E.U. Commission: Nukes and Natural Gas are Now 'Green'

Well this is a pleasant surprise: the European Commission -- the executive committee of the European Union -- has decided to propose a plan reclassifying natural gas and nuclear power as "green energy," at least for the sake of investment. From Reuters:

The Commission's proposal would label nuclear power plant investments as green if the project has a plan, funds and a site to safely dispose of radioactive waste. To be deemed green, new nuclear plants must receive construction permits before 2045. Investments in natural gas power plants would also be deemed green if they produce emissions below 270g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh), replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant, receive a construction permit by Dec. 31 2030 and plan to switch to low-carbon gases by the end of 2035.

The background to this is, of course, Europe's ongoing energy crunch, which has seen record prices per megawatt hour in countries throughout the continent, as wind turbines and solar panels have failed to produce enough electricity to meet winter demand. Germany, which famously went all in on its green energy transition known as die Energiewende roughly a decade ago, has been forced to restart some of its closed, carbon intensive coal-fired power plants to keep up.

And it isn't as if they're actually lying about this -- as much as green activists hate to admit it, the United States has led the world in emissions reduction since the year 2000, largely because the fracking revolution has allowed us to increasingly lean on low-carbon natural gas for our heat and energy needs. Nuclear power, meanwhile, is effectively a zero-carbon power source. Consequently, if you're actually concerned about carbon emissions, natural gas and nuclear should be high up in your proposed power mix. They are as "green" as any first world nation's energy is going get.

Even so, it is worth noting the EC tries to stress that they're not proposing a permanent shift -- "[T]he Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future," according to their statement. That is to say, they consider natural gas and nuclear as "transitional" energy sources whose role is to bridge the gap to their still-inevitable wind-and-solar powered future! Moreover Germany, which still has the largest economy in the E.U., remains fanatically committed to its Energiewende, to such a degree that they've just closed down three of their remaining six operational nuclear power plants, their soaring energy rates notwithstanding. Theoretically, Germany could lead a charge to kill this sensible proposal in the European Parliament, over the objections of France and other nations who have relied on nuclear for decades.

Still, let's focus on the bright side -- Europe's governing class is cracking under the pressure of sky-high energy rates and are being forced to admit that their current way of doing things just isn't working. If this reclassification actually goes through, activists will have a real fight on their hands when they try to change it back in a few years time. And officially classifying natural gas and nuclear as green energy is likely to take so much wind out of the green movement's turbines that it could eventually cease to exist.

California's Fatal Energy Lysenkoism

In the art of distorting scientific facts for political purposes, California has to earn a global Lysenkoism medal. Its politicians are seemingly wedded to the idea that man is responsible for global warming and reducing fossil fuel use will reverse this trend. They have engaged in a series of misdirected actions that will only increase fossil fuel emissions worldwide while creating more poverty, famine and death .

Even assuming for the sake of argument what cannot be proven—that man can control the earth’s climate—California continues to enact legislation and regulations at cross purposes with this aim and at a perilous cost to its citizens and the world.

Rather than developing readily available energy sources under rational federal environmental regulations, that state—like the Biden Administration—demonizes them. Its unique regulatory environment has made manufacturing difficult if not impossible and as a consequence it relies on imports to meet the state’s energy and other needs. Unfortunately, in catering to the green crazies who have extraordinary political clout there, they only are creating more very dangerous air pollutants.

Trofim Lysenko, the man who starved millions.

Ronald Stein explains: " You see most of what Californians import enters the states on cargo ships, and they are the biggest transport polluters in the world, using low-grade bunker fuel, the cheapest, most polluting fuels ,fuels known to emit cancer and asthma-creating pollutants. Worldwide “90,000 ships…burn approximately 370 million tons of fuel per year, emitting 20 million tons of sulfur oxides.” This level of pollution is equal to that of 50 million vehicles.

Among the cargo ships unloading in the state are those carrying hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil—58 percent of the crude oil used in the state -- largely as feedstock to refineries for manufacturing oil and derivatives necessary for military use, medical supplies, airlines, cruise and merchant ships, among countless other  things.

Here's the tradeoff California governor Gavin Newsom has made, instead of allowing production in-state of crude oil in one of the most oil-rich states in the Union:

Instead of protecting Californians’ health by forbidding production in-state and ridding the state of crude oil altogether without any viable replacement in the name of stopping "climate change," the result will instead be millions of fatalities from diseases, malnutrition and weather-related deaths.

If you think that is a hyperbolic description of the consequences, consider the problem created by California’s banning of gas-powered generators, lawnmowers and leaf blowers. This month the California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted to ban the sale of off-road generators in equipment starting in 2024 and portable generators in 2024. All are to meet zero-emission standards in 2028.

Gavin Newsom, the man who killed California.

The standards set by the CARB are so unrealistic, it’s likely to be impossible to find any such equipment by 2024. (Of course, the run on them in Nevada and a burgeoning black market then is predictable because these are such valuable tools.) But aside from reducing noise, which bothers neighbors who are rich enough to afford to pay for the extra labor it takes to mow the lawn and rid their property of fallen leaves or strong enough to manage these tasks, there are serious consequences.

Among those are this: California’s grid is underpowered and faces rampant outrages.

Banning generators could have countless and dangerous consequences. In fact, just last year, many Californians had to use generators to charge their electric vehicles so they could leave their homes during outages and reduce strain on the grid... California's electric situation is so problematic that earlier this year the state actually paid people to ignore emissions standards and use gas-powered generators to lighten  the load on the failing power grid... This option will be drastically reduced and could create massive and deadly problems for the state's residents.

But there’s more. Banning generators could seriously endanger lives of these who depend on them. People who need oxygen and other life-support equipment like CPAP machines, wheelchair lifts, elevators, and air conditioners, rely on home generators. And then there are RVs, often a choice of full time living quarters for retirees and the less affluent in the state’s pricey real estate market. These need generators. California state legislators in Sacramento are unconcerned with such things as they are of the consequences to remote construction and lumber production in areas far from the electric grid, occupations dependent on portable energy generation.

