the curve, and the batter who isn't looking out for it finds himself walking slowly back to the dugout.

Keep yours eyes open. Don't let them sneak the curve past you.

Oil and Gas: Students Educate their Teachers

In a letter well worth reading, students at various universities across the country, members of a group called Students for Canada (SEC), addressed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, encouraging him to rescue and promote Canada’s ailing energy sector. The letter is a powerful, meticulously documented and near-irrefutable report meant to counter an earlier petition by 265 academics—which I have referenced in a previous article for The Pipeline—urging Trudeau to shut down the oil and gas industry entirely. 

The letter brilliantly reverses the relation of authority. These students know infinitely more than the profs, technological and economic illiterates who proceed from purely ideological motives, whereas their student adversaries base their thesis on actual realities. The two lead authors of the student letter are candidates in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences; the competencies of the two lead authors of the academic letter are in Political Science and Sociology. This should tell us something about relevant expertise. (Ironically, the University of Alberta is home to both the students and the pedagogues.)

Offering a vista of unexpected hope for the return of intellectual sanity to an ideological wasteland, these students have largely managed to resist the left-wing and “social justice” curriculum of the indoctrination factories our universities have become. In four pages of resource-rich material and dispositive evidence, they have exhibited not only an informed concern for the country’s welfare, but a thorough familiarity with the complexities and minutiae of energy production, industry safety standards, employment issues, technological innovation and bread-and-butter outcomes, all benefiting the country’s future political stability and economic prospects.

They advocate fumigating the language around the Canadian energy sector. “The use of the terms ‘tar sands’, ‘war’, ‘dead’ and ‘bail out’ tend to… trigger… anger and divisiveness.” Loaded language is a sure-fire way to preempt debate. Reputable contributors to a contentious issue need to invoke clarity of expression and neutral terminology. “Members of Geothermics understand that carefully chosen words can encourage people to listen and critically think about the issue to promote integrated solutions, especially if the issue involves oil and gas.” After all, “how can the Canadian oil and gas industry be ‘dead’ when Canadian Energy companies provide social benefits and are continuously developing clean innovations?”

They argue that “Canada has founded one of the most sustainable hydrocarbon development strategies in the world,” from which other countries with similar oil reserves could learn. They explain that “global energy demands will continue to increase in the future and that renewable energies are not in a position to replace [fossil fuels] for decades to come.” Indeed, “the totality of renewables supply only 7% of global demand (International Energy Agency, 2019)…illustrat[ing] that oil and gas are valuable natural resources, just like lithium, copper, uranium and iron ore, etc., needed to manufacture goods, medical supplies, electronics, outdoor gear, renewables etc.” They point out that Canada was “ranked number one for Sustainable Development in 2019 relative to the world's top oil exporters (sdgindex.org).” The concern often cited by opponents of energy extraction and delivery regarding methane leaks “is being continually mitigated with the decades of improvement created by companies subject to Canada’s oil and gas sector regulations.”  

Further, the construction of Liquefied Natural Gas facilities is projected to add billions in new government revenue as well as “provide for additional health care, schools, infrastructure and many other services to be filled by future graduating students.” In addition, “the geological and engineering knowledge from the oil industry is directly transferable towards geothermal energy exploration, which is based on exploiting moving fluids within the earth to capture/harness a different source of energy.” Another technological breakthrough “requiring advanced geoscience and engineering is the use of compressed air stored within sealed underground caverns,” which can be recuperated to operate turbines generating electricity. These are only some of the energy sector positives listed by the students. 

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The writers make only one mistake in regarding carbon as a destructive element and promoting the technology of carbon capture and storage in order to stimulate the production of clean energy, thus misunderstanding the relation of carbon to fertility and verdant life. Research and development in oil and gas, they maintain, entails “consequences for all energy sources, such as the societal, ecological and geological impact of dams, the utility of land dedicated to solar farms, [and] the societal and ecological impacts of mining rare earth minerals for solar panels, batteries and wind turbines.” 

