'Resilient Recovery' to the Rescue!

The Trudeau government has a plan to save Canada's economy from post-Covid collapse. It advances a glorious shopping list of unsustainable programs and initiatives called the Task Force for Resilient Recovery, part of the so-called “Build Back Better” campaign, which is also Joe Biden’s campaign slogan. The plan claims that “Our focus should not be simply on returning to growth, but on growing smarter and cleaner to support a more resilient future.”

The intention is “to put our economy on a low-carbon [and] sustainable and competitive pathway [toward] net-zero,” thus supporting “Canada’s adaptation to climate impacts.” Its attention will be on “supporting the environment, clean competitiveness and climate resilience [while] addressing implementation, and with attention to youth, women, Indigenous peoples and vulnerable groups.” 

The emphasis will be on solar panels, new grids, hydrogen production, carbon pricing systems, clean energy sectors (i.e., wind farms) and zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The project is being pushed by Deputy Prime Minister and newly-installed Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, and by Trudeau crony Gerald Butts, which inspires zero-confidence in the outcome. Freeland is all fries and no burger. Butts is the next edition of the Terminator. Given their qualifications and record, the leadership of these two Trudeau stalwarts should inspire profound misgivings.

It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with.

As Diane Francis writes in the Financial Post regarding “the loopy recommendations put forth this summer by Trudeau’s Task Force for a Resilient Recovery,” it is an anti-business outfit consisting of “a hand-picked task force that is a grab-bag of professional Liberals, green activists, former civil servants and self-described social entrepreneurs whose business models are all about getting grants and subsidies.” She continues:

Their recommendations would bankrupt the country. They include: $27.5 billion to build energy-efficient buildings; $49.9 billion to retrofit existing buildings; and a pledge to ‘jump-start production and adoption of electric vehicles,’ which does not include a price tag, but is sure to be a hefty one. When mixed with Trudeau’s continuing assault on Canada’s only engine of economic growth — the oil and resource sectors — the outcome is a foregone conclusion: Canadian taxpayers, who already pay some of the highest taxes in the world, will crumble or flee, along with their investors and employers.

The resilient recovery initiative is neither resilient nor oriented toward recovery. It is shaky and abortive and will crater on itself, dragging the economy down with it. A similar project was tried in Ontario under the Liberal governments of Dalton McGuinty and Kathleen Wynn. The aforementioned Butts was McGuinty’s senior advisor and also, as the CBC reports, the “brains behind… the ill-fated Green Energy Act.” He had no compunction about “signing onto dubious wind power projects and its cripplingly inefficient Renewable Energy Standard Offer Program (RESOP).” Ontario is now the most heavily indebted sub-sovereign borrower in the world, plagued by systemic inefficiency, prohibitive electricity rates, and a debt load almost double that of the “fiscal train wreck” known as California, a triple whammy from which the province may never recover. 

The science on which the taskers predicate their version of the Green New Deal is deeply flawed. Writing in PowerLine, John Hinderaker lucidly exposes why Green energy is impossible. It is an article that should be read by every citizen concerned about the wind turbine being erected in his neighborhood. The problems are insurmountable. “Wind turbines produce energy around 40% of the time, and solar panels do much worse.” Battery storage, the Liberal default position, is a dead end. There is no feasible battery “that can store the entire output of a power plant or a wind farm,” apart from the fact “that battery storage is ruinously expensive.” Moreover, the materials needed for a single wind turbine—4.7 tons of copper, 3 tons of aluminum, 2 tons of rare earth elements, and 1,200 tons of concrete—should give us pause.

Depleting the planet's resources, one twirl at a time.

Figures for the U.S. grid taken as a whole show that the wind-solar-battery nexus “would consume around 70% of all of the copper currently mined in the world, 337% of global nickel production, 3,053% of the world’s total cobalt production, 355% of the U.S.’s iron output, and 284% of U.S. steel production, along with unfathomable quantities of concrete.” In addition, to have a perceptible effect on climate, “China, India, Brazil and the rest of the developing world would have to get all of their electricity from wind and solar, too. That would increase the above demand for materials by something like 15 to 20 times,” depleting the planet’s resources.

