Big Brother's Heating & Cooling Service

As the global energy crisis drags on, the responses to it are going to get more authoritarian. Here's an example: the government of Japan are looking into the possibility of remotely adjusting the temperature in private homes which are deemed too warm or cool. From Japan Today:

[I]n a meeting on Nov 2, the Energy Conservation Subcommittee of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry resolved to begin working group discussions with the aim of gaining the ability to remotely turn down privately owned air conditioner/heater units. The goal would be to decrease energy usage during expected power shortages, which the committee feels are a growing concern as Japan attempts to shift towards renewable energy sources such as solar power, where the amount generated can be affected by day-to-day climate, making it difficult to stabilize the amount of total power available. The ministry says that AC unit usage accounts for roughly 30 percent of household electricity consumption in Japan.

Japan, as the article notes, is hot and humid in the summer and can be chilly in the winter. The idea of an "Energy Conservation Subcommittee" huddled in a government building in Tokyo somewhere deciding on the optimal temperature of every home in a country of 125 million people should make the citizenry sweat. Or give them chills, as the case may be.

Now, one might say, Japan has an entirely different culture than we do. It has long had an authoritarian streak, but there's no way that we in the West would stand for anything like this, right?

Well, the general acquiescence to Covid outrages would suggest otherwise, but remaining in the realm of climate hysteria, how about this: Switzerland is considering throwing people in jail for the crime of "excessively" heating their homes. The Toronto Sun reports:

Switzerland is considering putting anyone who heats their rooms above 19C [66.2 Fahrenheit] in jail for up to three years, according to Blick.... Fines could also be handed out for violators. Markus Sporndli, a spokesman for the Federal Department of Finance, told Block that the rate for fines on a daily basis could start at 30 Swiss Francs (about $40 Canadian). He added that the maximum fine could be up to 3,000 Swiss Francs (over $4,000).

Advocates of these measures have blamed the war in Ukraine -- the Swiss government has suggested that it would only go through with this plan if the war continues through the winter. But the energy crisis predated the war, though it was certainly exacerbated by it. It cannot, therefore, be blamed entirely on Vladimir Putin. It is, in large part, the result of our gullible (or malevolent) governing class who promised that, if we would just abolish fossil fuels and nuclear power plants, "renewable energy" would step in and fill the void. Now they're talking about throwing you into the void. Typical.

Concerning the Great Elec-Trick

The next time you hear about a proposed measure that promises to lower greenhouse gas emissions by millions of tons per year, consider the following response: “so what?” Many of us grow up thinking that “millions” represents a massive amount of whatever it is we’re counting. The tyranny of millions is a powerful tool when placed in the hands of the PR professionals who push climate change and other environmentally driven agendas.

Replacing incandescent lightbulbs in the United States with LEDs and other technologies that were more energy efficient was supposed to fight climate change by reducing electrical consumption and thus reducing the amount of fossil-fuel electricity generated and thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with fossil-fuel combustion. I doubt the actual reduction in greenhouse gas emissions associated with this program was in the millions on a net basis, since incandescent bulbs generated measurable and useful heat the LEDs do not. But it really doesn’t matter, because when you’re dealing with emissions in the billions of tons per year, a million tons here or there is hardly a blip on the radar.

We’re at the same point with the latest panacea: electric vehicles. Like LED light-bulbs, electrics will save the planet, at least according to dopey reporters and politicians. It’s a toss up whether electric vehicles are a net environmental benefit, however one feels about the "climate change" issue. You have to draw some pretty small boxes in order to make the case.  One box must encompass the electric vehicle alone, specifically its lack of a tailpipe. Without a tailpipe environmentalists can congratulate themselves for not directly introducing any air pollutants into the environment whilst cruising about town. The fact that the ultimate source of the energy involves a lot of fossil fuel combustion seems not to matter, or at least not nearly so much as it mattered during the Great Light Bulb Reformation.

Halfway there.

Nor does the tiny box consider all of the other environmental consequences associate with going electric. This includes items such as the cost of mining and refining the metals needed to make high capacity batteries, the amount of energy needed to do so, and the difficulty of disposing of the batteries when they reach the end of their useful life.

Embracing electric vehicles also necessitates a fanatical belief that unilateral action by America can significantly influence the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. We cannot. Moving to electric vehicles, as it appears we are determined to do, will have no measurable effect on global greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve reduced so much that further reductions hardly matter. The future use of fossil fuels and the effect of their use on the environment is a discussion that involves China and India alone. Everyone else is merely a bystander.

For example, the once sane state of California recently passed a law that will ban the sale of gasoline powered vehicles within its borders starting in 2035. The California Air Resources Board praised the measure, saying “the proposal will substantially reduce air pollutants that threaten public health and cause climate change.” What exactly constitutes “substantial” reductions? After poking about the Energy Information Administration (EIA) a bit, it appears that making California all electric is pretty inconsequential from an environmental point of view, even if it can be done, which is very doubtful.

The law does not outlaw driving gasoline powered vehicles in the state, it merely bans their sales within the state. Like most draconian measures it’s unlikely that the ban will do much to change the mix of vehicles on the road, it will merely shift where people who chose to drive gasoline powered vehicles purchase them. Automobile dealerships in Oregon, Nevada and Arizona ought to send thank you notes to Sacramento.