Lysenko’s fancy of hardened seeds and crop rotation led to widespread famine in the old Soviet Union. Newsom’s fantasy of life without fossil fuel will lead to disaster, too, unless somehow checked.

A Magic-Pudding Antipodean Plan to Reach Net-Zero

The Liberal and National Parties form Australia's current coalition government. As leader of the Nationals, the junior coalition partner, representing regional and rural areas, Barnaby Joyce is Australia’s deputy prime minister. He came to global attention, you may recall, in 2015 when he threatened to “euthanise” Johnny Depp’s illegal-alien dogs, Pistol and Boo, unless they were removed tout de suite back to California.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison needed Barnaby to bring the Nationals onboard the concept of net-zero. The supposedly right-of-centre Liberal politicians all now embrace climate change. Morrison himself has no philosophy except to be re-elected. Barnaby is a climate skeptic as are some of his party colleagues. But they voted, and pragmatism won the day.

Nirvana ahead! All aboard!

What does pragmatism look like? In this case, twelve Nationals against nine voting in their party room to keep the government together and heighten their chances of being returned to power when the federal election is held early next year. Was there any high principle or conviction involved? Hardly.

This is Barnaby just a little over a year ago: “prospects of getting out of that [party] room as leader [having agreed to net zero] would be zero.” And here he is a few days ago on October 25: “The party has clearly said that they are in favour of a goal of net zero by 2050. I am now absolutely onboard…”

What we have is the deputy prime minister of the country being personally opposed to the very centrepiece of government policy; a policy that will define the battle lines in the forthcoming election. He should resign you might think. Not if you like being deputy prime minister.

There is an excuse of sorts for all of this. Morrison needed to go to Glasgow promising net-zero or risk Australia's becoming an international pariah and suffering retribution from international capital markets. It’s expedient for the U.K., Europe, the United States, woke corporates, and billionaires to point the finger at Australia (less than 1.2 percent of global emissions). No good blaming much bigger fish: China, India, Russia. They’ll shrug it off or, worse, take umbrage. Better to pick a more compliant mark. Kick the cat, so to speak. And Boris Johnson repaid Australia’s redemptive compliance by calling it “heroic.” Morrison purred.

If he only had a brain.

My own view is why stop at net-zero? Go for broke, gross-zero. Anything is possible with Morrison’s costless plan. It won’t cost Australians a cent and will lead to higher incomes and more jobs, he promises. I don’t know why it wasn’t thought of before now. Years ago. And surely, logic says, if net-zero is so beneficial, gross zero would be even better?

The costless plan involves public spending of many billions of dollars; though, apparently, Australian taxpayers won’t be touched for the tab. It’s one of those magic-pudding plans (“The more you eats the more you gets”) which more than pays for itself. So, what is the plan?

Here it is below in a nutshell. It has to be in a nutshell. There are no costings or details.

First, the plan banks the fact that emissions are already 20 percent lower than in 2005. I don’t quite know how that works. Never mind, most of another 40 percent comes from green hydrogen. Australia’s former chief scientist, Alan Finkel, says that the export potential “is almost beyond imaginings.” He’s right, for once. It is beyond imaginings. It’s worthwhile to continually remind ourselves why coal, oil and gas, of which Australia has plenty of the first and third, are so good. It’s because they are the energy. Dense energy. They readily burn without much ado.

Green hydrogen is only energy once much more energy is expended making it into energy. To begin with, energy is required to purify copious quantities of water. To end with, energy is required to convert hydrogen to ammonia, for safe transportation, and to convert it back for use. In the middle is an energy intensive electrolysis process to isolate hydrogen from water. And all the while, solar farms and wind turbines occupying vast areas of land are needed to supply “clean” energy to make it all possible.

Quite apart from its sheer inefficiencies and costs, and assuming it can be done at all at scale, it poses untenable national-security problems. When all of your power plus fuel for transport is sourced from untold acreages of solar panels and wind turbines, the targets are expansive and unmistakable and the effect of them being hit is catastrophic.

Sitting ducks.

The hallmark of the plan, its electoral selling point, is net zero through "technology not taxes." Ergo, another 15 percent of the descent to net-zero is achieved by piggybacking on global technological developments, which are apparently afoot. Yes, I’m not quite sure what that means either. Another 10 percent comes from storing carbon in soils and plants and from buying offsets from abroad. The final 15 percent comes from unknown technological breakthroughs. Something will turn up. Not making this up. I’m essentially quoting from the plan, if not Mr Micawber his own good self.

The plan, of course, isn’t a plan at all; it’s a wish list. Hopes and dreams. Suspend disbelief, and you will be able to look forward to 2050 when there will be more than 100,000 more jobs than would otherwise exist. Each Australian will be $2,000 better off. Electricity bills will be lower than they are today. Australian exports will more than triple between 2020 and 2050, even though global demand for coal and gas will plummet.  Hydrogen will more than take up the slack. Warp-speed travel will also take Australians to the stars and beyond. I made that last bit up. It isn’t in the plan; unlike the rest of the faery tale.

All isn’t fantasy. Realism breaks through when it comes to methane. Australia is one of the few countries which has more cows and (many) more sheep than it has people. Awa’ to Glasgow and pressure on Australia to reduce methane emissions by 30 percent on 2020 levels by 2030. Apparently, Biden’s handlers are keen. Suspecting, I imagine, that Trump supporters eat lots of hamburgers.

Cows belch methane; as do sheep to a lesser extent. And there is little you can do about it apart from culling. Barnaby and his mates would never agree to that. Millions of disappeared animals is just too tangible. Best to remain in technological never-never land where nothing is remotely tangible. Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain.

Our Rube Goldbergian Supply Chain

The ripple effect of foolish government policy, propagated by an ignorant and biased media, has no end.  The latest knock-on effect continues to play out before our eyes, yet once again, neither the government nor the media will ever cop to it.  We’ve all heard about the supply chain disruption, but the real causes and effects are not being discussed.

The causes are partially rooted in government helicopter money dropped over the past eighteen months.  Stimulus checks, forgivable loans, 30-year SBA loans, rent moratoriums, rent assistance, eviction moratoriums – they all created reasons for people not to go to work.  While many programs have ended, many others continue.  Rent relief checks are still backlogged, and the child tax credit advances continue to deliver income so that people don’t have to work.