Meanwhile, in a crowning irony, radical environmentalists “bitterly oppose, and successfully frustrate, the very mining projects that would be needed to produce the materials for the turbines and solar panels they say are essential to the continued existence of the human race.” Altogether, it makes more sense to “harness the energy of unicorns running on treadmills.”

And what is driving this Green madness? Two things: “1) politics, and 2) enormous quantities of money being made by politically-connected wind and solar entrepreneurs.”

In a painstakingly detailed report for the Manhattan Institute, The New Energy Economy: an exercise in magical thinking, Mark Mills has also demonstrated that the green energy movement is wrong by orders of magnitude in every single claim it makes regarding cost, efficiency, underlying math, energy availability, disposal protocols, grid parity, incremental engineering improvements, digitalization and the ability to meet demand

Green energy, he points out, is no substitute for hydrocarbons, which are the world’s principal energy resource today “and will continue to be so in the foreseeable future. Wind turbines, solar arrays, and batteries, meanwhile, constitute a small source of energy, and physics dictates that they will remain so… there is simply no possibility that the world is undergoing—or can undergo—a near-term transition to a ‘new energy economy.’” The mathematics is unforgiving.  “The path for improvements now follows what mathematicians call an asymptote; or, put in economic terms, improvements are subject to a law of diminishing returns.” As he explains:

This is a normal phenomenon in all physical systems… gains in efficiency… or other equivalent metrics such as energy density (power per unit of weight or volume) then shrink from double-digit percentages to fractional percentage changes. Whether it’s solar, wind tech, or aircraft turbines, the gains in performance are now all measured in single-digit percentage gains.

In other words,

The physics-constrained limits of energy systems are unequivocal. Solar arrays can’t convert more photons than those that arrive from the sun. Wind turbines can’t extract more energy than exists in the kinetic flows of moving air. Batteries are bound by the physical chemistry of the molecules chosen… The limits are long established and well understood.

Mills is talking about actual energy production and use, not about digital miniaturization, which follows different laws of efficiency. “Physics realities do not allow energy domains to undergo the kind of revolutionary change experienced on the digital frontiers,” he explains. Green enthusiasts believe that energy tech will follow Moore’s Law, namely, that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, though the cost of computers is halved. Mills puts paid to the idea of domain parity:

Logic engines can use software to do things such as compress information… and thus reduce energy use. No comparable compression options exist in the world of humans and hardware. If photovoltaics scaled by Moore’s Law, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. If batteries scaled by Moore’s Law, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power an A380 to Asia. But only in the world of comic books does the physics of propulsion or energy production work like that.

Nonetheless, the scam persists thanks to “scientific” jobbery and self-interest, as well as the furthering of political schemes in favor of the Green agenda. Stuart Ritchie in his just-released Science Fictions refers to what is known as the Mertonian Norms (named after sociologist Robert Merton) that underpin all scientific research and progress. These comprise the four major scientific values:

So-called climate science is an example of how the Mertonian Norms—in particular the last two principles—have been consigned to the scrap heap, leading to data manipulation, massaging of results for propaganda purposes, belief in the improbable or impossible, and promotion of government projects however dubious or ill-advised.

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.

The newfound passion for ZEVs is a case in point. Transport Canada announced a national purchase incentive program for electric vehicles. Canadians who purchase electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids are eligible for an incentive of $2,500 to $5,000. It sounds good on bureaucratic paper, but as Mills clearly shows:

There are no subsidies and no engineering from Silicon Valley or elsewhere that can close the physics-centric gap in energy densities between batteries and oil. The energy stored per pound is the critical metric for vehicles… The maximum potential energy contained in oil molecules is about 1,500% greater, pound for pound, than the maximum in lithium chemistry.

Yet enthusiasm for these projects continues to grow. In a recent column, “The folly of green economics," Rex Murphy comments on the absurdity of the city of Toronto’s plan to outfit its ambulances with solar panels. “[S]o inventive, so original an initiative to stave off planetary oblivion,” he writes, will be little consolation to anyone who “has to be carted off at high speed to the emergency department… should  911 be called on a rainy day, or during the night.” But the symbolism of the project is not to be downplayed since it shows the world “how sublimely climate-virtuous we are.” 