While recognizing the implausibility of eliminating use of the internal combustion engine in California, it’s interesting to examine what would happen if such a thing were possible. First of all, California would need to come up with more power – a lot more power. According to EIA data the state consumes about 2,625 trillion Btu of energy annually producing electricity. Motor vehicles consume an additional 1,465 trillion Btu of energy from gasoline. If one is not using gasoline, the energy has to come from somewhere. The 1,465 trillion Btu represents around 21,000 megawatts of electrical generating capacity that would have to be added to the grid. That’s about as much energy as a mid-sized state like Illinois requires on a typical summer day.

Gonna need a lot more of these things.

Currently, wind and solar power represent about 20 percent of California’s energy portfolio, generating about 7,000 megawatts on average. If all the additional electrical demand is to be met by wind and solar, they would have to quadruple that portion of their portfolio. Possible? Maybe. Expensive? More and more eyesores? More and more bird strikes? More and more rolling blackouts? You bet.

Would the woke "sustainable" fantasy save planet Earth? Ignoring the fact that building and operating all those windmills and solar farms involves the use of fossil fuels, and also ignoring the fact that you’d have to have fossil-fired backup power because neither wind nor sunlight are reliable energy sources, you get a theoretical carbon dioxide emissions reduction of about 24 million tons per year.

Sure, 24 million tons sounds like a big number, but it’s really not. That’s about as much China emits every 12 hours. Or to look at it another way, given that global carbon dioxide emissions are about 36 billion tons per year, California’s fantasy would reduce that number by about 0.03 percent.

The simple fact is that if you really think we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it’s all about China. America could reduce her greenhouse gas emissions to zero and the amount of carbon dioxide would still continue to increase based on China’s past and projected rate of growth. Did you know, for example, that last year world wide coal consumption hit an all-time high? That didn’t happen because of coal-fired power plants in the United States. Our coal fired generation capacity continues to dwindle. The bulk of the coal is going to China and, to a lesser extent, India.

But we are talking California, so solving a make-believe problem using a pretend solution shouldn’t surprise anyone. As far as environmental policies go, California remains Fantasyland, and Tinkerbell rules.

New Nukes, More Nukes, not No Nukes

The war in Ukraine created a new energy reality. Russian petrochemicals, including natural gas once bound for Europe, are now being sold to India, China and other customers in Asia. Offering discounts out of necessity, Russia has displaced 'gray market' Iranian and even Gulf oil in Asian countries. The distribution has rearranged the map of buyers and sellers, but there is little doubt that the market for petrochemicals has shrunk for a long time to come.

The world is reeling from the economic impact of steeply rising fuel costs but bureaucrats at the International Energy Agency (IEA) can scarcely contain their delight at the shortage of 'fossil fuels.' They hope to avoid any further investment in petroleum and meet the entire energy shortfall through increases in renewables. "Global fossil fuel use has grown alongside GDP since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century: putting this rise into reverse will be a pivotal moment in energy history... Today’s growth rates for deployment of solar PV, wind, EVs and batteries, if maintained, would lead to a much faster transformation than projected in the Stated Policies Scenario, although this would require supportive policies not just in the early leading markets for these technologies but across the world." In other words subsidies and incentives for renewables will still be needed to save the day.

First World problems.

Prominently missing from the IEA's list of preferred energy technologies is nuclear power, which despite a high regulatory cost burden that must be capitalized is nevertheless "cost competitive with renewable generation when capital cost is in the region of 2000-3000 ($/KW)." It is extremely reliable and insensitive to fluctuations in fuel costs because the fissile material is replenished so infrequently. Moreover the big reactors -- unlike renewables -- are 'load following', that is to say able to increase or decrease their output in response to the demands of the grid. Because they are so useful, planned nuclear power capacity worldwide will increase steadily with about 55 reactors under construction, mostly in the Asian region.

Nuclear power technology is also advancing steadily. "More than a dozen advanced reactor designs are in various stages of development." The most mainstream of the new designs are the Generation IVs. The Generation IV International Forum (GIF), initiated by the US Department of Energy in 2000, has 13 member countries (Argentina, Brazil, Canada, France, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Switzerland, China, Russia, Australia, U.K., U.S.A.) plus Euratom jointly developing next generation nuclear technology. Six designs have been readied so far. They feature:

Perhaps the most exciting development is the availability of commercial small nuclear reactors, which are perhaps the most tested kind of all. Many hundreds of smaller power reactors have been built for naval use accumulating over 12,000 reactor years of experience. They are inherently safer. "This is largely due to their higher surface area to volume (and core heat) ratio compared with large units. It means that a lot of the engineering for safety including heat removal in large reactors is not needed in the small reactors." But their biggest advantage is they can be located—even airlifted—anywhere, even where the local grid is limited or nonexistent.

By contrast solar PV, wind, EVs and batteries require a smart grid to smooth out supply and demand. Solar farms built in North Africa, for example, need huge, kilometers-long undersea power cables to send electricity to overcast Europe. Called the EuroAfrica Interconnector, it will have 1000 MW capacity in the first stage, only equal to an average nuclear power plant. But unlike a nuclear power plant, which can be securely located near the user, a solar array in North Africa has to be secured along a long, vulnerable line of communications across national boundaries.

