'At the Mercy of this Goddamn Spaceship'

The Wall Street Journal recently featured an amusing article entitled, "I Rented an Electric Car for a Four-Day Road Trip. I Spent More Time Charging It Than I Did Sleeping." The title more or less speaks for itself -- reporter Rachel Wolfe rented a brand-new Kia EV6, loaded her friend Mack into the car, and set off on a road trip from New Orleans to Chicago and back, a "2,000-mile trip in just under four days" so Mack could make it back in time for work.

She thought it would be a fun adventure, but in reality their desperate search for E.V. charging stations along the way, coupled with the extreme length of time it took to actually charge the car, undercut the thrill of the open road.

The main "pro" of her E.V. experience was cost. Though, Wolfe explains, "cost varies widely based on factors such as local electricity prices and charger brands," she estimates that her trip would have cost about $275 if she'd been driving a car with a gasoline powered engine, whereas she spent $175 total for her E.V. trip.

"Dear Diary..."

There are several reasons for this price disparity, including one Wolfe mentions herself -- "some businesses offer free juice as a perk to existing customers or to entice drivers to come inside while they wait." The cash spent on impulse buying as you wait for hours for your car to charge doesn't technically come out of your fuel budget, but it might as well.

The more important difference, though, is one of supply and demand. Fossil fuels are stretched particularly thin at the moment, and the tight supply has to both fuel the vast majority of vehicles on the road and generate most of the electricity fueling E.V.s (among other things). But the incongruity between the point-of-delivery price of gasoline and electricity isn't scalable. The more people owning and driving E.V.s, the more expensive it will become to charge them.

And then there is the main "con." Wolfe had "plotted a meticulous route" from one charging station to another, with their car's advertised range of 310 miles always in mind, planning to use thirty minute "fast chargers" twice per day and then eight-hour "Level 2" charges at their hotels overnight. The plan was straightforward, but the reality was not.

Right from the start they found that the car battery's charge was unpredictable -- on the first morning it "tick[ed] down 15 percent over 35 miles" and then the "quick charge" top up they wanted to do so that they would hit the road with a full battery ended up taking an hour instead of the estimated five minutes.

Eventually they make it to a Kia dealership in Meridian, Miss., where no one seems to know how to use the fast charger on site, and when they finally get it hooked up, the dashboard computer informs them that "a full charge, from 18 percent to 100 percent," will take them more than three hours. Wolfe explains:

It turns out not all “fast chargers” live up to the name. The biggest variable, according to State of Charge, is how many kilowatts a unit can churn out in an hour. To be considered “fast,” a charger must be capable of about 24 kW. The fastest chargers can pump out up to 350. Our charger in Meridian claims to meet that standard, but it has trouble cracking 20.

Are we there yet?

Once they make it to Chicago, Wolfe figures that they've mastered E.V.s and predicts that the return journey will be uneventful. “Don’t say that!” [Mack] says. “We’re at the mercy of this goddamn spaceship!” Boy was she ever right -- the drive back was, if anything, even more stressful, with continual “Charge, Urgently!” warnings as they power down everything in the car in the hopes of making it to the next charging station on "electric fumes." They discover, rather too late, that E.V. batteries do worse on the highways, since they're designed to draw some charge from the energy generated by slowing down.

Ultimately they make it home in time... barely. "The following week," says Wolfe, "I fill up my Jetta at a local Shell station. Gas is up to $4.08 a gallon. I inhale deeply. Fumes never smelled so sweet." Expect more and more people to come to that realization, sooner than you think.

Australians Go Walkabout on 'Climate Change'

Australia’s election is full of oddities and yet it has delivered a clear governing result. Labour will be the next Australian government either with a narrow overall majority or dependent on the parliamentary support of the Greens. Furthermore, it’s been carried into power largely on the back of green votes cast for several parties. And the pledge of the new prime minister, Anthony “Albo” Albanese, to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 43 percent in 2030 and by the full net- zero in 2050—will be a politically unbreakable one, at least for a year or two. Indeed, though there are still some 14 seats where the winner is still to be decided, none of these governing certainties will change.