Fewer workers means fewer people to manufacture goods, transport goods, and stock the goods.  The result is that supply cannot meet demand, resulting in higher prices across the board (inflation).  No sector is immune.

Tough to keep ahead.

Those aren’t the only ripple effects, though.  Inflation reduces purchasing power.  So all the money that was given to people now buys less than it did, and when they eventually go back to work, their paychecks won’t stretch far enough.  Sure, the labor shortages will temporarily result in higher wages to offset the inflation, but once the labor market reaches equilibrium, those wages will fall again.

Thus, real wages – defined as wages adjusted for inflation – will actually decline.  Those same people the government was purporting to “protect” by telling them to stay home to avoid a virus with a 99.7 percent survival rate, will be unable to make ends meet.  Those that were already struggling will see their situations worsen.  Hourly compensation is up  2 percent, but real hourly compensation (inflation adjusted) is down 2.7 percent.  That’s a 4.7 percent swing in the other direction.

How then do people make ends meet?  By taking out short-term payday and installment loans, as well as pawning items.  That sends them further into debt, so that when the rent and eviction moratoriums end, they are in danger of becoming homeless. Government economic data shows just how bad things are.

Under Barack Obama, the Labor Force Participation Rate hit a 40 year low at 62.4 percent.  It improved to 63.4 percent in the pre-COVID Trump era.  Every single demographic, including women and minorities, hit bottom under Obama and recovered under Trump.

After bottoming out at 60.2 percent, the overall rate is now 61.6 percent.  That 180 basis point difference translates to nearly five million jobs.  It turns out that when five million people stay out of the workforce, there’s a supply chain problem.  Notably, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports nearly 5.7 million people who are not in the labor force who want a job, and of those, less than 10 percent are classified as “discouraged” while the rest are not actively seeking employment.

Job losers on temporary layoff are, for the most part, back to work.  That number was 750,000 in February of 2020 and 1.1 million at the end of September.  These workers are returning to their jobs at a high rate.  That sounds great, except BLS reports that the areas with the weakest job growth in the past month are goods-producing, manufacturing, and wholesale trade.  This has also been the case across three-, six- and 12- month periods.

No thanks, we're on the dole.

Who didn’t lose their jobs during COVID?  Surprise: government workers lost the fewest of all the categories – only 1.7 million total.

The big deal, of course, is inflation.  The 12-month change in the CPI by category is the worst it has been in decades: 5.4 percent for all items, 4.6 percent for food, 4 percent for all items other than food and energy.

Energy is the real killer, however, up a whopping 25 percent.  The worst thing about energy price inflation is it filters through the entire economy.  Energy is needed to manufacture and transport goods to the middleman and end user.  It is required to heat homes, which means colder housing for all those people for whom inflation erodes purchasing power.

Want to make a burger at home?  Ground chuck beef prices are up 15 percent over the last year.  The bread for that burger bun costs 9 percent more. The cost of going out to eat rose at an average rate of about 3 percent over the past twenty years.  The rate of increase is now 4.7 percent.  The Producer Price Index for goods is up 1 percent, the most since 2012.

That’s the data, but there are other issues at play that created the supply-chain issues.  All the free government money, plus the fact that there was nowhere to spend it during the lockdowns, have resulted in surges in demand at the same time as labor shortages.

Not quite bounding over the main.

In addition, the Cato Institute points out that the entire shipping and logistics industries at our nation’s ports have been “warped by long‐​standing policies that have decreased port efficiency and unnecessarily stressed our inland supply chain infrastructure. Most notably, longshoreman unions have leveraged their ability to shut down U.S. ports (and thus much of the economy) during contentious labor negotiations to win contracts that decrease port productivity.”

Another problem goes back to the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which requires all ships that move freight between U.S. ports to be U.S. built, crewed by U.S. citizens, and flagged in the U.S.  When supply is limited in that manner, it pushes shipping costs higher, and  offloads capacity onto land-based transport.  Trucks and trains that should be servicing the ports are on alternate jobs.

Thus, the supply chain pandemic begins and ends with government.  The lockdowns were unnecessary, causing the government to flood citizens with money, resulting in both labor shortages and demand surges, amidst obsolete logistics laws and regulations unable to cope with it. Who knew Rube Goldberg was running the country?

Erin Go Bragh?

For reasons that are mysterious to those who know Irish history, the Irish think of themselves as an almost uniquely virtuous people. That self-appraisal first became evident when Irish nationalist history began presenting the nation as—in the words of skeptical revisionist historian Ruth Dudley Edwards—“the most oppressed people ever” or MOPE. Since the present age is one that worships the cult of victimhood, the most oppressed people ever have morphed easily into the most virtuous people ever. And because today’s dispensers of accolades of virtue are overwhelmingly woke progressives in politics and culture, the most virtuous people ever were soon encouraged to think of themselves as the most progressive people ever. (Those who would like a bracing corrective to this sentimentality with an edge of amnesia are advised to read the columns of Kevin Myers passim).

Currently essential requirements for internationally virtuous progressivism are a patriotic devotion to the European Union and a passionate attachment to all forms of Green politics. The Irish seem to score higher than anyone else by these tests. Indeed, this last week has seen the Irish government—composed as it is of Ireland’s two major “legacy” parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail—demonstrate a bipartisan conversion to the E.U.-backed international consensus that all governments should adopt a minimum corporate tax rate of fifteen percent.

Love it, hate it, tax it.

That conversion represents an astounding reversal of Ireland’s long-term economic strategy of attracting investment from multinational corporations with much lower rates—an economic strategy that has been largely successful and been declared irreversible by both parties many times. Yet it was abandoned with almost no prior debate and almost no subsequent controversy, as Irish Times columnist David Quinn has pointed out.

