Albo’s Airy-Fairy Electricity Fables

Recall the original message? Green energy is more costly than conventional energy. But, they said, much less costly than the climate catastrophe awaiting if nothing were done. A problem arose. Surveys showed that while people naively went along with the prospect of using green energy, they were unwilling to pay for it. I know what to do, some bright spark probably exclaimed, deep in the bowels of Renewable Energy Inc, we’ll tell them it’s cheaper.

Thus, in a far-off land called Oz, opposition leader Anthony Albanese (Albo) promised voters, no fewer than ninety-seven times, that his green plan would reduce electricity prices for families by an annual $275 by the year 2025. And so it came to pass that Albo and his Labor Party mates were elected to power in May this year.

It’s hard to get a representative national reading on electricity bills, which vary markedly between states. However, a Sydney family (Ma, Pa and two kids) would pay something like $1,800 a year. During the time Albo was campaigning, bills were already rising, putting his fanciful promise in peril. Still, he was resolute; confident in the modelling behind his plan. After all, as he kept on saying, and keeps on saying, renewables are the cheapest form of energy. Ergo, as a matter of unassailable logic, more wind and solar equals cheaper power. And don’t believe your lying eyes, whatever your bills might say.

Albanese and Dishy Rishi yukking it up at the G20 in Bali.

It's not propaganda on Albo’s part. Might have started that way. Now he undoubtedly believes it. I suppose if you tell others a demonstrable lie enough times it becomes your truth. Haven’t tried it personally. Never been a politician or used-car salesman.

But the jig is up. Federal budgets in Australia are usually brought down in early May. The new Labor government couldn’t wait until next year, bringing down an interim October budget. That was probably a mistake. In the budget papers, Treasury projected that electricity prices would rise 20 percent over the balance of 2022-23 and another 30 percent in 2023-24. Yikes, that doesn’t sound like a reduction of $275.

Clever people in the media (the majority caught on eventually) realized that 20 and 30 percent compounded to 56 percent. At that rate an $1,800 bill rises by over $1000; instead of falls by $275. Not an easy discrepancy to explain away, even for practiced snake-oil salesmen. What to do? What would Biden do? Blame Trump and Putin of course. Albo and his mates didn’t disappoint. Years of mismanagement by the previous government is behind this they said, and also that slubberdegullion Putin. They didn’t actually say slubberdegullion; but they might well have, if they’d found the word as I did.

What would they do without Putin? These days, he’s behind the undoing of all the best-laid green schemes. Think aptly of Snowball, George Orwell’s porcine character. Orwell is perhaps too often brought into the frame. Yet his work is so unmissably prescient. The interchangeability of truth and lies in 1984 thrives in real life among those pimping climate-change catastrophe. And then there’s the fall guy Snowball playing Trotsky (yesteryear’s Putin) in Animal Farm, blamed for all ills.

Befitting a leftist government, the new Australian Labor government foresees budget deficits without end; with gross public debt exceeding $1 trillion by the end of June 2024 and progressively rising from there on. That might seem small compared with America’s $31 trillion debt, but you have to multiply it by 13 to get a per-capita comparison and, of course, the USD is the world’s reserve currency – quite an advantage when you owe money. It is glaringly discernible, not disputable; leftist governments incorrigibly spend money they don’t have to buy votes. Democracy would fall without right-of-centre governments periodically repairing the fiscal ship of state. In fact, that now seems to be their only function, having largely ceded away civil society to Marxist mobs.

Spendthrift governments often spend money outside of the budget to disguise their profligacy. In Australia’s budget, $20 billion (more than half the size of the projected deficit for 2022-23) is designated as low-cost finance, and therefore off-budget, to fund 13,200 kms of new transmission lines and pylons. Connecting far-flung wind and solar farms to grids is an expensive exercise. And, in this case, a forlorn one.

Everybody hates Vlad.

First, it can’t be done. There is nowhere near the skilled manpower to the job. To boot, objections are already being made by landowners to having large pylons and wires strewn across their land. Lawfare awaits. And then there’s the little matter of building the many and massive wind and solar farms from which the transmission lines sprout. It’s make-believe.

Second, whatever part is built is bound to be well behind schedule and way above cost. It’s a government project. Take the white elephant, Snowy 2.0-pumped hydro. When will it be built? They said by 2021. Assume 2028 at the earliest; that’s if it’s ever finished at all. And the cost? They said $2 billion. Assume something northwards of $10 billion or, more probably, $15 billion.

