Twas The Fright Before Christmas

Poetry, by Davis Swan (h/t to Dr. Judith Curry)

cold_front

T’was the night before Christmas and all through the town

The temperature was dropping, going down, down, down, down

The weatherman said that a front was to blame

A high pressure ridge from Alaska he claimed

It sat like a lump on the hard prairie stubble

Refusing to budge, clearly looking for trouble

On the map it was grinning, toothy and blue

From Montana through Texas to the Long Island zoo

And under that dome of slow falling air

Grew a problem so nasty it hardly seemed fair

For the flags hung like rags across the mid-west

Not a whisper of wind to wake them from rest

Outside of the town the turbines stopped spinning

On the weatherman’s map the cold front kept grinning

At the company office the manager frowned

As the power from the wind farms kept going down

A coal-fired plant was called and called fast

They’d always been there in a pinch in the past

We can’t help you out” was the somber reply

Our boilers have been cold since the 4th of July

It will take us all night with a talented crew

To get things in order and working like new

The manager hung up the phone with a sigh

He had one last option he knew he could try

He called up the plant that was fired by gas

“Can you give us more power?” the foreman was asked

“I would if I could but the answer is ‘No’

We’re going full out – any more and she’ll blow!”

So he hung up again – no more numbers to call

All attention was fixed on the instrument wall

The manager watched as the meter hit zero

He knew the next day he would not be a hero

The grid creaked and groaned then it finally buckled

It seemed like the weather map grin actually chuckled

And now it spread out like a fast moving fire

The blackout was coming the outlook was dire

In no time at all the breakers were flipping

The wires were sparking, transformers were tripping

One after one the streetlights went out

In the blink of an eye there was clearly no doubt

That this was a night that we all would remember

As the coldest darn night in the darkest December

Now some folks stayed warm by a hearth that was crackling

But for most bitter cold finally made them start packing

And in thousands of homes linemen pulled on their boots

As they headed outdoors trying to turn on the juice

And back to the coal-fired plants went the men

That had kept the lights on since I don’t know just when

They worked through the night and by noon Christmas Day

The dinners were cooking in the usual way

A few short days later the cold front receded

The wind farms spun up, coal no longer was needed

The utility manager decided to go

To visit a plant, maybe stop, say hello

They shared some bad coffee as they sat for a while

Then a grizzled old coal-man spoke up with a smile

“Now I’m a recycler and I love to hug trees

But wind without storage is just a big tease

Here is one thing that I know for a fact

You didn’t quite get it when you called for the MACT”

“My dirty old cold-fired plant had to close

But when it comes down to it everyone knows

My coal-fired plant you can count on to run

No matter what happens with the wind and the sun”

“If you really want power through all kinds of weather

Treat coal with respect – we can work well together”

The manager left but what stuck in his head

Were the words that the grizzled old coal-man had said

Energy storage is something we need

Without it “green power” is useless indeed

We can launch a sleek rocket, land a robot on Mars

We can build hybrid engines to power our cars

A storage solution can surely be found

If we dare to think different, turn our thoughts upside-down

Taleb and Khosla have shown us the way

It’s “Black Swan” ideas that are needed today.

81 thoughts on “Twas The Fright Before Christmas

  1. Maybe the energy could be stored in the bonds of some sort of chemical compound, and then released through some chemical conversion process. Oxidation, perhaps?

      • I thnk they means a process like rust which gives off free electrons. A giant pile of old cars, rusting away to power our cities, the next green revolution. /sarc

    • Don’t forget all the potential energy in nuclear waste that molten-salt nukes will liberate in the future, while eliminating waste storage issues. that is the densest energy storage medium by multiple orders of magnitude.
      The biggest impedance is the public fear and perception of radiation.

      • The biggest impedance is the public fear and perception of radiation.
        In other words, our old friend FUD. A PR weapon wielded by scammers, politicians and rent-seeking bureaucrats everywhere.

