Bio-Fools 'R' Us

Over at The American Conservative, Michael Fumento has a piece on one of the great environmentalist boondoggles of our time, namely biomass. Regular readers of The Pipeline will be familiar with the biomass sham, where wood pellets and other biological material are burned in place of fossil fuels, with the implicit understanding that by being "natural" these energy sources are simply better than coal, oil, or natural gas.

Fumento does a good job of picking this often unstated argument apart and exposing the sleight of hand at the heart of it:

Biomass generally benefits from confusion over two vastly different terms that often are used interchangeably: “renewable” (or sustainable) and “carbon free.” Both appeal to the touchy-feely, warm and fuzzy set, but they are not necessarily the same.... Woody biomass is clearly “renewable,” whereas technically fossil fuels are finite.

This is, of course, because we can always plant more trees, whereas, in his words, "Even if enough fossil fuel reserves were found to last a thousand years, nay a thousand thousands, finite means finite." It is upon this distinction that environmentalists have justified classifying biomass as "green energy."

On its face, the formula for biomass burning is simple. While the wood or other plant material is growing it absorbs carbon dioxide, then upon burning it’s released. So it all balances out and is a net zero emitter.

But this is misleading -- trees absorb and store carbon over the course of decades, while burning them as biomass releases that carbon right now, in one fell swoop. The timeline makes a huge difference. And beyond that, this remains an apples and oranges comparison. Biomass supporters are pushing it not because it is supposedly part of a cycle of balanced carbon absorption and release, but rather as a replacement for carbon intensive fossil fuels. And yet:

Woody biomass burning releases 65 percent more carbon dioxide per megawatt hour than modern coal plants and an amazing 285 percent more carbon dioxide than natural gas combined-cycle power plants, which use both a gas and steam turbine together.

So tell me again, in what sense is biomass 'carbon neutral?'

Carbon boogeyman gonna get'cha!

Moreover, environmentalists never engage with the fact that burning biomass creates actual pollutants (which carbon dioxide is not), "including particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, lead, and mercury." Fumento points out that the United States and Europe have made tremendous strides towards reducing these air pollutants over the past few decades, significantly improving our air quality. Biomass cuts against those improvements.

So what is the rationale behind the green movement's embrace of biomass? Well, it is partially that they need to propose a reliable fuel source to fill the gaps left by wind and solar. We can't make the wind blow or the sun shine, but any time we want we can certainly chop down a few hundred year old trees for energy.

But that is another way of saying that the motive is P.R., and that's true from multiple angles. Intermittent power looks bad for the environmentalist cause, so they need a controllable source of energy. But also, energy megacorporations (Fumento singles out the British energy giant Drax Power PLC) have found it convenient to repurpose their coal-fired power plants for biofuel as a way of both improving their image (an act known as "greenwashing") while also collecting government subsidies for "green energy."

So biomass really is a boondoggle in the truest sense of the word, in that it's a scam whose object is the parting of fools from their money. Unfortunately, in this case, the fools are us.

The 'Climate Change' Casino—and the Risks Thereof

There's a lot of risk involved in "global warming." The first and most basic is whether it will occur at all according to the model put forward by the United Nations IPCC. The public can actually wager on whether it's unfolding as officially predicted. "Last week, MyBookie unveiled odds on global warming. Yes, you can bet on the Earth’s 2020 global land/ocean temperature index being greater than or less than 2019’s 0.99 degrees Celsius. Right now, the “no” is a surprising favorite at -700. A “yes” gets you +400."

A more sophisticated version of theory verification uses long-short equity funds.  "The concept is simple: Investment research turns up expected winners and losers, so why not bet on both? Take long positions in the winners as collateral to finance short positions in the losers." If climate change really exists then those who follow the model will do better than the deniers and one can make money wagering in contrasting pairs. According to an investor document seen by Bloomberg:

[Finance veteran] Carrasquillo and her former CPPIB colleague Savironi Chet have joined AllianceBernstein Holding to start a hedge fund called 1.5 Degrees, named after scientists’ warning that the Earth could warm by that much within the next two decades. The long/short equities fund is expected to start trading this quarter... '1.5 Degrees' aims to make high single digit returns by focusing on climate change opportunities and companies benefitting or losing out from events such as rising sea levels, shifting consumer preferences and increased greenhouse gas emissions.

You can't win if you don't play!

Still another approach is to utilize weather risk contracts of the sort traded at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to hedge against definite outcomes. "The use of derivative markets for hedging climate-related risk has been around for over 25 years... By indexing CME Weather futures and options, it makes it possible to trade weather in a way comparable to trading other index products such as stock indexes." (A hedge is an investment that is made with the intention of reducing the risk of adverse price movements in an asset. Normally, a hedge consists of taking an offsetting or opposite position in a related security).