I'm renewable!

The argument is ingenious, detailing how oil and gas will lead to solar and wind. This may or may not be so, but if intended as a tactical gesture, a sop to the Greenies, it’s clearly bound to fail. Radical environmentalists are concession-proof. Moreover, wind farms, solar installations and SpongeBob-looking photovoltaic panels disfiguring the landscape do not seem a reasonable innovation in countries already burdened by six months of dark winter and unreliable weather patterns. One way or another, there is no immediate foreseeable replacement for oil and gas, as the students themselves admit. By the same token, the anti-carbon brief is wholly misguided. It is the staple delusion of the global warming/climate change/extreme weather industry and its hundreds of millions of gullible adherents.

Robert Zubrin has shown in a profoundly researched book, Merchants of Despair, that there exists robust scientific proof derived from ice core data and isotopic ratios in marine organism remains that Earth’s climate is a stable system, that CO2 emissions create surplus plant growth that in turn absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide—the proper form of carbon storage—thus restoring climate equilibrium over the long haul, and that under conditions of cyclical global warming agricultural productivity naturally increases and human life immensely improves.

Gregory Wrightstone’s Inconvenient Facts, which puts paid to the anti-carbon crusade, is equally essential reading. Wrightstone, a geoscientist of 35 years experience, shows that the real threat to humankind is not carbon or Thermageddon but “a group of men (and women) intent on imposing an agenda based on seriously flawed science.” Bruce Bunker’s more recent The Mythology of Global Warming is as close to a clincher as one could hope to find. Relying on reams of proven scientific data from the geologic record, Bunker concludes: “The premise that CO2 emissions are causing catastrophic global warming is a total myth.” His pages need to be studied. I should also mention Alan Fensin, an electronic engineer and NASA design consultant, who in Global Warming, The Carbon Dioxide Hoax, a very accessible account, demolishes the fable that a “small trace gas called carbon dioxide [is] responsible for controlling our climate.”

Writing in the Wall Street  Journal back in 2007, Princeton physicist William Happer also highlighted the fact that “Life on earth flourished for hundreds of million years at much higher CO2 levels than we see today.” CO2 levels during the Ordovician Age of 440 million years ago were ten times higher than they are at present, yet the earth prospered. As Science Daily reports, “The Ordovician geologic period included a climate characterized by high atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, warm average temperatures and flourishing life.” (These finding are disputed by left-wing sites like Skeptical Science; physicist John Droz Jr., writing in MasterResource: A Free-Market Energy Blog, demolishes its falsifications definitively.)

The students can be pardoned for their single lapse from scientific rigor and environmental fact. They are young and still have a lifetime of research and study ahead of them, enabling them to correct errors and incorporate ever more facts and discoveries into their world picture—and to find erudite and honorable teachers like Zubrin, Wrightstone and Bunker, among others. They represent the best hope for the future of climatology and environmental studies—and for the recovery and growth of Canada’s energy production. They are in their way a major part of the country’s energy sector—its mental energy sector—which augurs well for the morrow if they can preserve their integrity, pursue their adventure into truth and withstand the ideological inroads of a faux-environmentalist pathology. Their minds are in the right place, which is more than can be said for their politically-correct preceptors. 

Canada: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Last week I wrote about the fear among Democrats that the U.S. might be heading for a significant economic recovery before the election in November, such that the Trump campaign would be able to point to "the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever" (in the words of Obama Administration senior advisor Jason Furman), and ride that good news to reelection. Well, yesterday morning we all woke up to news which suggests that that upward trajectory might be beginning. After months of catastrophe, with Great Depression-like unemployment figures, the May jobs report showed that the economy added 2.5 million jobs in that period, the most ever in a single month.

