Green Energy v. Unions, Part Deux

Just a quick follow-up to Michael Walsh's post the other day about the tension between Joe Biden's pro-union rhetoric and the reality of his administration's green energy agenda. The New York Times (of all places) has an article which backs up his point with some pretty shocking numbers:

Accelerating the shift to wind and solar power is likely to create tens of thousands of construction jobs.... But those jobs typically pay far less than those in the fossil fuel industry... [A] standard solar project [employs] about 250 workers for just under a year. About one-third of the workers make $30 an hour or more; the other two-thirds have fewer skills and make hourly wages of less than $20. By contrast, the construction of a gas-powered electricity plant typically lasts two to three years and employs hundreds of skilled, unionized tradesmen — electricians, pipe-fitters and boilermakers — who make $75,000 a year or more, including benefits....

“When you’re talking about the transition to the new green economy, the first question has got to be how are people going to make a horizontal economic move,” said Sean McGarvey, the president of North America’s Building Trades Unions... “I can tell you that in the onshore wind and solar industry, for my members we’re talking in some cases a 75 percent pay cut and they’re losing benefits.” Jim Harrison, the director of renewable energy for the Utility Workers Union of America, said that it typically takes hundreds of workers to operate and maintain a nuclear or coal plant, several dozen at a gas plant — and about a dozen at a wind farm. Solar fields can often operate without a single worker on-site.

Is it any wonder that the Democrats -- with their increasingly radical cultural, economic, and environmental priorities -- have been bleeding private sector union support for years?

The Tower of Babel Rises Again

Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

-- Proverbs 16:18

Although human society, generally speaking, has undergone massive cultural, political, scientific and technological changes over the millennia, the structure of the human psyche has remained stable. The moral code of the Judeo-Christian West, honored more in the breach than the observance, is still intact, however occluded. The deadly vices and the cardinal virtues remain in place. The personality types are similar.

The myths, stories, characters and admonitions we read in the Hebrew Bible are as relevant today as they were in the 15th Century BC, in particular the familiar tale of the Tower of Babel. (Genesis 11:1-9.) The story is known to everyone. After the flood, a wandering people found a plain in the land of Shinar where they settled, and said “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” It did not go well for the over-reachers. The Lord came down, as the passage reads, confounded their language, and “scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.”

The Tower of Babel, a word-play for Babylon, mocks the grandiose plans and brazen presumption of megalomaniac personalities. The Book of Daniel, written thirteen centuries after Genesis, takes up the same theme. King Nebuchadnezzer, who gloried in his regal splendor, built “the house of the kingdom by the might of my power, and for the honour of my majesty.” The city that rose on the alluvial plain—in actuality, the plain of Shinar—was meant as a tribute to his authority and grandeur. He was shortly reduced for his self-exaltation to the condition of “the beasts of the field,” until his reason returned to him and he awakened to the folly of his pride. 

What's past is prologue.

The biblical account of human hubris, dismissed as a mere fable, is a warning we have failed to heed. Here the wisdom of the prophet Habbakuk would apply: “I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower, and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved.” (Habbakuk 2:1.) The tower in question is a watchtower, a vantage point from which one detects and renounces the conceit associated with that other Tower.

The point is, of course, that there are mysteries we should not tamper with, that exceed our powers of understanding and control. While extending our reach to acquire knowledge, to plumb the Creation, and to harness nature to our benefit, there are limitations to human pride and impetuosity we would do well to acknowledge. It is a fine line but an irreversible one that should not be crossed. What may be a mortal sin in a theological view of life may be regarded as an unforgiving error in a secular world. 

Man does with dangerous curiosity
These unfathon’d wonders try:
With fancied rules and arbitrary laws
Matter and motion he restrains;
And studies lines and fictious circles draws:
Then with imagin’d sovereignty
Lord of his new hypothesis he reigns.

-- Matthew Prior, On Exodus III

In our present moment, Green technology fetish is a typical example of so transgressive a blunder. A quasi-scientific fiction of how reliable energy can be generated in an environmentally friendly way, it is worse than a mere fantasy. It is an intervention into the forces of nature that leads to the destruction of the environment, the production of noxious substances, the uprooting of economies from their productive base, and the near-impossibility of safe and efficient re-cycling.

Wind turbines rise like micro-installments of the Tower of Babel, promising to exploit the weather in ways that have proven ineffective and, in fact, harmful. They are “technological, financial, and ecological scams,” distorting the landscape, causing hecatombs of avian and insect life, producing prodigious amounts of radioactive waste and neurological hazards like ILFN (Infrasound and Low Frequency Noise). The acoustic signature of wind turbine noise can be profound; moreover, as Australian acoustical engineer Steven  Cooper confirms, the signal pulsations occur across entire frequencies, and are not just limited to the infra-sound region. Indeed, the only windmills worth tilting against are wind turbines. One needs a revitalized and success-oriented Alonso Quixano the Good, aka Don Quixote, to eviscerate a public mirage, Green energy, whose reason for existence is predicated on faulty and deceptive computer models

Wanted: a modern man of la Mancha.

Michael Crichton was right when he urged in State of Fear that we need “more people working in the field, in the actual environment, and fewer people behind computer screens.” Once again, he writes, “the measures being urged have little basis in fact or science. Once again, groups with other agendas are hiding behind a movement that appears high-minded. Once again, claims of moral superiority are used to justify extreme actions.” Green is a theory without adequate basis in reality. Anthropogenic Global Warming is a prepossession advanced by the extortionate and the ignorant, who divide the “territory” between them.

An equally if not more destructive foray into the structural complexities of the natural environment involves the project to reduce global warming—the most hypothetical of theoretical constructs—by tampering with stratospheric chemistry. Bill Gates, our contemporary Nebuchadnezzer, has advanced a preposterous and dangerous bioengineering plan to spray tons of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) dust into space to dim the sun’s rays.

This is a prelude to disaster, an intervention of the worst kind, and a telling instance of the obtuseness and naiveté of the supposedly super-brilliant. Though generally favorable to Gate’s solar engineering venture, Forbes reminds us that such science comes with unpredictable risks and that a “[m]ajor disruption of global climate could bring unintended consequences”—drought, crop failure and famine. 