A more general measure of climate fear is the level of property and casualty insurance that people, not just activists, buy. Although McKinsey recommends buying insurance they can't even put a number on it. "McKinsey research shows that the value at stake from climate-induced hazards could, conservatively, increase from about 2 percent of global GDP to more than 4 percent of global GDP in 2050. And the risks associated with climate change are multiplying..."

This is disconcertingly vague. In the absence of definite projections so much insurance may be required to protect against the nebulous magnitudes of climate change that some observers fear the whole industry may collapse.

As companies and investors get to grips with the risks of rising global temperatures, climate stress testing is becoming more commonplace across many parts of the world — with eye-opening results for insurers. France’s central bank, for example, released the first results of its climate stress tests earlier in 2021: It found that natural disaster-related insurance claims could increase up to five-fold in the nation’s most affected regions. That would cause premiums to surge as much as 200 percent over 30 years.

In fact preparing against "global warming" creates other risks associated with wind and solar power under-production,  principally the higher likelihood of blackouts. To hedge against crippling outages, provision for keeping dirty fossil-fuel backup generator sets must be made. Moreover there are independent risks inherent to renewables themselves. They are often dependent on exotic material like rare earths (much of it controlled by China) without which green technology could rapidly grind to a halt. They can cause environmental damage by their operation. Solar panel arrays are toxic unless disposed of carefully and wind farms generate a continuous low-level hum that can cause multiple health problems including ruined sleep, headaches, dizziness, vertigo, nausea, depression, irritability, and panic episodes.

What risk? The science is settled!

Renewable energy devices are also prone to damage from weather events. Windmills are torn apart by high winds, acres of solar panels are toasted by brush fire.  The answer? Insure it. There is insurance against the sun not shining.  There is insurance against the wind not blowing. Would there were insurance against the public going broke. There is in a way: as Brits face a massive increase in energy bills, largely as a result of wind power shortfalls, Labour wants BP and Shell to pay for the no-show of renewables:

The UK government is coming under mounting pressure to increase taxes on oil and gas companies, including BP and Shell. The aim: to help British households cope with skyrocketing energy bills. The main opposition Labour Party this weekend called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose a windfall tax on companies pumping oil and gas from the North Sea, saying that the money raised could be used to cut roughly £200 ($272) from soaring household bills.

That there are risks everywhere is not surprising, except to those who regard the climate future as exact, settled science. Risk is in fact another way of expressing our lack of knowledge about the exact probability of each outcome of or whether we have actually anticipated all possible outcomes. Indeed it would be impossible to create all the bookie bets and insurance policies associated with risk management cited here were it not for the presence of uncertainty. A market for bets requires something which isn't completely known, hence the odds as an incentive to bet.

Far from being a sure thing, there is much that is unsettled about the way the earth's climate works. Although these knowledge gaps may be denied by governments and many in the media, they are tacitly admitted by the risk management instruments contrived to deal with them. These force us to quantify climate prediction in specifics that show up the uncertainties lurking behind the bureaucratic façade of infallibility. The official global warming forecasts are neither as definite nor precise as they are made out to be, and though officials have gone to great lengths to conceal doubt, they have not been able to hide risk, which is the shadow of doubt.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Boris?

Boris Johnson, who has dominated British politics since the middle of 2019, is now facing a possible ejection from office and the end of his political career for the sin of attending parties at Number Ten Downing Street during the period that his government was enforcing anti-Covid regulations that forbade ordinary citizens from attending not only parties but also funerals, marriages, and the bedsides of dying family members. This scandal, inevitably named party-gate, has aroused extraordinary public anger against Johnson because it crystallizes the widespread public feeling after two years of Covid lockdowns that “there’s one law for Them [i.e., the political class] and another law for Us."

That’s an especially damaging charge against him because until recently Boris was seen by a large slice of the British public, especially blue-collar Tories and Brexit supporters, as their defender against a remote and corrupt establishment. Not to mention that the charge comes at a time when Boris is losing popularity more generally because several groups in the broad conservative coalition oppose his other policies.

I dealt with his plight which is a serious one—and how he might succeed in keeping his job—in a recent article in National Review Online:

The odd truth is that although he helped to put together an election-winning coalition, he is now alienating all the major Tory factions one after another by his various policies: Thatcherites by his reckless over spending and abandonment of tax cuts; patriotic Tories by failing to counter the deracinated ideas of Wokeness conquering so many British institutions; younger and less affluent Tories by not tackling the unavailability of affordable housing effectively; small savers and investors by allowing inflation to revive; cautious pragmatic Tories by “big government” projects on an almost Napoleonic scale such as Net-Zero; even Brexiteers by the long-drawn-out negotiations over the Northern Ireland protocol; and much else. (My emphasis).

