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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Perils of Consensus: Beware 'Climate Change'

Many today believe that the globe is heating up and that something must be done to prevent a looming apocalypse. Carbon is ravaging the planet and fossil fuels must be replaced by wind and solar. The science is apparently settled. Yet predictions of global devastation have predictably failed for as many years as we can remember. Wind and solar are prohibitively costly, land defiling, and almost entirely unreliable, as every significant study has shown.

Important books by top-tier scientific investigators like Bruce Bunker (The Mythology of Global Warming), Rupert Darwall (Green Tyranny), Bjorn Lomborg (False Alarm), Michael Shellenberger (Apocalypse Never), and John Casey (Dark Winter) credibly put paid to the accepted narrative of rising seas and falling skies—though such books seem to have gone unread. Here in Vancouver, BC, winter came early this year, with temperatures clearly falling—we were bundling up in October; yet, it is difficult to get people merely to observe and assess for themselves, given sensationalist and misleading news reports to the contrary.

Consensus is always moot, regardless of how many people adhere to a general theory or a global assumption, as Charles Mackay has definitively shown in his classic study Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and Eric Hoffer has laid out for us in The True Believer, an analysis of mass movements and the dynamics of fanaticism. It’s hard not to get swept along when we are told every day by our news anchors, newspaper editors, digital platforms, elected politicians and “science guys,” who have their own agenda of profit and power, that flood, fire and hurricane are our imminent future, that icebergs are melting by the minute and polar bears are starving, that Pacific islands are sinking, and that millions of people are about to starve. The overwhelming consensus of our experts and authorities cannot be accidental or wrong, can it?

But consensus is a funny thing. It can change unpredictably, very much like our weather reports. Paradigms tend to shift rapidly. Not so long ago, we might recall, we were all getting ready to freeze. As I indicated in a previous article for The Pipeline, in 1971 the Global Ecology network forecast the “continued rapid cooling of the earth.” In 1975 the New York Times brooded that the earth “may be headed for another ice age.” In the March 1975 issue of Science, we were informed that “the approach of a full-blown 10,000-year ice age [was] a real possibility,” and in the July 1975 issue of National Wildlife, C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization warned that “the cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.” (Much of this information can be found in a provocative Forbes article by Gary Sutton).

Turn the calendar page and we are all getting ready to bake. As Robertas Bakula explains in The American Institute for Economic Research, dodgy statistics, ideological zealotry and partisan massaging of data work to falsely establish that “the scientific consensus on the human origins of climate change is beyond doubt.” Nothing could be further from the truth. He continues: “Thus it is not surprising to see an array of messiahs, from honestly concerned activists to self-righteous politicians, gather in their congregations, prophesize doomsday, and come up with their genocidal plans to banish all evil, that is, reliable energy.” 

Coming to a planet near you.

The original consensus may have been closer to the truth. Climatologist Kenneth Tapping of the National Research Council of Canada concluded in 2008 that sunspot activity, the driver of global temperatures, had diminished to the point of presaging the onset of colder winters and widespread cooling. Global warming was a temporary phenomenon. A decade later, The Science Times reported that it would appear the earth is indeed cooling, signaled by “a surprisingly long period of very low sunspot activity.” A decreasing number of sunspots is crucial, leading to changing climate cycles and declining temperatures.  

Such events were experienced during a period known as the Dalton Minimum (1790-1830) and earlier during the Maunder Minimum (1645-1715), established from data based on carbon-14 content in tree rings. Both minima were synonymous with the Little Ice Age (1350-1850).

As Brian Fagan writes in The Little Ice Age, evidence for the period derives from radiocarbon dating of dead plant material collected from beneath the ice caps of Greenland and the Arctic. In the words of Historical Climatology, “growing seasons shortened, food shortages spread, economies unraveled, and rebellions and revolutions were quick to follow.” This suggests the time may now have come for political caution and scientific revaluation of the warming hypothesis. As the journal Phys.Org observes, “The sun is now on track to have the lowest recorded sunspot activity since accurate records began in 1750.”