In this respect, Gates resembles Obama’s Energy czar John Holdren, who absurdly proposed last-resort interventionist options, such as “shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun’s rays”—an atmoforming scheme that would unleash a geoengineered climate debacle. One recalls, too, the loony 1975 IPCC proposal to spread black carbon (soot) across the ice fields to absorb the heat of the sun and so reduce global cooling

Another no less destructive intervention into the complexities of nature, in this case human biology, entails what is euphemistically called “gender confirmation surgery,” especially with regard to young children encouraged to “transition.” Turning males into females and vice versa is considered by many—rightly, I believe—as an abomination, an intrusive manipulation of biologically established sexual identity that will often lead to a lifelong condition of traumatic dysphoria. Some regard this as a violation of a Divine dispensation, others as crime against nature and a psychological travesty. Whatever perspective we may adopt on the issue, the mission to permanently reorder or denormalize the givens of genetic and physiological codes and structures is a form of meddling with the parameters of life that almost inevitably issues in misery and confusion.

Still another infringement of natural law involves the introduction of so-called vaccines to combat the coronavirus infection. As I have written in a previous article for The Pipeline, they are not “vaccines” as we understand them. They are experimental mRNA strands injected into and systematically altering a person’s genetic code, and may severely exacerbate the degree of suffering we are seeing. Global Research makes no bones about this. The mRNA “vaccines” made by Pfizer and Moderna “are a dangerously new exotic creature…that actively hijack[s] your genes and reprograms them.” Dr. Tal Zaks, chief medical officer at Moderna Inc., admits that “We are actually hijacking the software of life.”

Adverse consequences abound: facial paralysis (Bell’s Palsy), blood clotting, anaphylaxis, and even death. According to the National Vaccine Information Center, there have been as of February 26, 2021, 25,212 recorded adverse advents and 1,265 deaths. These are conservative estimates since less than 1% of all vaccine injuries and deaths are reported to VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System), a passive, government funded database that relies on voluntary submissions.

It is cold comfort indeed that the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) has informed clients that “Policyholders should rest assured that nothing has changed in the claims-paying process as a result of Covid-19 vaccinations.” That alone tells us what we need to know. 

We should keep in mind that Covid is a digital virus, constructed from a computer database generating a genomic sequence. The vaccine was not based on “an actual isolated sample of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.” Neither its long- nor short-term safety and effectiveness is assured. Global Research points out that these “vaccines” are really operating systems installed not in computers but in our bodies. Approximately 15 countries to date have suspended the AstraZeneca vaccine. (The AstraZeneca product has not yet been approved for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.) 

Of course it's safe -- why do you ask?

The prognosis is sobering. Once we have reached the inflexion point of re-engineering the sky, scrambling sexual differentiation and re-mapping the genetic code, we will have crossed the line of no return, and the Tower of Hubris we have raised will crumble before us. We will never be the same. As the Bible warns, we will scatter in disarray, we will babble in futile recriminations, victims of an overweening arrogance that has breached the natural limits of our tenure on this planet. 

Will our reason return to us and will we awaken to the folly of our pride, as happened providentially to the Babylonian tyrant? “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,” the prophet rebukes the self-important, “thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD.” (Obadiah 1:3). One need not be a believer to take the exhortation to heart.

In the Union Halls, Strange Bedfellows

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. At what point to labor unions finally figure out that the Democrat Party is not their friend, that modern Democrats are anti-capitalist, anti-working class socialists of at least the limousine-liberal variety, and that members of the party of slavery, segregation, secularism, and sedition are simply not to be trusted with vital matters of public policy, especially at election time?

Such reflections arise after reading this Politico story, in which once again the blind and the gullible have fallen for Joe Biden & His Media Robinettes:

Biden's green energy plans clash with pledge to create union jobs

President Joe Biden touted his $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a "once-in-a-generation" effort to tackle climate change while creating millions of "good paying jobs." Some unions warn that it may ultimately cost a lot of jobs, too.

Labor groups, echoed by Republicans in Congress, are cautioning that Biden's plan to hitch the jobs recovery to massive green energy investment could backfire because of the quality of employment it will create and the economic devastation it could cause on rural communities.

The president's push to decarbonize the economy will mean eliminating the kind of steady, fixed-location jobs that come with coal mines or fossil fuel power plants. The Biden plan would require the construction of vast numbers of solar, wind and battery projects, along with potentially new pipelines for carbon dioxide and hydrogen. But construction jobs are temporary and require mobility, and once those projects are complete, they'll need few workers to maintain them and keep them operating.

"The jobs that he talked about yesterday were construction jobs," said Phil Smith, a spokesman for the United Mine Workers of America, a day after the Biden speech. "We're not seeing anything concrete that our members can look at and say, 'OK, that's where I'm gonna fit in.'"

Well, how about that! The chimera of "clean energy" should always be read as "bogus energy," not to mention "no jobs." One of the lies behind the claims of "renewable" energy is the implication that such energy will always be readily available and will take next to no effort to extract from Mother Gaia. The wind blows and the sun shines most every day, right? And once your solar panels and scenery-disfiguring windmills are up and running, presto!

It's witchcraft...

No more brutal rape of the virgin Earth. No more big sweaty men with dirty paws and grimy fingernails laboring in claustrophobic coal mines or broiling in the west Texas oilfield. Why, this is energy that even the most fastidious Ivy League poetaster can be proud of: just flip a light switch and you're good to go. Why, you can even plug in your electric car as you would a toaster and know that while your muffin is browning up the Earth has begun healing.

The complaints underscore the difficulty Biden will have in pursuing his two most ambitious goals: reviving the labor market by generating millions of jobs for unions — which traditionally thrive in old-line industries — and transforming the U.S. into a clean economy where electric vehicles and battery storage replace coal, natural gas and oil as energy sources.

Difficulty? Impossibility is more like it. There aren't "millions of jobs" lurking in "green" technology, except may in dumping the wind turbines at the bottom of the Marianas Trench when civilized people finally wake up to the environmental destruction they've created in the name of... preventing environmental destruction.

Environmentalists defend the plan as a necessary move away from old technologies to battle climate change. And others say Biden's plan does include tax incentives for manufacturing and a vision for developing a supply chain that could provide the kind of blue-collar, high-skill jobs that used to be in power plants.