That’s a formidable list of disasters, but the one that will spring out at The Pipeline readers is the reference to Net-Zero and more broadly to Boris’s passionate embrace of a radical, expensive, and life-altering program of left-wing environmentalism and global redistribution. He was the impresario of the COP26 U.N. conference at Glasgow that was meant to entrench Net-Zero as a legally-binding international obligation on the West. It failed in that, but he probably hopes to revive that campaign as soon as he can. Should global “lukewarmers” (i.e., those who think, like The Pipeline, that the costs of climate alarmist policies are heavier than the costs of climate change) want therefore to see Boris brought down over party-gate on the grounds that Net-Zero would perish with him?

Shrinking in stature by the day.

That’s a serious question because the fall of Boris would be a major international sensation and some of the commentary on it would cite Net-Zero as a contributory factor in his demise. Having made two recent visits to London, however, I would argue the opposite case on four grounds:

  1. If Boris fell, Net-Zero wouldn’t be brought down with him. Serious skepticism towards the policy is growing as people realize the extraordinary costs of moving rapidly from fossil fuels to renewables in both taxes and energy prices; the risks of relying on renewables when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind blow; and the futility of making enormous sacrifices in order to reduce the U.K.’s 1-2 percent of global carbon emissions when China, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, and other fossil fuel users and producers will be pumping out carbon with little or no change. I’ve had several recent conversations with economists and politicians who make these and other points. But they all accept that the U.K. establishment and all party leaderships have committed themselves so completely to the climate orthodoxy that turning around the tanker will be a slow business.
  2. Indeed, if Boris were to be forced to resign in the near future, all of the potential candidates to succeed him as prime minister and Tory leaders would almost certainly pledge their support for Net-Zero, giving it a new lease of political and intellectual life. That’s not likely to happen while Boris is in Downing Street. The Tory Party consensus on climate policies has been breaking down as its dire consequences became clearer. A new Tory backbench group has just been formed to support Net-Zero in response to the rise of the skeptical lukewarmers. More significantly, Boris’s great ally on Brexit, Lord (David) Frost has been describing Net-Zero as a policy that lacks realism or any connection to conservatism as commonly understood. As with Brexit, once the leadership’s policy was exposed to criticism and debate, it turned out to have less support than everyone believed—and the rebellion spread.
  3. More time is needed to accomplish this, however, and to develop and promote an alternative set of policies that would compete with climate alarmism at every level of society. Those policies are beginning to emerge: reviving nuclear power, using clean natural gas as a “bridge” fuel to a lower emissions world, legalizing fracking which would incidentally foster a Trump-style energy boom in parts of Britain that are currently “left behind,” and encouraging the market to search out new innovations with tax incentives rather than have Whitehall “picking winners.”
  4. And, finally, if Boris survives party-gate, he is as likely as any of the other contenders for the Tory top job to reverse course on Net-Zero and adopt a more realistic and prudent policy. Maybe more likely. Boris is highly flexible intellectually, as he showed on Brexit, and his radical-left environmentalism is already beginning to fail and to damage him as it fails. He won’t drive his car into the ditch for the sake of consistency. He also knows that one of the largest contradictions in his overall political strategy is that between Net-Zero and his policy of “levelling up” the North of England to the output and living standards of Middle England by infrastructure and transport developments. Levelling up implies a slower transition to a world without the fossil fuels that currently supply eighty percent of its energy. Finally, when Boris looks at the Tory factions in the parliamentary party, he can see that those most sympathetic to his kind of politics are also those most skeptical towards Net-Zero and the socialist hairshirt economics that it requires. He needs them as allies.

Fun while it lasted.

To sum up, a world in which the Government is urging voters to travel by bus, cut down on foreign vacations, eat less meat, and accept colder homes in the winter while ministers and CEOs travel by official cars and private planes to pleasant climates where they discuss the sacrifices that must be made to realize Net-Zero looks awfully like a world in which “there’s one law for Them and another law for Us.” Boris is acutely vulnerable to—and so most anxious to avoid—that suspicion at present.

My conclusion therefore is that climate realists should not be too keen on seeing Boris ousted any time soon. The argument is moving in our direction and Boris is losing the authority and perhaps the desire to halt or reverse that.

Bugs for Thee, Not for Me

Over at the American Mind, Joel Kotkin has a great essay about America's ongoing, but underdiscussed, class war, which been aggravated by the Covid era. One bit that particularly jumped out at me was his suggestion that environmentalism is best understood as just another front in this war:

The traditional yeomanry—like the “kulaks” or wealthy peasants in Stalin’s day—is losing out. As executive compensation reached the stratosphere at the big tech and finance firms, small businesses faced what Harvard Business Review described as “an existential threat.” Experts are warning that one-third of small businesses, which comprise the majority of U.S. companies and employ nearly 50 percent of all workers, could ultimately shut down for good. Hundreds of thousands have already disappeared, including nearly half of all black-owned businesses.