“Roma locuta, causa finita”—Rome has spoken, the debate is settled—used to be quite literally the motto of Irish governments in the bad old days of De Valera’s Catholic Republic. In the new modern progressive Ireland, however, an almost identically rigid rule—Brussels locuta, causa finita—applies to decisions of the European Union. And that includes decisions that the Brussels bureaucracy has taken but not yet formally managed to get into European law. Why bother when the subject nations prevent their own oppression “by a timely compliance”?

Superficially at least the same seems to be true of Green politics. In the run-up to the COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, few peoples are as pleased with their own deep-green commitments as those governed from Dublin. As political editor Pat Leahy reported in the Irish Times: Ireland’s Parliament “has passed legislation requiring the Government to reduce carbon emissions by 7 percent a year, leading to a reduction of 51 per cent by 2030.” That’s a massive commitment—one that would impose real sacrifices on ordinary Irish people—but a massive poll last year showed that the voters thought climate change posed a catastrophic threat to them and their way of life. A massive threat justifies making massive sacrifices to keep it at bay, right?

Well, as it turns out, no.

Mr. Leahy reports that according to a very recent Irish Times poll, when you break down massive sacrifice into specific burdens caused by policies the government may soon introduce, people become much less willing to bear the pains. Its general import can be seen in the following examples. Large majorities opposed higher taxes on energy and fuel (82 to 14 percent), making it more expensive to buy cars (72 to 23 percent), higher property taxes for homes that are not energy efficient (69 to 23 percent), reducing the size of the national cattle herd (60 to 25 percent), and running the risk of interruptions of electricity supply (81 to 13 percent.) Even higher taxes on air travel were firmly nixed (53 to 40 percent.) In fact the only proposal for greater sacrifice that got an actual majority (60 to 24 percent) was “allowing more land to be used for wind energy/turbines”—and it’s likely that this idea was supported by landowners who expect to be well-subsidized for their sacrifice and opposed mainly by wildlife enthusiasts. It doesn’t directly affect many other people.

Despoiling the Irish countryside in order to save it.

I don’t suppose that most of my readers will be too shocked by this. Most polls in other countries have similar results, confirming that people’s willingness to make painful financial sacrifices declines in proportion as the reality of the sacrifices increase. Why did the government not notice the same thing?

My guess is that they knew there’d be trouble—just not quite so much trouble—for an understandable reason. When all the major institutions of society (including both major parties and the media) support even a painful policy, controversy over it gets damped down. The voters aren’t alerted to what’s coming down the pike. That’s what happened when Ireland abandoned its lucrative low level of corporate taxation, and government spinmeisters may have calculated it would happen again with Green taxes and higher energy bills.

The difference between the two cases isn’t that abandoning Ireland’s low corporate tax strategy won’t hurt multinational investment, Ireland’s economic growth, and thus the voters’ prosperity. It will hurt all three, but it will do so gradually, moderately, and above all imperceptibly. Higher electricity and property taxes, electricity supply interruptions, and unaffordable vacation flights, on the other hand—well, people notice that kind of thing. And when they do, they conveniently forget that they had once expressed a noble willingness to endure pain to avert climate catastrophe. Instead they doubt that the catastrophe is as urgent as the need to keep their homes heated, their cars running, and their tax bills moderate.

In the next two weeks we’ll have the run-up to COP-26 in Glasgow. We may then see how much raw virtue democracy can take in any country. The Irish are unlikely to feel ashamed by comparisons.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Eventing

I’m back in Jolly old England as I’m meant to be setting up a mega-conference for the client that Daddy has mockingly dubbed ‘The Green Baron’. ‘Baron’ because we’ve reached tera-cap status and ‘green’ because we are working to be carbon neutral by 2040. He thinks it’s all rather hilarious. Daddy is indeed proud of me for landing such a client, but also reminded me that the company’s carbon footprint just breached 60 million metric tonnes.

Travel from the states back to the UK was a bit of a mess and I don’t think I should make it known—but with all the inspection of my vaccine status, and latest PCR tests, the customs agent didn’t even crack open my passport. My sad, dark blue post-Brexit booklet just lay under his nose until he scooped up the lot of it and handed it back to me. And so many questions as to whether I had a headache or had felt ill in any way... I really felt I should have been given a lolly as my doctor used to do. The most ridiculous bit is they won’t give you a seat until you are cleared by the medical inquest. So while I can feel sure that no one on the plane has a headache—a valid visa cannot be assured. And it all feels very much like school… being told at the last minute where I am to sit. It’s not such a big deal when one has her own pod but for the people on the other side of the curtain… well, boo.

The flight was pleasant enough but once we landed—the party was over. Heathrow is not nearly as empty as it was a year ago and the line for people who were transiting was madness. And what was the point? They were already in the building. I had weighed the prospect of taking the train to Peterborough but decided not to bill for the four hours it would take by rail versus under two in a town car. Hard to know which gesture my client would appreciate though.

Home sweet temporary home.

And just like that, I was back in the glorious England of my childhood. I’m well-familiar with Burghley House, having come here so many times as a girl with my parents to watch the annual Burghley House Horse Trials, and then much later as a competitor. The house itself is probably the finest example of an Elizabethan prodigy house but this is the first time I’ve actually stayed here. It’s not open for guests and my previous forays had been as part of a tour, or as a party guest in connection with the horse trials and my Olympic participation.

It was here, on the grounds of the estate that I learned to be truly brave and attacking in competition. It is the world’s greatest five- star equestrian event and the ultimate goal for every rider in the world. But as a Briton, one genuinely feels they are fighting for queen and country. Sadly this year, and last, queen and country shut us down for the dreaded Covid, which never made any sense to me as it’s an outdoor event and the horses are regularly treated with Ivremectin. A colossal loss of revenue for all involved, but now an opportunity for us.

Right off it became clear that nearby lodging was going to pose some logistical complexities. Specifically loads of buses and private cars to ferry people to the various events, and that was after we’d all made our way from London. I could feel the green meter ticking but I was determined to make this work and reminded myself that it would provide less impact and congestion than the annual event. Especially given we wouldn’t be bringing in horses. OK, granted the non-horse bit was entirely lame but I did feel the need to craft arguments in support of our green conscience. And with that I began to second-guess my suggestion of Burghley House in the first place. The property, however, was doing all it could to sell me on the idea so I could in turn sell it to my boss. What I needed was an inducement. Or divine inspiration.