There is much else about “cheaper, cleaner energy” in the budget. For example, $157.9 million is provided for a “National Energy Transformation Partnership.” All hat and no cattle, sums it up.

…the Government will work together with state and territory governments on priority actions to support the transformation of Australia’s energy sector. Initial priorities include delivering Australia’s first fully integrated energy and emissions reduction agreement, introducing an emissions reduction objective into the National Energy Objectives, accelerating mechanisms for the uptake of flexible energy supply and progressing a co-designed First Nations Clean Energy Strategy with First Nations communities.

Blah-blah-blah. Lots of taxpayer loot to produce yet more grandiose bumf. Not one kilowatt of power. And, by the way, Australian Aboriginals never constituted Nations. Hundreds of stone-age, hunter-gatherer, thinly populated itinerant tribes were not remotely nations. Part of the lies that now inform Australia’s national life. Fitting in this era of climate hysteria and green-energy boondoggles.

Concerning the Great Elec-Trick

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

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

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

Halfway there.

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

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

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

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

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

Gonna need a lot more of these things.

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

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

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

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

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

The Greens' Cloud Cuckoo Land

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

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

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

Liddell on the chopping block: icky old energy.

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

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

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

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

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

On the drawing board: clean green power!

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

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

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

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

Upper-Class Twit of the Year Goes Green

The British member of parliament Jacob Rees-Mogg is a hero to a certain type of Anglosphere conservative for his Wodehousian mien, an anachronistic and aristocratic style which has led to his being nicknamed “the honourable member for the early 20th century.”

But Rees-Mogg's fan base will be sorry to see his recent Op-Ed in Britain's Leftist broadsheet The Guardian, of all places, embracing both green energy and "intelligent net-zero in which green energy will play the biggest role."

I’m proud to belong to a country that has cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent since 1990, while growing the economy by over 70% in that time. It is in this light that we can achieve our commitments to net zero by 2050, as dark satanic mills are replaced by onshore and offshore windfarms.

Rees-Mogg goes on to tout government plans "to support low-cost finance to help householders with the upfront costs of solar installation" and "align onshore wind planning policy with other infrastructure to allow it to be deployed more easily in England." He claims the government "understand the strength of feeling that some people have about the impact of wind turbines in England" (one imagines that many Brits probably feel about them as William Blake's did of those "dark satanic mills" Rees-Mogg had referenced earlier) and claims their plans "will maintain local communities’ ability to contribute to proposals." "Contribute to" but not "block." It sounds like a lot of rural Brits will soon be railroaded.

Take a deep breath, Tories.

One can't help but wonder if this piece is at all connected to recent reports that Rees-Mogg's own mother is set to make a pretty penny on the development of a massive solar farm in the politician's own constituency? Perhaps he was trying to get ahead of accusations of hypocrisy on green matters, or maybe signaling his disagreement with the Truss government's stated intention of making such developments more difficult, potentially endangering his family's cash out. This is the theory of the politics site Guido Fawkes, which broke the story. Rees-Mogg is currently secretary of state for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy in that government, so he would have a real say in the implementation of such a proposal.

In any event, this is a disappointing endorsement for Rees-Mogg, and a foolish one at that. His jumping on the net-zero band-wagon will hurt Britain and make life worse for his constituents. No amount of archaic affectations are going to change that. Net-Zero insanity is part of what brought Boris Johnson low, and with Liz Truss stumbling badly right out of the gate, the Tories need all the help they can get not to get thoroughly annihilated in the next election.

But having triumphed beyond the expectations in 2019, winning seats in constituencies that hadn't voted for a Tory since the Norman invasion. Taking the bras off the debutantes indeed: expect them to give it all back and more no later than January 2025 or whenever the ultra-diverse Truss government collapses, whichever comes first.

Dumb and Dumber, To

Must be the passing years. More things irritate me. For example, the chap at my club’s gym the other day who spent some ninety percent of his time poring over his smart phone. People still wearing masks outside. Then there was the (retired) bishop at my church who had the straightforward job of delivering the sermon at a memorial service for the late Queen Elizabeth. On the throne for seventy years, she had kept her views on political matters to herself. The bishop couldn’t manage it for fifteen minutes. Unmistakably congratulating the new King Charles for his former princely far-sighted views on the environment (go figure), and then clearly signaling his own support for the monarchy, about which there is a lively debate within Australia.

