Bill McKibben: Towns, Cities Going 100% Renewable Will Defeat Washington And Big Oil

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

For once Bill McKibben is right – if all the towns and cities in the world went 100% renewable, big oil would be crushed, and Washington’s bipartisan infatuation with Fossil Fuels would be defeated. The only problem with this plan: renewables are expensive, and they are not a viable replacement for fossil fuels.

We can battle climate change without Washington DC. Here’s how

Bill McKibben

Global warming is an immediate battle with enormous consequences. We dare not wait for Washington to return to sanity – nor do we have to

The most telling item in Donald Trump’s State of the Union address may have been what wasn’t there: any mention of climate change, the greatest problem the world faces. And just as telling was the fact that official Washington seemed barely to notice.

Even if Democrats manage to take back the House and Senate in the midterm elections, they wouldn’t be able to get meaningful legislation past Trump – and there’s nothing much to suggest they’d try very hard.

New York City is not as big as the federal government, but it’s big enough: it’s got lawyers aplenty, and the resources to do real damage. And it won’t be alone. We’ve just launched a huge Fossil Free US campaign, designed to make sure there are a thousand New Yorks working on a thousand fronts.

It has three main components.

The first – joining in work pioneered by groups like the Sierra Club – is to persuade towns, cities, counties, and states to pledge to make the transition to 100% renewable energy. This is now easy and affordable enough that it doesn’t scare politicians – cities from San Diego to Atlanta have joined in, and they will help maintain the momentum towards clean energy that the Trump administration is trying so hard to blunt.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/01/climate-change-action-trump

Activists like Bill McKibben genuinely believe that renewables are an inexpensive replacement for fossil fuels. They believe the reason fossil fuels haven’t been replaced by renewables is that fossil fuel interests are fighting to prevent the rise of renewables, to protect their own interests.

This view is a fantasy.

I’m sure fossil fuel interests do a lot of lobbying, but the truth is there is nothing, not a single thing that fossil fuel companies could do to prevent the rise of a better energy solution.

The problem with renewables is that they are not a better energy solution.

History is littered with rapid shifts to new energy technology. Kerosene replaced whale oil in just a few decades. Natural gas replaced kerosene lighting on a similar timescale. Electric lighting rapidly replaced natural gas.

Famous inventor and business tycoon Thomas Edison once tried really hard to prevent the rise of a superior energy technology. Edison failed. George Westinghouse’s AC electricity grid displaced Thomas Edison’s DC electricity, because at the time AC was easier to transport over long distances.

Nobody has to make pledges or campaign for the adoption of better energy solutions. The evidence from history is that people embrace better energy solutions of their own free will, without any need for government intervention or noisy activist campaigns.

If renewables were any good, the renewable revolution would be rapid and uncontroversial. The strongest evidence that renewables are inferior is the fact that the renewable revolution has been, is and for the foreseeable future will continue to be an utter failure.

Correction (EW): h/t rogercaiazza The gas used for lighting was not natural gas, at least not initially.

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265 thoughts on “Bill McKibben: Towns, Cities Going 100% Renewable Will Defeat Washington And Big Oil

  1. Be interesting to see what happens to these “100% renewable” towns when they figure out that China no longer accepts many forms of renewables – including plastics and paper – and these WILL go into the land fill or burned because no one else will take them either. ref: GCaptain article on not shipping waste to China

    • That stuff will be processed in the US like it was before being shipped to China. The reason it went to China in the first place is because it was cheaper to ship it there than some place like Chicago. The trade deficit made it more profitable for Chinese shipping companies to offer really low shipping rates on the return trip to China than to send a ship back empty. 10% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

      • Most of it cannot be processed in the US. The labor costs alone would make it very unprofitable. Add in the environmental and safety regulations that are absent in China, and the incinerator or landfill become the only options. The Loadstar article (in gCaptain) mentioned above has a link to Dominique Mosbergen’s HuffPo article on the mess recycling has become. Yes, many shipping containers previously returned to Asia with a large chunk of the first world’s waste, but most of those will now just back-haul empty.
        https://theloadstar.co.uk/container-lines-will-feel-pinch-china-restricts-import-waste-recycling/

      • Windsong, – Not just the U.S. All of the Western countries who were exporting their “renewable waste” to China are feeling the pain. Some city councils in my country have told their resident rate payers to stop using the renewables wheelie bins. Taxes and rates are going to rise to enable this waste to be either incinerated in the same country or stored.
        My city has had a fire in a “renewable waste” storage facility – the fire burned for two weeks – it’s still smouldering months later.
        Articles are being published even now condemning the “Throw away society”. Surely we will soon see legislation banning throw away consumerism. i.e. cheap products from China.

      • Things stored in landfills are merely waiting for a time when it becomes profitable to extract them again.
        Landfills can be thought of as being the mines of tomorrow.

      • 10-15 years ago we would ship container loads of plastic to China. Some of the plastic grades (#4 maybe) the U.S. recyclers did not have the machines to grind it and would have gone into the landfill if not sent to China.
        Waste Management recently took away the recycle containers and told customers to put recyclables in the waste container. It became too costly to sort and recycle.

    • The most sensible thing to do with waste is to burn it and use the heat to generate power. Waste in landfill will decompose and give rise to large quantities of CO2 and Methane as well as other gases. Leaving it there to rot will not diminish the need for power and with present technology it means that coal, oil or gas will have to be burned instead. Sending waste to landfill means that we still get the greenhouse gases while not getting the power.
      Of course non-combustibles have to be sorted out and noxious combustion products need to be removed by high-temperature combustion. However the technology is available and has been used for this purpose.
      Perhaps the ideal combination is the burning of waste for power in conjunction with a cement kiln.