The news was so surprising that left-wing rags like the Washington Post had to frantically delete their pre-written tweets about how terrible the report was:

Of course, we aren't out of the woods yet. An unemployment rate of 13 percent is still pretty bad, even if things are heading in the right direction. And, as I argued last week, Joe Biden's willingness to squander our gains on his ideological program (or that of his advisors while he naps in the Lincoln Bedroom), including his announcement that he would definitively kill Keystone XL  pipeline upon entering the White House, should make us all wary about trusting him to save the economy.

Well, up in Canada we can see what it looks like to have people already in power whose instincts are invariably ordered toward ideology over job creation or the cost of living. We've already covered Trudeau's doubling the nation's carbon tax during the pandemic, a decision which ran counter to what basically every other nation in the world was doing. We also discussed his oil and gas aid package, which seemed ordered towards the end of an industry which accounts for roughly 10 percent of Canada's GDP.

This is the path Trudeau has committed his nation to, and it doesn't seem like it is going to slow down anytime soon. Dan McTeague, president of the indispensable Canadians for Affordable Energy, has been writing recently about the return of Justin Trudeau's college drinking buddy, Gerald Butts, who grew up to be an environmental activist, director of policy for then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, and eventually Trudeau's chief adviser. Butts, you may recall, was forced to resign in the run up to the 2019 election for his role in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Now that that election is over, McTeague reports that Butts is back in Ottawa serving on a new task force called Resilient Recovery. "The task force," explains McTeague, is "made up of green industry and environmental leaders [and] says its goal is to help seize a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to build things in a “better” way post the COVID-19 pandemic." If you guessed that that means taking advantage of a crisis to get Canada even more entangled in the Green Energy industry than it already is and make it harder for oil and gas companies to operate, you win.

Butts: I'm ba-ack.

In the course of two articles, McTeague argues that Canadians should be aware of, and concerned by, this "green energy at any and all costs" task force, and especially by Butts' inclusion in it. Butts has the ear of the prime minister and a history of making life harder for Canadians. McTeague has taken the time to remind us of that history. In his first piece, he examines Butts' work in the McGuinty government in Ontario:

Gerry Butts is known as one of the architects of Dalton McGuinty’s disastrous Green Energy Act. The GEA hurt Ontarians (and is still hurting them), resulting in energy bills increasing by 70% from 2008 to 2016. Ontario’s claim to fame became its high energy rates - the highest in all of North America. Big manufacturers across the province began to flee for friendlier economic climates. Even former premier Kathleen Wynne said in her 2018 campaign that because of the Green Energy Act many families were having to choose between paying their energy bills and feeding their families.

The GEA originally promised the creation of 50,000 green energy jobs. The government later admitted that that number was not based on any formal analysis, that many of the jobs would be temporary, and that it did not account for the lost manufacturing jobs due to the increased energy prices. Wind and solar were incredibly expensive to produce... and the consumer was the one who had to make up the difference. How? Through a hidden tax euphemistically called the Global Adjustment Fee which suddenly started to appear on Ontario energy bills. A Global News article from 2016 stated that for every $100 in usage that appeared on your bill, $23 was actual electricity cost, while the other $77 was from the “Global Adjustment Fee”.

After a few years out of government, Butts jumped onboard the Trudeau train after the Liberals won their majority in 2015, and brought his wealth of experience making everyday life more expensive for Ontarians to Canadians more generally. That part of his career is covered in McTeague's second piece:

The costs of Butts’ climate agenda are apparent in the policies that the Trudeau government put in place during its first term, the most important (and destructive) of these being the carbon tax. It is no surprise that the mastermind behind the Ontario green energy debacle would help create expensive and ineffective policies at the federal level. The carbon tax adds at least 7 cents per litre of gas at the pump for Canadians. Because it applies to all energy sources, the hidden costs – on food and services and our competitiveness – will be even greater, and the carbon tax will increase annually by large increments.

Other expensive and anti-industry policies that were launched during Butts’ time in Ottawa include Bill C-69 (an overhaul of Canada's regulatory and resource project approval system) and C-48 (the oil tanker moratorium act). These have meant significant new and unnecessary regulatory burdens that restrict resource development, drive away investment, and have the effect of making energy more expensive.