Now I happen to think that Prince Charles’s views on the environment were inane, while agreeing with the bishop that the monarchy has served Australia well. However, whether I agree or disagree is beside the point. The pulpit is for preaching the gospel; and, in this special case, to honour the Queen’s life. It is not for political posturing. Unfortunately, unlike the late Queen, many churchmen are incapable of keeping fittingly shtum. And climate change, in particular, excites their appetites to be heard and seen being virtuous (apropos Matthew 6:5) at whatever cost to Christian good fellowship.

No gas emitted!

From discordance to discourse. I was to be at lunch recently with someone who works within the renewable energy industry (everyone has to earn a living) and yet retains a balanced outlook. We discussed hydrogen harmoniously. Why not. He made the logical point that while blue hydrogen made of natural gas, with CO2 sequestrated, must by definition result in more expensive power than using natural gas directly, green hydrogen faces no such inherent limitation. Thus, conceivably, the price per kilowatt hour of electricity generated using green hydrogen could eventually fall below the corresponding price using natural gas. At the same time, he acknowledged the size of the task and the possibility that it might prove to be infeasible. Indeed, it might.

Cheap green hydrogen. That’s the goal of mining billionaire Andrew Forest in Australia. He’s not alone. He’s part of a global pursuit for a stash of loot; akin to It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, if you want to strike a movie parallel. In the movie, if you recall, there was the possibility of only one winner, such was the level of avarice among the competitors. There could be more than one winner in the green-hydrogen stakes. But pointedly not all nations can be the leading exporter of green hydrogen and surely only very few can be among leading exporters. I suspect that a fallacy of composition is afoot. The world isn’t big enough. Be that as it may, notwithstanding the geographical limitations of the world, Australia, according to its governing powers, is on track to be a leader, if not the leader.

Yet, unaccountably, when that esteemed body, the World Economic Forum identified six likely leading candidates for producing green hydrogen, Australia was missing. There was China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States. Come on guys. Where’s Australia? A mere afterthought, as it happens. Appended among Chile, Namibia and Morocco, et al.

But surely, that can’t be right? It was only in September this year that an international conference on green hydrogen was held in Australia’s so-called Sunshine State. Plenty of sun and wide-open spaces in Queensland to plant solar and wind farms in order to power electrolysis; lots of water up north too. Also, I misspoke, pardon my slip. It wasn’t a mere “conference” but a “summit” no less. Hydrogen Connect Summit, it was called. Henry Kissinger comes to mind. There you have it. Australia is surely at the epicentre of the green hydrogen revolution.

Suitable for a "green energy" summit.

Not so fast. I searched. Quickly found summits everywhere; not a conference in sight. The FT [Financial Times] Hydrogen Summit in London in June; the World Hydrogen Energy Summit in India, coming in October; the World Hydrogen Summit in the Netherlands in May; the Asia-Pacific Hydrogen Summit in December 2021; the Hydrogen Shot Summit, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy in August/September 2021. No doubt there’s more.

All appear to be part of a chronological series of summits; more planned for 2023. "Summit," as presently defined in the dictionary, is clearly inadequate to encompass the modern-day renewable-energy world. Need a new twist. Let’s say, meetings of government apparatchiks and rent-seekers; particularly in the cause of obtaining taxpayer handouts to fund a fanciful green-hydrogen future.

It's hard to get reliable evidence on relative costs and prices of different hues of hydrogen. There is much noise and vested interest. I prefer to rely on those with a current stake in the game. Santos is Australia’s largest producer of natural gas. Here is its CEO Kevin Gallagher at a conference in June:

If we look at current prices in Australia, hydrogen made in Moomba from natural gas with carbon capture and storage would be about $14 per gigajoule before transport. Green hydrogen made at Port Kembla would be at least $38 per gigajoule before transport – a price Australian manufacturers could not pay.

This price differential quoted by Gallagher is in line with other estimates (e.g., an EIA estimate) which suggest that green hydrogen costs about three times that of blue hydrogen. Now those favouring green hydrogen claim that its cost will fall steeply over time as a result of technological breakthroughs and scale. The first is nothing more than wishful thinking. The second, debatable; when producing green hydrogen at scale is the essence of its predicament. But we’re missing something. We’re comparing dumb with dumberer.