Note the operative words in bold. Any story that includes the word "could" in a context of advocacy is lying to you: the word should be "won't."

While unions are strongly supportive of the administration's pro-labor stance, they worry that the end-goal — if not executed properly — could have devastating effects on their members. “From our perspective, if the jobs aren't there when the mine closes, this plan fails," Smith said. "There's a very large disconnect between what the aspirations are here and what's going to end up actually happening on the ground.”

Biden fought to bring white, blue-collar workers back into the Democratic fold after the party lost them to Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential race, and the administration is seeking to prove that this can be both the most pro-labor and anti-carbon presidency in history. But the reality may prove troublesome.

Ya think? Oh well, sin -- or vote -- in haste, repent at leisure. And learn to code, because unless traditional sources of energy production survive, union members will be looking for new jobs in the great green near-future.

The Electric-Vehicle Booglaoo

Lawrence M Friedman, an expert in legal history and property law, was one of my favorite law professors. As a student at the University of Chicago and its law school, he had been part of the Second City cast with Elaine May and Mike Nichols, and it you think there’s no way someone can make the subject of property law engaging, you haven’t had a class with Professor Friedman. An author of a number of books (including fiction) he said something in his work, “The Horizontal Society,” which strikes me as particular appropriate as the Biden administration rolls out its fantasy energy and infrastructure plans:

The average citizen, who has no idea how... a refrigerator works. still feels that scientists, if they worked hard enough, could cure AIDS or the common cold, or get electric power out of turnip juice, or send a satellite zooming off to Pluto.

No better example of this sort of fantasy thinking can be found in the plan to transform the auto industry. And no better example can be found of the way lunatic ideas and the greedy grab by myriad interests for federal funds for ridiculous projects can be found than this one.

Like plugging in a toaster!

On March 29 something called the Alliance for Automotive Innovation , an alliance of auto manufacturers, supplies and the United Auto Workers wrote to the President  supporting the shift to electric-drive vehicles. Like courtiers praising the emperor’s new clothes, the Alliance dubs the Biden plan a “bold, comprehensive vision and innovation that will place the U.S. at the forefront of creating a cleaner future for motor vehicle transformation.” 

Then it goes on to the cost (certainly just a down payment  for something that will cost even more). It turns the notion of supply and demand on its head, seeking funds to first create demand and then to supply the products for the demand they just created. It is slathered with blather like “we need a comprehensive plan that takes present market realties [only about 2 percent of 14.5 million worth of new vehicle sales were for electric vehicles] as well as the on-going investment and innovation in internal combustion engine (ICE) technologies."

Ignoring the spin we see a bottom line that stretches out endlessly and pays off all the Democrat interest groups it can possibly grease. Here's what they want on the demand side: 

Increasing demand, however, will not increase the supply without yet more federal largesse. So here’s what they want to do to increase the supply:

  1. Expand tax credits to allow manufacturers  to “retool, expand, or build new facilities for the manufacturing, recycling, of these vehicles, batteries, fuel cells, components and infrastructure."
  2. Expand the domestic manufacturing conversion grant program to accelerate  the needed technologies.
  3. Develop (presumably through more federal money or tax credits)   extraction, processing and recycling of the critical minerals needed for these vehicles (now mostly imported from China).
  4. Research and development grants  for new innovation “that will make the zero-emission future a reality."
  5. Grants and loans  for advanced technology.
  6. Training and development programs to “upskill” the work force.
  7. New investment tax credits for hydrogen production and storage.
  8. Grants to “reequip, expand, and establish facilities for the manufacturing of clean energy technologies and components."

The cost of these ambitious efforts is predicted at the very end of this wish list: $4-12 billion in the tax-credit expansion alone and another $12-25 billion for manufacturing conversion. I don’t think this covers more than a fraction of what this proposal suggests. Do you?

No fumes, no worries, no explosions!

On the other hand, I've reread it several times, and besides scratching my head at the new economics in which we are asked to create and greatly fund a non-existent demand to deal with a non-existent problem ("climate change") and then to create a fount of new funds to meet this confected demand. Puzzling.

More puzzling in this paean to electric vehicles is the absence of the need for more electric power production. Not one word of it. Toyota’s president  is one auto manufacturing leader skeptical of the entire notion of massively increasing electric vehicles:

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said Japan would run out of electricity in the summer if all cars were running on electric power. The infrastructure needed to support a fleet consisting entirely of EVs would cost Japan between ¥14 trillion and ¥37 trillion, the equivalent of $135 billion to $358 billion, he said.

“When politicians are out there saying, ‘Let’s get rid of all cars using gasoline,’ do they understand this?” Mr. Toyoda said Thursday at a year-end news conference in his capacity as chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association.

Toyota is a leader in hybrid autos and has no small experience to back up their president’s concerns.

In what was undoubtedly a rare moment of reality, the Washington Post  acknowledged the increased amount of electric energy these “clean cars” need is energy produced almost entirely by fossil fuels now that in this country atomic energy has been so reduced.

How much more electricity will be needed for electric cars? About 150,000 electric vehicles were sold in California in 2018 — 8 percent of all state car sales. The state projects that electric vehicles will consume 5.4 percent of the state's electricity, or 17,000 gigawatt hours, by 2030.

California, for one, doesn’t have sufficient capacity to meet existing demand, and there are no plans I know of in the works to increase it. 

There’s one more thing radically wrong with this blinkered notion that substituting more expensive transportation and servicing it when conventional transportation and the means to fuel it is cheaper, more readily available, and requires no enormous outlays to continue.

Unless someone comes up fast with a way to create electric power for electric vehicles from turnip juice, a transportation policy that has at its core an enormous switch to electric vehicles without a substantial increase in electric power production is, on its face, insane.

Fighting the Climate War, One Fad at a Time

Behind my desk is a framed picture of an article in Newsweek dated April 28, 1975. The cooling world, it is titled. “Climatologists are pessimistic that political leaders will take any positive action to compensate for the climatic change, or even to allay its effects,” it is reported. Fortunately, nothing was done, e.g., “covering arctic sea ice with soot,” otherwise what a pickle we’d now be in, what with global warming and all.