Though Canada's May jobs numbers crept up somewhat, just like America's, Canada is still experiencing record unemployment. Bombardier just announced that they'ree laying off 2,500 workers. This is still a time of crisis, and for any recovery to be really resilient, it needs a laser focus on getting people back to work and getting the economy back on track. Gerald Butts' resumé speaks to the fact that he is more than willing to prioritize environmentalist virtue signalling over the benefit of ordinary Canadians.

Prediction of Economic Recovery Terrifies Dems

It looks like we're getting to the other side of this pandemic, with lock-down orders easing up and restrictions on everyday activities being lifted, with and without masks. One sign that things are returning to normal is that people's minds are turning away from daily case numbers and towards the election in the fall. To that end, Jason Furman, a Harvard professor and one of Barack Obama's senior economic advisors, gave a presentation to the Democratic party's top strategists a few weeks ago, and what he had to say absolutely shocked them:

“We are about to see the best economic data we’ve seen in the history of this country," he said.... “Everyone looked puzzled and thought I had misspoken,” Furman said in an interview. Instead of forecasting a prolonged Depression-level economic catastrophe, Furman laid out a detailed case for why the months preceding the November election could offer Trump the chance to brag — truthfully — about the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever....

Furman’s counterintuitive pitch has caused some Democrats, especially Obama alumni, around Washington to panic. “This is my big worry,” said a former Obama White House official who is still close to the former president. Asked about the level of concern among top party officials, he said, “It’s high — high, high, high, high.”

Maybe I've missed something, but the above sounds to me like.... good news. But I suppose that's because I'm not running for president with the hopes of hanging a new Great Depression on the incumbent.

Furman stressed that he was speaking “in gross terms, not in net terms,” which is to say that the "V shaped" recovery he was predicting wouldn't leave us better off than we were before the pandemic. The economy would look great compared to the depths of the April and May, but we would still be in rough shape. This, of course, is a difficult message to boil down into a campaign slogan or a meme, which is why the Dems are so anxious about it.

At the same time, it should serve as a rallying cry for the Right. Just a few months ago, when we were riding an incredible economic wave with low taxes and low unemployment, the Democrats were arguing that we should be willing to risk our prosperity on their ideological program. Here's Jim Geraghty on that point:

Back during one of the debates, Tim Alberta of Politico asked Biden, “As president, would you be willing to sacrifice some of that growth, even knowing potentially that it could displace thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of blue-collar workers in the interest of transitioning to that greener economy?” Biden responded, “The answer is yes. The answer is yes, because the opportunity — the opportunity for those workers to transition to high-paying jobs, as Tom said, is real.”

Biden pledged “no new fracking” during a debate, then walked it back; he wants to set a price on carbon to be used for either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade; Biden endorsed California’s AB5, the anti-“gig” law; he would raise the corporate tax rate from 21 percent to 28 percent, and he insists he can raise taxes by $4 trillion over the next decade, without raising taxes on anyone making $400,000 per year or less.

If the economy is heading in the right direction in the fall -- if jobs are coming back and the stock market is up -- but hasn't quite recovered, should we really trust Joe Biden to prioritize getting us back where we need to be, rather than handing over his domestic policy to the Green Blob? His recent pledge to kill the Keystone XL pipeline if he's elected doesn't inspire confidence.

'GOP Out of Touch on Climate Change'

Former Pennsylvania governor, Homeland Security secretary, and current enviro-lobbyist Tom Ridge has published an article at The Atlantic arguing that his fellow Republicans are behind the curve on environmentalism. After opening the piece with a maudlin reflection on the fact that we all should have been celebrating Earth Day on April 22nd, but that the COVID-19 pandemic kept us from doing so (for the first time I was able to connect with the Libs who've been rooting for the virus), Ridge states:

The Republican Party has largely abandoned environmental issues—to its great detriment politically. Majorities of Americans say the federal government is doing too little for key aspects of the environment, such as protecting water and air quality and reducing the effects of climate change. A recent survey from the Pew Research Center finds that Democrats mostly agree that the U.S. government should do more on climate. Republicans are divided by ideology, age, and gender; moderates, Millennials, and women within the party are far more likely than conservatives, older Republicans, and men to favor more federal action. More and more, the GOP as a whole seems out of touch on this crucial issue.