What, then, are the oddities? The main one is that Labour won despite both having its worst electoral performance since 1934 and getting the lowest vote for a government in Australian history. That paradox is explained mainly by the fact that the center-right Coalition of Liberal and National parties lost even more support, getting its worst result since Australia’s federation was formed in 1901.

Votes lost by the two main parties went to independents and smaller parties in large numbers. Three groups in particular did well: the Greens who currently look like rising from one to four parliamentary seats; two populist conservative parties that between them scored about 10 percent of the national vote but have so far won no seats; and as my colleague Peter Smith pointed out in an earlier election report,  some former Liberal votes in urban areas went to “so-called Teal candidates”—i.e., independents allegedly blending Liberal blue and Green in their party colors—who are in reality left-progressives on every issue but oh, so, Socially correct too.

At the latest count, an Australian friend tells me, the Liberals lost six upper-middle class traditionally safe seats to these candidates. They were exceptionally well-organized and well-financed by a sympathetic green billionaire, climate activist NGOs, and investors hoping for greater public funding for renewables. They drew support from upper-middle class women voters in particular. And they helped to unseat Liberals by picking up the despairing second preference votes of Labour voters in upper-middle-class urban areas.

There are similarities between this successful insurgent campaign and recent election results in the U.S. and Europe. Left progressives have become adept at exploiting technical opportunities in election law and organization to favor their own voting constituencies, to create new electoral coalitions on key issues such as climate change, and even to conjure up last-minute new political parties when existing Left parties have discredited themselves, as in some recent European elections. They can call on the deep pockets of high-tech billionaires with progressive views. And their conservative opponents—notably the GOP in 2020—have been left behind, sticking with traditional fund-raising and campaigning directed solely to the next election when the progressives are investing in NGOs and tax-exempt social organizations that stay around long term and change the political weather in local urban and suburban communities between as well as during election campaigns.

In reality, despite the legitimate headlines about a “Greenslide,” this Labour/Green victory was in large part a technical knock-out rather than a change of national sentiment. It even seems likely that the center-right Coalition will end up with a larger share of the national vote than Labour. Liberal and National parties did well outside the big cities where these new political technologies have not yet really penetrated.

Those rural, small town, and outer suburban votes—together with the working-class constituencies that the Liberals might go after seriously for the first time if they were sensible enough to follow Peter Smith's advice—could be the basis of a Liberal-National recovery on an electoral and social platform from any before. It would be a recovery rooted in a robust defense of free markets and a science-based civilization against the neo-medieval puritanism of the Green revolution.

Such a recovery would not lack issues. Labour will never be able to satisfy the demands of its Green allies for ever-larger cuts in people’s standard of living, let alone their aspirations for a better life for themselves and their children. The “Teals” will soon discover that their own social standing depends on an economy that their quasi-religious attitudes undermine. Labour voters will be surprised to discover that saving the world means making everything poorer, meaner, and hotter too as their air conditioning fails in the Australian climate. Altogether, the Labour/Green coalition will be rent with increasingly rancorous disputes as the result of a remarkably unfortunate historic accident.

Australia’s conversion to hard greenery is arriving at the very moment when responsible people everywhere are realizing that the costs of orthodox Green climate policy are economically destructive and that the Russo-Ukraine war makes them strategically dangerous too. To use language that should be familiar by now: Net-Zero is unsustainable. And they’ve just embraced it.

Of Carbon, Carbs, Keto, and Canada

Canada was once a hale and hearty country, or at least, it was not in excessively terrible shape, until Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decided it was packing too much weight, foundering on a surfeit of carbs. The only solution was to put the country on a high-rez, environmental keto diet. The keto diet, we recall, restricts carbs to 50 grams or fewer per day to promote a state of nutritional ketosis. The body will burn fat instead of carbs, thus producing energy, muscle tone and overall natural fitness. Of course, industrial keto has nothing to do with healthful outcomes—quite the reverse—but the analogy holds.

In terms of radical enviro-thinking, the nation will eliminate or reduce its reliance on carbon and will burn solar and wind to produce energy to power our homes and industries. The nation will then grow stronger, healthier and more productive, and the economy of the body politic will correspondingly improve. The problem with this hypothesis is that environmental ketogenesis has got it wrong way round. It is both ideologically dangerous and environmentally unsound. 