Murphy can scarcely disguise his incredulous contempt. I take this folly as representative of what, in reality, is meant when Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland speaks so confidently about a green recovery.” For there is nothing “so unpromising in practical terms, so irrelevant to the real challenges of our time… as subservience to green politics.” Come to think of it, if solar is so reliable and efficient that people’s lives are made to depend on it, why don’t solar panels or, say, lithium batteries power helicopters or passenger jets or ocean liners? As we’ve seen, adducing Moore’s Law to green the future simply cannot work in this energy context. 

I watch the tugs from my window hauling gigantic barges, massive cargo ships and endless log booms up the Fraser River toward the sawmills. Heavily laden mile-long freight trains rumble across the nearby trestle bridge dozens of times day and night. On the farther shore tall cranes, dredges and power shovels are at work putting up a fifty-seven storey condo tower. Tugs, barges, ships, freight trains, sawmills, bridges, dwellings—in short everything we rely on for our existence would cease to exist on solar, lithium and wind. Commerce would come to a standstill.

The fact is that the war against the energy sector and its replacement by green renewables will be calamitously unaffordable, trash the domestic power grid, and ultimately bankrupt the nation. And if carried out globally, it would devastate the planet. This should be a no-brainer but it escapes the progressivist mind with perfect serenity, in particular since neither Mertonian disinterestedness nor skepticism are cherished values.

Writing in the Financial Post about the “five years of suffering in eco-zealot purgatory under the Trudeau Liberals,” Gwyn Morgan cites Statistics Canada showing that “since election of the Trudeau government in 2015, investment in 10 of our 15 major business sectors has dropped by 17 percent, as both Canadian and foreign investors have fled. More than $185 billion left the country.” The full impact of the gargantuan restructuring of our vital business sectors in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic will be economically apocalyptic if based on green thinking. To make matters worse:

In the face of such alarming prospects, it seems the coronavirus has fostered escape to a fantasy state where reality is magically replaced by an imagined world that is whatever one wishes it to be. It’s baffling to hear our government declare the pandemic has created an ‘opportunity for public investment in green restructuring of the economy,’ which translates into subsidizing windmill and solar-power companies. How will that work out? Ask Ontarians.

Morgan concludes his fiscal obituary with a note “to our new Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland: Achieving private-sector investment and job creation is the only hope for keeping the good ship Canada from smashing onto the post-Covid rocks and sinking a nation that had such great potential.” Unfortunately, Minister Freeland knows nothing about finance and, like the rest of the Green coterie, is deaf to reason, science and economics. And it is unlikely they will undergo a change of heart or mind, being subject to Brandolini’s Law: The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than to produce it.

And so the Task Force for Resilient Recovery ploughs ahead toward the abyss, indifferent to the laws of nature, in defiance of the principles of scientific inquiry, and oblivious to the dictates of common sense. It is busy imposing its comic book designs upon the real world. As Graeme Gordon writes for CBC News, “The architects of Ontario's energy fiasco are now stationed in the PMO. The whole country should be wary of the financial disaster of that province being replicated nationwide.” 

It’s a foregone conclusion.

Down Under, What Price Virtue?

The drive to turn the world -- particularly, the Anglosphere -- Green is international, much like Communism. And the desire to virtue-signal seems equally strong, no matter what the cost. As Australia is now learning:

On average, Australia is spending $13 billion trying to get rid of coal and trying to interject renewable energy in the electricity market, according to economist Alan Moran. The Australian Energy Market Commission puts the cost of environmental policies on the consumer at around $90 per year, or 6.5 per cent of the household electricity bill.

But wait -- it gets worse.

However, Dr Moran said this estimate only covers around one sixth of the potential cost. The effect renewables have on the market, as well as the government loans and subsidies, among other costs brings the actual cost to the consumer to around $536 per year, or 39 per cent of the electricity bill. He said the total cost to the economy coming just from the consumer – which he said amounts to just under 50 per cent of the costs – would climb to $6.5 billion.