Further corroboration is provided by Arnab Rai Choudhuri’s fascinating study Nature’s Third Cycle, which explains the daunting complexities of “solar dynamo theory” and “meridional  circulation inside the sun’s convection zone,” furnishing evidence for drastically reduced sunspot activity and the prospect of cooling summers and harsh winters to come. Although “precise theoretical calculations are hardly possible in climate science,” Choudhury remarks, we seem to be heading toward a cryogenic future, utterly unprepared to adopt contingency plans to adjust to and cope with colder temperatures and its attendant miseries—a condition that Choudhuri calls “the verdict from the Sun-God.”

Old and busted: "global warming."

The debate will continue to rage. The science is quite definitely “unsettled,” as Steven Koonin, a moderate among climatologists, tells us in his book of that title. In his just released Hot Talk, Cold Science, Fred Singer believes that “modest warming is likely to occur in the century ahead,” and that it should be welcomed. Carbon is our friend.

Brian Fagan, whose knowledge of the Little Ice Age is unquestionable, is a true believer in global warming and the advent or “record-breaking heat, mild winters [and] Category 5 Hurricanes.” Unlike Singer, he stresses that global warming must be mitigated. Energy and Technology scientist Peter Taylor’s Chill: A Reassessment of Global Warming Theory, which appeared ten years before Fagan’s volume, is a penetrating antidote to Fagan’s consensus thinking.

The prestigious Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, for its part, vigorously disagrees with both Singer and Fagan. “Our main message,” it proclaims, “is that global climate is moving in a direction that makes abrupt climate change more probable… and the consequences of ignoring this may be large. For those of us living around the edge of the N. Atlantic Ocean, we may be planning for climate scenarios of global warming that are opposite to what might actually occur.” Resistance to the prevailing narrative of thermogenic catastrophism is growing. 

In its November 23 edition, The Epoch Times reports on an interview with British scientist Valentina Zharkova, a member of the department of Mathematics, Physics and Electrical Engineering at Northumbria University, who foresees “the onset of a grand solar minimum between 2020 and 2053 [that could] reduce global temperatures by up to 1 degree Celsius.” Zharkova warns that “governments in the Northern Hemisphere should prepare their citizens for a sharp downturn in temperatures during the next several decades.” She also believes that some scientists involved in promoting global warming are aware of the prospect of terrestrial cooling, but want to profit from green technology “as soon as possible, because they will be exposed very quickly.”

Into the sunny uplands of Green! Maybe.

Admittedly, the dilemma of consensuality is not easily resolved. One can only go with the best evidence available after diligent inquiry and honest appraisal, aided by a certain saving skepticism. As Peter Taylor advises, “I would urge these people uneducated in science to trust their ability to think for themselves and to use this material to open up discussion and further study.” Whenever one hears the word “consensus” in the news or on any Internet site, a warning light should flash where the idea bulb is presumably located.

In the present circumstance of cold fury and heated controversy, the global cooling hypothesis is well attested by reputable scientists who do not depend on academic approval and government grants serving to promote a political ideology—and who are regularly censored as iconoclasts and purveyors of “misinformation” by social media and the influential digital platforms, generally a sign that a maverick truth is being deliberately suppressed. However unsettled the issue remains, they are worth attending to.

Erin Go Bragh?

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

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

Love it, hate it, tax it.

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

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

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

Well, as it turns out, no.

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

Despoiling the Irish countryside in order to save it.

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

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

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

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

The Real Energy Crisis

Instead of handing out treats for Halloween on October 31, the Biden Administration and the green industrial complex supporting it are lining up the tricks to commit America to a green future that looks bleak, and promises more hardship here, particularly for seniors and the poor, just as in Europe.

Even the climate-cheerleading The Economist nods to reality.