Given these factors, why aren't Green activists turning more to nuclear power to redress the energy crisis exacerbated by the Ukraine war? The counterintuitive reason is that cheap and reliable nuclear power would enable wasteful capitalist consumption and undo the Green agenda. Environmentalist Paul Ehrlich said in 1975:

In fact, giving society cheap, abundant energy at this point would be the moral equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun. With cheap, abundant energy, the attempt clearly would be made to pave, develop, industrialize, and exploit every last bit of the planet—a trend that would inevitably lead to a collapse of the life-support systems upon which civilization depends.

Cheap nuclear power would allow ordinary people, even in the Third World, to afford big screen TVs, game consoles, electric vehicles, lights, air conditioning, etc., all of which in the Leftist view would spell disaster.

The Catch-22 is that hardcore Greens prefers power to be expensive in order to cut consumption. As an op-ed in the Seattle Times put it: "High gas prices? They’re just what we need." The Green nightmare is billions of Africans living like Americans. The advantage of solar and wind over nuclear is it sets a hard limit on the lifestyle it will support. In that way Americans would live like Africans. As filmmaker Robert Stone put it: "as you provide societies with more energy it enables them to do more environmental destruction. The idea of tying us to the natural forces the wind and the sun was very appealing in that it would limit and constrain human development."

For the radical Greens, that's a good thing.

Renewable-Energy Dodo Birds Galore

Understatement is passé among Australian Climateers. For example, from a recent (October 12) editorial in the Australian Financial Review.

The country is the sunniest, windiest, and most spacious place in the world to develop renewables... The world, which until recently saw Australia as a carbon foot-dragger, will beat a path to the door of Australian renewable technology, with renewable markets such as the U.S. now heavily subsidised and receptive.

No logical tour de force here. It’s not immediately clear how being the "sunniest, windiest and most spacious" means that the U.S. and other countries will beat a path to acquire Australian technology. In any event, is the premise true? Australia is spacious alright but then so is the United States, Canada, China, India, Russia and Africa. And Africa as a continent is sunnier than is Australia. Windy? Maybe, but there are plenty of windy places around the world; tiny Ireland, whence much of the Australian population originates, is very windy. Therefore what?

So proud in Oz they celebrate Invasion Day.

Never mind; whoever wrote the editorial has a completely overblown sense of Australia’s role in the unfolding renewable energy tragedy. It is not an outlying view. It is widely shared by assorted politicians, corporate bigwigs, union heavyweights, and many others among the great and good.

In my previous piece for The Pipeline, I wrote that the premier of Queensland apparently believes that her state of 5.3 million people will become the renewable-energy capital of the world. The same world that journalists now believe will be beating a path to Australia’s door to beg for our world-beating renewable energy technology. It’s destiny in waiting. Down Under on top. The Earth’s axis shifted 180 degrees. Too good to be true? Yes, of course it is. At the same time, Australia is not alone in aspiring to leadership. It is one of a crowd.

Australia’s Climate Council, a so-claimed “independent, evidence-based organisation on climate science,” lists eleven countries which are “leading the charge on renewable energy.” Namely, Sweden, Costa Rica, Scotland, Iceland, Germany, Uruguay, Denmark, China, Morocco, New Zealand, and Norway. China being on the list might lessen its credibility in your eyes. If that is the case and you don’t like my list, I can find others.

However, sadly, as for this list, Australia is (incomprehensibly) missing as is the United States; this, despite Houston describing itself as “the renewable energy capital of the world.” And, not so fast Houston, it’s not so long ago that Boris Johnson had plans “to make the U.K. the world leader in green energy.” And, hold on, South Africa’s is becoming a leader too...

"Who's the windiest of them all?" asked Greta.

As the Dodo says in Alice in Wonderland, "Everybody has won, and all must have prizes."

How many countries, states and cities plan to become the world’s renewable energy super power? At a guess, a sizeable number. All jostling to be top dog in the quixotic and crippling quest to reduce CO2 emissions to net-zero and, thereby, cool the planet and prevent devastating weather events. A destructive irony is unfolding. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere currently stands, neither increases nor reductions in emissions will have any material effect on the temperature.

Well-credentialed scientists like William Wijngaarden and Will Happer make the compelling case that most greenhouse warming from CO2 has occurred once it reaches a concentration in the atmosphere of 20 parts per million. And, that by the time it reaches 280 ppm, as in as in pre-industrial times, almost all warming has occurred. Thus, leaving only a small amount of warming for the runup to 400 ppm, where we are now roughly, and none worth speaking of northwards from here. The sound and fury, the massive upheavals, the blackouts, the trillions of dollars spent, Greta’s anguish, all for a big fat nothing.

Let us take stock. Here is what is known, rather than what is hysterically predicted ad nauseum. The modest warming since pre-industrial times has not simply been benign but extremely beneficial. A warmer world, a greener world, a more productive and prosperous world. Who would ever want to go back? That is all very well, some might say, but what about those devastating weather events? Well, in fact, lucky us, they are simply not happening; no matter how much alarmists claim otherwise. For an illustration, I will leave it to that previously esteemed, now woke, Australian body, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation.