For one thing, environmentally speaking, carbs are good. In his various books, The Skeptical Environmentalist, Cool It and False Alarm, Green skeptic and president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center Bjorn Lomborg contends that global paroxysms over the heating of the atmosphere are utterly misplaced. The planet is not facing a climate cataclysm. As Lomborg writes, “more CO in the atmosphere has acted as a fertilizer and created a profound global greening of the planet.”

Good old carbon.

Similarly, in Heaven and Earth, geologist and University of Melbourne Earth Sciences professor Ian Plimer points out that CO₂ is a vital chemical compound that every plant requires to live and grow and to synthesize into life-giving oxygen. The vendetta against carbon can lead to no good.

Robert Zubrin’s Merchants of Despair and Michael Shellenberger’s authoritative Apocalypse Never effectively lay out the case for environmental CO2 as a crop multiplier and a benefactor of life and prosperity—a counterintuitive fact not understood by the myopic catastrophism of the global warming crowd. “Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels,” writes astrophysicist S. Fred Singer in his blockbuster Hot Talk, Cold Science, “becomes a natural resource for humanity rather than an imagined menace to global climate.” Singer’s examination of the relevant facts is convincing.

Carbon capture, carbon offsets and renewable energy subsidies amount to a fool’s errand. An environmentally-unfriendly, landscape-defiling, uglifying architecture of wind turbines and solar panels is not only largely unworkable and egregiously costly but actually futile. Neither the economy nor the backup electrical grid can sustain them for any length of time. The uncomfortable truth is that wind is capricious and sun prefers the tropics; air and light are non-dispatchable energy sources. The power-intermittency problem is crucial and baseload battery storage to solve the deficits is inordinately complicated, obscenely expensive and far from currently feasible. The aeolian fantasy persists.

These are facts that cannot be “fact-checked” or IPCC’d out of the physical record. Moreover, as Lomborg shows in The Skeptical Environmentalist, there is no dependable method of modeling an open system such as the earth, and there is no climate modeling system that can yield accurate predictions. The data insistently driving industrial keto are highly questionable. The advantages of carbs to the environment are not.

For another thing, the reduction in the percentage of atmospheric carbs owing to “Green technology,” carbon capture and punitive carbon taxes is infinitesimal. One of the few Canadian dailies that appears to have retained a measure of editorial independence, the Regina Leader-Post, reports that Canada’s new climate plan banking on carbon capture is a pipe dream. The newspaper quotes Julia Levin, senior program manager at Environmental Defence and author of the Buyer Beware: Fossil Fuels Subsidies and Carbon Capture Fairy Tales in Canada Report, who dismisses Canada’s climate strategy as “not at all realistic.”

The Leader-Post continues: “Carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) projects only capture 0.05 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions, according to the new report, published March 31 by Environmental Defence.” Given exorbitant technology costs and the meagre emissions reductions they yield, the scheme is an administrative delusion. The global record is even worse, amounting to only 0.001 per cent of total emissions. To add injury to injury, in some cases carbon capture systems emit more carbon than they capture.

Lots of CO2 in this atmosphere.

As for carbon taxes, they do far more harm than good, being essentially a form of virtue signaling lavishly emitted by the Canadian prime minister. Their effect is to diminish productivity, raise prices, reduce disposable revenue and elevate the poverty index, all in order to materially change consumption behavior to medieval levels of scarcity. Carbon taxes have increased every year since 2019, when the tax was introduced at $20 per tonne of emissions, and will continue to rise annually up to $170 per tonne in 2030. Added to the rising cost of transportation, housing and food due to inflation, they represent a net loss for most households. Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux is very clear about the harmful effects of the tax: “When including the economic impacts as well, most are worse off.” 

Carbon pricing especially hurts farmers deep in the pocketbook owing to the mounting expense of propane, fertilizer and transport. The fact is that Canada cannot feed itself without sufficient and high-capacity agriculture and a solvent farming community to harvest its product and move it to market, any more than it can heat its homes and keep a G20 nation running without fossil fuels.