In the ten years from 2011-12 to 2020-21, thus leaving aside this year’s artificial spike, wholesale natural gas prices in Sydney averaged a little over A$6 per gigajoule. Why pay $14 for blue, never mind $38 for green, when you can have it au naturel for single-digit dollars; and especially so, if drilling and fracking were undemonized? That’s the question lost to your average bishop and prince who are gung-ho for green and damn the cost to the hoi polloi.

Another Day, Another 'Climate' Disaster to Exploit

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

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

Bill Nye.

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

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

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

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

The "science guy."

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

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

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

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

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

Coming to save the day!

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

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

'Green' Belgium Nukes Itself

On Friday, September 23rd, at precisely 9:31 p.m., Belgium's Doel 3 nuclear reactor was disconnected from the nation's power grid, beginning the process of its complete decommissioning. It should be noted, there is nothing wrong with this reactor. It's just that the Belgian government, intoxicated by environmentalist platitudes, passed a law in 2003 which stipulated that all nuclear power plants must cease producing electricity 40 years after they went online.

This is madness.

As we've discussed before, Europe is in the midst of an energy crisis, with various countries throughout the continent preparing for oil and natural gas shortages this winter, and related blackouts. Meanwhile, according to The Brussels Times, "keeping the reactor open would safeguard over 50 percent of Belgium's yearly electricity needs."

That's a pretty big carrot, while the threat of energy shortages in freezing temperatures should serve as the stick. Consequently, the current government (whose prime minister, Alexander De Croo, has been sounding increasingly pessimistic about Europe's energy situation over the next decade) has belatedly seen the light on nuclear power -- on September 14th Interior minister Annelies Verlinden called for the plants closure to be delayed, only to be told by the company which operates Doel 3, Engie, that "[t]o change plans at such short notice is just not feasible."

Other than the logistical challenges that renewing the reactor would bring, there are also legal barriers that would need to be overcome: "It is legally prohibited for the reactor to produce any more electricity after 1 October 2022," [Engie spokesperson Nele] Scheerlinck stated. This is written into Engie's operating license. Furthermore, the power plant's director Peter Moens told Belga News Agency that delaying the shutdown was "neither wise nor advisable," not least given that most of the staff working on the reactor have already planned to work elsewhere.

Maybe they shouldn't have waited to ask until nine days prior to the shut-down. Or, even better, maybe they shouldn't have passed that inane regulation in 2003 in the first place. No doubt at the time Belgian Greens imagined that this was a risk-free move, because, surely, the world would have long-since developed a magical energy source which could satisfy their exacting (re: unrealistic and irrational) standards before it would matter. Yet here we are, twenty years later, and the energy sources they hate most -- nuclear, natural gas, etc. -- are still on top, and have even contributed more to worldwide carbon emission reductions than their animal-slaughtering windfarms and strip-mined rare earth mineral-requiring solar panels. Meanwhile, worldwide economies have been thrown for a loop by the WuFlu (and our absured governmental responses to it), and the energy markets have gone to hell thanks to Russia's invasion of Ukraine (and our absurd governmental responses to that).

Perhaps these things were unforeseeable in 2003, but it is any competent government's job to keep the country as ready as possible for such disasters. Semper paratus, as they say.

Killing the Eagles with 'Climate Change' Malice Aforethought

“Headache!” I called quietly as I threw the saddle on the buckskin I’d be riding that day, calling out to ensure the wrangler saddling her horse next to me in the 4:30 a.m. high-mountain blackness knew a stirrup was on its way over and down and not to rise up suddenly into its bone, leather and steel. Saddled, bridled, jacketed and mounted, six of us rode up a gravel road walled-in by a black forest of tall pines, our way lit only by starlight and the occasional spark struck by the shoe of a horse against the stones. The Bighorn Mountains were all around us as the sun touched first the distant, snowy peaks. We were 8,300 feet up in the Rockies of western Wyoming.

I took my group of riders up over a forested ridge and out one of our more spectacular trails. An hour into our ride, emerging from the forest into the morning sun, we paused to let the horses blow. We looked across a wide valley and down on a high meadow. Behind us the sun-dappled ground and leaves and trees of the forest as the day rose. Below and to our right a few beaver ponds greened-up the area, watering it for elk, deer, badgers and other animals and plants.

Wind River range: enjoy the view while it lasts.

Straight before us the valley dropped off for miles and thousands of feet. Tens of miles away and across that valley the Wind River range rose, blue with distance, snow-capped beneath late-morning puffball clouds on a serene and sunny day. In the bright blue sky above, golden eagles circled riding thermals while prospecting for their next meal or just soaring over the land in their limitless freedom.