"Every year we’re spending $13 billion in trying to get rid of coal and trying to inject renewable energy in a system which is actually inherently making it much more expensive. Thirteen billion dollars is a huge albatross around the neck of the Australian public and Australian economy.”

Ah, but that's a small price to pay to Save the Planet and feel good about yourself at the same time. Even -- perhaps especially -- when it hardly makes a damn bit of difference.

Why Is the 'Climate Change' Crew So Opposed to Clean Energy?

If you want to see how transparently phony the "environmentalist movement" is, and discern clearly what its real motives are, you need look no farther than its dedicated opposition not only to the dread "fossil fuels," but to the cleanest form of energy there is: nuclear power. Once a sign of an advanced technological civilization, and the pride of the nations that employed it -- not only the United States but France and Sweden -- nuclear power has acquired an onus that we might trace directly back to Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the movie that cursed nuclear energy with all the power Hollywood had to muster, director James Bridges's The China Syndrome.

The 1979 accident at Three Mile Island -- the same year the movie came out -- killed nobody, and was quickly brought under control but, hyped by the American media, it caused deep unease in the American public, in part because of the word "nuclear" and its radioactive-weapons connotations.  The spectacular meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986 and the lethal accident at Fukushima in Japan in 2011, understandably exacerbated fears. But the disaster in the Ukraine was caused by typical Soviet incompetence and unreliable technology, most likely compounded by classically Soviet drunkenness; the Fukushima meltown occurred in the aftermath of a major underwater earthquake (9.0 on the Richter scale) and tsunami and had nothing to do with intrinsic technological failure or human error.

Another Three Mile Island is unlike to happen again. As the World Nuclear Association notes, citing the Department of Energy's official  report:

When the TMI-2 accident is recalled, it is often in the context of what happened on Friday and Saturday, March 30-31. The drama of the TMI-2 accident-induced fear, stress and confusion on those two days... "Because of confused telephone conversations between people uninformed about the plant's status, officials concluded that the 1,200 millirems (12 mSv) reading was an off-site reading. They also believed that another hydrogen explosion was possible, that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had ordered evacuation and that a meltdown was conceivable.

"Garbled communications reported by the media generated a debate over evacuation. Whether or not there were evacuation plans soon became academic. What happened on Friday was not a planned evacuation but a weekend exodus based not on what was actually happening at Three Mile Island but on what government officials and the media imagined might happen. On Friday confused communications created the politics of fear." (Page 50)

The Three Mile Island accident caused concerns about the possibility of radiation-induced health effects, principally cancer, in the area surrounding the plant. Because of those concerns, the Pennsylvania Department of Health for 18 years maintained a registry of more than 30,000 people who lived within five miles of Three Mile Island at the time of the accident. The state's registry was discontinued in mid 1997, without any evidence of unusual health trends in the area.

Indeed, more than a dozen major, independent health studies of the accident showed no evidence of any abnormal number of cancers around TMI years after the accident. The only detectable effect was psychological stress during and shortly after the accident.

We can see where the stress came from -- the media's garbled, confused, and inexpert early reporting, combined with its natural tendency to overhype the apocalypse at every turn. Little has changed since; indeed an irresponsible press now treats the most routine weather stories as potentially catastrophic events, for which running for the hills is the only rational response. And since all narratives need a bad guy, make Big Energy not only incompetent but malicious. As writer Andrew Tood notes in "How THE CHINA SYNDROME Brought Down The Nuclear Power Industry":

Bridges’ film doesn’t lay the blame at the foot of the technology - which, in an ideal world, would provide plentiful and accident-free energy to millions. It’s people, and institutions, that get the stick. From inspectors falsifying records to finish their job quickly, to managers reluctant to order costly repair work, to executives covering it all up to score new contracts, the nuclear industry is presented as criminally negligent at all levels. It’s even depicted as outright malicious - not entirely without cause, given foul-play theories over the death of nuclear union activist Karen Silkwood - to the extent that the company would murder multiple people to maintain its reputation.