The end of the pandemic may not alter the new class structure. Green activists see in the lockdowns a model for their preferred strategy of saving the planet by immiserating the middle class, even though climate change is named as the country’s biggest problem by a tiny 4 percent. The new model, under the rubric of “the great reset,” seeks to embrace degrowth, based on downsizing of aspirations of the striving masses. In the emerging schema, the average American must get out of their carstravel far less (as the oligarchs increase their own GHG-spewing private jet use), eat bugs, and live in tiny apartments.

Be sure and read the whole thing.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Cancelling

I took an extra long shower, after a very hard workout and two glasses of champagne, to keep me from calling my client and screaming like a crazy person. Truth be told he deserves to be yelled at.  We have a planet to save and we act like it can just wait.  For the third time in two years, Davos is being cancelled as if we have no resource or ability to get it managed. Produced by the WEF, it is the pet project of the world’s most facile and capable billionaires turned eco-warriors, and yet here we are—crouching behind a closed door as if scheduling a conference is a Sisyphean task.

Trust me I could do it.  Singlehandedly.  Not to mention the people who are sitting in air-conditioned cubicles for this express purpose.  I understand Switzerland wants no part of us, having locked down tighter than a drum, but surely there are dedicated folks who arrange software conferences and wedding fairs. Where might they be? Las Vegas? Orlando? I just can’t sit idly by while our planet heats up and our oceans fill with covid masks and PCR tests.  

Don’t think me callous for turning on lovely Davos so readily. Some of the best parties and fondest memories have happened there over the years. But THE POINT was to save the planet, and it just can’t wait for zero-Covid. But oh how I’m going to miss seeing the jets from every conceivable country lined up—like united soldiers in service of winning the war on climate change. Last year only a literal handful of us went… those of us with meetings that couldn’t be rescheduled or ski holidays that had already been booked. The promise was, that we would do the work in Singapore eight months later, but that got cancelled too. 

Do you have any idea how expensive this is?

But first things first. Calm down sufficient to have a sane conversation with my client, and then propose other options. Probably not a good idea to sound like mean mommy even if he could use a spanking now and again.  If only St Barts or Lyford could accommodate us all, half of us are already there.

After ordering sandwiches and a large pot of tea to clear my head, I came up with the conclusion that I needed some new blood—someone else to help me poke a stick at the bottoms of these eco-snorers. Enter the swashbuckling young eco-warrior currently embracing vivariums and eco-conscious social media whom I had hoped to connect with in Davos anyway.  I decided to reach out to him and propose a partnership to produce a sophisticated, and effective eco-summit. This could work. I’d have him—the debonair young CFO— to help with scope, but the overseeing would require someone like me, with the vast connections, maturity, and experience to chart the course.  Wiping some butter from my fingers I rang…

‘Yes, Jennifer.’ Daddy answered.  

‘I need your help with a brilliant endeavour I’ve in mind—and alternative to Davos.’ I said.

‘An alternative? Would that be one in which you don’t blame mankind for the natural course of things?’

‘No, not that.  One in which we don’t reschedule. One that actually happens.’

‘So you’re talking virtual?’ 

‘NO! I’m talking the States.’

‘… where you haven’t wanted to live since Covid began.’

‘Well…yes’. I said. ‘But that’s—California. I was thinking more like… Florida.’ 

‘I see. So you propose to ring up Klaus Schwab and suggest…The Magic Kingdom.’

Wilkommen, Klaus!

‘NO, Daddy. Forget him! What has he done? Preside over three cancellations while both the planet and my blood boil? No! I was thinking of the young man you were talking to at Balnagown—he was planning a biosphere II.’

‘Ah yes. Because the first one was such a success.’

‘Daddy! Forget that!’

‘I can’t possibly forget.  The first attempt was an unmitigated disaster and he now plans to re-stage this debacle—in outer space.’

‘What’s wrong with that? The idea is to build a fully recycling ecological system.’

‘Which we couldn’t even manage on earth. Sweetheart, you may not remember that cock-up that dominated every news programme, in painstaking and sanctimonious detail, but scientists had to open the thing up and go in—several times.  Early on they ran out of food.  Then it was the air, and then the water, and two of the scientists, I mean brave heroes, had a near meltdown. Eventually they had to let the poor folks out and scrap the whole lot. It was an unqualified disaster. No— a manmade disaster. Which just proved that our planet is indeed the place to be.’

‘Fair enough, but he’s done other things.’ I huffed.

‘Like drop out of school at sixteen.’

‘Like start a whole company that sold electronics and phone chargers.’

‘…That were manufactured in China, sweetheart, I’m not sure he’s your poster boy. And he was particularly proud of an LSD trip that he said retooled his mind, of which I have no doubt.’

‘Right.’ I said, taking a breath. 

I was thinking something along these lines.

‘You see Jenny, it’s not just the absurdity of building a biosphere on another planet, his actual plan was space as a teaching tool—that if we could engineer a way to live in space, we could use those same systems to navigate more responsibly on this planet. Surely you must see the idiocy of trying to engineer a way to live in a place where we don’t know how to live, in order to live where we already know how to live.’