If there is more beautiful country in the lower 48, more varied wildlife and greater opportunity to experience it than in the Rocky Mountains of western Wyoming, I’m not aware of it. But it’s the eagles that draw attention. High, regal, effortlessly gliding, circling above us, having long-ago conquered the skies in a way man never will.

And being destroyed by wind “farms,” in which wind energy companies get “kill” permits to destroy these amazing raptors using the wind highways they have used for hundreds of thousands of years only suddenly to encounter instant, unknowable death. Male, female, young, old they are killed by the incredible blunt force of a 12-ton blade moving at over 100 mph. Force = Mass times Acceleration. You do the math. For a kilowatt. For a company profiting on tax dollars devoted to an energy form civilization left-behind centuries ago, and that could not have powered our progress to today, nor keep us warm, alive, fed and producing, as Germans are about to discover. Yesterday Solyndra, today ES Windpower, Inc. Tomorrow? Who will destroy our environment with our tax dollars tomorrow?

Federal wildlife officials are pushing wind companies to enroll in a permitting program that allows them to kill eagles if the deaths are offset.

Sudden death in the skies, to save the planet.

Look up in the sky at an eagle circling, rising, falling. In your mind’s eye, or here if you don’t live where they soar effortlessly across the land. “If deaths are offset?” What kind of bureaucratic mumbo jumbo for the slaughter of these magnificent birds is that? How do you “offset” a dead eagle? With a check? A tear? A carbon credit? How do you offset hundreds of them?

Nationwide, 34 permits in place last year authorized companies to “take” 170 golden eagles — meaning that many birds could be killed by turbines or lost through impacts on nests or habitat.

Were those “kill permits” abused? Of course they were.

In April, a Florida-based power company pleaded guilty in federal court in Wyoming to criminal violations of wildlife protection laws after its wind turbines killed more than 100 golden eagles in eight states. It was the third conviction of a major wind company for killing eagles in a decade.

Golden eagles are “on the edge,”

The rush to build wind farms to combat climate change is colliding with preservation of one of the U.S. West’s most spectacular predators — the golden eagle — as the species teeters on the edge of decline.

And not just in Wyoming.

The Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that on average, more than 20 golden eagles are probably killed each year among the wind turbines of San Gorgonio Pass, out of an estimated 120 golden eagle deaths annually at wind farms across California.

It is not just Golden Eagles being destroyed by these wind farms. It’s the Amazon Rain Forest, the “Lungs of the Planet,” the largest carbon sink on earth. For these blades increasingly are made of fiberglass-wrapped balsa wood from the Amazon. And that’s a problem.

As the international commitment to renewable energy has grown in recent years, the increase in wind farms has triggered a huge demand for balsa wood, leaving a trail of deforestation in its wake…

The balseros bring alcohol, drugs and prostitution, and pollute the extraction sites with plastics, cans, machinery, gasoline and oil spills. They abandon used chains from their chainsaws. They eat the turtles and chase away the parrots, toucans and other birds that feed on the flowers of the balsa trees. The breakdown of ecosystems by illegal deforestation has profound impacts on the balance of local flora and fauna, which will never recover.

Killing their birds, too.

Cutting down a large balsa tree affects ecosystems. Its canopy shelters plants that now dry up under the scorching sun of the equator. Birds that feed on balsa flowers no longer sing as they used to; parrots have now gone in search of new homes; tapirs and sajinos (wild boar of the jungle) are now exposed, leading to an increase in illegal hunting.

Wyoming: where eagles dare to fly and die.

We are not just cutting down Balsa trees in the Amazon for wind. Scotland just felled fourteen million trees to make way for wind farms. A German-owned plant in Texas is producing 578,000 tons of wood pellets to ship to Germany to burn for heat and fuel, a practice even older, even more outmoded, even more damaging to the environment than pretending wind can power a modern economy. If one wants to reduce atmospheric carbon, felling millions of trees that perform carbon capture—and then burning them—seems counterintuitive.

The problem is ignorance. No, not of the environment. But of energy and climate itself. One hopes against hope that the ridiculous canard that “97 percent of all scientists agree!” can be put to rest with the news this week that 99.99 percent of all scientists who agreed that the universe was created by the Big Bang were wrong. Of course, they followed millennia of 100 percent of all scientists agreeing that the sun orbited the earth.