No significant global trends have been detected in the frequency of tropical cyclones to date, and no significant trends in the total numbers of tropical cyclones, or in the occurrence of the most intense tropical cyclone, have been found in the Australian region.” (24 December 2020)

Don’t want to be picky but au contraire: there is indeed a trend. Just not the trend the CSIRO expected to find.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has a chart of cyclones in the Australian region from 1970-71 onwards. However, for some inexplicable reason, best known to the BOM, the chart stops at 2016/17. Not to worry. I have updated it -- up to the 2021/22 cyclone season. And, unless my eyes deceive me, I perceive a distinct downward trend. And it looks significant to me.

Number of Cyclones Australian Region

How about the intensity of cyclones? Might be fewer but the claim by the climateers is that they will be more severe. The yearly number of severe cyclones averaged 5.6 in the first half of the period from 1970/71 to 1995/96; versus just 4.0 in the second half from 1996/97 to 2021/22. So, a downward trend overall and, also, in the number of severe cyclones. I can only assume that mild global warming, aka "catastrophic anthropogenic climate change," must be contributing to more clement weather. Hurrah! Must come as relief to Greta, David Attenborough, King Charles III, and John Kerry?

Hmm no, unfortunately. Facts and evidence count for little. Momentum is with the madness. Revved up by countries falling over themselves to claim leadership in the renewable-energy stakes. Prognosis: negative.

The Greens' Cloud Cuckoo Land

And so into their fantasy world they go. Demolishing reliable coal-power stations and subsidizing intermittent sources of power. Bad enough that Western governments have swallowed the line that climate Armageddon is on the horizon. Worse, much worse, is what they’re doing about it. They seem unable to distinguish between dreams and reality. Two recent developments in Australia add to the overwhelming evidence that Western governments are living their deluisions. Of course, there are many more than two such developments. I’ve just picked two of them at random. The first concerns the Liddell coal power station in the Hunter region in the state of New South Wales (NSW).

Liddell is being closed down prematurely in April next year. Incidentally, Eraring, the largest power station in Australia (at 2.3GW), also in NSW, will close prematurely in 2025. The Australian Energy Market Operator expects more early closures. On cue, it’s been announced that the closure of Loy Yang, supplying 30 percent of the state of Victoria’s power, will be brought forward ten years to 2035. No odds are being offered on bets it will close earlier than that. It’s all part of the continuing shutdown of coal power stations in Australia. Meanwhile, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, et al, are still building them, and using heaps of Australian coal to power them. What to do? Weep.

Back to Liddell. It is to be replaced—for no good reason—by intermittent wind and solar. Intermittency; there’s the rub. Firming required. And, for the continuing avoidance of any doubt, to the extent of 100 percent. Envisaged to fill part of the gap is Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. It’s way behind schedule, way above budget, and not nearly as effective as claimed.

Liddell on the chopping block: icky old energy.

Then, risibly, there are batteries. To illustrate, it’s claimed that the largest battery in Australia, the 450MWh Big Battery in Victoria, can power over one million dwellings for half an hour. There are 2.5 million dwellings in Victoria and, of course, commerce and industry besides. Powering the whole state would leave the Big Battery flat after about 5 minutes. And then, from somewhere, it has to be charged up again. Enough said. Finally, there is the effective, if partial, firming coming via a new 600MWh gas-powered plant to be built by Snowy Hydro Limited, near and named after the small town of Kurri Kurri in the Hunter region of NSW. Sense and realism at last you might think. Think again.

Initially, the Labor Party was against Kurri Kurri. Fossil fuel and all that. But now in government, with responsibility to keep the lights on, it’s come around. But not without the dreaming in tow. It insists that the gas plant must run on 30 percent green hydrogen from the outset, scheduled for December 2023, and on 100 percent by 2030 or sooner. Enter Paul Broad, the (now ex-) CEO of Snowy Hydro Limited. Let him tell it: "While hydrogen is a wonderful opportunity, it is many, many years away from being commercial."

Not what the Government wanted to hear. Green dream interrupted. Broad resigned in August. Wanted: new CEO willing to suspend reality, live in dreamland, and conjure up commercial quantities of green hydrogen.

The second development comes out of the state of Queensland. The Labor Party is the governing party in Queensland. It runs a green-obsessed government. No surprise there. Governments of all six Australian states and its two territories and the nation itself are green-obsessed; including those (in NSW and Tasmania) run by the pretend-center-right Liberal Party. In fact, there’s no difference to speak of. We don’t have the grand variety that Ron DeSantis and some of his fellow Republican governors (and Republican legislators) bring to the United States. And they say size doesn’t matter.

The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk (locally pronounced as Pala-shay), announced her green dream under the heading of the “world’s biggest pumped hydro for Queensland,” on September 28. Some of its elements:

On the drawing board: clean green power!

Apropos coal. Snapshot, October 7, 6.15pm, coal power is supplying 78 percent of Queensland’s electricity; 5,588MW out of 7,201MW (natural gas 14 percent, hydro 4 percent, wind and solar 2.6 percent). In case she’s missed it, someone might remind the Premier that 2035 is only thirteen short years away. Rome wasn’t built in thirteen years. And neither are new dams, pumped hydro stations, green hydrogen plants, many square miles of wind and solar farms, and the accompanying transmission infrastructure. But she won’t listen. Her reality is in her head and her head is in the clouds:

This plan is about cheaper, cleaner and secure energy for Queenslanders…It is about turbo-charging new investment in new minerals, batteries and manufacturing…Renewable energy is the cheapest form of energy…This plan makes Queensland the renewable energy capital of the world.