This assertion is questionable. Gallup has actually just released a new poll attempting to document how Americans priorities the challenges facing our country, and the data for April, respondents put Climate Change at the bottom of the list, tied for dead last in importance. Now, of course, April is a bit of a skewed month, with the pandemic understandably taking first place and sucking up all the oxygen. Even so, it is worth noting that in the previous months surveyed, "climate change" only barely misses last place.

Heartland Institute president James Taylor, commenting on this data, rightly points out that "People have a vague, general desire for policymakers to pay attention to climate change," but when there's any question of the bill coming due -- he also mentions polling which suggests that support for Green initiatives collapses when respondents are asked if they'd be willing to pay an extra $100 per month for them -- they completely change their tune.

To Ridge's credit, he makes a few points which might make his new friends at The Atlantic uncomfortable, saying "I continue to support policies that embrace all sources of energy, including natural gas, which has lowered our dependence on coal. I also support nuclear power, the largest around-the-clock provider of carbon-free energy." But he follows that up with a lament that his "conservative friends have been reluctant to join me in supporting renewable technologies such as wind and solar." Perhaps because his conservative friends are aware that wind and solar are boondoggles which might help gullible Liberals sleep better at night, but they certainly don't benefit the environment. Then again, maybe his friends would come around if they were paid lobbyists for the renewable energy industry, like Ridge.

All of which is to say, if anyone is out of touch with American voters, its Tom Ridge.

Understanding Justin: A Genealogical Approach

In order to understand the bizarre actions and behavior of Justin Trudeau (b. 12/25/71), Canada’s child emperor, one needs to know where he is coming from, the influences he imbibed growing up, and the pursuits he engaged in prior to entering politics. Such has already been attempted by journalist Jonathan Kay in an ingratiating article in Canada’s left-wing culture magazine The Walrus. Kay shed an editorial tear over Trudeau’s abandonment by his mother Margaret, admired Justin's alleged resilience and marveled over Trudeau’s book-lined shelves, considering him impressively learned and endowed with intellectual heft. “Trudeau probably reads more than any other politician I know,” Kay effused. 

As a former editor at the National Post, Kay is surely aware that Justin is a mental lightweight compared to credentialed heavyweights such as recent Party leaders Stephen Harper, Stéphane Dion or Michael Ignatieff, scholars in their respective intellectual fields. A master of slavish extenuation, Kay explains that his subject’s “boyish, eager-to-please personality leads him to project publicly in a way that can seem intellectually unsophisticated.” The problem happens to be that Justin is indeed intellectually unsophisticated. Despite a few pro forma criticisms, Kay’s tribute was no exception to the partisan adulation that helped propel a self-infatuated tyro to 24 Sussex.

Trudeau’s father, flamboyant former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919-2000), was a dominating figure in Canada’s political theater but in many ways a disaster for the country. His opening the doors of immigration wide to the Third World in an effort to dilute the push for Québec independence, as Salim Mansur observes in Delectable Lie, was a grievous mistake, and we are suffering the aftermath today with a robust Muslim enclave roiling the nation’s peace and depleting its welfare resources. His repatriation of the Constitution in 1982 (which allowed Canada to change its basic law without approval from Great Britain) was also, in the opinion of many, a serious mistake, in effect adding fuel to the fire of the French Mouvement souverainiste du Québec that Trudeau wished to extinguish.

Chip off the old block?