It has been sensibly argued that a northern country like Canada subject to long and harsh winters is uninhabitable without ample and secure supplies of coal, oil and natural gas. As Energy Policy Analyst David Yager states in From Miracle to Menace, to believe otherwise “is against the reality of what is required to live in this large, cold and dark country for much of the year.” The trouble is, Yager says, that we Canadians are living in “a parallel universe where the basic laws of physics, common sense, reality and even basic honesty no longer apply... Canada’s self-appointed climate leadership role,” he concludes, “is a failure.” There can be no doubt that a viable economy is reliant on plentiful and readily exploitable energy and agricultural resources, development and experiment, for both domestic and export purposes, which we are now sacrificing to climate folly. 

Indeed, the controversy around fossil fuels is merely academic. Belatedly realistic countries, despite their infatuation with renewables, will tap out of this particular bout against carbon. They may begin to look unfavorably on ESG investment of private pension funds in underperforming alternative fuels concerns. Conventional forms of energy, abetted by nuclear power plants, must necessarily be with us for the foreseeable future. There is no way around this reality unless we are willing to crash our economies and opt for endemic shortages of everyday essentials and a dramatically diminished lifestyle with little prospect of recovery. Interestingly, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicted in its 2022 Annual Energy Outlook that hydrocarbons “will increase through 2050 as a result of population and economic growth.”

A virtue-signaling luxury Canada can no longer afford.

Canada, however, remains oblivious to such findings as it continues to believe in and advocate for renewables, which is merely whistling past the oilpatch. Should we improbably win the war against carbon, we will then have lost everything. Canada sees itself as the bellwether in an ostensibly noble fight that, in reality, garners nothing but parliamentary plaudits and massive corporate profit. As Rupert Darwall reveals in his must-read Green Tyranny, it is not Big Oil that is the villain of the piece; it is Big Green. Everyone else will suffer. The writing is on the factory gate. Energy costs, stemming from both foreign sanctions and a modicum of domestic production, are sending retail prices through the roof.

Any way one looks at it, the climatological keto diet is a prohibitive farce. Taking carbon out of the planetary ecology is a very bad idea to begin with. If the project is ever carried out to putative net-zero, the dieter will sicken and find himself on intimate terms with sparsity. As Ian Plimer argues with abundant evidence in his recent Green Murder, “It has never been shown that human emissions of carbon dioxide drive global warming”—which, as noted, is by no means a catastrophe but a benefit. We should take heed. Carbon deficiency means less fecundity, less productivity and less prosperity. It will likely mean famine in many parts of the world. 

Canada had better wake up asap. As a country facing critical reductions all across the board—energy extraction, investment, jobs, household income, farming, manufacturing, GDP to debt ratio—we don’t need our clamorous Green saviors, Woke investors, faux-ethical functionaries, and ideological champions. They are completely dispensable. But we do need our carbs, which are not.

Drinking, Drowning From the Regulatory Firehose

Recently, I had occasion to speak with a friend who works for the E.P.A. He commented on the changes in his job under the current Administration using this phrase: “we’re being asked to drink from a firehose.” Within the context of the conversation, the meaning of his message was clear. It wasn’t a complaint as much as it was a compliment. Whereas the Trump administration had chocked down hard on the plumbing of environmental regulation, the Biden administration has opened the stopcocks as fully as possible. “Drinking from a firehose,” from my friend’s point of view, was a metaphorical way of saying that my friend would never lack for something to do under the Biden administration.

I do not begrudge my friend his choice of making a living, Nor do I begrudge him a particular world-view that may – in a particular opinion – place unintended and unearned weight on propositions I believe to be at least somewhat faulty. My friend may be right in part or in whole, just as I may be. My personal obligation as a member of the human community is to constantly and objectively re-assess what I believe to be the truth and to relate the truth as I understand it to be as clearly and concisely as possible, without resorting to personal animus, unless of course resorting to animus elicits a cheap laugh or two.

Broadly-speaking, Donald Trump’s political opponents in both politics and the press defined Trumpism’s attitude toward the entrenched bureaucratic class as both assault and battery. In the case of the government’s role in environmental protection, Democrats and their mainstream media allies essentially painted Trumpism in colors that were certainly not reliable shades of green, but were decidedly smears of a soiled, brownish hue. According to them, President Trump did not really want to restore some balance to the entirely worthy propositions of environmental protection and economic equity, which is essentially how he and his supporters defined their mission in these areas. Instead, the President’s opponents insisted that he was determined to sabotage the supposedly fragile purity of the environment in order to supposedly protect sordid, favored economic interests.