      • “The biggest impedance is the public fear and perception of radiation.”
        No, that is a mistake — the “silent majority” does not fear reactors — a small vocal minority is against them and the leftist press plays that up. This is what the left always does no matter what it is. The opinion of a small vocal minority is proclaimed the opinion of the majority. Its in their handbook.
        Eugene WR Gallun

      • I ve always said , give me a couple drums of nuclear waste and I will have free heating for life . Each drum stays at about 90oC for 100 years ! Long as you don;t open the drum there is no radiation or at a very low level .

      • “Donald Micheal Graham
        December 25, 2015 at 11:21 pm”
        True however, each drum (Assuming it is made from steel) will fail and rupture well within 100 years unless you can prevent rusting.

  2. Maybe the subsidy should vary not with the amount generated at peak but with the minimum generated. Contract for the base load that the proponents of wind farms always seem to refer to, and make the proponent pay in when output falls below that level.
    Hey wait, if you stand far enough back and squint, the simplest form of this would be no subsidy at all!
    Nah, that will never catch on.
    Merry Christmas to all.

    • Actually that isn’t such a bad idea, to.only subsidize ‘reliable’ power, available on demand, within a specific amount of time and for a known length of time. I don’t care if it takes half a day to bring on line so long as once up it can be counted on to provided a certain amount of power for a certain period of time. At least with the proper mix you could balance the grid. Then, if the renewable power providers needed subsidies they would have to come up with a system of storage.

  3. A wonderful Christmas story!
    It’s already Christmas dinner time here in New Zealand so many, many thanks to Anthony and his great team for providing some sanity and lots of inspiration and ammunition once again this year. Your time, efforts and dedication are really appreciated by us all. Hope you get some time off this Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year.
    Alastair Brickell

  4. Maybe? That is on the list of the IPCC’s most frequently used words right after might, could, possibly, likely…maybe It is actually a very long list of qualifiers to explain their “Settled Science.”

  5. Happy Christmas to the ex-coal-mining families in the UK and elsewhere; the CAGW fantasists may have won a battle or two but, in time, they will lose the war.
    Thank you and may you find alternative employment in the New Year. I hear selling carbon offsets to the elderly is still a going thing.

  6. Great poem. Thanks, and I really mean that.
    If we want solutions to our energy needs, then we need to get the state (government and all its regs, incentives, and so on) out of the way and let a truly free market come up with the solutions we need. Heck, coal is solar energy in storage form is it not?
    We might someday find something really weird like “cold-fusion” or something else that has not even been thought of in sci-fi yet. Stop all the worry and let the market do its work. We were once really worried about how we were going to clean up after all the horses it would take to run our cities — then cars happened. Who knows what comes next? No one, that’s who.

  7. And the moral of the story is; if you want expensive, unreliable, “feel-good” electricity, go green. Otherwise, you’re better off sticking with the tried-and-true. Batteries schmatteries.

  8. Twas the night before Christmas
    And all round Beijing
    The coal fires were burning
    And making eyes sting.
    The BBC plotted
    To shriek through the day
    How ‘carbon pollution’
    Blocked sunlight each day.
    The windmills were spinning
    The wind blew from the West
    The full moon was beaming,
    Putting Greens to the test!
    What could the Beeb say
    About blue-skied Beijing
    If smog and pollution
    Was all they could sing?
    Solutions are simple
    In London, they say
    If the facts don’t fit your pre-conceived, biased, anti-science, ‘global warming’, ‘carbon pollution’ agenda,
    Have nothing to say.

  9. Then I sat back after reading this and thought with a grin the green dumbasses will build a giant air tank to store them some wind.

    • Good point, this is like having a bad idea then doubling down on stupid things to fix something that cannot be fixed.
      Takes a stubborn or greedy person to not realize when a bad idea cannot be fixed, it is not sustainable.
      Some may realize it cannot work and want to level playing field between the haves and have nots

    • In ancient times it was thought that wind originated in the bowels of the earth endlessly gushing forth out of wind caves. Tell this to the Greens and they will go look for those wind caves to set up always turning turbines. They believe in other things just as crazy.
      Eugene WR Gallun

    • LOL …. yeah, we could have a coal fired power plant run a giant fan that will blow on a windmill so the windmill can produce the power. .. and the greentards can claim it is “clean energy”.
      There … problem solved!!