Queensland is only the third largest Australian state. Population 5.3 million. Yet, destined to become the renewable energy capital of the world? If you say so Ms. Palaszczuk. Clearly her (world domination) plan is delusional. Something the climate activists in the bureaucracy thought up. It’s a reverie with no practical possibility of being realized; at least the building part. It’s quick and easy to blow things up; like, say, coal power stations. And what then, I wonder?

Time to panic. Leap for the lifeboats. But where to head?  Maybe you speak Chinese. No green dreams there; just the realistic ambition of world domination, this one backed up by a two-million-man army and gunboats. Nothing green about that.

How Do We Stop California from Throwing Its Weight Around?

California is the American Left's biggest asset and its biggest liability. It is a liability because it clearly demonstrates to the world what unfettered "progressive" governance looks like: out-of-control crime, through-the-roof taxation, an inhumane regulatory regime, insane gas prices, the constant threat of blackouts, and a government so divorced from reality that it is unable to actually accomplish anything.

If you need proof on the last point, check out the New York Times' recent deep-dive into the state's "multi-billion-dollar nightmare" of a high-speed rail system, which has seen its cost projections rise from $33 billion to $113 billion, is currently costing $1.8 million a day, and which will almost certainly never be completed. And for all the Left's bellyaching about "income inequality," the Golden State is the poster child for that concept. As Victor Davis Hanson once wrote,

By many criteria, 21st-century California is both the poorest and the richest state in the union. Almost a quarter of the population lives below the poverty line. Another fifth is categorized as near the poverty level — facts not true during the latter 20th century. A third of the nation’s welfare recipients now live in California. The state has the highest homeless population in the nation (135,000). About 22 percent of the nation’s total homeless population reside in the state — whose economy is the largest in the U.S., fueling the greatest numbers of American billionaires and high-income zip codes.

Unsurprisingly, Californians of all political persuasions have been fleeing in droves, which has led to the state's losing a congressional seat (and therefore a vote in the electoral college) in the wake of the 2020 census. But even with that population shift, California is still the largest state in the union, the 400-poound gorilla of the U.S.A., which is why it remains an asset. It has the ability to throw a lot of weight around.

Sacramento's acting out again.

Case in point: this past August, the California Air Resources Board approved Governor Gavin Newsom's directive banning the sale of carbon-emitting (that is, gasoline- and diesel-driven) vehicles in the Golden State by the year 2035. This will have major repercussions for the automobile industry nationwide. Manufacturers, unwilling to be locked out of the California market and its 39 million perspective customers, will shift their development priorities towards EVs. So if this rule remains in effect, it will be increasingly difficult to purchase a non-E.V. as 2035 draws near.

There's another reason that California's environmental regulations is putting pressure on auto-manufacturers: in 2009 the state was granted a waiver by the Obama administration regarding the Clean Air Act which allows it to set harsher emissions limits than the national standard, an authority the Trump administration attempted to revoke and the Biden White House reestablished. Seventeen states have tied their emissions standards to California's, with New York State recently taking the plunge. New York governor Kathy Hochul said that, in light of government subsidies for charging stations and vehicles themselves, “you will have no more excuses” not to buy an E.V. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board correctly translates this sentiment: "You will have no more choice."

One state, at least, is trying to abstract itself from this scheme. Virginia signed onto Sacramento's emissions standards in 2021, under former governor Ralph Northam. That same year saw the election of Governor Glenn Youngkin, a Republican, whose tenure in office has seen him declare war on the destructive policies of his predecessor. He has signed executive orders banning Critical Race Theory, rescinding the state's school mask mandate, and beginning the process of withdrawing Virginia from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (another plot to remove environmental regulation from the realm of democratic oversight). And now he's turned his attention towards bringing emissions standards back home to Richmond.

Youngkin's 2022 state energy plan, released earlier this month, called on state legislators to reverse the alignment with California, and Republicans in the GOP-controlled House of Delegates of delegates are answering the call. Any repeal, however, will have to make it through the state senate, where the Democrats are in the majority.

Still, we wish Governor Youngkin well in his efforts, along with the attorneys general of the seventeen Republican-led states which are currently suing the Environmental Protection Agency in the hopes of getting the Golden State's Clean Air Act waiver revoked. After all, if Leftists are successful in turning the whole country into California, there will be nowhere left to flee to.

Green Activists Desecrate a Masterpiece

What can be said about this, except that they hate all that is true, good, and beautiful?  Fortunately, the picture, which hangs in Britain's National Gallery, was quickly cleaned and restored to exhibition.

The "protestors," who wore T-shirts proclaiming Just Stop Oil and then glued themselves to the wall, were only charged on counts of criminal damage.

A spokesperson for the National Gallery confirmed that there was no damage to the painting, which is one of the iconic versions of “Sunflowers” that Van Gogh painted in the late 1880s. It has an estimated value of $80.99 million.

“There is some minor damage to the frame but the painting is unharmed,” the spokesperson told CNBC. The painting was covered by glass, and it was cleaned and returned to the National Gallery Friday afternoon.