Of course he had me with that. I took a gulp of water, and steadied myself.  ‘Daddy, listen, I am determined not to let another year go by where we don’t actually DO something about this planet.’

‘OK, I’m sorry, baby. Let’s figure this out. He had some success with locally sourced food, am I right?’

‘No. Total failure. ,You’re thinking of my friend, Sheherazade. Hers was a success. But then she quit it, and married Zac Goldsmith. And then they divorced, and he ran for mayor, and then she dated that Mexican movie director who won all the awards, and then she dumped him and he lost every nomination the next year doing that film you called the dog poop movie.’

‘Right. So, what about a totally green conference? One where you do it virtually and no one increases his carbon footprint.’ 

‘That’s the worst idea you have ever had.’

‘I’m glad you think so. I just never know how far you green-niks are willing to take things. Listen, why don’t you finish up there, come home, get dressed and we can all go to the New Year’s party together.  We could share a cab… it’s very green.’ 

‘Daddy, he’s an OIL BILLIONAIRE! I’m not saying I don’t want to go… I’m just saying it’s silly to be talking about green.’

"I’m so glad you think so.’

Coal is King, Again

To save the world from carbon dioxide emissions that they claim will heat us to a crisp, the environmentalists have targeted “fossil fuels” -- coal, petroleum (oil), natural gas, oil shales, bitumens, and tar sands and heavy oils. This was after they and their political puppets pretty much killed nuclear-powered electrical production, the  cleanest source of energy production, by  making new construction impossible and reducing existing capacity.

Of all the fossil fuels, natural gas releases the least amount of CO2, but it remains a target here and in Europe. Its major source is Russia, and thanks to rising demand, the cost has risen precipitously this winter just when Europe has it greatest need for it.

European power climbed to a fresh record as France faces a winter crunch, spurring the region’s top aluminum smelter to curb output. Electricity for delivery next year surged as much as 6.4 percent to an all-time high in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. France, which usually exports power, will need to suck up supplies from neighboring countries to keep the lights on as severe nuclear outages curb generation in the coldest months of the year. The crunch is so severe that it’s forcing factories to curb output or shut down altogether.

The consequence for the world of Western governments’ fanciful energy views and absurd policy proscriptions is that coal, almost pure carbon, which when utilized emits not only carbon but also “sulfur dioxides, particulates, and nitrogen oxides” is being used in record amounts. While new technology can reduce these emissions somewhat, coal remains the dirtiest of the fossil fuels. One cannot escape laughing at the irony—according to the International Energy agency (IEA) after all the government mucking about on greening energy production, coal production is set to hit an all-time high. Large Asian nations (mostly China and India) need it and gas shortages in Europe are revving up coal demand.

 Germany has had to rely on coal and nuclear power for electricity generation throughout 2021. This meant the contribution of coal and nuclear power for energy production reached 40 percent this year, compared to 35 percent in 2020, with renewables accounting for 41 percent compared to 44 percent last year. At present, Germany is planning to end nuclear power production by the end of 2022 and phase out coal by 2030. Even the U.K., which pledged to end coal production a year earlier than anticipated by 2024, had to fire up coal plants in September to meet electricity demand in the face of gas shortages and surging prices. During this time, coal contributed 3 percent of national power, rather than the average 2.2 percent. This was following a landmark period of time in which the U.K. run coal-free for three days in August.

It seems that private investment will be needed to get industry to convert more rapidly to non-coal sources in the absence of substantial government financial incentives to do so. I’d consider that a crap shoot for any investor. Who knows what bright ideas governments will dream up next to muck up energy  production and supplies? And why should anyone assume that this time with even more private money down that rathole, "renewables" will fill the void of burgeoning energy demand?

On the contrary, the only bright spot on the energy horizon I’ve seen this week is a report that fifteen states are rebelling against banks which are refusing financing to fossil fuel producers. Together these states have $600 billion in assets they pledge to take elsewhere unless the banks relent.  It’s a nice  counter-play to the Biden administration’s pressuring Wall Street to refuse financial backing for fossil fuel producers.

Gone Green with the Wind

There are few things more beloved of "conservationists" than the environmental devastation caused by wind farms. In Australia, a 2019 project atop Mt. Emerald in Northern Queensland, at first greeted as a great leap forward for "green energy," is now causing major concern. What had once been pristine wilderness, noted environmentalist Steve Nowakowski with dismay, "is now basically a quarry site. That landscape will never come back."

Apparently, he had no idea that many other wind farms were under construction or planned for the same geographical area; some on tracts of unspoilt country. That really gets under the skin of your average environmentalist of yesteryear. “It’s really out of control… and no one knows about it," he said.