The switch from coal to renewable energy has left Europe, and especially Britain, vulnerable to a natural-gas supply panic that at one point this week had sent spot prices up by over 60 percent. …[M]ake no mistake, the deeper forces behind the shortage economy are not going away and politicians could easily end up with dangerously wrong-headed policies. … [G]overnments… may have to meet shortages by relaxing emissions targets and lurching back to dirtier sources of energy. Governments will therefore have to plan carefully to cope with the higher energy costs and slower growth that will result from eliminating emissions. Pretending that decarbonisation will result in a miraculous economic boom is bound to lead to disappointment.

As a direct result of bad policy choices, this is the real “climate crisis.” We can only hope the Economist is correct about the possible political “backlash.” The question is whether that comes too late.

To the rescue?

With dire warning signs out of Europe over a feared cold winter amid record-low fossil fuel supplies due to green mandates, and a green energy infrastructure unable to meet demand, green-industrial complex voices are already pre-butting assignment of responsibility saying, whatever you do, blame “anything but the greens.”

Of course, if you’ve ever had, or even been, teenagers, you know that a chorus of voices piping up in early October that “December’s not my fault” is a good sign that December is their fault. During California’s 2020 rolling blackouts, Governor Gavin Newsome “pointed to California’s shift to renewable resources as part of the reason for the supply shortage. ‘Shutting down polluting gas power plants as created gaps in the state’s energy supply,’ he said.”  And while he is apparently still committed to a “green” future, Newsome said, “we cannot sacrifice reliability.” Too late.

Anyone truly surprised by the perils created by politicians has not been paying attention. Enron executives predicted this in 1999, as they organized and funded what has become the climate industry. One internal email noted, “more than any other U.S. corporation [Enron] has helped legitimize the case of apocalyptic climate change and today is carrying the Kyoto flag more than any other U.S. corporation.….” Another, however, acknowledged that this politicization of energy markets posed great systemic risks such as what we are seeing unfold today:

Maybe Enron can dodge the macro problem and have our micro benefits, but then again I have to think that a politicized international energy market for any reason will create as much or more downside than upside.

Although Enron is long gone, the harms visited on the U.S. and global economies by its agenda continue. And with climate activists embedded throughout the government in key energy and climate roles, there is even less regard at present for the need for public support or political legitimacy.

The Washington Post reports,

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan says he’s willing to wield broad regulatory power to enact President Biden’s climate agenda if Congress fails to pass meaningful climate legislation. Regan says his agency will issue a robust greenhouse gas rule for power plants, a stringent methane rule for oil and gas infrastructure, and sweeping emissions standards for new cars, regardless of Congress's actions.

Similarly, White House aide Gina McCarthy repeated the line from the Obama-Biden EPA when it comes to imposing the climate agenda: “The Biden administration will use its ‘regulatory authority’ to act on climate change if it can’t get Congress to” pass its desired legislative agenda.

Don't cross the Queens...

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey even promised a Michael Bloomberg group that, if it gave her privately funded attorneys to be embedded in her office, she would use them to enforce “the long-term commitments set forth… in the Paris Agreement.” Those were supposedly voluntary, we were told, in order to keep the U.S. Senate from voting on the pact.

Those promises are about to be made more painful. On October 29, keep an eye on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Biden Environmental Protection Agency is expected to roll over in a sue-and-settle lawsuit, State of New York et al. v. EPA. In a filing due that day, EPA is likely to announce plans to issue new ozone National Air Ambient Quality Standards (NAAQS), seemingly obscure but in fact “Biden’s back door climate plan,” as the main vehicle to impose this “climate” agenda.

History suggests this also will re-run an Obama Year 1 move to obtain praise at and energize the Rome G20 meeting the next day, and climate pact talks in Glasgow beginning two days later. At both, Biden is expected to deepen President Obama’s GHG emission-reduction promises based on the Clean Power Plan, tossed out by the Supreme Court in West Virginia v. EPA.

None of these moves has popular support or political legitimacy. It will take until the end of Biden’s term to conclude their legality. History also shows that is enough time to destroy communities as industry redirects investment decisions. Already we see, with the unfolding energy crisis, how these plans increase costs, and reduce energy security and reliability. That’s the real “climate crisis.”