This must be Heaven.

I walked down the corridor to stare up at Verrio’s Mouth of Hell and then onto his masterpiece… Heaven, which was both magnificent and grotesque. The fat-bottomed gods and goddesses, while magnificent, gave no clues except to seemingly say, please don’t bring a bunch of loud Americans to fix their gaze upon every bare baroque breast and penis. Noticing a lion that had been clubbed to death, I went back to my room to ring my father.

He greeted me with, ‘Congratulations!’

‘Thank you Daddy’ I said, ‘but you knew I landed this job months ago.’

‘Indeed, but since then you’ve eclipsed both big tobacco and big oil in lobbying expenditure—nearly doubled actually.’

‘Well that is big news.’ I said, steeling myself for what was coming next. ‘Listen, Daddy, I’m here in Burghley House…’

‘OUR Burghley House?’

‘Yes, one and the same, and I’m trying to find a way to bring a huge event here without… well, you know.’

‘Why not invite that sickly little Swede? You could call the event…HOW DARE YOU!’

‘I’m serious, Daddy! I feel awful. I’m nearly in tears. I walked the grounds and I honestly don’t want to bring one more human to this celestial place.’

‘Then ask your boss to write them a check for £100M… if you’re serious that is. That should offset your carbon guilt.’

‘A hundred million quid?? He’d never…’

‘Ah but he will. Because soon enough he will have his eye on Cambridge City Airport, which is slated to close to build several thousand homes. Which of course is madness because more homes would mean more goods needed, thus creating a need for an even larger shipping hub. And if he hasn’t realised this, you should suggest it to him—along with your carbon guilt money.’

I was gobsmacked. He had solved my problem— but had he?

‘Listen, Jennifer—I have to figure out what your mother’s got up to but we’ll be home later,’ he said and rang off.

I now felt guiltier than ever. But I was a genius… stuff the homes somewhere, and build a mega-hub—which clearly we need. And a whopping check for the estate. Best not call it carbon guilt money though...

What'cha Gonna To Do When the Wind Don’t Blow?

I’ve often thought I should start a new kind of psychological therapy, one I call the Get Real School. Instead of listening to neurotics moan about their childhood toilet-training traumas, I’d have them discuss what their adult beliefs are, and we’d explore how sensible their concerns and plans are. If it took off, I’d expect that California’s and the European Union’s energy supplies  would benefit greatly from this therapy if only I could get their leaders into my office.

They have ignored utterly the need for energy reliability, discounted cost to consumers, overestimated the capacity of renewable energy, and underestimated energy demands. They  do so based  on the ridiculous concept that man can control the climate. To that end everything from cow flatulence to clean-burning natural gas must be stemmed in place of wind, sun and water. In the process, of course, they increase their own power over virtually every aspect of life within their domain.

It’s still mild in Europe right now, though winter is coming, a time when demand is always greater, and yet  even in a more benign fall there’s been a substantial shortage of energy and as a result an incredible increase in energy costs to consumers. 

To infinity and beyond!

Blame it on the North Sea winds which suddenly stopped blowing if you wish. I blame it on ludicrous energy policies. What do you do when the wind stops blowing (one-twenty fourth of its normal electrical production) and the windmills stand still? You rely on fossil fuels. To make up the shortfall, gas and coal-fired electrical producing plants are forced into play as backups.

British political geniuses counted on the wind farms to do away entirely with net carbon emissions by 2050. This may seem odd to officialdom’s deep thinkers, but just as man can’t control climate, so also he cannot control wind or sunshine or rainfall, either. Well, you might say, the U.K. is lucky to still have backup fuels to pick up the shortfall. But, no, the same central planning that counted on wind has also set up a system of purchasable carbon credits to offset the use of such fuels. Quite naturally, the price of those "credits" is soaring as the need for them increases. More sensible planners would have provided for suspension of the carbon-credit system when there’s an urgent need for them, but, of course, they did not.  

How substantial will the hit to the pockets of U.K. consumers be? At the moment electricity prices in the U.K. are seven times higher than they were last September -- up to $395 a megawatt hour for power to be dispatched the next day. France, Germany and the Netherlands are also seeing substantial energy cost increases. Here’s how this works:

Gas is in short supply right now and renewables aren’t pulling their expected share, so utilities must buy more coal, and when they do they have had to buy more emissions allowances as well. And the increased costs have to be passed on to consumers -- directly for electricity  (and indirectly through the higher costs of goods and services). So, wherever possible, energy producers  have returned to gas and that meant gas prices have also shot up. Still, they are able to generate some electricity using these backups right now. But, despite this experience, the U.K. demands that all coal plants must close by 2024. When and if they do, the situation will certainly be more dire.

At the moment, the only companies that profit from the shift to wind power are U.S. exporters of liquified natural gas and Russian gas exporters. This winter, if the North sea wind blows, they better pray it doesn’t at the same time freeze the windmills or blow them down.

Um... hello?

California is also suffering from an electricity shortfall.  And its plan is to allow more air pollution for 60 days. That state has been relying heavily on solar energy  and wind. It also relies on hydroelectric power but drought and wildfires have limited the capacity of that source. The summer heat increases demand for electricity. So much so, that the state predicts a shortfall sufficient to power 2.6 million homes in the coming months.

To avoid that, it has requested that six natural gas units throughout the state be permitted to operate at maximum capacity “notwithstanding air quality or other permit limitations.” It will certainly be ironic if we see that  closing some gas plants that operated under emission controls to save the environment now results in  greater emissions because renewables proved insufficient, and the remaining gas plants were allowed to operate outside emission controls. While it seems not to have considered the consequences of its closure of fossil fuel generating plants, California suddenly seems to have noticed a cost-benefit issue, arguing to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm that the power outages posed “a greater risk to public health and safety” than the greater emissions. The request was granted September 10. Let’s see what happens after the 60-day reprieve is up and the rest of the state’s green energy plan is implemented.