Global cooling was forecast to cause “an increase in extremes of weather such as droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons and even local temperature increases.” There it is. Whatever the climate does we should expect the worst.

Oops.

Australian palaeontologist and climate alarmist, Tim Flannery expected the worst in 2007. Droughts were in his crystal ball. “Even the rain that falls isn’t actually going to fill our dams and our river systems,” he said. Late March 2021 in the states of New South Wales and Queensland, rain galore, floods, dams overflowing. Of course, things will change, droughts will recur in the land “of droughts and flooding plains;” as the Australian poet Dorothea Mackellar put it, way back in a wiser age before Flannery was born. And they’ll be met with water restrictions and, among Christians, prayers for rain.

It would help if there were more and bigger dams, but these are hard to build. They are hard to build, in case you don’t know, because the habitats of rare species would be lost or Aboriginal cave drawings or other sights of significance submerged. As it turns out, these barriers to dam building apply more or less everywhere it makes sense to build large-scale dams. Sometimes I think we might as well designate the whole of Australia as a national park-cum-untouchable Aboriginal sacred site and be done with it.

Warragamba Dam is the primary water source for Sydney. It was finished in 1960 when Sydney’s population was not much over two million. Sydney’s population is now over five million and, surprise-surprise, during droughts water storage runs seriously low. A plan to increase the capacity of the dam by increasing its height is stalled. No surprise there either.

As an aside, isn’t it somewhat churlish to keep on praying for rain during droughts when we’re persistently recalcitrant in harvesting water? My Anglican minister points out that those suffering during droughts still need our prayers, whatever the circumstances. I take his point, yet I suspect most Anglican churchgoers are green-hued and therefore to some extent complicit in the suffering. It’s a conundrum, but enough of that.

Don’t for a minute think that the “record-breaking” rains (they are not by the way) in NSW and Queensland will dent Flannery’s (hysterical) conviction. It would take momentous contradictory events to disturb any part of the conviction among alarmists that we face imminent catastrophic climate change. It comes down to the philosophy of science.

To be honest, I don’t find the philosophy of science to be a riveting subject. But it seems to me that the history of science in the past half century has shown that Thomas Kuhn’s insights rather than Karl Popper’s best encompass the scientific method in practice. Scientists clearly move in crowds; albeit with the odd, shunned, ‘eccentric’ voices on the periphery. The prevailing scientific paradigm, as Kuhn describes it, bounds inquiry. That is, until whatever is the stubbornly-held paradigm is completely overwhelmed by contradictory events.

Incidentally, J K Galbraith (in The Affluent Society) used the term “conventional wisdom” to describe, more or less, the same phenomenon in the social sciences and in all walks of life.

We only have to be right this week.

I dare say many climate scientists were investigating global cooling when it was fashionable, as they are now almost all investigating global warming. I doubt many are subjecting the hypothesis of CO2-caused warming to stress testing. They are not Popperians, busying away trying to falsify the paradigm which guides their research. No, I suggest, they simply accept it as true and work within its bounds. And maybe that is the way science has generally proceeded.

Climate sceptics often charge that a scientific consensus is a contradiction in terms. But is that true? On reflection, I don’t think it is. I have read that a consensus has developed within quantum theory which leaves those on the outside at risk of being shunned. I understand that Galileo had less trouble with Urban VIII, the Pope at the time, than he had with the scientists of the day who had the ear of the Pope. At question is how to break through a consensus?

I will take my lead from Sun Tzu in The Art of War. “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles” (3,18). Many of those who believe climate alarmists to be wrong don’t seem to know their enemy. They tend to think that logical counter-arguments will carry weight. They won’t. All such counter arguments strike at the paradigm (a walled city). That simply won’t work. It’s akin to infidels questioning the likelihood that the Archangel Gabriel spoke to Muhammed in a cave. It will carry no weight among Islamists.

What to do against a strong enemy? “The worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities,” says Sun Tzu (3,3). “Force him to reveal himself, so as to find out his vulnerable spots” (6,23). In this case, the vulnerable spot is the practical means of countering CO2 emissions.  Clearly today’s renewable energy doesn’t and won’t ever work. Not even Michael Moore (Planet of the Humans) defends it. So, what will work? Right now, only nuclear can deliver sufficient dispatchable power, whenever and wherever it is required, without producing CO2 emissions. That is the turf on which the battle can be fought and won.

If indeed man-made CO2 is on the brink of causing catastrophic warming, then we need to move speedily. There is no time for endless research on renewables or hydrogen. Only nuclear is available in the limited time we have left. Might even be able to get David Attenborough to buy into this, in view of his current angst.

Of course, battles will remain. Electric vehicles, farm animal emissions etc. But at least we might be rid of ugly wind and solar farms and the costly, intermittent and unreliable power they bring. True we lose cheap and dependable fossil-fuel power. However, consolingly, it will not be lost to the world. We can depend upon China and India to keep on burning the black stuff.

'Climate Change' Boondoggle Upon Boondoggle

Shortly after his book Climate: The Counter Consensus was published in 2010, the late palaeoclimatologist and climate-change skeptic, Professor Bob Carter, told me that he thought that the tide was about to turn. The scientific consensus would be upturned. Reason would return. He was wrong.  Now, eleven years later, the climate-change juggernaut is well past the point of no return. Its anchor in science has become neither here nor there.

Temporarily recalcitrant; the Australian government is now part of the international posse chasing the chimera of zero emissions by 2050. It recently promulgated a technological roadmap to a low-emissions future. Five priority areas are identified: clean hydrogen, electricity storage, low emissions steel and aluminium production, carbon capture, and soil carbon sequestration. It’s fair to say that clean (aka green) hydrogen is the favoured child.

We in Australia are on a hydrogen high in momento. Andrew (“Twiggy”) Forest of Fortescue Metals, which exports huge quantities of iron ore to China, announced a massive research effort into producing green hydrogen and green steel. Green hydrogen is a product of using renewable forms of electricity, solar and wind, I imagine, to extract hydrogen from water. "Green" steel uses green hydrogen as an input instead of coking coal. Obviously, the process must also be powered by carbonless energy. It has to be a virtuous circle to be green and clean.

Fill 'er up!

Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained that getting the cost of hydrogen down is a key to zero-emissions by 2050. A national hydrogen strategy has been established. Australia aspires to international prominence in hydrogen power. What’s that, you say? Join the queue. Germany, France, Japan and Canada among numbers of others have similar aspirations. Can Joe Biden’s USA be far behind?

Not everything which is scientifically and technologically doable makes economic sense. Hydrogen power likely falls into that category. Extracting hydrogen from water takes a lot of power; and, non-trivially, a lot of water. Hydrogen is hard to handle and transport. Its conversion back to electricity via fuel cells is costly in terms of power loss.

When it comes to the use of hydrogen fuel cells in cars, Elon Musk is unequivocal. “Mind-boggling stupid,” he calls it. James Morris in Forbes concurs. Regardless, vehicle manufacturers will no doubt press on with R&D in search of breakthroughs.

My point, however, is not at all with forming a view on the economics of hydrogen power. Unlikely as it seems, a hydrogen revolution might possibly happen. Who knows? I certainly don’t know.

What I do know is that the worldwide effort to prove hydrogen will draw in billions of dollars, including from governments, and thousands upon thousands of researchers. It is yet another storey on top of the many already in place in response to so-called climate change. Boondoggle upon boondoggle. The edifice grows.

Whence did it start? Some suggest with Maurice Strong, the founding executive director of UNEP - the United Nations Environment Programme, established in 1972. Whatever its beginnings, political buy-in gave it impetus and funding. Politicians didn’t miss the opportunity to save the world. The edifice had its foundation.

At first, you might recall, action to combat ‘global warming’, as it was formerly called, was primarily wrapped around the ‘precautionary principle’. To wit, the outcome might be so bad that even a small probability of it occurring is unacceptable. That was never going to fly high enough to justify spending vast amounts of money and turning the world upside down. So, global warming inexorably morphed, as a purely political necessity, into imminent catastrophic climate change as a proven and established fact. Actions have kept pace with growing alarmism.

Green makes the world go 'round.

Myriads of committees, councils, associations and agencies supported by governments and international forums have been put in place. Subsidies and regulations abound. Alan Moran, puts the annual costs of climate-change polices in Australia at AU15 billion. That would of course pale when set against costs in the E.U., Japan and North America. Evidently, governments are willing to spend and regulate bigtime to cool the planet. In a saner King Canute-kinda world you’d ridicule their chutzpah.

Next comes the physical manifestations of subsidies. Upwards of 150 million solar panels littered the planet in 2019; 341,000 wind turbines despoiled the land and seascapes in 2017. The first number is my very-rough estimate (so query it by all means) based on installed capacity; the second is widely reported. The numbers will have since increased, though I couldn’t verify or update them by consulting the World Wind Energy Association or the Global World Energy Council or the International Energy Agency or the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Sorry, I gave up while knowing that there are many more energy bodies I could have consulted. No end to them. And now, on top, we can look forward to massive investments in hydrogen technology.

Best to draw breath and recall where this and everything else in the climate-change edifice comes from. It comes from a hypothesis, based principally on (tenuous and contested) modelling, that man-made CO2 has caused most warming since around 1975; and will go on warming the planet to an unsustainable extent, unless something is done and done urgently.

As Twiggy Forest puts it, “if we wait until 2050 to act, our planet will be toast.” Probably a misprint. I doubt AOC or Al Gore, or David Attenborough or Prince Charles would be relaxed about waiting anytime close to 2050. Twiggy might reflect and replace 2050 with 2030.

Good luck.

Imagine: new incontrovertible evidence comes to light. The received scientific wisdom is mistaken. CO2 is not the devil-in-gaseous form. Now imagine light emerging from a black hole. You’re right, it can’t. The edifice of money, vested interest and political power is simply too gigantic and complex to be toppled by having the hypothesis beneath it pulled away. Galileo had more chance of convincing the Inquisition that the earth moves around the sun.

Catastrophic anthropogenic global warming is as settled a scientific proposition as can be found in the textbooks. Object as you like. Proffer new evidence. It will do no good. You will be cancelled. The Age of Reason is well and truly behind us.

 

The Texas Blame Game

The finger-pointing is well under way in Texas. And understandably so, as the situation on the ground is such a disaster. Millions of people are without power and heat, water pipes are bursting, and thus far thirty deaths have been blamed on the weather and the attendant outages. In a recent interview, Gov. Greg Abbott argued that Green energy is a big part of the problem:

This shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America. Texas is blessed with multiple sources of energy such as natural gas and nuclear as well as solar and wind. Our wind and our solar got shut down and they were collectively more than 10 percent of our power grid. And that thrust Texas into a situation where it was lacking power on a statewide basis.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the face of the Green New Deal, took to Twitter to hit back, saying that the governor has it exactly backwards:

The infrastructure failures in Texas are quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal. Weak on sweeping next-gen public infrastructure investments, little focus on equity so communities are left behind, climate deniers in leadership so they don’t long prep for disaster. We need to help people now. Long-term we must realize these are the consequences of inaction.

Which sounds vaguely inspiring, but it doesn't rebut Abbott's charge. He claims that the failure of so-called renewable energy, upon which Texas's power grid relies, led to the whole system being overwhelmed. Ocasio-Cortez replied that it'd be nice if Texas had updated its infrastructure. That's probably true, but that doesn't mean it is "quite literally what happens when you don’t pursue a Green New Deal." Why not update the existing infrastructure, reinforcing it against extreme weather, rather than replacing everything -- and with a less reliable power source -- as the GND mandates?

In response to the environmentalist fury at the suggestion that 'renewables' bear any responsibility for this disaster, the Wall Street Journal has a patient walk through of the part that they actually did play.

Last week wind generation plunged as demand surged. Fossil-fuel generation increased and covered the supply gap. Thus between the mornings of Feb. 7 and Feb. 11, wind as a share of the state’s electricity fell to 8 percent from 42 percent, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gas-fired plants produced 43,800 MW of power Sunday night and coal plants chipped in 10,800 MW—about two to three times what they usually generate at their peak on any given winter day—after wind power had largely vanished. In other words, gas and coal plants held up in the frosty conditions far better than wind turbines did.