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Choppering

No sooner had I sold the idea to buy an airport, build a hub, and provide a huge cash infusion to a beloved estate, than my client decided he needed to come in and see what his money had bought. I tried explaining that as yet, there was nothing to actually SEE but he wouldn’t be put off, and informed me of his arrival. I also had no luck pointing out there was well… no helipad here and no one would welcome his simply dropping in. Or that the deal hinged on our promise to invest in, rather than detract from, the land. I said it all but I’m pretty sure he hung up before I got to any of it.

Not good. I texted that I would pull out every stop to try to get permission for him to land at the airport but he texted back simply ‘House.’ Surely he didn’t mean…oh Lord, he did mean. Extra not good.

I hadn’t seen anyone at Burghley House all day, but I didn’t think I could count on them just not turning up. I rang the estate agent to ask for a recommendation of an hotel in the event he planned to stay the night but in truth, I was just buying cover. I knew all the best hotel options, and the less desirable, and everything in between having come here for years with my parents for the annual horse trials. I thought having a reservation might go a long way toward explaining if anyone returned to find me with a group of strangers in a house that isn’t open to the public. My own invitation to stay had been an accommodation because I had been an Olympic equestrienne and had become somewhat known to them throughout the years. And thankfully I’d secured a whopping endowment so they really couldn’t kick. But it’s just not the position one wants to be in when claiming commitment to the land and preservationist pursuits. I wanted to call Daddy but he’d already said, give that Green Baron an inch and he’ll take a mile.

Making new friends everywhere.

I had no idea how to calculate the Baron's flying time but I googled “distance as the crow flies” and it was a hit. Go figure. I ran about as fast as I could round the back to try to figure out where he could land and do the least damage. Logically the area that is used for parking during events would work but I had no way of knowing if his pilot had ever been here and the grass had entirely grown back during the last two years of Covid lockdowns so it wouldn’t be easy to spot.

This was hopeless. What was I? A flag boy? He wasn’t going to land where I chose any more than he was going to land at an airport. I turned in a circle as one does when one is lost and when I stopped I was surrounded by half a dozen Special Branch cars and more officers walking toward me carrying guns.

My phone rang and I gladly took it holding up the universal just a minute boys, sign. Turns out Prince Charles… as in H.R.H Prince Charles was coming as well. But of course he was. They knew each other from the World Economic Forum in Davos. Of all the nights for me to not be hosting a bug party. When the Special Branch Police handed my phone back to me, I texted Daddy saying, ‘Be available by text. IMPORTANT!!!’ and also sent him a surreptitious picture I’d snapped showing an officer from the waist down.

We were off to carbon-loaded start. My boss arriving by helicopter, H.R.H in his Aston Martin and more than a dozen police vehicles to ensure the Prince’s safety even though no one (including me) knew he was coming. He immediately started on about how his 51-year-old car ran on wine and cheese and I wondered if he thought me a fool. When I first embraced the care of our planet the promise I made myself was to be informed, not getting behind organisations like Greenpeace who take money from the worst offenders and then give them a free pass—or worse yet, a commendation. And of course my plan was not to be flying private to an event where I would then talk about saving the planet.

And it runs on wine and cheese!

What I knew about biofuels is they are only ever a very small percentage of corn, or in this case “wine and cheese”, and the best we could hope for is 15 percent biofuels to 85 percent petroleum. And even then, it was a substantial blow to efficiency so it was really not worth contributing to global hunger by making the poorest compete for expensive corn now sold for fuel. Clever angle though… instead of depriving the lowliest of their corn HRH Charles could claim to be depriving the elites of their excess wine and cheese.

I texted my father to see if there had been any update on the matter and his response was: ‘Think of the pigs, Jenny. Their food of choice is corn!’

‘Fuel, daddy. FUEL! Any updates on efficiency?’