 On a higher  political level than California and the U.K., the game continues. John Kerry, the U.S. "Climate Change" envoy has been shuttling back and forth to India and China, the world’s greatest producers of  carbon emissions in what is certain to prove a vain attempt to persuade them to shortchange their countries of vital reliable, affordable energy. At the E.U., despite rocketing carbon-offset prices due to the insufficiency of renewable resources to meet demand, their climate czar Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice president, blathers on about that bloc cutting gas emissions “by at least 55 percent by 2030,” and offers up some big new thinking:

Even in Brussels there’s an occasional bright light. In this case it was Poland’s Anna Zalewska who noted citizens  unfortunately will “pay for the ambitions of the E.U.” And  the chair of the Parliamentary committee on the environment, who was all for the banning gas and diesel fueled cars, has contended that the notion of extending the carbon market to transport and buildings went too far. "Because we believe that the political cost is extremely high, and the climate impact is very low.”

What he’s really afraid of is massive social protests against such loony fiddling of something as basic to life as energy. And he should be. Winter’s just around the corner, European gas supplies are short and it’s a struggle, in any event, to get their older gas plants back on line. It may well prove that  a E.U. Christmas means there will either be  coal in the people’s electric plants or in the E.U. bigwigs' Christmas stockings.

It Ain't Over 'til the Greens Win

Lawyers specializing in migration from both sides of the barricades have a wry capsule explanation of how the law works: It Ain’t Over 'til the Migrant wins. In this explanation “wins” means “stays.”

There are American laws galore that allow the government to deport people present in the United States illegally. Why don’t they work? Well, there are also laws that enable a competent lawyer to string out his client’s deportation indefinitely until he has a wife, children, a job, a home, and a lawyer here—which almost amounts to a squatter’s right to stay.

It seems downright unreasonable to send him back to where his home used to be—at least that’s the view of the immigration bar, NGOs specializing in migration and refugee policy, media that are overwhelmingly sympathetic to migrants of every kind, all Democrats and some Republicans in Washington, academic “experts” on immigration, and so eventually of the courts trying such cases.

As the late Judge Robert Bork pointed out in his short, brilliant book, Coercing Virtue: The Worldwide Rule of Judges (AEI, 2003), modern judges implement not the law as such but a blend of the law itself and of the opinion of the law held by legal members of the highly educated upper-middle class.

That’s why the opinions of judges matter and why legal verdicts in immigration cases increasingly follow the maxim of “It ain’t over 'til the migrant wins.” And, therefore, stays.

Case closed!

Is that maxim now being transferred to law determining court cases on the environment and climate change?  That question is raised by the proliferation of court challenges to projects to extract and transport fuels, especially fossil fuels, when those projects have survived regulatory challenges from the federal bureaucracy, and even when their cancelations are likely to provoke disputes between the U.S. and other countries.

The most recent case of such judicial intervention took place in Alaska—usually a state hospitable to the oil and natural gas industry (as well it might be)—when a federal judge canceled Willow, a massive energy investment by Conoco-Phillips on Alaska’s North Slope.

Judge Sharon Gleason of the District of Alaska ruled that the environmental impact statement for Willow should have included a ”quantitative estimate of emissions resulting from oil consumption” (or explained why the estimate could not be produced) and provided better protection for wildlife including caribou.

These are interesting proposals, but they are not exactly legal judgments. They are  decisions for the political and regulatory authorities which had considered then and taken a different view to Judge Gleason. Willow had been approved by the Bureau of Land Management, supported by the Biden administration, and backed enthusiastically Alaska’s Governor, Mike Dunleavy, who is responsible to the voters for Alaska’s economic development. He responded sharply to Gleason:

We are giving America over to our enemies piece by piece. The Willow project would power America with 160,000 b/d, provide thousands of family-supporting jobs, and greatly benefit the people of Alaska.

Judge Gleason has no accountability for the economic consequences of her arbitrary judgments. She was exercising irresponsible power—or as the saying goes, legislating from the bench. Alaska voters damaged by her intervention have no way of sanctioning her for it.

Judge Gleason has spoken.

Of course, we should acknowledge that such judicial interventions sometimes favor the corporation against the regulatory bureaucracy or the decisions of lower courts. A recent example of that took place in Louisiana where a court forced the Biden administration to resume selling oil and gas leases to energy company which it had halted “temporarily” while the Interior Department reviewed them.

Higher courts may reverse that judgment on appeal—but that comes with a cost too. As the formidable columnist Mark Steyn has pointed out in the different context of libel law, “the process is the punishment.”

All these infrastructure projects are hugely expensive and take years to complete. If their approval is a constantly changing shuttlecock batted back and forth between the courts, the regulatory bureaucracy, the political world, and the industry, that will raise their costs massively, sometimes cause their cancelation, and hike the price of the final product in energy bills to the electricity consumer—who now include owners of electric cars and other electrical products. They buy such such products in order to switch from dirty fuels to greener power sources at a considerable increase in cost. That cost increase will get larger if infrastructure projects become as risky as roulette. And if you make the cost of switching heavier, fewer people will do it.

All those consequences—and more—were exemplified by President Biden’s cancelation of the nine-billion dollar Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Texas. He did this by executive order immediately upon coming into office after it had survived more than a decade of regulatory and legal challenges from the usual suspects—environmentalists, protesters claiming to represent indigenous interests, progressive billionaires: the Democratic party’s post-industrial urban base.

Par for the course, you may think. But this particular decision was unusual in two respects. In the first placed, it reversed the more common practice by which the courts override the national executive in Washington. On Keystone, Biden overrode the courts—which is usually seen by Democrats as a constitutional mortal sin. "Climate  change," however, is the excuse that sweeps all rational argument aside. Second, it provoked a serious foreign policy crisis with—of all energy-producing countries—Canada! Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau is Biden’s ideological soulmate on energy, the environment, and much else, but he still had to take his constituents into account.

That international crisis shows no sign of abating—quite the contrary—because Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer canceled a much more important and more established pipeline between the U.S. and Canada, apparently without really grasping the extraordinary damage she was inflicting on our friendly neighbor to the north. Here's one local report:

While the Keystone project was halted in early construction, Line 5 has transported Canadian oil since 1953. More than half of Ontario’s supply passes through it, according to [the pipeline company] Enbridge. It exits Michigan at the border city of Sarnia, Ontario, and connects with another line that provides two-thirds of crude used in Quebec for gasoline, home heating oil and other products.