That's the price of progress, apparently. Michael Moore’s 2019 documentary movie Planet of the Humans captures the dilemma. Unsightly, costly, acreage demanding, bird-killing, child-labor-using and, to boot, unreliable thus needing nasty fossil-fuel backup. What true greenie would like them? Anyway, it's far fewer humans that they really want, not more energy, whatever the source.

There are no offshore windfarms yet in Australia. One advanced proposal is to build one in the Bass Strait, off the coast of Gippsland in South East Australia. The problem? Birds. One fisherman not only pointed to the danger to migratory birds but also to the effect on fishing. Birds are such good fishermen, he said, “we watch them, and we know where the fish are.” There you go, process it as you will.

But wherever you figuratively fish, on land or sea, from Evia in Greece, where they will “ruin acres of ancient forests;” across the Atlantic to the U.S., where Robert Bryce writing in Forbes in September claimed that 317 wind projects had been cancelled due to environmental concerns; and onwards across the Pacific to Australia, environmentalism has a schism.

Look out above.

Expect the list of rejected wind farms to grow. For example, in recent times, a Southern Tablelands farm in New South Wales was rejected because of its “visual impact on residents.” And one in central Queensland because of its “potential impact on threatened native animal species, including the koala.”

“The faux environmentalist is easy to spot: he loves industrial wind power and couldn’t care less about the environmental destruction it causes,” said one environmentalist. Internecine struggles are afoot. Such struggles, like civil wars, are usually ugly

You wonder what those supporting renewable energy think will happen to pristine land and coastal waters. In 2019 wind accounted for 2.2 percent of the world's primary energy consumption. And if it gets to only a modest 22 percent, where exactly do they think these tens upon tens of thousands of square miles of wind farms are going to go?  Thankfully, not before time, the opposition's growing.

Destroying the Environment to Save It?

The American Left is beginning to wake up to a fact that regular Pipeline readers have known for years, namely that environmentalism isn't all that great for the environment. That was my takeaway from this NBC News article entitled, "How the rise of electric cars endangers the ‘last frontier’ of the Philippines." The piece looks at the effects of a rapidly expanding nickel mine in the rainforests of the Philippines, and the damage it's doing to the local environment and way of life of natives:

[Jeminda] Bartolome, 56, lives in one of the most biodiverse places on earth, a stunning island that draws legions of tourists to its crystal blue waters and pristine nature reserves. But these days, her livelihood, and the ancient rainforest system it depends on, are increasingly under threat. A nickel mine stretching nearly 4 square miles scars the forest above Bartolome’s farmland. The mine, Rio Tuba, plays a vital role in satisfying the global demand for a mineral more coveted than ever due in part to the explosion of the electric car industry.

The raw nickel dug out of the ground here ends up in the lithium batteries of plug-in vehicles manufactured by Tesla, Toyota and other automakers... With the demand for nickel skyrocketing, the Rio Tuba mine is now on the brink of expanding deeper into the rainforest, adding almost 10 square miles to its current footprint. Local environmentalists fear that it will wipe out the forest’s fragile ecosystem and increase toxic runoff into the rivers that flow past the farmland down below, jeopardizing the crops.

The Bartolome family's story is heartrending, and the discussion of the chemicals leeching into local waterways is worse still. Testing has shown that levels of the compound hexavalent chromium now exceed W.H.O. recommendations in local drinking water, and 85 percent of  households report "an uptick in coughs and other respiratory issues" -- a common side effect of hexavalent chromium ingestion --"as well as skin lesions."

But what about hexavalent chromium ingestion?

Still, the overall tone of the article is strange. The authors have apparently never considered the potential for environmentalism -- in this case the money, political pressure, and propaganda campaign all put at the service of the Electric Vehicles industry -- to harm rather than save the environment. They clearly assume that their environmentally conscious readers will be similarly surprised.

And they do their best to make the case for the mine, giving rise to some interesting overlap with common defenses of the oil and gas industry. Their mention, for instance, of the local tribal leaders who support the mine's expansion and the economic opportunities it will engender remind us of the members of Canada's Wet’suwet’en nation who objected to environmental activists attempting to shut down the Coastal GasLink pipeline on their behalf for similar reasons.

And they quote a spokesman for the Rio Tuba mine who disputed the studies related to chemicals in the drinking water, while also contending that the mine's unavoidable environmental impact was at the service of technological innovation, and that all "human development has been a series of trade-offs." It is worth noting that, had similar words been uttered by a natural gas spokesman, he would have been mercilessly vilified for the remainder of the article.

These gestures to the mine's defenders amplify the air of desperation in the closing paragraphs of the article, as the authors struggle to justify the destruction they're reporting on. They seem to settle on an unsatisfying and contradictory one offered by Natural Resources professor Gillian Galford, who says “There's no one technology that's going to solve our climate crisis. We have to deploy as many options as we feasibly can," including replacing traditional cars with E.V.s and "conserving our forests," which absorb and store carbon. No word from the professor about what to do in this case, when those two "options" are in conflict.