Trumpism, as seen by the Left.

When dealing with this and virtually any other part of what has become known as “the swamp” of the entrenched ruling class, the ultimate message of Trumpism is to say: “bureaucrats, know thy proper place!” Biden, or more likely Biden’s handlers, have replied with an angry, more defiant message: “Bureaucrats, assume Thy Rightful Place!”

What might appear at first blush to be roughly equivalent themes are, upon closer examination, not even closely related. The attempt to limit bureaucracy  to its most advantageous mode of behavior and no farther is simply about understanding the proper role of bureaucrats in an increasingly complex world. The attempt to make bureaucracy immune from censure is about surrendering the rights of the governed to the frozen, unemotional “wisdom” of a governing class. It's about further empowering power, not about monitoring the equitable and therefore wise distribution of power.

Truly representative government thrives from – nay, demands – challenge from within. This is common ground that bitterly-opposed political theorists like John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were willing to cede to the other. Each was a towering figure who influenced and continues to influence the direction of this marvelous experiment of a nation in proportions that go far beyond the number of years they were citizens of it.

Adams foresaw a nation that relied upon centralized principles and authority. He believed that federalism (as then defined) was necessary to maintain a consistence of purpose that would in turn ensure its continued success. Jefferson foresaw a nation that relied upon decentralized thought and discovery. He believed that democratic-republicanism (as then defined) was a necessary perquisite to the survival of the Republic. What we now know as America remains essentially an amalgam of these contrary, yet complimentary, points of view.

What united Adams and Jefferson – until what was literally their mutual dying day: July 4, 1826 – was the revolutionary idea that it might be possible to create a system of governance that would allow the governed to retain some degree of power over those engaged in governing.

Adams tended toward the republican ideal of representative government, which demanded a certain standard of care among those privileged to represent its citizens. Jefferson tended toward the more purely democratic ideal of representative government that demanded no more of a representative than assurance that he or she continued to breathe. In hindsight, neither Adams nor Jefferson was wholly right, nor was wholly wrong. One can reach the peak of Everest via the Southern Col or the Northeast Ridge. Each has its perils. What really matters is getting to the summit, not how you got there. Though they chose different paths, Adams and Jefferson were united in their vision of their summit of representative government.

Ah, heaven on earth...

Our goal, as both the supervisors of our republic and those who are supervised by it, ought not to be so concerned whether the vision of Adams or Jefferson prevails almost two centuries after they've passed on. We should rather concern ourselves with the proposition that the intellectual heirs of both Adams and Jefferson have abdicated their responsibilities, turning over more and more power to faceless minions accountable to no one but themselves.

President Trump showed it was possible to drain at least some of the swamp, despite the fierce response that doing so elicited among many of the fierce creatures dwelling there. Sadly, the current administration seems to determined to refill it until we drown. We can, and we must, resist these denizens of the deep.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Wind Power

Great news for the climate crowd: For the first time ever, wind successfully generated more energy than coal and nuclear!

Power generation from wind turbines was the second-largest source of electricity in the United States on March 29, behind only natural gas and surpassing both coal and nuclear power generation for the first time on record, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Thursday. On March 29, wind turbines in the lower 48 states produced 2,017 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of electricity, EIA’s Hourly Electric Grid Monitor showed. Daily wind-powered electricity had surpassed coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation separately on other days earlier this year but had not surpassed both sources on a single day, the administration noted.

Their beloved wind turbines successfully out competed coal and nuclear! The Watermelons must be so proud!

Still, they might not want to break out the party hats quite yet. As the statement above makes clear, this milestone only accounts for a single day of power generation. A particularly windy day, no doubt. Which is to say, it is right in line with the intermittency problem energy realists often bring up in debates with wind enthusiasts. Sure, it's fun to go outside with your pinwheel on a windy day. But when the wind isn't blowing it's no fun at all.