I would once have thought that a war with Canada was in the realm of the impossible. But Governor Whitmer may be proving me wrong. She is threatening to confiscate Enbridge’s profits and do many other terrible things if the company continues to defy her. The federal regulator seems not to agree with the governor’s arguments that the pipeline is a hazard to the environment. Enbridge points out that all the alternatives to the pipeline would be more hazardous. The Canadians seem to be united around the defense of their own oil and gas industry since it keeps Ontario and Quebec warm in winter (and Michigan's airports operating). Local Michigan businesses are largely on Enbridge's side too. The Biden administration, which is currently digging down into a lot of holes, must be wondering how on earth it got into this hole and how to get out of it.

Game over, man.

The answer is that, as in Biden’s cancelation of the Keystone pipeline, there are far too many “authorities”—executive, regulatory, state, federal, legal—which believe that their virtuous Green ideologies give them a right to intervene arbitrarily in environmental and energy issues to reach the right outcome. Which one of them prevails is now an almost random matter. For companies contemplating multi-billion dollar projects, both negotiating with regulatory authorities and going to law in these circumstances are a little like shaking a kaleidoscope or consulting an astrological chart.

The main villain in all this is the authority that should and normally would determine fairly which of all the other authorities has the right and obligation to make which decisions on what and on what legal basis. That authority is the courts. Law should offer a reasonable certainty to companies and individuals contemplating major expenses from mortgages to investment in renewables. But it can only play this role well if it reduces to the minimum its own opinionatedness on green issues.

Unfortunately, the courts are no longer impartial umpires interpreting laws passed by Congress and state legislatures. They are moving in the direction of becoming more “green” rather than more judicial as the examples quoted above demonstrate. They have their fingers on the scales of Lady Justice. It threatens both America's prosperity and its democracy if it ain't over till the Greens win. But that's the trend.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Waiting

Just when you thought you’d seen it all… 2021 brings fuel shortages in the most developed nation in the world. I wouldn’t have believed it myself but my new client has me hopping to various locales, and today that has me absolutely stopped on the runway at Reagan National Airport. What would dear Ronnie have to say on the subject? 

One assumes he’d find someone to sack. But these days no one is to blame, and the airlines in particular have the insidious practice of pretending that things just happen upon them. They never have any idea that an aircraft that leaves very late is also going to arrive late. Of course they could simply look up into the sky and see if the bloody plane is not en route…then there should be no surprise when it doesn’t pull into the gate as scheduled. But surprised they are. Every. Single. Time.

And they pretend not to know they are short an entire crew until… oh gosh, did they really not turn up? Passengers have to check-in, but crew? Apparently there is no system in place until— like the thief that skips bail -- they don’t turn up. And today the excuse was that they did not have sufficient fuel to fly the thirty-five-minute flight from Washington D.C. to New York. Honestly…

Up, up, and away... maybe.

I can tell you this never happens to me—this confusion about how gas is expended or how to get more. I never go to my garage to then be utterly surprised that there is no fuel in my car. And when I hire staff, I have them arrive well before the guests. A shocking practice I know. But oh the reveal… as first time fliers gasp, and the eyes of seasoned passengers glaze over.

Is it any wonder so many would-be actors end up as cabin crew? It must take years of Meisner acting technique to convincingly utter the sentence that begins with "unfortunately." Perhaps I should try this…  just say unfortunately as an excuse for absolutely anything. Unfortunately I was applying lipstick while driving and… were you very fond of that child? 

And just now…unfortunately… (although we are already on board and strapped in) we just found out we haven’t any fuel. This is unfortunate? Like a surprise? Even as a teen I would never have the nerve to call Daddy and say… unfortunately I ran out of petrol -- your car is in Chelsea.

But today, (despite having a dreaded window seat) I am calm—knowing I have a whole eight hours to get where I need to be. No worries on my end, I will wait in silence and pen mean letters in my head that I will never send as they refuel—and off we will be. But, unfortunately, that is not what happened. Minutes turned into hours and we began to feel it indeed unfortunate that they had closed the door to the aircraft and no one was allowed to get off. At two hours and eleven minutes (eleven minutes past the legal allowable detainment) Captain Unfortunate told us that ‘by law’ they have to let us off and he would be opening the door… however, he added, if you get off the aircraft you will not be going to New York with us. What cheek.

This must be what hell feels like.

For the lucky few who were missing their flights—the choice was obvious, and an exit made sense. But (unfortunately) I had to show up for work. And Captain Unfortunate now became Captain Storyteller saying ‘Gosh folks…’ (a phrase that makes me immediately suspicious) ‘I’ve read about this happening but apparently (apparently??) there are not enough employees to fuel the aircraft and we have to wait our turn.’ Of course no explanation as to why said employee wasn’t summoned during the last two unfortunate hours, but the captain assured us that we were fourth in line for refuelling. And at which point I just had to call daddy.

‘Yes, Jennifer,’ he answered. But I had to make him wait because the captain was now telling us that weather would lead to a further delay even once we were fuelled. I opened my radar app… nothing going on in New York. Nothing at all.

‘Are you on an airplane?’

‘Yes, I am, and…’

‘Increasing your carbon footprint in service of your green client?’

‘It’s commercial and I’m paying a carbon offset.'

‘And your client?’

‘He’s uh… on his plane,’ I conceded, and crunched on the last of the ice from my G&T. ‘Thing is, Daddy, I was wondering is there a fuel shortage sufficient to delay a major airline at a major airport? Everything I found online says it is due to the Colonial Pipeline hack, which was already three months ago… and nothing mentioning the shutdown of the Keystone Pipeline… So is that the real reason?’

‘Ah, yes, the Keystone… To be clear, you know who shut that down don’t you? [of course I knew] It was your green president.’ He gloated.

‘Yes, daddy, my green president," I offered, (as if all environmentalists knew one another) ‘But is that the reason?’ I asked.