His passing of the National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980 at the expense of Alberta’s economic health was another catastrophe, costing Alberta, as Paul Koring writes in iPolitics, “$100 billion and set[ting] exploration and extraction back by decades,” while serving to alienate Western Canada to the present day. Moreover, as Gwyn Morgan writes in the Financial Post, “During the 15 years that Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, federal spending rose from 30 to 53 percent of GDP.” His avowedly leftist politics and close friendships with dictators like Fidel Castro were a severe blow to the country’s democratic identity and Loyalist patrimony. Such is the elder Trudeau’s legacy to Canada.

Justin’s mother Margaret, née Sinclair, in her youth a Jacqueline Kennedy-type beauty, is now an advocate for sufferers from bipolar disorder. She is also remembered as a 1970s “wild child,” dancing at Studio 54, doing drugs, partying with the Rolling Stones, hobnobbing with the famous, enjoying various “relationships,” and abandoning her family in 1977, when Justin was still a little boy, before divorcing Pierre in 1984. In her memoir The Time of Your Life, she candidly confesses her “inner teenager” and her “passion for the present [that] has given me a joie de vivre and an ability to savour the various phases of my life.” She recalls her divorce from her much older husband:

I was a free-spirited hippie who yearned for wide-open spaces. He was disciplined and austere, and as prime minister of Canada, virtually had the weight of the nation on his shoulders. I didn’t really mature until I was in my fifties, and as a result, I spent years of my adult life doubting my ability to be truly responsible.

Like mother, like son?

Though she is now restored to responsibility and involved in public projects, her influence on her son’s formative years along with a possible genetic contribution must count for something. No one escapes one’s mother.

Justin’s leftist sensibility clearly owes much to his father. His cataclysmic increase of the national debt and deficit is bred in the bone, as is his animus against Western Canada, formidably expressed in his destruction of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. “No country of Canada’s size, geography and climate could exist in its current form without cheap and plentiful coal, oil and natural gas,” warns David Yager in From Miracle to Menace: Alberta, A Carbon Story, but “investor confidence has been crushed” by confiscatory taxes, choking regulations and the banning of tankers and pipelines. And as Gwyn Morgan points out, “Justin Trudeau won’t admit that, like his dad, his ideology is one of tax-and-spend, anti-business and anti-Alberta-oil… It’s perfectly clear from his actions he is indeed his father’s son.”

 Here I would add a caveat. The elder Trudeau was educated and accomplished, a graduate of several prestigious universities, a practicing lawyer and a founder of the influential critical review Cité Libre. The younger was a substitute high school drama teacher, nightclub bouncer and snowboarding instructor. As Edward Dougherty writes in a brilliant article for American Affairs treating in part the educational deficiencies of our political leaders, “Certainly, one cannot expect good political leadership from someone ignorant of political philosophy, history, or economics, or from someone lacking the political skill to work productively amid differing opinions.” This remark sums up Justin rather accurately. Nonetheless, he remains his father’s son, equally misguided, though without the erudition. He has his father’s insouciance but not his father’s substance.

At the same time, judging from the preposterous nature of his official and ideological acts—imposing a punitive and unnecessary carbon tax upon the country, sending needed PPE as well as cash to China (of all places) and the tarnished W.H.O., adhering to feminist doctrine and a parity cabinet ("Because it’s 2015," as he fatuously explained at the time), awarding $10.5 million plus apology to a Muslim terrorist, etc.—and his nonsensical personal behavior—preening in blackface, sitting humbly beside fake hunger artist and Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence in her teepee on Victoria Island, sporting Muslim-themed socks while attending a Pride Parade, prancing about in Bollywood gear during a diplomatic visit to India, etc.—Trudeau also reveals himself as his mother’s son, a “free spirit” and irresponsible adolescent.

Writing in the National Post, Canada’s premier columnist Rex Murphy points out that Trudeau has spent the last two months “governing” from his cottage steps in the Gatineau Hills near Ottawa, delivering daily pronouncements while communicating with 28 world leaders in his quest for a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council. The major hurdle, it appears, involves the approval of Fiji. “This is geopolitics as it is played by the masters,” Murphy quips, “Do we have Fiji on our side?” Meanwhile, unaccountable “billions upon billions are gushing out of Cottage life.” This is giddiness at the highest level. Trudeau was abandoned by his mother at the impressionable age of six. It seems he is repeating his childhood trauma with a frivolity reminiscent of his mother by abandoning the country he was elected to serve.