By Monday the 15th, temperatures had dropped so low that conventional power plants (aided, yes, by infrastructure failures) began struggling to cover the surging demand. On Tuesday, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas put out a statement saying it "appears that a lot of the generation that has gone offline today has been primarily due to issues on the natural gas system." The WSJ observes that wind's apologists "are citing this statement as exoneration. But note he used the word “today.” Most wind power had already dropped offline last week.... Gas power nearly made up for the shortfall in wind, though it wasn’t enough to cover surging demand."

So, to the Greenies working overtime to assign blame for the disaster in Texas, maybe take a look in the mirror.

If At First You Don't Secede... Wexit

The idea of secession seems almost inevitably to surface in times of national turmoil, political disarray, ideological and ethnic pillarization and economic resentment. In the wake of the Great Fraud, aka the 2020 American election, there is a whiff of secession in the air.

Rush Limbaugh worries that America is “trending toward secession.” Texas GOP chairman Alan West suggested that law-abiding states should “bond together and form a union of states that will abide by the constitution.” Though he asserted “I never say anything about secession,” the implication was certainly present. Texit is in the wind. Rep. Kyle Biedermann (R-Fredericksburg) said “I am committing to file legislation this session that will allow a referendum to give Texans a vote for the State of Texas to reassert its status as an independent nation.”

Canada has undergone two secession movements originating in the province of Quebec, based on a founding schism between two distinct peoples—which novelist Hugh MacLennan called the “two solitudes” in his book of  that title—culminating in a clash between two legal traditions, Quebec’s Napoleonic civil code and the ROC’s (rest of Canada) common law, and two languages, French and English.

Two referenda were held, in 1980 and 1995, the second defeated by the narrowest of margins, 50.58 percent to 49.42 percent. It is hard to say if separation would have been a “good thing,” whether Quebec would have prospered and Canada grown more coherent. I would hazard that the first prospect would have been enormously improbable, the second at least remotely possible.

Sunrise in Calgary? Or sundown?

The independence movement is alive today, but in another province. Alberta, which is Canada’s energy breadbasket, has suffered egregiously under the rule of Eastern Canada’s Laurentian Elite, beginning in modern times with Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau’s low-pricing, high taxing National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980, which devastated Alberta’s oil industry.

According to the BOE report, “Economic disaster quickly followed. Alberta’s unemployment rate shot from 4% to more than 10%. Bankruptcies soared 150%.” Home values collapsed by 40 percent and the province plunged into debt. The debacle has climaxed with son Justin’s Green-inspired economic destruction and effective shutdown of the province’s energy sector. Unemployment has risen to more than 11 percent, thousands of residents are leaving the province, debt is soaring and cutbacks have severely impacted daily life.

As a result, a potent secession movement, known as "Wexit," has gathered momentum and solidified into a new political party. In addition, the Wildrose Independence Party of Alberta registered as a political party on June 29. Its platform includes asserting the independence of the province, redefining the relationship with Canada, developing natural resources, and creating a Constitution of Alberta.

After having increased the job-killing carbon tax during—of all times!—the COVID pandemic and lockdown that had already pulverized the nation’s economy, prime minister Justin Trudeau has announced he will raise the tax almost sixfold to $170 per tonne by 2030, thus breaking the Liberal government’s promise “not to increase the (carbon) price post-2022.” According to the Toronto Sun, “That will increase the cost of gasoline by about 38 cents per litre, plus the cost of home heating fuels such as natural gas and oil.”

And according to Kris Sims at the Sun, “Based on the average annual use of natural gas in new Canadian homes, it would cost homeowners more than $885 extra in the carbon tax.” Filling up a light duty pickup truck will cost a surplus $45 per tank, and an extra $204 for the big rigs that deliver dry goods and comestibles. But that “won’t be the end of the increased cost the Canadians will face, starting with a $15 billion government investment in other climate change initiatives.” 

All Canadians will be hard hit, but Albertans, who once fueled the engine of Canadian prosperity and who have the resources to do so again, will feel the provocation and injury even more profoundly. As Rex Murphy writes in the National Post, it is “the province that carries most of the weight, bears the most pain and has the least say in this mad enterprise.” The tax, he continues, will “injure the very farmers who have been stocking the supermarket shelves during COVID, put oil workers (at least those who still have jobs) out of work, increase the cost of living for everyone, place additional strain on the most needy and antagonize a large swath of the Canadian public.”  

Kyle Biedermann is on the money when he says that “The federal government is out of control.” This is as true of Canada as it is of the United States, at least with respect to the major agencies of government. For this reason, I support the secession movement in Alberta. The province has no alternative if it is to survive a faltering and repressive Confederation saddled with an out-and-out Marxist prime minister, a de facto alliance with Communist China, an infatuation with an unworkable and unaffordable tax-subsidized Green technological program, a $400 billion deficit, a national debt exploding past the $1 trillion mark, and, in short, nameplate disasters like Trudeau’s A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy cabaret. 

Alberta’s survival depends on restoring its energy sector to full capacity and shucking off the federal burden of over-regulation, crushing taxation, Green fantasy-thinking and unpayable debt. Murphy again:

This new carbon tax will throw a spike in the heart of the oil and gas industry. Keep in mind that it is but the most recent in a long string of policies designed to hamstring the industry, block its exports and drive investment out of the province.

For Alberta, it’s leave or die. Other provinces may eventually have to follow the same route as Canada disintegrates under the brazen incompetence and global-socialist doctrines of the current administration, with no relief in sight.

As oil executive Joan Sammon writes, Inexpensive energy is imperative for a thriving economy, manufacturing excellence, economic mobility, job creation and a future of prosperity.” Clearly, there must be citizen pushback against the economy-killing decrees of a myopic and virtue-signaling government. People must put pressure on their elected representatives to resist the deliberate dismantling of the free market that will cost them the life of material abundance and comfort they take for granted. They must rid themselves of their infatuation with leftist memes, policies and hypocrisies.

I have a neighbor, a staunch adherent of our high-taxing, socialist administrations, who drives across the border to the U.S. to fill up her car at around one third the domestic price of fuel. She remains oblivious of the cognitive dissonance that governs her practice. Such thinking and behavior are what qualify as ultimately “unsustainable.” 