And when your pinwheel is as tall as the Statue of Liberty and you're expecting it to power your energy grid, you end up in a tough spot. That's what Europe discovered earlier this year, when energy prices went crazy because the normally stormy North Seas remained preternaturally calm all season.

And even beyond that, there's a certain sleight-of-hand going on throughout this announcement. It purposefully conflates the amount of energy actually generated by wind with wind "capacity." So: "U.S. wind power capacity installation has soared in recent years to the point where wind capacity exceeded nuclear capacity in September 2019" and "wind power ranks as the third-largest source of generating capacity." The significance of this is made plain as you read on:

Despite surpassing nuclear capacity more than two years ago, wind still generated less electricity than nuclear because the two technologies differ in their utilization. The average capacity factor of U.S. wind generators was 35 percent in 2021, much lower than the average capacity factor of nuclear generators, 93 percent in 2021. Nuclear generators are designed to run at or near full output, which they typically do.

So while wind capacity has skyrocketed in recent ("Yay!" say the Greens), it still generates less electricity than nuclear power, which produces a reliable stream of power against which wind turbines can't compete.

Consequently, "despite beating both coal and nuclear on a single day, wind power generation in the U.S. is not expected to surpass either coal or nuclear generation on a monthly basis" anytime soon. Which on closer inspection makes this breathless "news report" basically a participation trophy. Maybe climate activists should postpone the party until they have an actual achievement to celebrate.

How the Greens Brought War to Ukraine

Whatever you think our obligations to defend Ukraine at the moment, you must concede that the green movement in Western Europe and the United States made his actions possible. They also made any non-military reaction toothless and unpersuasive. It has been the equivalent of a poker player discarding a royal straight flush and then trying to bluff his opponents with the pair of deuces remaining in his hand. Only with dumb opponents is he likely to take the pot. And Russian President Putin is definitely not dumb.

Indeed, the weak sanctions proposed by the West to induce the Russians to pull back were so unimpressive the Russian stock market which has been collapsing rose 6.5 percent after President Biden announced them.

Mr. Biden did follow Germany in not certifying Nord Stream 2, but that’s just a temporary, paper contract issue. It’s not a long-term or permanent shutdown. He basically hit a couple of banks tied to the Donbas region. The GDP for the whole of Ukraine is about $160 billion, maybe. The GDP of Donbas is less than $6 billion and the GDP of Lugansk is $1 billion, also maybe. Delaware's GDP, just to pick a random comparison, is $76 billion. So, to call Mr. Biden’s sanctions small beer is understating it.

Sacrificing her country in the name of "climate change."

And the reason he cannot actually do much more short of war, is because he and the leaders of western Europe—bamboozled by the prospect of "climate change"—have made themselves poorer and weaker by eviscerating conventional fuel production. While they without ample reason were discarding a very good hand, Russian president Putin was improving his by exploiting and selling to us and Europe his nations’ fossil fuels. In 2020 the U.S. was a net exporter of petroleum. In 2021 we imported between 12 million and 26 million barrels of crude oil and petroleum from Russia every month. In November 2021, the most recent figures on record, the Energy Information Agency reports that the U.S. took 17.8 million barrels.

It’s hard to keep from laughing at the leaders who created this mess to curry favor, votes and money from the Greens.  Take, for example, German chancellor Olaf Scholz whose contribution to the fight was halting the certification of the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline. I’d put my money on the halt being temporary. Germany already gets half its gas from Russia. Germans are facing record energy prices and the government is tapping its treasury to ease consumer pressure.

Dmitry Medvedev, former Russian president could not restrain himself. “Welcome to the new world where Europeans will soon have to pay 2,000 euros per thousand cubic meters.” Were I a friend of Chancellor Scholz I’d whisper in his ear a suggestion from Andrew A Michta, that the best way to show Putin you mean business is not to make an unlikely threat but rather to halt the plan to shut down its three remaining nuclear reactors  in Emsland, Isar and Neckarwestheim that the post-Merkel Germans have foolishly scheduled to shut down this year. Much of the same advice should be given to the Biden administration—undo the restrictions you are forcing on conventional energy production if you want to show you are serious.

Brought to you by the New York Times.

Of course, no one would consider this administration serious.