‘Oh absolutely. The entire method is flawed. It assumes that carbon pollution from biofuels is eventually absorbed, but energy crops were responsible for additional plant growth that absorbed only 37 per cent of biofuel pollution, leaving most of it in the atmosphere, where it traps heat. So it's making the problem worse. That is your big concern isn’t it? A toasty planet?’

‘So it’s definitive?’ I asked.

‘No of course not. That study was done in the U.S. They will claim that conditions are altogether different in Europe, even though you all like to bang on about one ecosphere.’

‘So… net-net?’

‘Mummy would be so disappointed to hear our little girl is confronting the Prince about taking corn from the mouths of peasants… it’s just so bourgeois.’

‘Ugh daddy. NOT HELPING!’ I texted back.

‘Flatter the old chap, tell him Bravo! Burning up wine and cheese—way to really stick it to the French!’ 

I stopped texting and rang him. ‘Yes, Jennifer.’ He answered and I spoke: ‘Daddy!’ I said half-whispering. 'I’m certainly NOT going to confront him, I just don’t want to argue in favour of something if I’m wrong.’

‘Well there you have it,' he said. ‘Let your Green Baron say all the wrong things. Then you can fix it later and bill him in the process. It’s all very capitalistic in the end. You just take credit for securing the money for the land… that was all you and there’s no argument against it.’

So I was a capitalist now? I slumped against a wall not knowing what to ask next.

‘Darling, ring me back if you need but according to the news someone bloody fool's just landed a helicopter in Thorpe Wood Nature Preserve.’

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Eventing

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

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

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

Home sweet temporary home.

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

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

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

This must be Heaven.

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

He greeted me with, ‘Congratulations!’

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

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

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

‘OUR Burghley House?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sailing Into the Abyss

The year is 2013. I am a passenger on a container ship as it voyages for twenty-seven days from Hong Kong to Southampton. Magellan, the third largest container ship in the world, is powered by a huge engine, equalled in size by only one other in the merchant fleet. For the mechanically minded; it is a marine diesel, fuel-injected, internal combustion, two-stroke engine, generating 109,000 hp. It has fourteen pistons, each almost a metre in diameter. I can vouchsafe that it is very large and loud.

On this voyage, the ship is carrying the equivalent of nearly 10,000 standard-sized containers. Containers, which can be more than double the length and taller than standard-sized, can hold up to about 28 tonnes of cargo.

Why mention any of this? A container ship provides a practical and grounding lesson on the realities of modern economic life that school children might be taught. As distinct, that is, from being brainwashed with fairy tales of sustainable development.

Magellan today: there's a metaphor here somewhere.

The lesson might begin thus: Our way of life, our prosperity, our ability to help those among us in need, are all critically dependent on growing, mining, making, trading and transporting things. Needed are entrepreneurship, business acumen, skill, hard work and, critically, cheap and plentiful supplies of energy.

A series of questions might follow to generate discussion. Apropos: If it takes around 4,700 tonnes of marine diesel fuel at $550 per tonne to shift one-hundred thousand tonnes of cargo from Hong Kong to Southampton, how many batteries charged by wind and solar farms would it take and how much would it cost? For mathematics students this would be an instructive introduction to imaginary numbers.

Another question might go like this. Is it possible for us to enjoy the ownership of cell phones, computers, flat screen TVs, cars, and all of our other modern conveniences without the dirty business of their manufacture and shipment? For students of anthropology, this may throw light on the development of cargo cults among primitive peoples. And talking of cargo cults, adult classes might be held for those who vote for green parties who seem equally prone to thinking that goods simply appear out of thin air.

Other instructive questions could be posed for the tutelage of students and greenies alike. Me, I want to stop there and turn back to the crude diesel which powers large ships. According to those who estimate these things, shipping accounts for around 2.5 percent of man-made CO2 emissions. Twice the emissions of Australia by the way. And as Australia is under pressure by the great and good, Joe Biden and Boris Johnson included, to prostrate itself before the deity of net-zero emissions by 2050, it isn’t surprising that shipping is also in the firing line.