It's now or never.

The industry, too, Sammon writes, “needs to take back control from the preaching class and remind them that their lifestyles have been brought to them by the men and woman of the oil and gas industry.” The “green zealotry” that drives their anti-market efforts will destroy Alberta and lead eventually to the economic collapse of the entire country. Alberta, however, is at present the only province with a robust secession movement and, given its resource-rich milieu and the independent character of a large segment of its inhabitants, the only province in a position to save itself.

In any event, the message to Alberta is simple and straightforward. If at first you don’t secede, try and try again. The Overton Window is closing fast.

The Way We'll Live, Then

In the last week Europe’s political leaders in and out of the European Union have been engaged in the over-production of promises to transform the continent into a Net-Zero carbon-free green utopia. A few examples:

  1. Even before the week began, the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, had pledged that the U.K would reduce its climate emissions by 68 per cent from their 1998 figure by 2030—the largest single Net Zero promise of any major economic power.
  2. Soon afterwards but still early in this week, Britain’s official Climate Change Commission produced its sixth report giving its statutory advice to the government on how to reach its Net Zero target beyond That advice was bold: “Our recommended pathway requires a 78% reduction in UK territorial emissions between 1990 and 2035. In effect, bringing forward the UK’s previous 80% target by nearly 15 years.”
  3. Not to be outdone, the heads of EU governments, meeting as the EU Council this weekend, announced that they were adopting the emissions reduction target of at least 55 per cent by the year 2030. It had originally been a 40 per cent target. But the European Parliament would prefer an even more ambitious target reduction of 60 per cent.

And in the current atmosphere of an auction on speed, who would bet against the Parliament getting its way?

For children and other living things...

Now, going carbon free will be extremely expensive both for governments (i.e., taxpayers like you) and for individuals and households. Just how expensive we’ll get to in a moment, though with some difficulty: governments have been very cagy about spelling out its costs clearly. But the financial costs may not give as accurate a picture of the scale of these promises—think how hard it is to grasp what a billion dollars is, let alone a trillion—than a look at what they would mean in visible and practical terms.

On that Climate Change Commission report is extremely illuminating because it breaks down the main effects of going Net Zero under four headings with examples of how we’ll be living under each one. Again, here are a few (with some editorializing in italics by me):

  1. Take up of low-carbon solutions. People and businesses will choose to adopt low-carbon solutions, as high carbon options are progressively phased out. By the early 2030s all new cars and vans and all boiler replacements in homes and other buildings are low-carbon – largely electric. By 2040 all new trucks are low-carbon. British industry shifts to using renewable electricity or hydrogen instead of fossil fuels, or captures its carbon emissions, storing them safely under the sea. [Choose? We’ll be choosing these changes because the government will prohibit the sale of the cars, vans, and boilers we use now. It’s what we used to call a Hobson’s Choice. And we won’t like all of it because—to take one example—the low-carbon heaters don’t keep people as warm as their current oil and gas-based ones. And what then?]
  2. Expansion of low-carbon energy supplies. U.K. electricity production is zero carbon by 2035. Offshore wind becomes the backbone of the whole U.K. energy system . . . New uses for this clean electricity are found in transport, heating and industry, pushing up electricity demand by a half over the next 15 years, and doubling or even trebling demand by 2050. Low-carbon hydrogen scales-up to be almost as large, in 2050, as electricity production is today. Hydrogen is used as a shipping and transport fuel and in industry, and potentially in some buildings, as a replacement for natural gas for heating. [Let me be sure I get this thing straight: we intend to electrify the entire country to heat people's homes, fuel their cars, provide power to industry, and do a hundred other things while at the same time making our electricity supply dependent on unreliable renewables, mainly wind (of which perhaps Boris Johnson himself will supply a large percentage.) But I’m being unfair—we’ll also rely on hydrogen (not yet available in sufficient quantities unless we make it from forbidden fossil fuels) and carbon capture (still to be developed.)]
  3. Reducing demand for carbon-intensive activities. The U.K .wastes fewer resources and reduces its reliance on high-carbon goods. Buildings lose less energy through a national programme to improve insulation across the country. Diets change, reducing our consumption of high-carbon meat and dairy products by 20 percent by 2030, with further reductions in later years. There are fewer car miles travelled and demand for flights grows more slowly. These changes bring striking positive benefits for health and well-being. [That all sounds very jolly? But what if our diets don’t change voluntarily? Or consumers don’t actually like the new low carbon foods predicted here? Or they want to use their cars and fly on vacation more often than the planners predict? Will the planners change the plan? Or ration the foods, car trips, and vacations that the consumers (who are also voters) want to enjoy?]
  4. Land and greenhouse gas removals. There is a transformation in agriculture and the use of farmland while maintaining the same levels of food per head produced today. By 2035, 460,000 hectares of new mixed woodland are planted to remove CO2 and deliver wider environmental benefits. Some 260,000 hectares of farmland shifts to producing energy crops. Woodland rises from 13 percentof U.K. land today to 15percent by 2035 and 18percent by 2050. Peatlands are widely restored and managed sustainably. [Producing energy crops? Ah, they mean like the U.S. cellulosic ethanol program that according to an article in the Scientific American  was supposed to produce energy from wood and plant wastes, reducing greenhouse gases substantially, but that by 2017, after development over three administrations, produced not the predicted 16 billion gallons but ten million gallons or, as one energy expert put it, “enough fuel to satisfy approximately forty minutes of U.S. fuel consumption last year.” You know, there are times when the damn plane just can’t take off from the drawing board.]

After looking at this list of the industrial,, economic and personal lifestyle changes needed to bring about Net Zero in Britain, it seems inevitable that together they must amount to a massive sum. But the report’s chairman sums up the costs in a single breezy paragraph:

Some of our most important work is on the costs of the transition. Low carbon investment must scale up to £50 billion each year to deliver Net Zero, supporting the UK’s economic recovery over the next decade. This investment generates substantial fuel savings, as cleaner, more-efficient technologies replace their fossil fuelled predecessors. In time, these savings cancel out the investment costs entirely – a vital new insight that means our central estimate for costs is now below 1% of GDP throughout the next 30 years.

