When Will It Be OK To Laugh At The Climate Campaigners?

When Will It Be OK To Laugh At The Climate Campaigners?

The climate campaigners are so terribly, terribly earnest.  I guess it’s what we should expect.  After all, they have a mission to “save the planet.”  

A great opportunity to demonstrate your earnestness and fervor as a climate campaigner has been the latest UN climate confab, known as “COP 24,” taking place in Katowice, Poland this week and last.  22,000 bureaucrats and functionaries have gathered to tell the world that it must promptly do away with the evil fossil fuels and transition to clean energy. Over and over, the alarm was sounded.  From Think Progress on December 10:

The conference comes only two months after the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released an ominous report projecting that the world only has around 12 years before crossing a dangerous global warming threshold.  A subsequent report released two weeks ago, the congressionally-mandated National Climate Assessment, found that every region of the United States is already suffering the impacts of climate change.

And then, into the middle of what should have been universal acclaim for immediate UN-directed action, there dropped a U.S.-sponsored panel with the title “U.S. Innovative Technologies Spur Economic Dynamism.”  The lead speaker was a guy named Wells Griffith, advisor to President Trump at the Department of Energy.  Other panelists included “speakers representing natural gas, fracking, and nuclear energy proponents.”  Griffith was quoted as saying “We strongly believe that no country should have to sacrifice economic prosperity or energy security.”  Such incredible chutzpah!  What is the proper response?Anger and protests, of course.  Oh, and also laughter.  I mean, this was completely outside the bounds of polite conversation.  What kind of dolts could be saying such preposterous things?  From the Independent:

Mr. Griffith spoke for about ten minutes before the audience started laughing, mocking, and yelling at him.  Eventually, they started chanting “keep it in the ground” and “shame on you.”

Meanwhile, out here in the real world, are we allowed to notice that absolutely no one is remotely taking seriously the idea that carbon emissions from fossil fuels are really going to be significantly reduced? . . .

Read More

George H.W. Bush And The Problem With The WASP Establishment

The passing of President George H.W. Bush has occasioned many reassessments of both his person and his presidency. On the side of his person, H.W. had a long and (almost) universally-recognized list of admirable qualities. There was no one more fundamentally decent, more honorable, more devoted to family and country, more patriotic, more dedicated to true public service. And although he certainly had his share of ambition — it would be impossible to become President without that — he did not have the sort of blind and desperate personal ambition that has characterized, for example, Obama and Clinton, or for that matter Nixon and Trump. Overall, what more could you ask for in a President?

But if you want an assessment of the success of his presidency, my answer would be, it was not particularly successful. Why? The simple answer is that he was too nice. The slightly more complex answer is that he thought that he was dealing in good faith with reasonable people in a loyal opposition, and that the right approach to dealing with those people was to compromise. Or to put it another way, his Establishment Wasp sensibility left him highly vulnerable. The result was that time and again, on the most important issues, he got taken to the cleaners.

Let’s consider three of the most important examples. . . .

Read More

Is "Action Against Climate Change" A Winning Political Issue?

“Action against climate change”— that’s one of the big planks that the Democrats ran on in the recent election. For new socialist “it” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it’s the “Green New Deal”: “100% of national power generation from renewable sources". A few days ago, Ocasio-Cortez was joined in a Capitol Hill press conference by some 17 of her congressional colleagues, most of them newly-elected, to advocate for the Green New Deal program. Supporters included six of the new Democrats from California, as well as the woman from Minnesota who replaced Keith Ellison, Ilhan Omar. Here is Common Dreams reporting on the press conference on November 30:

In recent actions organized by the youth-led Sunrise Movement, thousands of people have swarmed the offices of Democratic lawmakers to demand they back a Green New Deal. One included a sit-in at the office of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to urge Democratic leadership to commit to a climate plan in line with the crisis's scale and urgency. "Tens of thousands of young people have rushed to join our movement since Ocasio-Cortez proposed the Select Committee on a Green New Deal. The enthusiasm from young voters is clear: Pelosi and the Democratic leadership must put the Green New Deal at the top of the agenda for the new Congress in January," said Sunrise co-founder and spokesperson Varshini Prakash.

You can feel the excitement, and the momentum. At the Atlantic yesterday, Robinson Meyer compliments the activists on their new political strategy, destined to save our planet.