  10. have yourself a catastrophic christmas
    as the world declines.
    common sense is useless in post modern times.
    till the next apocalyptic vision,
    may your fears all thrive.
    tell yourself submission keeps your hope alive
    take the word of authority
    the majority are fools
    we allow you to reproduce
    because you’re useful tools.
    may the seeds of guilt and shame forever
    bloom inside your mind
    sacrifice the very best that you can find
    and have yourself a catastrophic christmas time
    – with great affection, The Team
    (and they won’t stop swillin’ till you stop fillin’)

    • NO! NO! Don’t you know that on college campuses they are signing petitions to ban the song White Christmas because a white Christmas is racist! No joke!
      Eugene WR Gallun

      • Oh Dear Eugene – and such a lovely song too – maybe we should change to words to ‘honkey tonk Christmas’ and jazz up the tune up a bit.!
        Cheers
        Douglas

  11. On the other hand Eugene we could go for a ‘carbon free Christmas’ thus implying getting rid of the black soot colour. Or would that also be considered racist? Arrrrh Is there no end to political correctness? No answer required!

    • I like “Honkey Tonk Christmas” To the best of my knowledge The Rolling Stones have never done a Christmas Song. It would be perfect for them.
      Eugene WR Gallun

  12. It will be interesting to see Dr Spencer’s update for December, and Bob’s further assessment of the current El Nino.
    As many know, the current strong El Nino has not yet shown up to any large extent in the satellite data. many consider that it will do so in early 2016 and will peak in the first quarter of 2016 before dropping back.
    However, there is some evidence to suggest that during the last week there has been a dramatic drop in temperature anomaly, globally by about 0.5degC (black line) and NH by nearly 1degC (blue line). See;
    https://wobleibtdieglobaleerwaermung.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/mauecfsv2globalnhshta2mbis191220151-e1450606466594.jpg
    So the questions will be: is the current El Nino beginning to lose traction and if so when will there be a La Nina, and what impact will both of these have on long term temperature anomaly figures?
    Will there be a step change in temperature coincident with the 2015/16 El Nino as there was with the 1997/98 Super El Nino, or will the 2015/16 El Nino merely produce a short term spike like the 2010 El Nino?.
    There could be interesting times ahead and in the run up to AR6.

    • …or, will the follow in La Nina produce a step change down; what with the AMO turning negative, the RRR maybe vacating, taking the blob with it, and a quiet Sun.
      We do not know the cause of the step up, but is in such current conditions we get a step down, then we may surmise that the opposite may have caused the up step.

  13. Great poem! All the hidden talent is revealing itself!
    I am afraid that as far as energy storage goes for the near future, I really don’t think that a Black Swan is very likely to fly out of anyone ass..
    By the way in Merry Old England roasted swan was an elite dish served on holidays. The Keeper of the King’s Swans was an ancient position in the royal household. Swan ownership was forbidden to the common folk. In fact the King owned all unmarked (those not marked to belong to the other nobility) mute swans in the realm and poaching them had the usual penalty as given for most crimes in Merry Old England.
    Eugene WR Gallun

  14. Best of the season to everyone and especially the mods who work to keep this site going and relevant. We can burn coal cleaner and China is discovering what happens when you don’t.

    • I am working hard to do exactly that: burn coal a heck of a lot cleaner. Hence my long workday on the 25th setting up the capacity to assess just how much daylight we can bring into the lives of those enduring Beijing and Hebei.
      Tonight we see the full bright moon beaming the promise of a brighter future into the city centre. May the same happen to you all.

  15. Vitally important Peaking Power with Energy storage
    As an engineer, I strongly endorse Davis Swan’s message of the vital importance of having sufficient Peaking Power with Energy Storage for the worst case scenario. Wind is often lowest in the coldest days. Cold kills far faster than heat. Finland lost 1/3rd of its population in the cold winters of 1695-97.
    The lives of millions of people frozen to death will be on the hands of those who shut down coal power without/before providing equivalent energy storage and peaking power.
    Greens will also have to answer for the growing misery of the cold elderly.
    The price of natural gas has jumped to 700% that of coal. While currently abundant, remember that natural gas prices have increased 300% in a few years from $6/million BtU to >$20/million BtU. That will put great strain on millions of retirees on fixed incomes who will be faces with deciding between food or heat – as already faced in the UK:
    Heating versus Eating: 750,000 pensioners must choose this winter.