How credible is that? Let me point out some warning signs in it. The first is that to think the argument that “in time these savings (from going from fossil fuels to cleaner technologies) cancel out the investment costs entirely” is a “vital new idea” is dotty on at least three counts: It’s the rationale for almost all investments. What’s vital about it is the qualification “in time” which for investments of this scale might be centuries. And the timescale might even be never if, as seems highly probable, the price of fossil fuels remains stubbornly lower than the price of technologies still to be invented.

And that risk is illustrated be the following comparison: the sum of 50 billion pounds cited as the annual cost of making Britain and the British virtuously Green is almost exactly the same figure as the 50 billion Euros given by the E.U. heads of government to Poland this week as compensation for killing its coal industry. The two programs are so different from each other in scale and risk that they could hardly cost anything like the same budgetary figure.

Forward into the glorious red, er, Green future, comrades.

Even if the figures added up, however, the Climate Change Commission’s program would still face the larger political problem that its proposals depend on the support or at least acquiescence of the great majority of their fellow citizens in massive potentially unwelcome changes in how they live, work, travel, eat, and enjoy themselves not for a short period but forever. When we see the growing discontent with the privations and regulations that governments have temporarily imposed for protection against a pandemic, it doesn’t seem likely that whole populations will agree to live out their dystopian fantasies.

I wondered how governments would respond to that? Then I remembered something:

“Communism is Soviet Power + Electrification of the Whole Country.” Vladimir Lenin, Report on the Work of the Council of People’s Commissars. December 22, 1920

Goodness gracious. That report was issued exactly one hundred years ago. Next week.

Diary of an Acclimatised Beauty: Resetting

Paradise at last! I couldn’t take one more day in St John’s Wood as London goes into yet another lockdown and daddy grumbles about Boris. One day leading to another… and all of them leading nowhere.

But I am alive again in Lyford Cay, having arrived late last night—and mask free! I got up rather early today, put on lipstick and perfume, availed myself of a golf cart and got myself down to the club. I was so excited you’d have thought I was sneaking into Buckingham Palace. I wasn’t hungry in the least but wanted to feel part of a living breathing world. Surely my hosts here wouldn’t miss me — I’d  only just met them over Thanksgiving at Annabel’s anyway.

In minutes I was drawn into familiar noises… silverware, and ice being poured from a pitcher… oh it was just like the movies! Or every single day prior to coronavirus.

Now this is what I call green.

Lyford (the former Cay) was hopping! And nearly everyone dressed in white which could only mean they have an all-white rule for tennis or croquet or maybe everything. The substantially older women—the ones who delineated between jewellery and breakfast jewellery, were none of them in white, so it must indeed be a sporting requirement.

I looked around the room like a tourist might do. I felt as though I were looking through a window only because I hadn’t seen humans with coiffed hair or gold sandals or anything even remotely resembling civilisation for so long. I signalled the waiter for more tea, more berries, a paper if possible? Just more of everything because I wanted to bask in the glow of what was officially called… breakfast.

There were no papers but the waiter provided me with a card that allowed me to read several publications on my phone. “Even better!” I squealed. Lyford was green! Peering over my phone so that I could secretly scan the room, I settled on a conversation of a group of businessmen across th way…”the Great Reset”. Whatever could that be?

I googled on my phone to very little success… just links to a conference in Davos with futuristic looking businessmen talking intently. Was it staged? They were yellowish and pocket-sized. I googled and found it’s meant to be a global green push—post Covid. Things really were looking up. But I was very confused about seeing Prince Charles and Yo-Yo Ma in the promo and I was a little iffy on “a brighter, better and more sustainable future" from the ashes of Covid-19.

I texted daddy to ask him about the great reset and he texted back: “A lie.”

Really? A lie? I texted back, “What about financing sustainable recovery?

His response, “A lie.”

I started another text but before I could even finish he texted back -- 

“Also a lie." Followed by, “I can keep this up all day.”

As I made my way to the pool  I got another text from him: “And don’t bother your nice hosts about this unless you are prepared to return via commercial flight. Mummy and I miss you. Take pictures.”

What I know is there is no stopping him when he’s in one of these moods. I know deep down inside he is committed to our planet but no one is willing to do the heavy lifting. I got out my laptop and decided I’d write about this very important opportunity. This may be the biggest pro environmental initiative of my lifetime.

After sketching out my outline, I took a short swim and returned to my notes. Somehow my arguments weren’t so clear. I called father for help. “Hi, so…  I’m a bit wobbly on why the presentation features people like Meghan Markle instead of…”

“An economist with credibility?" he replied. "Because this is not an economic plan, it is just a lie, disguised as an economic plan, disguised as a way to save the planet. But it’s also about demilitarisation, and, independent media… oh and saving the arts. Shall we also throw in the whales?”

“Please just go with me for a minute… the great reset will ensure that every recovery stimulus from now on must include green conditions. To my mind this can’t be bad.”

“But specifically what?” He asked. Green stimulus money… to be spent on what? Tearing down infrastructure and rebuilding it to be more carbon neutral? Poof- our house in an adobe."

“But what about, you know, infrastructure… and trains?”

“You mean a tax! You want to tax everyone to build a train, even if everyone doesn’t ride on this train because it is better for the planet, yes?”

“Yes, but it is better.” I insisted.

“Perhaps but we are talking about things in places where they don’t exist -- take your new hometown. A train in Los Angeles would be prohibitively expensive, and would require a huge tax increase, so really we are talking about a tax.”

“Well, Tesla managed with private money.”

“Tesla sells carbon points, to other polluters, and makes a profit from it, so what have you achieved? It’s a shell game, darling. Listen, you know I’m all for environmentally ethical rules but that is not the role of business, the singular motivation of business is to make a profit, and profits make for better economies, better economies are better caretakers of the land-without exception.”

“And their promise of one hundred new carbon-neutral cities?” I continued.

“Find me the carbon-neutral city that you both want to live in and which respects the environment.”

The carbon-neutral city of the future!

He had me there. And I imagined my life with no luxury, no air travel, no country house, and sharing of all IP. This wasn’t going to work. I’m not giving up on the planet but I’m not giving up thousands of years of progress to these people whose main accomplishment, as far as I can tell… is to hold forums. Something to ponder tomorrow after my morning swim.