The Green New Deal aspires to cut U.S. carbon emissions fast enough to reach the Paris Agreement’s most ambitious climate goal: preventing the world from warming no more than 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. . . . The Green New Deal aims to get us there—and remake the country in the process. It promises to give every American a job in that new economy: installing solar panels, retrofitting coastal  infrastructure, manufacturing electric vehicles. In the 1960s, the U.S. pointed the full power of its military-technological industry at going to the moon. Ocasio-Cortez wants to do the same thing, except to save the planet.

It would be hard to dispute that the “action against climate change” plank worked to the Democrats’ advantage in November. But then, neither the federal government nor any state has yet enacted carbon emissions restrictions that have really been at a level sufficient to be seriously noticed by the people. You might wonder, if a carbon tax or other emissions-restriction proposal gets to a level sufficient to start impacting overall emissions significantly, will it still be a political positive? Or will it inevitably be so costly as to cause a massive blowback. We can get an idea of the answer to that question by looking at some international experience.

For example, there’s Australia. . . .

Read More

Climate Crusaders Weigh In On The Cost Of Energy From Renewables

If you’ve been keeping up here, you know that my previous two posts have been “How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity? -- Part III,” and “How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity -- Part IV.” The basic issue is that the promoters of electricity from wind and solar sources don’t seem to have any idea of how big a problem intermittency poses. If you hypothesize an electricity system powered only by wind and solar sources, with batteries to store energy from times of excess generation and release it in times of low generation, how much will the costs of the necessary batteries increase your costs of electricity? It turns out that enormous amounts of energy must be stored, and the batteries become by far the driving cost of the overall system. Reasonable calculations based on currently-available battery technology, even with assumed cost declines from ongoing improvements, lead to results indicating that the cost of the batteries will increase your price of electricity by a factor of perhaps 15 or 20 or more — and that’s before solving a collection of additional engineering problems that may drive the cost up still further.

So surely the climate crusaders are on top of this issue, and are ready with an answer. Let’s tune in to a few of them and see what they have to say.

For example, the number one climate crusader of all is Tom Steyer, hedge fund genius and self-made multi-billionaire, who puts hundreds of millions of his personal wealth into political campaigns promoting “renewable” energy sources. . . .

Read More

How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity -- Part IV

A couple of commenters on yesterday’s post raised interesting issues that I thought called for another post on the same subject.

Commenter Arthur proposes to solve the battery expense problem by having the 100% renewable system be in effect only from mid-March through July, which are the peak months for renewable generation in California as shown on the charts in yesterday’s post. Arthur concludes, “Battery expense solved!”, and presents a formula suggesting that mid-March to July is 37.5% of the year, so emissions would be reduced 37.5% without the battery expense.

Where to start? . . .

Read More

How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity? -- Part III

How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs Of Electricity? -- Part III

Now that Democrats are going to control the House starting in the new year, what’s the agenda? How about a “Green New Deal”! Naturally, new “it” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (my daughter lives in her district!) will be leading the charge. From Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s website:

The Plan for a Green New Deal (and the draft legislation) shall be developed in order to achieve the following goals, in each case in no longer than 10 years from the start of execution of the Plan: 1. 100% of national power generation from renewable sources. . . .

And that’s just the start of a long list of proposals. Of course, no costs are attached to any of this. Over in the progressive universe, they are already feeling the excitement. As one example among many, this is from Think Progress yesterday:

More and more Democrats are committing to supporting a sweeping, historic green effort that would transform the U.S. economy in an effort to fight climate change, in the latest indicator that environmental issues will be a dominant force in 2019. As of Wednesday morning, the Sunrise Movement, a climate group led by young people, said at least 15 Democrats are willing to sign onto supporting the formation of a select committee to create a “Green New Deal” endorsed by Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). 

OK then. And how much will this increase your costs of electricity? Remarkably, in all the articles reporting on the Green New Deal proposal and the excitement surrounding it, I can’t find a single one even raising that question. Is this just beyond the bounds of polite conversation? If your costs of electricity were going to go up by even 10 or 20 percent, wouldn’t that be a critical piece of information that you would want to know? And how about if the prospective cost increase were much, much more?

I previously did my own back-of-the-envelope work on this issue, on which I reported in two posts in August 2016, “How Much Do The Climate Crusaders Plan To Increase Your Costs of Electricity” Part I and Part II. My very rough estimate was that the prospective increase to get to a 100% renewable grid would be at least in the range of multiplying the cost of electricity by a factor of 5 or 10. I also reported in August this year on some work from MIT researchers on the seasonality of wind and solar generation, which has a very large effect on the costs of getting to 100% renewable electricity. That work implied cost increases even greater than my own previous estimates, like a factor of 15 or more.

And now comes along a guy named Roger Andrews . . . .

Read More