    While the better off are making Christmas gift decisions, 752,000 elderly people in Britain have to choose between eating or staying warm in the 2015 winter season, the Independent Age charity found.
    The report also found that 43 percent of elderly people had gone to bed early to keep warm at least once, with an estimated 890,000 of them doing this often or even every day.
    There are 11.4 million people aged 65 and over in the UK, according to the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS). Independent Age said that 36 percent of them do not heat their homes adequately in winter because of worries about paying fuel bills, while 13 percent have resorted to going to a library, a shopping center or using public transport just to stay warm in winter.

    Can we Avoid Cooling to the next glaciation?
    Earth has been COOLING since the Holocene Optimum. Based on geological records, it will likely (geologically) “soon” begin to rapidly descend into the next glaciation. Will we be able to generate enough global warming to prevent that catastrophic descent? The IPCC modeled warming is far greater than satellite temperature reality for the last 37 years. John Christy showed that IPCC model means predict 900% too hot for the tropical tropospheric temperatures over 37 year. How can we rely on them to know whether we can prevent global cooling with glaciers again coming down through Chicago?
    J. Neumann and S. Lindgrén, 1979: Great Historical Events That Were Significantly Affected by the Weather: 4, The Great Famines in Finland and Estonia, 1695–97. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 60, 775–787.
    doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/1520-0477(1979)0602.0.CO;2

  16. Can’t compete with the poetry, so let me just wish us all a Merry (and warm) Christmas.
    God bless us, every one. Even the greenies.

  17. happy Christmas to Anthony, the mods and all who contribute to the fantastic success of WUWT.
    may the site go from strength to strength in the New Year.
    .

  18. There are one too many ‘downs’ in the second line, for comfortable scansion. Otherwise, nicely done.
    Thank you all, and Merry Christmas

  19. I don’t like Nassim Taleb’s black swan concept. I prefer Karl Popper’s black swan example to explain falsifiability. It is more appropriate to explain what is wrong with climate science. CAGW theory is like the “all swans are white” statement and many CAGW supporters are trying to hide the existence of black swans, empirical data that falsifies the CAGW theory.
    I have the impression that by naming black swan events to very improbable events, Taleb is trying to sabotage Popper’s falsifiability.

    • Interesting. From Popper.
      “Falsificationism thus strives for questioning, for falsification, of hypotheses instead of proving them”
      So ‘deniers’ are all ‘Adherents to Popper’ in fact.

  20. 2035 – The Year In Review … posted December 25, 2015 By Paul Homewood
    https://notalotofpeopleknowthat.wordpress.com/2015/12/25/2035-the-year-in-review/

    The New Year began in the same way the old one finished, cold and snowy. Julia Slingo blamed it on global warming.
    Power cuts had become a regular feature of life, as the grid failed to cope with demand, following the closure of the last of the gas-fired power stations in 2033, as a result of the Gummer Gas Power Station Directive (2032).

    This post is a good one and fits in with the post here as it is a fictional (perhaps) look at the whole AGW thing. I think it worth your time to read.
    ~ Mark

    • Thanks for the link, Mark. Paul Homewood’s review of 2035 is pure comedy gold for UK denizens and maybe, just maybe, for many non-UK readers too.
      It certainly brought plenty of chuckles to this old, grizzled bloke!