Just Stop Oil has been protesting in London for the past two weeks, and the group said in a press release that its actions were “in response to the government’s inaction on both the cost of living crisis and the climate crisis.”

Cultural vandalism should be punished as harshly as violent crime. There are no good intention or a "higher loyalty" involved, just brainwashed barbarian malice.

 

The Utter Folly of European 'Climate Policy'

Europeans will starve, go hungry and be jobless in large numbers unless the European Union and national politicians do an about-face on climate policy. The United States is not far behind, although has more tools to displace failed leaders than do people under the thumb of the European Union. This winter is but a taste of things to come.

An extensive analysis—50 points—of the folly of "climate policy" is found at wattsupwiththat.com; in sum it evinces there is no “climate emergency,” the goal of Net-Zero by 2050 is “delusional,” neither warranted, feasible, nor politically possible and would be so costly it would “drive a 33 percent average reduction in all government spending on health, housing, education, social welfare, police, climate adaptation, defense, social justice, etc.” As the measurable big decrease in global economic output during the pandemic lockdowns established, slashing living standards will not result in a “measurable decrease atmospheric CO2.” The only feasible means to phase out fossil fuels are technological advances, which means the shift cannot be mandated by government and of necessity the shift will be slow.

In any event, nothing the West can do changes the fact that during the next quarter century “over 80 percent of all increased global emissions” will occur in Asia. Moreover, for decades to come, “Asia, South America, and Africa “will represent over 90 percent of future increases in energy consumption.” Any effort must be global, not nation-by-nation. It’s simply not a first-world issue, and it’s irrational to pretend otherwise.

Women's work.

Also irrational is the pretense that we can limit energy use. We need it for everything and the demand is growing. It may be a surprise to learn that “Global smart phone production uses 15 percent more energy as the automotive industry.... the Cloud uses twice a much electricity worldwide as all of Japan.” This would surely set back on their heels the anti-fossil fuel crowd gathered everywhere in clothes manufactured from petroleum-based materials and coordinating their activities by iPhones, if only someone told them. 

In the meantime, this winter Europeans are getting to see first hand the folly of the "climate change" cult thinking of the European Union and its national leaders. They are already seeing food and energy shortages and the beginning of deindustrialization. In a series of tweets Alexander Stahel, CIO of a Swiss investment management firm, sets out a number of developments in various European countries, to flesh out what news summaries do not—the desperate near- and long-term consequences of Europe’s “gigantic structural” problem. Here are a few examples.

As prices increase, along with scarce food, limited transport options, and winter heating, it’s easy to see why unrest in Europe is growing. The Yellow Vests in France have been demonstrating against, inter alia, rising fuel costs and austerity measures for almost four years. (The most recent French complaint about the emissions mandates involve the E.U.’s ban on an insecticide needed to deal with a beetle that devastates mustard plants.)

In the Netherlands, farmers have been protesting and blocking roads with their tractors for almost three years because of proposals to limit industrial fodder and livestock production to lower emissions from the nitrogen cycle. More recently, protests have against energy shortages have cropped up in Belgium where thousands of people have been protesting against the huge rise in the cost of living, driving “rising food prices, startling energy bills and frustration with politicians and employers.”

And then there’s Italy, where conservative firebrand Giorgia Meloni is poised to occupy the prime minister’s office after the recent elections saw her Brothers of Italy party surge to power. Meloni is more concerned with battling Europe's coming energy crisis than she is with "climate change," and has called for the EU. member states to work together to solve the problem before the problem solves them: "We need a common solution at the European level to help firms and families," she said in a statement. "No member state can offer effective and long term solutions on its own." Meloni's position on "climate change" already has the Left terrified, and its slander machine going full blast:

Giorgia Meloni, leader of the neo-fascist, right-wing populist Brothers of Italy party, is poised to become Italy’s first woman prime minister. This is as much a victory for feminism as Margaret Thatcher’s premiership in the UK, which is to say that it is no victory at all. Meloni boasts the familiar spate of ultra-conservative views with a few terrifying twists: not only has she called Mussolini a “good politician,” she also aligns herself with the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory. While her fascist leanings and the threats her ascent poses to human rights have been widely discussed, Meloni’s stance on environmental issues has been left relatively uninterrogated... it seems that Italy’s next government will be pursuing the promise of nuclear power and leaning into domestic natural gas extraction. Renewable energy forms, like solar and wind, are decidedly absent from the agenda. Meloni’s party has also criticised the EU’s ban on combustion engine cars by 2035 as “a sensational own-goal” and is likely to support junior coalition partner Matteo Salvini’s call for an Italian referendum to overturn the decision.

Also women's work.

Ursula Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, threatened the Meloni coalition with "consequences" if it “veers from democracy,” which is rather ironic as there’s nothing particularly democratic about the Commission, the executive branch of the European Union, both of which are self-perpetuating sclerotic bureaucracies. Her threat reminds that the Commission has called upon the Union’s council to suspend 7.5 billion Euros from Hungary for “corruption.” Poland has said it will oppose such sanctions and criticized Von der Leyen’s not so veiled threats as did several Italian political leaders.

I don’t know if the present energy crisis will be enough to lead more countries to exit the European Union, which has, as we saw with Brexit, lots of tools to rein in unwilling members from so doing, but it just might if the winter is cold enough and the E.U. continues its suicidal foolishness and arrogance.