Science in search of options.

Still, the authors can't help but give the final word to Jeminda Bartolome, "rice farmer and mother of six," who struggles to understand "why companies that make products used by wealthy people thousands of miles away must source materials from her backyard." It's a good question, and one that should trouble the affluent, overwhelmingly white clientele of electric vehicle manufacturers. "Our luxury goods are destroying the environment and a way of life," they might be forced to say to themselves. "Maybe we're the bad guys?"

Unfortunately for Mrs. Bartolome it's more likely that any pang of conscience felt by the Electric-Limousine Lefties who encounter these inconvenient facts will will have evaporated by the time they're ready to buy their next Tesla. Out of sight, out of mind I guess.

The New Buzzword: 'Climate 'Resilience'

These are the two buried headlines regarding the just-signed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (aka "the $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill"). The first story nobody is talking about is the curious migration of climate nomenclature from “climate change” to “climate resilience.

The second story nobody is talking about is the $270 billion that has been earmarked for so-called “climate resilience”. We might refer to it as "pork" or "subsidies", but the fact is that it's money being thrown at the same con artists behind the climate movement.

We must not dismiss the change in terminology.  Climate “change” has always been a vague term that can be challenged by opponents, usually by pointing out that the “change” in Earth’s temperature is not significant enough to warrant hysteria.  Congress and the Climate Alarmists have gotten progressively craftier in the use of language.  Here’s how “resilience” is officially defined in Section 11103.(4) of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act:

The term `resilience', with respect to a project, means a project with the ability to anticipate, prepare for, or adapt to conditions or withstand, respond to, or recover rapidly from disruptions, including the ability-to resist hazards or withstand impacts from weather events and natural disasters; or to reduce the magnitude or duration of impacts of a disruptive weather event or natural disaster on a project; and to have the absorptive capacity, adaptive capacity, and recoverability to decrease project vulnerability to weather events or other natural disasters.

This is insidiously brilliant.  By simultaneously using a more specific term, it permits the government to actually broaden the arenas to which grants can be made.  The bill does not contain language that limits or further defines these terms, which means just about anything goes as long as it can be related to making any form of infrastructure more “resilient.”

Old whines in new bottles.

When one digs into the specifics of Section 11405 of the bill, which is subtitled “The Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient, and Cost-saving Transportation program' or the "PROTECT program," it mostly involves anything having to do with roads, water, and drainage.  The language again demonstrates how it’s a big giveaway to the climate alarmists, because “eligible activities” for the grants include increasing “the resilience of surface transportation infrastructure from the impacts of changing conditions, such as sea level rise [and] flooding…”

Sixteen approved activities are listed, but the seventeenth is where things become a free-for-all, because “any other protective features, including natural infrastructure, as determined by the Secretary” are included.  That is, the money goes to wherever the Biden Administration wants it to go.

Here’s where some of rest of the billions are going.

Yet this goes beyond just improving highways. The government specifies that grants will be given to reduce or shift highway use to off-peak travel times, institute more toll roads, more of those pointless HOV lanes, and increase the cost of parking.  Also, just as you may have heard, there will be grants offered to development systems for “congestion pricing.”  The minimum grant in this portion of the bill is ten million dollars. But don’t worry, any projects approved “may include mitigation measures to deal with any potential adverse financial effects on low-income drivers.”

Not detailed enough?  It gets worse.  These assessments should then be compared to those assessments done in low-income and disadvantaged communities for the sake of “equity.”  Once all that is done, the heat island hot spots will be presumably cooled down by the installation of – ready? – “cool pavement.”  What is “cool pavement”?  That which has a reflective surface with higher reflectivity to decrease its surface temperature. Reflectivity is also known as “albedo” which naturally relates to climate change…. er…. I mean, climate resilience.

"Resilience" is the solution.

If one checks out the usual suspects in the world of climate change, it’s easy to see that they all supported the bill.  What’s distressing is that 13 Republicans also supported the bill.  Several of them claimed that by voting for this bill, it would hamstring the Democrats from getting the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better bill passed.  Fat chance.

As usual, a little research demonstrates why some of these politicians actually voted for the bill.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania was the top recipient of donations from transportation unions.  Rep. Don Bacon’s district in Nebraska includes one of the designated alternative fuel corridors mentioned above. Marathon Energy, a natural gas supplier, was the top donor to Rep. Nicole Malliotakis of New York’s 11th District. Th the list goes on and on.

The good news is that any other hogs who wants to get into this line of work should have job security for a very long time.  There’s plenty of money sloshing around the pig sties.  It just happens to belong to the rest of us.

Climate Pork-a-Palooza

The massive new $1.2 trillion "Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act" contains $47 billion specifically designated to combat the imagined evils of climate change, the largest sum Congress has ever agreed to spend to fight the weather. This $47 billion that we as a country don’t have targets a problem we don’t have, and is part of H.R. 3684, the infrastructure package that will cost $1.2 trillion we don’t have.