At some point, perhaps sooner than we think, today’s nonsensical hysteria on climate will be replaced by some other nonsensical hysteria designed to keep politicians in power and spending our money while reducing our freedoms. The thousands of eagles still will be dead. Their progeny never will have existed. We all will be the poorer for it.

California's Dreaming

We've all had the experience of scheduling an unpleasant event at a point so far into the future that it feels like it will never actually come. Of course, it always does -- that doctor's appointment you set for dreary February back in sunny June comes round eventually, no matter what you do.

This is a problem the environmentalists have been struggling with of late. First, because they've been making dire (and specific) climatological predictions for decades that never seem to come true. (Remember when New York City was supposed to have been underwater by the year 2015?) But also, because they've been thoughtlessly committing to policies favored by their leftist supporters they can't possible fulfill. Just a few years ago, mandating that transitions to "green" energy sources must happen by 2025 or 2030 felt like a way of doing something without actually doing anything. But today, in 2022, they're just around the corner.

Case in point -- California's Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, scheduled since 2016 to close by 2025. In 2016, one might have imagined that within a decade the vast majority of electricity would be produced by wind turbines and solar panels and we'd all get around in Jetsons-style flying cars powered by our sense of self-satisfaction. But in the year of Our Lord 2022 we're in the midst of an energy crisis, with sky-rocketing prices for gasoline and electricity.

Texas, one of America's major energy producers, had a massive power failure less than two years ago, causing hundreds of deaths and billions in damage. And Germany -- possessed by what has been called the "world’s dumbest energy policy" -- is gearing up for winter-long energy shortages because of their own mad plan of unnecessarily decommissioning nuclear power plants even as Russia has been cutting off their flow of natural gas.

Diablo Canyon: the devil is in the details.

Which is to say, this is a terrible time for California to shut down a power plant, especially one that supplies nearly 10 percent of the state's power as Diablo Canyon does, its largest single energy source. Consequently, Gov. Gavin Newsom has spent the past few months calling for the plant's closure to be postponed until 2035. He's even proposed giving Pacific Gas & Electric Co. -- the company that owns and operates the plant -- a $1.4 billion forgivable loan to encourage them to keep the juice flowing, and exempting them from state environmental regulations that the most extreme environmentalists might use to tie up the extension in court.

Newsom's motives aren't pure -- he has his eyes on the White House, maybe as soon as 2024 if the Democrats decide they can't keep up their current Weekend at Bernie's act for another election cycle. That's not happening if the Golden State can't keep its lights on. It would tarnish his reputation, as it did two decades ago when Newsom's predecessor, "Gray-out" Davis, failed to stop California's rolling blackouts, leading to his recall, when he was replaced a Republican.

And it is worth noting that postponing the closure by a decade is just another instance of kicking the can down the road. The bet is -- as it was in 2016 -- that by then wind and solar energy concerns will have solved the intermittency problem (which have been known to cause nighttime rolling blackouts across the state, as solar panels stop contributing to the mix) and developed scalable battery tech which would allow them to pick up the slack from nuclear and traditional energy sources.

They're dreaming. But if they succeed at keeping Diablo Canyon running, it's a dream they can entertain at least for a little while longer.

Which Came First? The Idiots or the Eggs?

I recently noticed a dwindled supply of eggs at the local supermarkets. Various reasons have been given. For instance, it’s claimed that hens lay fewer eggs in cold weather and, perplexingly, despite global warming, it’s been uncommonly cold on the range in south-eastern Australia. Put that together with a rising preference for free-range eggs and Bob’s your uncle, fewer eggs for sale. Maybe.

One of the miracles of capitalism is the way in which the pattern of demand is mirrored by the pattern of production and supply, day in and day out. No-one controls it. Trying wouldn’t work. It’s too complex; too ever-changing. Of course, what Hayek called the pretence of knowledge will forever persuade intelligent fools, like the Davos crowd, that it can be controlled and managed from on high. Point all you like to shortages and queues for the staples of life in command-and-control regimes. The fools are not for turning. Like the Lady, sans the sense.

Juxtapose capitalism and shortages of staples, e.g., eggs or infant formula in the U.S., and you know something has gone badly wrong. Perhaps hens do lay fewer eggs in colder weather, I’m insufficiently bucolic to know. But you can bet your life that when there are material shortages, you’ll be able to find government regulations and bureaucrats wielding them. In the case of eggs, the likely culprit is egregious Covid lockdowns, which led to hens being culled when restaurants and cafes were prevented from opening and, thus, buying eggs.