Another Day, Another 'Climate' Disaster to Exploit

Nobody can say that climate change alarmists are inconsistent, at least when it comes to natural disasters. They are quicker to blame the latest bit of foul weather on global warming than an ambulance chasing lawyer is to whip out his business card when he meets someone with a back injury.

Mechanical engineer Bill Nye has been all over CNN and the internet explaining how climate change affects weather in terms of a mechanical engineer. It’s all about energy transfer for Bill, a direct, proportionally measurable phenomenon that the many and “always reliable” climate models predict with perfect accuracy! Or so he seems to believe. (Side note: if the models are SO accurate why do we have so many of them?)

Bill Nye.

Weather events are bit more complex than that. That’s why weather models are different beasts than climate models. There is another big difference between weather models and climate models: weather models tend to be right. They tend to be right because they are limited in scope, both in terms of geographical area and in terms of how far into the future they look. They also tend to be right because their accuracy is immediately demonstrable. Climate models, on the other hand, seek to define trends for the entirety of planet Earth decades into the future and beyond. They are largely unproven because the data sets used to attempt to validate them is so poor (remember “hide the decline”) and their scope so terrifically huge.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the alarmist crowd told us that the number of hurricanes and cyclones were increasing in number and intensity because of "global warming." They have largely abandoned that argument for the very good reason that it is demonstrably false. The actual record shows very little variation in the number and intensity of hurricanes between 1980 and the present. It’s difficult to comment on hurricane frequency before 1980 because global weather monitoring by satellite did not exist prior to 1980.

For a while the “proof” became the undeniable fact that the value of insurance claims associated with hurricane damage continues to rise. A-ha! The hurricanes must be getting stronger and causing more damage, and the reason they are getting stronger is because of global warming.

That’s a neat little argument, one that seems to make some sense at first. But somebody checked on the rate of new property development in hurricane-vulnerable locales. Sure enough, the increase in the value of insurance claims pretty well matched the increase in development. So it wasn’t that hurricanes are hitting harder, they are just getting more targets to hit. In terms of intensity, Ian was far below Andrew in 1992 and somewhat below Michael in 2018. Andrew made landfall with a wind speed nearly 150 mph, Michael with a wind speed of about 135 mph, while Ian topped out at around 130 mph.

The "science guy."

If it can be shown that we don’t have more hurricanes and a given hurricane’s potential to cause damage hasn’t really changed either, how can alarmists like Nye blame the devastation in Florida on "global warming"? Well, everything is possible if you just use your imagination. Nye parroted the latest party line: the rate at which today’s hurricanes are intensifying is increasing due to "climate change."

That is to say that as Ian came whipping up the Gulf of Mexico it was picking up more heat than it otherwise would have, thus transferring more energy, thus increasing the intensity of Ian beyond what nature intended.

The beauty of this argument is that it is unprovable. It’s an act of faith. If anything is a demonstrable exercise in chaos theory, it’s hurricane behavior. Yes, we can attempt to predict the track and growth of a given hurricane using some meteorological data, but the error bars surrounding those predictions are huge. Nye can no more prove that Ian would have behaved differently in a world with less greenhouse gases than he can disprove my assertion that Ian would have been much smaller in a world with fewer Bill Nyes.

Predictably, Nye chastised Republicans in Congress for not taking "climate change" seriously. Because why? Presumably because if everyone believes, really believes, hard enough in "climate change" then Tinkerbell will appear to solve the problem. What exactly does Nye expect Republicans in Congress to do? Close coal-fired power plants? We closed a bunch of them. Subsidize new wind and solar plants? Been subsidizing both for decades now. Push automakers into building more electric vehicles? We can take that one off the punch-list as well. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Been doing that for years.

Worldwide coal consumption is surging, with 2021 coming in just short of the record set in 2014. Any discussion of greenhouse gas reductions starts and pretty much ends with China and India. It’s silly on one level to wag a finger at Republicans in Congress for not believing that climate change is or will be a crisis. It’s beyond absurd when one considers that there is literally nothing Congress can do about the crisis if it exists.

Coming to save the day!

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has been roundly criticized for solely talking about climate in terms of Florida’s infrastructure needs. Coastal erosion, whatever the cause, is a problem in Florida and DeSantis is spending money to address it. But he won’t pay due homage to the golden calf in the room: "global warming" idolatry. He won’t do penance for America's prosperity by blaming humans and their wicked ways. He won’t address the root causes of the problem! How could he address the root causes of this supposed problem? Short of ordering the Florida Air National Guard to bomb the snot out of Chinese coal-fired power plants it's unclear what he could possibly do. And presumably Xi wouldn’t take too kindly to that solution.

Ian was a disaster, as large hurricanes that make landfall always have been and always will be. We should all offer up a prayer for those Floridians who lost property and loved ones. But those who try once again to exploit the disaster to achieve their own selfish ends deserve nothing but our contempt.

'We Stand by the Modeling'

The Australian Labor Government, in office since May 23, is pinning its hopes and our very future on its plan: “Powering Australia.” Worried? Don’t be. It’s backed by modelling:

A Labor Government will close the yawning gap between our current Federal Government and our business community, agricultural sector and state governments when it comes to investing in the renewables that will power our future. Our plan will create 604,000 jobs, with 5 out of 6 new jobs to be created in the regions. It will spur $76 billion of investment. It will cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year for homes by 2025, compared to today.