The only political advantages Justin Trudeau possesses are his mother’s good looks and his chic adherence to the “social justice” fads of the day. But he is, in my estimation, the worst prime minister in the history of the Canadian Confederation, as a perusal of Arthur Lower’s Colony to Nation or Michael Bliss’ Right Honourable Men should confirm. It is hard to find anyone in this disparate group more risible than Trudeau, including the ingenuous Joe Clark or the hapless Kim Campbell.  

Jim Gehl, a commentator at The Pipeline, says that Justin’s “focus as Prime Minister has really been in three areas, gender equality, indigenous rights and climate change,” ditzy initiatives of which his mom would surely approve. But he is also an “economic illiterate,” very much like his dad whose fiscal mismanagement was arguably the Achilles heel of his stewardship. Admittedly, pop psychology is always as tempting as it is facile, but common sense suggests that Trudeau’s observable conduct indicates a strong parental character derivation. The apple doesn’t fall far from the genealogical tree. 

A socialist and a socialite, Justin Trudeau has inherited his father’s demagogic politics and his mother’s feckless temperament, producing the cerebrally devastating cocktail we see in his current policies and behavior. His latest escapade is typical of an authoritarian personality ungrounded in reality, as exemplified by his announcement to develop and import, in collaboration with the Chinese company CanSinoBio, the Ad5-nCov coronavirus vaccine. Canada is the only nation to sign such an agreement with China, irrespective of the fact that China is where the virus originated and was allowed to spread while its nature was hidden. In true despotic fashion, and in violation of the Constitution, Trudeau is now contemplating making the vaccine mandatory for Canadians.

The country can scarcely survive so Harlequinesque a leader performing in a commedia dell’arte of national proportions, a ridiculous figure cavorting on the brink of the country’s fiscal implosion, health-policy imbecility and coming disintegration. As David Yager writes, “In Canada, the future is here today, and it is ugly.”

Europe's Green Mask Conceals Marxist Objectives

In his beautifully written essays, Conrad Black always shines a bright light on what otherwise might be neglected. His epistle on German energy policy is no exception.  In it he reviews the history of the environmental movement and how it formed a coalition with those who mistrusted economic growth. The left, he notes, realized the potential of this new means of achieving its ends after military conquest and revolution failed. They embraced the green movement to achieve what they could not otherwise:

The Left saw that the most effective method of obstructing capitalism was not through the revolutionary subversion of Western governments or developing countries (though some of that persisted, especially in Latin America), but in an ostensibly nonpolitical movement that assaulted capitalism under the cloak of saving the planet and making it a happy nature sanctuary.

Never mind that capitalism has greatly benefited the poorest in the world through its innovative genius and human incentives while Marxist governments give us hellholes like Venezuela and Zimbabwe. 

“Over the last 25 years, more than a billion people have lifted themselves out of extreme poverty, and the global poverty rate is now lower than it has ever been in recorded history. This is one of the greatest human achievements of our time,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said. “But if we are going to end poverty by 2030, we need much more investment, particularly in building human capital, to help promote the inclusive growth it will take to reach the remaining poor. For their sake, we cannot fail.”

Because of political fragmentation, to stay in power German politicos have embraced green energy zealotry. In so doing Germany is impoverishing itself, shuttering nuclear and coal plants, increasing the (already dear) cost of electricity to consumers, and making itself ever more dependent on Russia and vulnerable to economic and political disruption. It has, in Black's words, “shut down its advanced and efficient nuclear energy program and is transforming itself into a state of thorough energy-dependence on President Putin’s threadbare Russia, chronically unreliable (apart from its rascality and duplicity).”

