Guest essay by Steve Goreham
Originally published in Communities Digital News, republished at WUWt by request of the author.
Business has been captured by Climatism, the belief that humans are causing dangerous global warming. Leading businesses announce plans to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, purchase renewable energy, use vehicle biofuels, and buy carbon credits. But there is no evidence that commercial policies to “fight” climate change have any measureable effect on global temperatures.
Apple and Google, the darling companies of the millennial generation, have spent billions trying to halt global warming. Apple has brought us the Mac personal computer, the I-Phone, the I-Pad, and other trend-setting electronic devices, becoming the world’s highest-valued company. Google has been called the most innovative technology company in the world, delivering the Google search engine that revolutionized use of the internet, Google Books, Google Maps, and now developing a self-driving car. But both of these leading companies have swallowed the misguided theory of human-caused climate change, hook, line, and sinker.
Apple’s 2015 Environmental Responsibility Report states, “We don’t want to debate climate change. We want to stop it.” Former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson now heads up Apple’s environmental efforts. The firm boasts that it measures its carbon footprint “rigorously,” estimating it emitted 34 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents in in 2014. But somehow Apple missed the fact that carbon dioxide is a gas emitted in huge volumes by nature. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of the United Nations, nature puts 25 times as much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every day as all of the world’s industries.
Apple is spending more than two billion dollars on renewable energy to power its data centers. In February, the company announced an investment of $848 million for electricity from the California Flats solar farm from electricity provider First Solar. Apple claims it now purchases 100 percent renewable energy for all of its US operations and 87 percent for worldwide operations. But the firm is paying a sizeable premium for solar electricity over the price of traditional energy.
Last year, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said, “Everyone understands that climate change is occurring, and the people who oppose it are really hurting our children and grandchildren and making the world a much worse place.” Google has reportedly committed more than $1.8 billion to renewable energy projects. But these renewable projects typically provide little actual electricity output at very high prices.
An example is the Ivanpah Solar Facility located in the California Mojave Desert, south of Las Vegas. Google invested $168 million in the Ivanpah project developed by Brightsource Energy, which began operations in January 2014. Ivanpah is a concentrating solar facility that has made headlines for its tendency to ignite birds in flight near its towers.
In addition to scorching more than 1,000 birds a year, Ivanpah is a poor electricity-generating station. During 2014, the Ivanpah facility delivered only about half of the electricity it was designed to deliver, which is only about one-tenth of the output of a typical gas-fired power plant. Ivanpah generates electricity at the whopping price of 16 to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour, four times the California wholesale price of 4 cents per kilowatt-hour. Ivanpah owners NRG and Google have asked for a federal grant of $539 million to pay off much of the $1.6 billion federal loan that was used to build the plant. US taxpayers and California electricity users are paying for the Ivanpah boondoggle.
In their rush to fight climate change, Apple, Google, and other engineering companies don’t seem to realize that the theory of global warming fails the first test of maintenance-of-the-line (MOL) product engineering. Many product engineers spend time in MOL engineering early in their career, handling field calls about the company’s product. When a customer calls to report a product failure, the first question an MOL engineer needs to answer is, “Is the product behaving normally, or is it performing abnormally?”
There is no evidence that Earth’s surface temperatures today are abnormally warm when compared to temperatures of history. Temperature proxy data from many sources shows that Earth’s temperatures have actually been declining for the past 8,000 years. Temperatures have been rising for the last century, but Earth experienced warmer times when the Romans conquered the Mediterranean 2,000 years ago and when the Vikings settled southwest Greenland 1,000 years ago.
Ever notice how actual climate results are never part of the claimed benefits of green energy? Measures of success are always carbon emissions reduced, houses powered, kilowatts generated, and carbon credits purchased. No one ever talks about actual reductions in temperature or about droughts, floods, or hurricanes to be averted by using renewable energy. Adoption of green policies is as hollow as building a hospital and never curing a patient or raising an army and never taking a hill.
In fact, changes in Earth’s climate are dominated by natural factors. Earth’s greenhouse effect is dominated by water vapor and natural emissions of carbon dioxide. History shows that hurricanes, floods, droughts, and heat waves are neither more numerous nor extreme than those of the past. There is no empirical evidence that human emissions have a measureable influence on Earth’s climate. All of the green measures by global business will have a negligible effect on global temperatures.
If Apple, Google, and other companies want to invest in renewable energy and fight climate change, they should place green initiatives in their public relations budget. Such programs don’t have any other effect.