Now they tell me.

‘It is not.’ He said. ‘Stopping Keystone XL doesn’t keep Canadian crude from getting to market it just means that it is transported by less safe, and far less green methods—like rail and truck.’

‘So it really is a labour shortage?’ I asked, perhaps too loud for the other seven passengers in first class.

‘I couldn’t say. But we both know refuelling is not a highly skilled profession. I’ve done it, Patrick has done it. It’s even likely that in wartime Queen Elizabeth has done it. No… I’d say follow the money. It’s that thing you green-niks are forever going on about…profits and greed. Only here it likely applies."

How does he always manage to hand me my own hat? We were now at the four-hour mark and having finished my entire bottle of water and a second G&T, I was feeling woozy without any food and went into my carry-on to fish out a protein bar. When the pilot announced they would ‘in fact’ be allowing us off the aircraft but to stay close to the gate. Why couldn’t we have stayed close to the gate four hours ago?

I went straightaway to the burger bar I’d passed prior to boarding. I was first off, and fourth in line, and luckily the manager was railing on his staff to move things along. With order in hand, I deftly made my way to the club lounge to sit out the rest of the wait and book a hotel just in case, and YES I KNOW—no outside food allowed in the lounge, but I had a crafted a very curt answer if they had any intention of stopping me because truth be told, they had long stopped serving any real food in the clubs… ‘because of Covid’. Which, fortunately, is the other universal excuse when ‘unfortunately’ just won’t do.

Whom to Believe: Big Brother or Your Lying Eyes?

Professor emeritus Ivan Kennedy, faculty of science at Sydney University, tells me he has been doing some work on the effect of turbulence engendered by wind turbines. Among other things, he hypothesizes that this may have a drying effect extending beyond the immediate area. The outcomes: a fall in the productivity of arable land and more water vapour in the atmosphere.

You’ll note, I said, he hypothesizes. Importantly, he also points out that his theory is testable using technology such as ground-based sensors and satellites. Being a scientist of the old school, he doesn’t rush to conclusions even provisional ones. Greenies are not nearly so constrained; operating comfortably in fact-free zones.

As an exercise, let me take each of the two hypothesized outcomes in turn and see where they lead. You will see that they lead realists (putting modesty aside) like us, and greenies in diametrically opposite directions.

Let us suppose there is a measurable fall in the moisture in agricultural land surrounding wind farms. Our take: build fewer wind turbines near agricultural land. (Build none at all actually but you get my drift.) Their take: climate change is causing droughts. Build more turbines.

Build fewer, senor. No, Sancho, build more.

Water vapour is by far the dominant greenhouse gas. Suppose it is found that the uplift of water vapour is greater, the nearer are turbines to bodies of water; those, particularly, in seas or close to irrigated areas. Our take: build fewer turbines close to water. Theirs, CO2 is causing the oceans to warm. Hence more water vapour. Build more turbines.

The bitter or delicious irony, depending where you stand, is that the more deleterious effects turbines have on the natural world, the more must be built to counter such effects. Wind turbines, and solar panels too, are bulletproof. They both make lots of money for powerful people and big businesses and, not least, for China. And they appeal to the gullible; who, at whatever cost to reason and the public purse, see them combatting the imminent imaginary climate Armageddon.

Even despoiling landscapes and seascapes hardly rates a mention now that Prince Phillip is not around to express his displeasure in his own blunt way. In case you've missed it, Prince Charles is not a chip of the old block. Mind you, that aside, alarms have been raised about the enormous quantity of materials and energy required for the manufacture of turbines and solar panels; for their use of rare earths; their relatively short life spans; and the problem of their disposal. Really? Among whom?

OK, only among those who deal in facts. In other words, not among the much vaster number of people, including government ministers and their apparatchiks throughout the Western world, who deal in fancies. Among the minority who deal in facts is Mark Mills, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. If you haven’t already, it is well worth while keying in to his presentation on February 9, 2021 to the U.S. House Energy Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change. Here’s just a taste:

As Mills explains, while the minerals required are there, digging them up will be daunting and pricey. Count among the costs: environmental degradation; increased threats to the West’s national security in view of China’s dominance in many of the supply chains; the use of child labour in countries not so sensitive to human rights; the massive amounts of energy required to mine, transport and process these exotic minerals; and, the bottom line, the demise of reliable and affordable hydrocarbon power.

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On hearing all of this, the Democrat members of the subcommittee, including the chairman Paul Tonko (NY), recanted and became RE-skeptics overnight. I’m fabulising. Inconvenient facts don’t impact dullards or zealots.

Prof. Kennedy’s hypothesis might be true. So what? It would just sit atop of the existing enormous pile of inconvenient facts. Rafe Champion, another friend fond of facts, continually pesters Australian politicians, all 837 of them in this over-governed land, about the inconstancy of wind. No wind no power, he says. Follow up tricky question: if it takes 1,000 turbines to power a particular town when the wind is blowing, how many turbines does it take when the wind isn’t blowing? Alas, arithmetic isn’t the strong suit of the political class; except, that is, when counting prospective votes.

It took exquisite torture on the part of O’Brien to convince Winston Smith that two plus two equals five. Childs play for greenies. To wit, when the wind stops blowing a big battery can take over, they claim, with the conviction of megalomaniacs.

One of the biggest lithium battery installations in the world at Hornsdale in South Australia can reportedly deliver 194 MW for an hour. Though electricity usage has spiked above 4,000MW, South Australia (pop. 1.8 million) generally uses from 1,000MW to 2,500MW depending on the time of day and season. Ergo, the battery would generally run out in 12 to 5 minutes if required to take over.

Mind you, as deluded as they are, look at us. We persist in using logic, facts and figures. Might as well babble for all the influence we have. And then again, what else is there to do? We are condemned, Sisyphus-like, to make the same arguments over and over again. Captors, as we are, of reality.

The one saving: real life is our pal. As the paranoid delusions and lies increasingly hit the road they’ll be undone. For example, when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining that illustrative town I mentioned will last ten minutes or so on batteries before the lights go out. QED.