Read all about it:

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Recently, Chris Bowen, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy; or, as I like to put it, the minister for a contradiction in terms, was asked about the predicted $275 reduction in power bills for families. What did “today” mean he was asked. Is it literally today, which successive tomorrows will soon enough become, or is it when the plan was published before the election. A good question. Since the election power bills have risen by about 15 to 20 percent; by, roughly speaking, $275.

Eventually, after much pressing, Bowen and the government stuck to the prediction. Apparently, the prediction fell out of modelling and there is no gainsaying modelling. Here’s Anthony Albanese (Albo), the Prime Minister, in Parliament on 6 September. Overlook the tortured syntax.

I've said absolutely consistently from this dispatch box… that we stand by the modelling that we did… And what the modelling showed was that with our plan, which includes Rewiring the Nation, making sure that you make the grid 21st-century ready, if you actually enable renewables to fit into the energy grid through the integrated systems plan that's been developed by the Australian Energy Market Operator then what you will do is promote investment in renewables, which are the cheapest form of energy.

Ah, “we stand by the modelling.” Statistical modelling of the future. Something for which failure is endemic. Psychics do better. Thus, no economics model predicted the sub-prime mortgage crisis of 2008 and its aftermath. Hysterical morbidity modelling of the virus armed authoritarians. Kept people locked away, masked, forcibly injected with experimental substances. And, as everyone should know but doesn’t, climate models have performed abjectly; e.g., in falsely predicting increases in extreme weather events. (See, for confirmation, this recent study in The European Physical Journal Plus.)

Some Australians prefer other models.

Models and complex reality occupy different universes. So why Albo’s touching faith in modelling renewables? To be clear. It’s not informed faith. It’s blind faith.

Once you set out your stall to achieve net-zero and announce the steps along the way, including an untenable promise to deliver 82 percent of electricity by renewables by 2030, realism is defenestrated. The imperative becomes how to make the infeasible feasible. Saviour required. Namely, modelling which says it can be done. Better still modelling which says it can be done more cheaply. What a turnup! Show me the wanted outcome (cheap and abundant green energy) and I’ll show you the model.

Mind you, the modelling itself might be logically sound. Assume nine times the current number of wind and solar farms are built on time. Assume rooftop solar grows by five times. Assume 10,000 kilometres of new transmission lines are built. Assume, sufficient recharging points are installed and that electric vehicles wholly replace gasoline-powered vehicles. Assume adequate ‘firming’ can be achieved via batteries, pumped hydro and green hydrogen. Assume a specific growth in energy efficiency. Assume carbon dioxide abatement makes up for greenhouse gas emissions which can’t be eliminated.

Basically, you have the integrated systems plan issued in June by the Australian Energy Market Operator. I reckon if these assumptions were plugged into any purpose-built model, the right answer, net-zero by 2050, would pop out. Any problem; fiddle with the assumptions. Plug in more wind farms for example. Assume greater energy efficiency. Pump up the average wind speed a little. Reduce future demand for power. Remember, in the end result, unless net zero pops out, you ain’t got nothing politically sellable.

Okay, but how do you make power cheaper? I admit, that part has me completely flummoxed; though not the prime minister, as I note below. Battery costs are rising. Materials like lithium, cobalt and nickel are getting progressively more expensive to extract. The costs of building Snowy 2, the only major pumped hydro project afoot in Australia, have sky rocketed by five times and counting. The costs of building transmission lines, still at a preliminary stage, have soared. To boot, no one wants wind and solar farms and transmission lines in their backyards. Maybe they can be paid off? Then there’s the dream of green hydrogen. Desalination plants to produce sufficient pure water; multiple electrolysis plants driven by huge wind and solar farms; plants to convert volatile hydrogen into ammonia for safe transport, and to change it back. At a guess, might cost a dollar or two.

Just pump up the average windspeed a little.

However, Australia’s prime minister occupies an uncomplicated world. As he says: “if you have a shift in the energy mix towards cheaper energy [renewables], as opposed to more expensive energy, then you lower energy prices.” Compelling modelling logic. To reiterate, cheaper energy is cheaper than more expensive energy. No wonder he became PM.

Alas, Australia’s make-believe modelling world is not reflective of real life elsewhere. In Germany, for example, electricity prices trended upwards during the 2010s, notwithstanding Energiewende. A study out of the University of Chicago shows that U.S. states which adopted “renewable portfolio standards” had higher electricity prices than those states which did not. As the authors point out, the higher prices likely reflect costs that renewables impose on the generation system due to their “intermittency” and “higher transmission costs.” Quite so. But this is mere prelude to the brave much greener world ahead.

According to EIA figures, wind and solar accounted for just 12 percent of electricity generation in the U.S. in 2021. Australia is higher at 22 percent. But, vitally, in both countries fossil fuel power is strongly in the mix—61 percent in the U.S. (plus 19 percent nuclear) and 72 percent in Australia. It can still backup intermittent sources of power. Watch out when the balance tips a little further. Coming to your neighbourhood fairly soon: unaffordable electricity, blackouts and, inevitably, authoritarian diktats. Verboten, home heating above 61°F. VIPs excepted of course. To everyone according to their needs.