Even the weak sanctions bruited by Western leaders don’t seem to be likely to remain in place for long because so many of these countries are desperately in need of additional energy and we have none to spare—only Russia does, and we did this to ourselves.

Italy is already wavering. It’s already one of Russia’s biggest customers. It gets 90 percent of its gas from there. I wouldn’t hold my breath for Hungary or Belgium to jump into this, either. The British foreign minister imposed sanctions on five Russian banks and three wealthy Russians, but these are not new—they were previously targeted by the United States. Biden’s sanctions stops Russia from raising money in  our markets, but as David Goldman  reminds us “Russia is paying off debt with a … surplus of 5% GDP and rising with energy prices. With $630 billion of reserves, Russia is a net creditor.”

With all this hot air and too little energy resources to keep the bluff going, I think that Britain's Melanie Phillips is right when she asserts that the green dream has gone lethal: she quite correctly zeros in on how the green policies put so many government resources and legal proscriptions into reducing carbon emissions. that conventional fuel production was seriously reduced and funds shoveled into renewables “which are desperately unreliable as national sources of energy."

This has only made the West overly reliant on Russian gas supplies, threatening its security. She notes that in the United States Biden’s shutting down the Keystone XI pipeline and refusal to renew drilling licenses has tightened gas supplies and boosted energy costs. And that leaves out so much, including his war against fracking and the actions of states which marched along to this nonsense by shutting down gas and nuclear powered electrical generated power plants at the lunatic behest of the Green lobby. Britain, Phillips notes, phased out its coal-fired plants and banned fracking even though fracking alone could meet as much as 22 percent of its consumption for decades.

The "green dream" turns lethal.

If all this is too distressing, for laughs you might read the New York Times puff piece on how the Biden administration prepared for this crisis. Lots of  internal meetings , sharing intelligence with allies, greenlighting a public information campaign against Putin, yammering about how to deal with the disastrous consequences of an invasion, moving a few thousand troops around. But nothing at all about ramping up U.S. energy production .

And just as all these planning sessions apparently never discussed increasing domestic  energy production apparently they never touched on encouraging those countries we wished to ally with us in this about ramping up their energy production, the only pragmatic step to enable those countries so heavily dependent on imported Russian gas, to stand up to Russia.

And now it's too late.

European Decline '22: Gradually, Then Suddenly

Two stories dominate the headlines this week in Britain and Western Europe: Will Boris Johnson survive in Downing Street and power? And will the Russians invade Ukraine? They’re very different stories, but both are interwoven with the longer and ultimately larger story of the growing energy crisis in Europe and the world. It’s a larger story because economic growth, living standards, and even civilization itself depend on the availability of reliable cheap energy. It’s a longer story because the current crisis is the delayed outcome of feckless and irresponsible energy policies (camouflaged by dreams of Green utopianism) that European governments have been increasingly pursuing since the end of the Cold War.

A few days ago, Bloomberg’s energy correspondent, Javier Blas, tweeted out that day’s snapshot of the European energy situation:

Shocked? Alarmed? But wait. Maybe the Irish who pride themselves on their Green and European virtues tell a better tale? Alas, Blas continued:

Ireland is quite shocking: coal is accounting for 20 percent of power production this cold, windless morning; natural gas is doing another 45 percent, and fuel-oil (yes, you read that right) an extra 16 percent. In total fossil fuels are accounting for almost 90 percent of the country’s electricity now.

There were unhappy responses from the Green twitterati to these home truths along the lines of: Why not tell us about the days on which the sun shone and the winds blew and “renewables” generated lots of cheap energy? But they were missing the point. Renewables, natural gas, oil, coal, hydro, all generate cheap energy (nuclear does not). Except for renewables, however, the energy they provide is also reliable. That’s why they have to be on-stream when wind and sun fail and the energy that renewables then don’t generate has to come from other sources. That’s been happening in Europe a lot in the last few months.

Failure is, in fact, an option.

Why? Europe’s central problem is that its collective policy of switching from cheap fossil fuels to unreliable renewables can work only if the latter get large subsidies. These can be financed either honestly from the taxpayer in higher taxes or sneakily from the consumer in higher electricity bills. Either way they add to the cost of living. In addition, as economists used to know, planning such complex interventions to manipulate market signaling invariably goes wrong at some point and produces either a glut or scarcity. At present it’s scarcity. and therefore energy prices are soaring across the continent afflicting both the wise and the foolish virgins.