The $47 billion in this hernia-causing, pork-barrel, 2,700-page bill is to foster “climate resilience,” an invented buzzword whose meaning is elastic enough to cover a whole range of programs.

Of course, first there was global warming, then climate change, and now this thing called “climate resilience.” This new and improved label that conveniently skips right over the question of whether there actually is a problem and whether we can do something about it, and goes straight to an assumption that manmade global warming is fact and must be dealt with urgently.

The money is fake but the pigs are real.

One enviro site defines climate resilience as “the ability to anticipate, prepare for, and respond to hazardous events, trends, or disturbances related to climate. Improving climate resilience involves assessing how climate change will create new, or alter current, climate-related risks, and taking steps to better cope with these risks.”

The mainstream media is in on this con, as usual. When the New York Times triumphantly reported final congressional approval of the bill Nov. 5, it lied, claiming the money would help cushion the blow of a fantasized environmental apocalypse that was already in progress.

“There were 22 climate disasters that cost at least $1 billion each in the United States in 2020, shattering the previous record of 16 events, which occurred in 2017 and 2011, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,” according to the Old Gray Lady. The funds will be used “to prepare the nation to withstand the devastating impacts of climate change,” and will “help communities prepare for the new age of extreme fires, floods, storms and droughts that scientists say are worsened by human-caused climate change.”

Here is how some of the $47 billion marked for climate resilience will be spent: $11.6 billion to the Army Corps of Engineers for flood control; $3.5 billion to the Federal Emergency Management Administration for flood mitigation and assistance; $550 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for forecasting climate change; $500 million to NOAA to improve mapping and forecast inland and coastal flooding; another $50 million to NOAA to predict, model, and forecast wildfires; $500 million to the Department of Agriculture for wildfire defense grants to at-risk communities; and $216 million to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for climate resilience and adaptation for Indian tribes supposedly affected by climate change.

Custer died for climate resilience.

But according to the people the federal government paid to produce the 2018 National Climate Assessment, this is a small down-payment on what really needs to be done to help people cope with a hyped, theoretical problem. That report estimates that adapting to climate change could cost “tens to hundreds of billions of dollars per year.”

“It’s a big deal,” President Joe Biden said late last month in a speech boosting the bill. “And we’ll build up our resilience for the next superstorm, drought, wildfires, and hurricanes that represent a blinking ‘code red’ for America and the world.”

The lure of easy pork that nobody in the mainstream media will complain about drew in some Republicans, including Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Louisiana Republican, who crowed about all the money it will bring to his state. He called the bill “the largest investment in infrastructure and coastal resiliency in the history of Louisiana.”

It’s easy for Cassidy to jump on the blame-storming bandwagon. “There’s people living in Lexington Parish, for example, flooded in 2016, whose lives — everything in their life was destroyed,” Cassidy said. “The pictures of their children, the wedding dress in which they married, the home in which they lived, which had never flooded before — the fact that we are helping our fellow Americans avoid that gives me an incredible sense of satisfaction.”

Cassidy: bringing home the bacon for Louisiana.

"Climate science" charlatans blame more or less everything bad that happens on manmade global warming. They point to anthropogenic climate change as the culprit in the burning down of big chunks of forests in California wildfires, ignoring the important role that government mismanagement of forests played. They blame it for creating Hurricane Ida, too, which in September left more than 80 people dead and millions without electricity in the Pelican State.

The funding set aside for climate-resilience projects is only part of the picture, however. The bill funds hundreds of billions of dollars in improvements to roads and other infrastructure to make them more resistant to extreme weather. It also provides $39 billion to boost low- and zero-pollution transportation sources, $7.5 billion to construct electric vehicle charging stations, $2.5 billion to buy electric school buses, and $400 million curb truck emissions at ports.

The measure further makes available $8 billion for water projects in drought-affected areas, $500 million for energy storage pilot projects, $500 million for curbing industrial emissions, $260 million for renewable energy, and funds a new Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations at the Department of Energy. There's also $5 billion for remediating abandoned oil and gas wells, $5 billion to clean up Superfund sites, and $11 billion to clean up abandoned mines.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Rhode Island Democrat and an in-your-face leftist who enjoys threatening Supreme Court justices, moaned that the legislative package wouldn’t do much to mitigate the supposed problem of climate change itself. “There’s a lot of good stuff in the infrastructure bill to help us prepare for climate upheaval, but that package does very little to affect emissions, and therefore won’t prevent climate upheaval,” Whitehouse said.

Combatting this “upheaval” will be left to the proposed Build Back Better Act, which is still working its way through Congress but nearing passage. That bill would provide a taxpayer-funded bonanza for global-warmist profiteers. It contains another $555 billion we don’t have that is aimed at mitigating climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions they claim are forcing planet-wide temperatures higher.

Another big helping of pork, anybody?