No emissions please, we're Norwegian.

The International Maritime Organisation’s voluntary goal is to cut greenhouse gas emissions from international shipping by at least half by 2050 compared with 2008. Bear in mind that tonnages shipped are on course to be far higher in 2050 than they are now. The goal might be described as aspirational. Think of the late Soviet Union’s five-year plans. Even so, it is not going to be nearly enough to satisfy the zealots, when net-zero is their goal.

Norway is doing its bit.  Reportedly, as from January 2026, Norway intends to ban cruise ships from sailing through its fjords unless they generate zero emissions. How to bring this about? I don’t know. However, the Norwegian shipping line Hurtigruten announced in 2018 that it would run its ships on dead fish and other rotting matter. Smelly business. Fish at risk. Has limitations.

In an article in Forbes, development economist Nishan Degnarain echoed the UN in calling for shipping to urgently ditch fossil fuels. He claims that shipping is the sixth-largest emitter after China, the U.S., India, Russia and Japan; which, though mixing categories, is about right. What to do?

Degnarain doesn’t mention dead fish. He lists four possible solutions. These come out of a report by the international conservation group Ocean Conservancy. The report was launched at U.N. Climate Week, held virtually in New York in September 2020. Here are the putative solutions:

  1. Electrification, in other words batteries
  2. (Green) Hydrogen fuel cells
  3. Ammonia
  4. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

To take them in reverse order. Environmentalists aren’t keen on LNG. Apparently, it leaks methane in transit. And, anyway, “cleaner” though it is, it is still a foul fossil fuel. Ammonia carries a risk of blowing up and when burnt emits the greenhouse gas nitrous oxide. Just a guess, but fuel cells powered by green hydrogen might not be quite ready for widespread installation in ships. One solution mooted is the onboard conversion of sea water to hydrogen. I simply assume that’s a joke. And in that same amusing vein, electrification is clearly a risible solution for ocean-going vessels. Consider the magnitude of the problem.

Leave aside the 30 million or so recreational and fishing boats in the world; lots pumping out CO2. As of the beginning of 2020, there were around 56,000 merchant ships trading internationally. This encompasses 5,360 container ships, over 17,000 general cargo ships, more than 12,000 bulk cargo carriers, around 8,000 crude oil tankers, nearly 6,000 chemical tankers, over 5,000 roll-on roll-off ships, and some 2,000 LNG tankers. All running on fossil fuels, overwhelmingly crude diesel, with a bit of LNG thrown into the mix.

Is it possible to get your head around refitting and/orreplacing this fleet so that it's emissions free? Maybe, if you’re an airhead and assume as-yet uninvented technologies will somehow save the day. If burdened with common sense and realism, you will know that it can’t be done. It is Panglossianism on stilts.

This is the situation. Western world leaders, without political opposition, have bought completely into "global warming" alarmism. Extraordinary, but that is the least of it. They are buying into delusional solutions to a non-problem. You’re sane and trying to figure out what the heck’s going on? Forget it. Just cling onto the rails as they do their damnedest to sail us into the abyss.

In London, the G7 vs. Humanity

The assembly of clowns, charlatans, and senile old men pretending to be President of the United States are about to deliver themselves of a malignant mouse and call it progress:

G7 leaders were on Sunday urged to take urgent action to secure the future of the planet, as they finalised new conservation and emissions targets to curb climate change, and wrapped up a three-day summit where revived Western unity has been on show.

Veteran environmentalist and broadcaster David Attenborough told the gathering of the world’s richest nations the natural world was “greatly diminished” and inequality was widespread. “The question science forces us to address specifically in 2021 is whether as a result of these intertwined facts we are on the verge of destabilising the entire planet?” he said.

“If that is so, then the decisions we make this decade — in particular the decisions made by the most economically advanced nations — are the most important in human history.”

With all due respect to Sir David, bunkum.