  21. Now that the Pope has fronted his Encyclical that has made some scientists uncomfortable (because it disagrees with their views) and has made other scientists uncomfortable (because it agrees with their views) and yet others jubilant (because for them it was never about science, it was only about getting their way)… there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Climate Summit in Paris this week as the final North Pole ‘Cold War’ barrier between science and religion is ceremoniously cut. Crews are standing by to tear down the wall between faith and empirical evidence that has symbolized the oppression of Great Ideas since the late Renaissance.
    Santa Claus will preside over the ceremony, holding out a large golden scissors and when the ribbon is cut, “There will not be a soul left alive who can deny his existence!” said Mrs.Claus, whose role in traditional affairs has been confined to baking cookies. But now as her husband tends to his yearly duties, she has shucked the apron and is teaming up with a Silicon Valley PR agency to launch an Internet and Social Media campaign to shine the spotlight on what she calls The Wall Of Science.
    “They call it an age of enlightenment, but it has been bad for us,” she lamented. “The average age at which parents tell their children that “Santa doesn’t really exist” has been dropping steadily, and there are even households where young children have always believed that their loving parents are behind it all. These children are being deprived of the wonder that arises from a belief in supernatural forces and miracles, and the essential idea that fountains of free money will flow your way if you elect progressively Socialist governments that tax big business and consolidate world governments. While we cannot easily legislate a belief in Santa Claus, we’ll have to the next best thing — get the United Nations involved in the issue, and prove Santa’s existence by showing him on TV and Facebook.”
    The role of the UN is crucial. Santa Claus has long been considered a delegate from the North Pole in ex officio, but now between solstices he will take his new position as head the IMF. “The elves have been a labor problem for over 100 years and heating costs have skyrocketed. We’ve shut the factories and the elves have applied for ‘climate refugee status’ to Europe and the Americas. With IMF funds we will be able to out-source toy production to facilities in low-wage countries. Santa’s bags will now be full UN investment capital, to be distributed to countries who get with the program. And everybody gets a lump of coal this year, in the form of a hefty Carbon Tax.”
    But what is this ‘Wall of Science’ Mrs. Claus has taken such a bead on? “It is the wall that divides us, that is all. In a world of unrestricted travel and electronic communication that crosses borders, we were desperately searching for something to tear down. You cannot start a grassroots campaign without tearing something down. Then some nice folks at the Vatican pointed us to the Wall, which they said separated persons who demand empirical evidence to build their positions from those who place faith and opinion foremost, then go looking for talking points to support their views. It had little to do with toys so at first we were skeptical, until they gave us a [wink] and said, you know, those of little faith do not believe in St. Nicholas… and after we heard that, we were all in.”
    “As you know,” Mrs. Claus continued, “there has been a crisis in the Catholic Church. But at the same time there has been a breakaway group, the Gaians, whose personification an Earth writhing in pain under the threat of Corporate Man attained crucial ‘faith’ status some time back with the rise of the Algorians, whose scepters were hockey sticks. The Catholic Church has come to the conclusion that if it can draw in the Gaians, the combined numbers can effect real change in the world. Millennials reject symbols of office and velvet costumes, yet they respond well to activist causes, so long as you can wear jeans when pursuing them. Tear down the Wall, they said, and it will all flow together and from the chaos might emerge a new order. So… I suggested to those nice people, you help us and we’ll help you. Let’s divert everyone’s attention to the Santa Claus thing and have him be the one to tear down the Wall Of Science. Those Gaians will be in Church before you know it, because we can take Jesus down from the cross and nail him to a globe!!”
    Mrs. Claus admitted that the Vatican elders were shocked by this idea, but she’s confident they’ll come around. But once the Wall Of Science becomes history, what comes next? “Climate is everything, it’s where the money will come from. And once we hinge it all on climate, we have Science Guy on our side.”
    So it will all begin in Paris. After the ribbon cutting and demolition, Santa Claus will go into ‘hiding’ and an array of Silicon Valley companies will track his global journey on Christmas Eve. Even NORAD, NOAA and NASA (as part of Obama’s campaign to restore faith) will help dispel the ‘myth’ that Santa Claus does not exist, by showing his position that moves — on a screen! Those who hold on to empirical evidence have always disputed Santa’s trip and have been quick to point out how the various fixes on Santa’s sleigh were shown at different places at different times. But NOAA has come to bat, issuing a series of retroactive data corrections that now place Santa’s sleigh exactly where the other models predicted it to be.
    “There is nothing but consensus left now, we think,” a senior source at NOAANASA declared with a wink and a toss of his elf-cap. “We have decreased the weight of data from sleigh positions plotted by satellite, and have weighted Santa fix data taken by ocean vessels so that Santa’s Global Position is where the models predict. For he first time in history, Santa’s sleigh will follow a precise path that is accurate to 0.01 degree, with 97% consensus. By Christmas Morning there will be no Santa Deniers left on Earth.”