Lord Black suggests that people can focus on only one crisis at a time and that the Wuhan virus makes the Social Democrats' demand that the government must deal with that and “climate change” at the same time is insane. On this point, I think he’s more optimistic than I am. If Europe were on the stock exchange, I’d recommend shorting it. Here’s why I think he’s right on the genesis of this madness but he’s overly optimistic about its demise .

He’s right that the cost of dealing with Wuhan virus is high. It’s estimated that the cost of containing it will be as much as 7.2 and 20.6% of Gross Domestic Product, according to Germany’s emergency budget. This cost will come on top of the already astronomical costs to German consumers of the present energy policy. Relying on renewable energy has increased the cost of electricity substantially. German consumers are taxed to provide subsidies to solar and wind producers because these sources are by their very nature unreliable and because these facilities are so spread out, transmission lines from these distant sources must be built throughout the country. And it is predicted that these prices will increase indefinitely the more renewable sources are used. 

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But it will not be economically or politically easy to undo present actions and policies. Germany’s closure of its nuclear and coal powered plants continues as rapidly as the courts there will permit—the plan being to shut all nuclear power stations by 2022, Moreover Germany is well on the way to eliminating all 84 of its coal-fired plants.  The coal plants now provide about 40% of its electrical energy, the nuclear about 11%. Once shuttered, it will be costly if not impossible, to bring these sources back online. Japan is reopening shuttered nuclear plants, but the same “green” forces in Germany (and here) will certainly make such action politically difficult, although nuclear power is demonstrably the greenest source of electrical generation. German consumers may not realize that shuttering these plants has not reduced carbon emissions even as it increased their electricity costs, but to date the madness continues under pressure from the left and their “useful idiots.”

To my knowledge German consumers have not rebelled at the sharp increase (over 50% between 2006 and 2017) in electricity occasioned by the power production shift. And the madness is seeping over to France. Up until now, France has not followed the German energy lunacy. As a result French consumers pay a great deal less for electricity than do their German neighbors. France generates most of its electricity from nuclear and very little from solar and wind. Under German pressure that is changing; it should come as no surprise to those who pay attention that despite paying $33 billion for renewables between 2009 and 2018 “the carbon intensity of French electricity has increased.” In fact, per Mark Nelson and Madison Czerwinski, who seem to have most thoroughly investigated this, “France could have completely decarbonized its electricity sector had it spent $32 billion on new nuclear plants rather than solar and wind.”

One must conclude in light of rising consumer costs and increased reliance on renewables (even as they increase carbonization) that there must be another reason why governments keep ceding to green demands so counterproductive to their stated aims An obvious clue is to be found in the statement of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. While most of us see the spread of the Wuhan virus as a blot on the notion of globalization, the blinkered Guterres suggests it is a tribute to globalization and a call for further impoverishment of economies of the industrialized nations -- the very countries that create technological advances and provide aid to the world’s poor.

He obliquely acknowledges the economic contributions of the First World: “the G20 countries collectively account for more than 8o percent of global emissions and over 85 per cent of the global economy.” Yet he seeks to impoverish them—as Germany is impoverishing itself-- for an unattainable goal: “carbon neutrality by 2050.” Guterres contends, against all evidence, that societies will become more resilient the more they rely on sustainable energy rather than conventional sources. While most sentient observers notice that technological advancement and international aid requires capital for which capitalism and conventional power production are the best means to achieve it, he argues for less of it. Indeed, there is but a gossamer scrim hiding the real plan: redistribution from rich countries to poor, from tenable energy sources and producers to untenable ones. From democratic and functioning societies to proven failures. Following his screed it is impossible not to laugh at his concluding remarks, “Let us use the pandemic recovery to provide a foundation for a safe, healthy, inclusive and more resilient world for all people.”

In sum, his view must delight the Left, which has so far been unable to achieve its dual goals of smashing Western democracies and impoverishing all but those power mad and deceitful enough to arrogate power to themselves.