Predictably, the nuclear industry had a fiery reaction. Westinghouse executive John Taylor described the film as “an overall character assassination of an entire industry.” Nuclear experts generally agreed that the film’s specific events were highly improbable (if not entirely impossible), but also that an inherent clash exists between earning corporate profits and spending the money required to keep reactors safe. The industry may have been correct to debate the film's finer technical points or melodramatic ending, but it’s hard to argue that unchecked capitalism doesn't encourage corner-cutting.

Those darn capitalists, who can't wait to kill their customers just because they can. But therein lies the resistance to nuclear power, carefully fanned over the ensuing decades; it's now simply assumed that nuclear = death by the climate-change activists, freeing them from having to explain their opposition to entirely clean energy. Still, the fact that the "climate change" seems not only disinterested in, but actively hostile to, clean sources of energy ought to tell you something. Maybe it's not the cleanliness, or lack therefore, of energy they object to: maybe it's energy itselfMike Shellenberger writes at Forbes:

Why is it that, from the U.S. and Canada to Spain and France, it is progressives and socialists who say they care deeply about the climate, not conservative climate skeptics, who are seeking to shut down nuclear plants? After all, the two greatest successes when it comes to nuclear energy are Sweden and France, two nations held up by democratic socialists for decades as models of the kind of societies they want. It is only nuclear energy, not solar and wind, that has radically and rapidly decarbonized energy supplies while increasing wages and growing societal wealth.

And it is only nuclear that has, by powering high-speed trains everywhere from France to Japan to China, decarbonized transportation, which is the source of about one-third of the emissions humankind creates. For many people the answer is obvious: ignorance. Few people know that nuclear is the safest source of electricity. Or that low levels of radiation are harmless. Or that nuclear waste is the best kind of waste... few things have proven worse for the climate than shutting down nuclear plants.

Ah, they say, we prefer "renewables" (boiling water, which is all nuclear power amounts to, is about as renewable as you can get). What about wind power and solar and pixie dust and unicorn farts? We might call this the pathetic fallacy, the 18th-century notion of attributing human emotions and values to inanimate objects:

Ordinary people tell pollsters they want renewables for the same reason they buy products labeled “natural”: they are in the grip of an unconscious appeal-to-nature fallacy. The appeal-to-nature fallacy is the mistaken belief that the world can be divided into “natural” and “unnatural” things, and that the former are better, safer, or cleaner than the latter.

In reality, solar farms require hundreds of times more land, an order of magnitude more mining for materials, and create hundreds of times more waste, than do nuclear plants. And wind farms kill hundreds of thousands of threatened and endangered birds, may make the hoary bat go extinct, and kill more people than nuclear plants. But because of our positive feelings toward sunlight, water and wind, which we view as more natural than uranium, many people unconsciously assume renewables are better for the environment.

But they aren't -- as investors in these chimerical solutions to a non-existent problem can attest. We're just now understanding the problems inherent in recycling wind turbines and solar panels, neither of which provide any direct power but instead simply contribute, in their meager and unreliable way, to the existing power grid. The truth is, the big-government globalists manipulating poor fools like Greta Thunberg and the members of her children's crusade are after only thing. As I wrote in this space last week, the people are the New Luddites.

Not saving the planet (George Carlin memorably skewered this absurd notion in a hilarious, scatological NSFW monologue years ago). Not creating a cleaner environment (the environment probably has never been so clean) -- because, when you get right down to it, their definition of "pollution" is... us

What they're after is simply your money, to extract it by any means necessary: by manipulating children, by frightening the next generation into thinking the End is Nigh, by trying to outlaw legal industries that have brought nothing but good things -- like heat and light! -- to humanity at a relatively small cost and with effectively zero permanent damage to an anthropomorphized planet. Using a compliant, careless, and ignorant media, they push the narrative that we and our dirty lifestyles (only in the West! The Chinese and the Indians are just... ooops) are responsible for all the ills of the world. It's time we stood up to them, and reveal them as the monsters they are to the children they are trying to frighten.

Take a good look, kids:

And have a nice day.