The cause of all our misfortune.

Governments and their apparatchiks apparently think they can abruptly stop economic life and then just turn it back on again. Having insufficient hubris is not one of their shortcomings. And so it is that they believe they can defy physics and market forces and produce 24x7 base-load power using wind and solar as the principal sources. You might demur. Surely shortages and blackouts will occur with increasing frequency and length? Not in their modelling world, they don’t.

The Australian government is legislating a reduction in CO2 emissions by 43 percent (versus 2005) by 2030. Numbers of countries have put their climate targets into law. Canada, the U.K., Denmark, among others. Mostly it’s a net-zero-by-2050 law. The Australian law has the advantage of reaching its denouement when most of us are still alive. I dare say some of us have only an academic interest in what governments promise to do by 2050.

The laws are exercises in Canutism with a hint of Descartes. We say, therefore it shall be. But will it? Reducing emissions of CO2, and now, fashionably, nitrous oxide by extolling the virtues of bugs over beef, will be achieved only by replacing efficient fossil fuels with unreliable renewable energy and by switching our culinary tastes towards entomophagy. Leaving aside the delights of locust-eating, energy deprivation lies ahead and not too far ahead.

Good for the planet, too.

Coal-power capacity is being turned off in Australia. Twelve power stations have closed in the last ten years; none commissioned. Sixteen power stations with a total capacity of 23GW remain in the National Electricity Market (NEM). Incidentally, no surprise, China has approximately 1,064GW of coal power. Australia’s NEM times 46 and rising.

Liddell coal-power station at 1.5GW will be turned off next year. Eraring at 2.8GW in 2025. That will leave less than 19GW in the NEM. And, we are told by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) to expect more early closures. Why? The fleet is aging, in poor repair, and facing crippling fair-weather competition from wind and solar. Apparently, intermittent renewables, short-life batteries, yet-to-be-built pumped hydro and expensive natural gas will fill the breach. Hypothetical Hydrogen in due course.

Recent flooding of mines in northern New South Wales caused a shortage of coal. Natural gas prices spiked. AEMO stepped in to regulate gas prices and to temporarily suspend the market for wholesale electricity. Governments, federal and state, went in a trice from demonising coal to unabashedly calling for more, as I covered in a previous Pipeline piece. You will notice that blackouts and threatened blackouts, wherever occurring, are blamed on untoward weather or external events.

Uncommonly cold weather in Texas icing up turbines. Extremely hot weather in California, home to Death Valley. Then there’s the Ukraine and Putin’s energy price hikes. These are mere harbingers of what lies ahead as coal is driven from the system and onerous legal obstacles impede or prevent the development of new oil and natural-gas projects. A tipping point is on the horizon in Australia and no doubt elsewhere. We won’t have to wait until 2030.

Oops.

Coal power can’t survive for much longer. Can’t compete with wind and solar on windy sunny days. And legislating emission targets, ineffective in itself, will make it even harder for new oil or gas projects to survive lawfare. Whether any new project is consistent with the legislated target for emissions will become subject to evolving common law. Activist lawyers will have a field day. Woke judges will delight in having an iron-clad rationale for siding with well-organised, well-funded, indefatigable green litigants. Game over; except, that is, for the realities of life. Apropos a warning from my friend Rafe Champion, who closely monitors these things, writing in the Spectator:

If we lose more fossil fuel capacity from the grid, Australia’s power supply will fail every time there is not enough wind or solar power available to meet the peak demands at breakfast and dinnertime. The records show quite clearly that these renewable energy droughts happen often and there will not be enough power.

Envision an upward sloping line depicting demand for electricity through time and a downward sloping line depicting declining capacity to deliver 24x7 base-load power sourced from fossil fuels. Once the lines cross, the pain begins. Windless days and sunless nights will quickly drain the batteries flat and reveal a yawning gap.

Capitalism is akin to a living system; defying entropy by taking in complex inputs; constantly renewing itself, growing and developing. It’s resilient. But as with natural living systems, like us, for example, it needs energy. Deprive it of energy and it becomes listless, malnourished, dead eventually.

At one level it’s inexplicable that nearly all governments and their apparatchiks, believe they can starve capitalism of affordable and reliable energy and yet will it continue to thrive. However, it’s explicable if you inhabit a hypothetical world, as they do, in which modelling prevails. Modelling; configured and constrained to show how it will be done, not whether it can be done.