    • I think this worthy of a post here. ~ Mark

      I agree with you Mark. However I have little say in this, but what I will do is mention this post in my next article since it fits in perfectly. My next article, after Hadcrut4 come in, will be titled:
      Can Both GISS and HadCRUT4 be Correct? (Now Includes November Data)
      Feel free to comment there as you see fit.

  22. Take a look at the advancement of the freeze line in Eurasia. The warm east flowing winds that had been crossing past the Caspian Sea before turning north towards the Arctic broke up 24 hours ago, and the deep cold from Siberia has surges westward…http://www.intellicast.com/Global/Temperature/Current.aspx
    Note the tiny pocket of warmth east of Moscow that is now trapped by the cold surge. That is how far one finger of the warm flow had advanced eastward up until 24 hours ago.

    • Now take a look at what has happened since I posted my comment. There has been a substantial temp change in eastern Europe and Scandinavia in the last 2 days. Although I should have also posted this link to make more sense of the picture I wish to show…http://www.weather-forecast.com/static_maps/Arctic/temperature/6
      If the pattern persists, then Europe is about to chill down quite a bit. Interesting to see that at the same time this is happening, there has also been a surge of well above average warmth in the Arctic Ocean from surface winds further south in the Atlantic, which have pushed into the Arctic over the last several weeks Is this the pattern that can drive a cold trend in the NH?…http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

  23. Been away for our OZ christmas so slow to comment.I being an old engineer have a simple solution to the power storage of windmills. potential energy. Wind mills make good pumps, do not connect wind turbines to the grid, give them their own grid to power water pumps and with the right infrastructure you have your power storage. Hydro is very controllable for peaking power. Getting the infrastructure passed the idiot greens would be the only hurdle.

  24. Wind Energy in Texas has been breaking records of late.
    This PDF from Dec. 20, 2015, the latest report from ERCOT available over the holidays reports a records
    All Time Record Values as of 12/20/2015 23:59
    Record Wind Generation 13,883 MW = about 85% of installed capacity.
    @ Time 12/20/2015 11:07 (CST?)
    Penetration (Percent of Load) at that time: 41.27 %
    Record Wind Penetration 44.71 %
    Record Wind Penetration Time 12/20/2015 03:05
    Wind Generation at Record Wind Penetration 13,057 MW
    It broke a record of 13,029 MB set the previous day 12/19/2015 20:45
    Summary of Records
    13,883 MW on 12/20/2015 11:07
    13,029 MW on 12/19/2015 20:45
    12,971 MW on 11/25/2015
    12,590 MW on 11/16/2015
    12,238 MW on 10/22/2015
    11,950 MW on 10/21/2015
    11,467 MW on 09/13/2015
    11,154 MW on 02/19/2015
    10,957 MW on 12/25/2014
    10,808 MW on 11/28/2014
    10,301 MW on 11/02/2014
    9,472 MW on 03/26/2014
    The record high daily minimum might be 12/12/2015 at about 10,400 MW
    (it is typically below 5,000 MW and frequently below 2,000 MW). But they don’t track this record, so it would require more detailed search of the archives.
    12/20 was probably a record daily average in the neighborhood of 12,000 MW.

    • Stephen Rasey

      The record high daily minimum might be 12/12/2015 at about 10,400 MW
      (it is typically below 5,000 MW and frequently below 2,000 MW). But they don’t track this record, so it would require more detailed search of the archives.

      Gosh. So reliable. /sarchasm – That gaping whole between a liberal and the real world

    • @RACookPE1978
      You should know by now I’m no fan of wind. But a true scientist reports data that he sees.
      Just like today with a quiet Wind Map at 12/30/2015 19:35 EST, I couldn’t help but look at the ERCOT Current Day chart, the MAXimum was under 2,350 MW for today and yesterday and the minimum was under 1,300 MW at 18:00, a high demand hour.

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