What's got into Boris Johnson? Apparently his brush with Covid-19 has permanently addled his pate and he is now all but indistinguishable from your average lefty climate nut. And don't be fooled by the "building back greener" trope -- if "green energy" were real, we'd have been using it long since. Instead, it's just more toffish nonsense from the Davos crowd, part of the Great Reset they have in store for us.

Enjoy your friend green cicada and bat-butt soup while you have the chance -- things will get much, much worse.

 

Black Monolith or Energy Black Hole?

Remember the famous scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey when the monolith first appears? The proto-humans all gather round and practically worship the thing as a god. The same sort of thing is going on in Hawaii as we speak, except the monolith is one giant freaking battery and the worshippers are not ignorant apes, but enviro-nuts, which are pretty much the same thing now that I think about it.

The Kapolei Energy Storage (KES) project is being built on eight acres of land in Kapolei on the island of Oahu. When complete, the giant battery will be capable of storing up to 565 megawatt hours of electricity and dispatching up to 185 megawatts. In other words, it can put 185 megawatts onto the Hawaii grid for up to three hours.

By law, all electricity generated in the state of Hawaii is supposed to be produced using 100 percent renewable fuels by the year 2045. The island’s lone coal-fired power plant, with a rated capacity of 203 MW, is due to be forcibly retired next year. Plus Power, the company developing KES, says the battery will enable the grid to operate reliably once the coal plant goes down for good: “The 2022 completion of the KES project will ensure that the AES coal-fired plant will end operations, supporting the state’s goal of shifting from fossil fuels to 100 percent renewable energy generation.”

Average hourly demand in Hawaii is about 1,000 megawatts. That’s average demand, peak demand – which is what really matters when talking about grid stability – is considerably higher. But, for purposes of this analysis, we’ll use the average, which leads us to an important question: can a battery that can satisfy a little less than 20 percent of demand for a period of three hours replace a coal-fired power plant that has the capacity to satisfy 2- percent of demand more or less continuously?

The answer, which should be obvious to any high-school physics student, is no. A battery does not produce electricity, it’s just a place for electricity produced elsewhere to hang out for a while. In the case of the state of Hawaii, most of that electricity is, has been and will continue to be produced by burning oil. Roughly 65 to 70 percent of Hawaii’s electricity is generated by combustion of petroleum liquids according to data provided by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Funny, it doesn't look like a monolith.

About 17 percent of electricity was generated from renewable sources, primarily wind and solar. That’s not bad, but it’s not anything close to the 100 percent goal. Worse, it’s likely that the battery will be primarily charged using electricity produced by burning oil, not by using electricity generated from renewable sources. The problem is the bugaboo that always affects wind and solar: capacity factor.

Capacity factor is a measure of how much electricity a power generation asset produces compared to what it theoretically can produce. If a plant is rated at 100 megawatts, but generates on average 40 megawatts, we say its capacity factor is forty per cent. Most nukes operate at capacity factors in the high nineties. Coal fired base-load plants are generally in the eighties, sometimes the low nineties.

Wind and solar have crappy factors because, even in Hawaii, the sun don’t always shine and the winds don’t always blow. Solar panels don’t have much to do at night and their efficiency drops significantly on cloudy days. Wind turbines can’t operate in calms or near-calms and, perversely, also have to shut down if the wind is too strong.

The Descent of Man: Feeling good about feeling good.

Again using EIA data, we find that last year the combined capacity factor for wind and solar was about 27%. So, while the total capacity of all renewable generation assets on Hawaii, 746 megawatts, sounds impressive compared to average daily demand, those assets will only generate about 200 megawatts on average. And when they are generating electricity it makes a whole lot more sense to pack it on the grid than sending it on a short vacation to the battery. The only time the battery will be charged using renewables is during those rare instances where there is a significant excess of renewable power. Most of the time, it’ll be charged up courtesy of fossil-fuel combustion.

Of course the battery will make a fine story for those who don’t understand how electricity works and allow eco-nuts to feel good about themselves. Will it do much of anything to help Hawaii meet its 100 per cent renewables mandate? Nope.