Almost all European countries are complicit in these failures. As often happens, though, the biggest countries are the most complicit because they are the most influential. They cause the problems from which everyone suffers.

Take Germany. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel retired from politics in November last year amid glowing tributes as, in the words of the Economist magazine, “the indispensable European.” In reality she is the European most responsible for the wretched state of Europe’s energy market. She was responsible for five massive policy errors in her years in power, including refugee policy and opposition to reforming the Euro, but her two errors that  concerned energy now look the most damaging and the most consequential.

First, her decision to close down Germany’s nuclear power program—which she took “almost alone”—and replace it with energy from renewables has meant that coal-rich Germany uses more “dirty” coal to handle the problem that renewables don’t provide energy on schedule. It has also ensured that German energy prices are now the highest in Europe. According to one German source, household energy costs will rise by 37 percent by the end of 2022.

Auf Wiedersehen and good riddance.

Second, her determined support of the Nord Stream pipelines under the Baltic Sea over the objections of both Washington and Brussels, increased Germany’s and Europe’s over-reliance on Russian energy. And as we see in the current crisis, that enables Putin to use energy pricing and supplies as weapons against Poland and Ukraine—and to create a European political crisis by setting German economic interests (and now even needs) in opposition to NATO’s strategic unity and dividing the alliance.

It’s difficult to decide which of the two decisions has had the worse consequences.

By comparison French President Emmanuel Macron has a much easier problem to solve because his country “went nuclear” under previous presidents. As a result France has a far more reliable domestic source of energy in nuclear-power stations and is far less vulnerable to shortages of supply and price shocks in the international energy market.

But when prices are rising so sharply in those markets, as they are, France is not entirely invulnerable either. Its finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, warned that without official intervention of some kind, energy prices to the French consumer would rise by 37 percent this year which, inconveniently for the French president, is an election year. Macron has therefore imposed an energy price cap of four per cent.

It’s “naked unashamed populism” according to the Telegraph’s Ben Marlow who goes on to point out that Macron doesn’t want rising fuel prices to invite riots from the gilets jaunes in an election year—the election is due in April.

More to the point, it's a bad economic decision since it will encourage excessive use of energy, build up popular support for the price cap, and make it difficult to abolish it, even after the election, because that would mean accepting responsibility for a large rise in electricity prices. As long as it lasts, however, its huge costs will be borne by the state-supported nuclear supplier, EDF, its investors, the taxpayers, and ultimately by France’s nuclear industry which needs more capital investment to update the very ageing power stations that give France its energy advantage over other European countries. But Macron can afford it, and since he might win an election by doing it, he didn’t hesitate.

Suicide, she wrote.

Boris Johnson can only envy him. He is facing the political crisis of a lifetime amidst an economic crisis of rising energy prices and shrinking energy supplies. That  is the cumulative result of successive governments which pursued the dream of total decarbonization while failing to invest in an energy security guaranteed by many sources of supply, in particular domestic sources of reply as in France. Theresa May inherited the policy of Net-Zero decarbonization but she then made it worse—more expensive and requiring greater sacrifices from the voters.

Boris himself is similarly culpable because, having originally supported the fracking of natural gas—which is plentiful in Britain and the surrounding seas, the greenest fossil fuel, and possesses numerous other advantages—he junked the commitment to license its development in 2019 to win Green votes. He needs his government to reverse that decision if the lights are to stay on and the gas heaters to warm Britons through the winter. If not, he'll be out in the cold himself, perhaps as soon as next week when the Gray Report is slated to be released.

The larger lesson was delivered by Lord Frost, the cabinet minister who negotiated a mainly favorable Brexit deal for Boris, via an interview with the London Times this week: Boris needs to immediately clear out “all the neo-socialists, green fanatics and pro-woke crowd” in Downing Street if he wants to save his premiership. Lesson? Personnel is policy.

And if Boris doesn't keep in Number Ten, the same lesson will need to be read to his successor. Europe's energy policies are a recipe for destroying governments. So far the governments don't seem to have realized that.

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.