      • Even better would be the use of a plasma torch to avoid most combustion by-products and handle unsorted waste. Its slag can be used for various piurposes. It’s described in the book, “Prescription for the Planet”.

      • Isn’t the issue with ‘plasma torch’ tech (thermal depolymerization – like CWT’s ‘turkey guts to oil plant in Missouri) that it costs more to employ the technology than you can sell the end product for?

      • slight negative there,
        landfill gas (methane) is captured and stored in sufficient quantities and used for power generation across UK, check out BMI reports, it even makes it visible in the UK energy mix graph,
        CO2, very little if any given off from landfill.
        the best sensible solution is find a universal solvent for `plastics` and recycle all plastics back to H/C chain at a local level (just like EPS can be)

      • The option of sorting and burning waste was looked at in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. It was adopted in only a few locations because the cost was too high. Today, the cost would likely be even higher due to more restrictive air emission standards. Landfills today are largely sealed to contain methane produced. Also, some of that methane is captured for power production.

      • Many landfills are capturing the methane and burning it for power.
        PS: If you burn the stuff that goes into landfills, it still generates CO2, just over a much shorter period of time.

      • PS: Most plastics, if you don’t burn them at a really high temperature, you get lots of nasty combustion byproducts.

      • “Perhaps the ideal combination is the burning of waste for power in conjunction with a cement kiln.”
        This has been tried and the problem was that the waste accumulated faster than the kilns could burn it. The result was that drums of toxic liquids (at the bottom of the waste pile) burst and the contents ended up in the groundwater.

      • Dick Kahle is right. I recall Baltimore opening such a plant to much hooting, hollering, back-slapping, and all sorts of general all around self congratulating. Turns out that lots of people discard combustibles – some quite energetic. Turns out burning the waste wasn’t nearly as good an idea as everyone had supposed.

      • “Waste in landfill will decompose and give rise to large quantities of CO2 and Methane as well as other gases.” Even worst the metals and chemicals that are buried end up in the water table. Landfill are the worst way to get rid garbage. We take metals out of the earth to the most part they are oxides, metal oxides are most stable difficult for plants and animals to take up. We refine the metals so we can use them in that state plants and animals can easily take them up, in that state a great many are toxic. When we bury them they remain as metal and are denied oxygen so the remain unstable. On the surface they would oxidize and become stable. The same is true for oil base produces buried they are free to leach into the water table, on the surface bacteria will consume most if not all after oil is carbon and a very free carbon. Separating out the metals for recycling and burning the rest would make more sense and cause far less problem in the future, it may be more costly that burying them just cover up the problem it does not get rid of it, in a lot of ways it makes the problem worst.

      • Land fills have been sealed so that leachate can’t reach the water table for almost 100 years now.
        BTW, if water can reach the metals, than so can oxygen.

      • Plasma Waste Recycling is a proven technology and can be rampted up to dispose of municipal waste in PWR plants that produce electricity from Syngas and have minimal residue. ZERO waste to landfill should be vision.

      • Yep. Going ‘green’ is affordable as long as you’re rich. When the next crisis hits nobody can pay just the maintenance of this infrastructure. America can’t even maintain its bridges.

      • I just watched a feature film on the 100% renewable, solar powered airplane that flew around the world. It had a passenger carrying capacity of zero and looked like it was moving at around 40 miles per hours as the seagulls flew past it. Quaint. Then I had a vision of an airbus flying by at 500 MPH with a payload of 500 passengers. You sort of get the picture of the problem with renewables from this contrast. It’s called energy density.

      • They won’t freeze … they just do a little creative work on the ledger and maybe change some key definitions.

      • MikeP
        February 2, 2018 at 11:41 am
        They’ll just officially record it as death by heat stroke – – – –
        Well it is, just with a minus sign and what’s an omitted minus among statistics?
        As in a refrigerator being called a negative heat exchanger

    • Change of outlook…
      A mine is a place where useful and precious materials exist in concentrations that make it economical to extract them. A mine is place that feeds smeltering or purification processes.
      A mine is also accessible so as to transport the materials to those processes economically.
      Siberia is full of precious materials, but not full of mines.
      What is the concentration of precious metals, plastics, organic materials etc. in a landfill? … much much more concentrated than any hardrock mine other than coal mines.
      Landfills are storage lockers and nines.

    • Shouldn’t the title to this article be something more like “Cities and Towns Who try to rely on 100% renewables will be putting themselves even deeper into the dark?”

    • I think you confused the word ‘renewable’ with the word ‘recyclable’. China is in full support of renewable energy and we should be too. We also need to recycle and create less plastic.

  2. (this is a repetition of an earlier comment that I made on 31 January:
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2018/01/31/trump-gave-the-first-sotu-in-8-years-to-not-mention-global-warming/#comment-2731678 )
    ________________
    I just had the misfortune of wasting an hour of my life watching C-Span’s broadcast of “The Climate State of The Union” conducted by Bill McKibben and Bernie Sanders.
    I subjected myself to this torture because I had never previously seen McKibben speak and I wished to form an opinion of him. Now I know; the man is a genuine nutcase.
    At least he was honest enough to admit that the sum total of his background and education qualifying him to be an expert on energy, physics, chemistry, computer modeling, mathematics, economics and climate is that he is a writer.
    Perhaps WUWT should organize a fundraiser to purchase a custom-fitted strait-jacket for the delusional buffoon.

  3. Ha! Ha! Ha! A fossil fuel free USA – what a joke! The most important, cheapest, highest energy-density resources on the planet demonized by somebody who has clearly lost the plot! What is it with these people who enjoy all the benefits of modern society while simultaneously trying to tear the whole edifice down? Or does this guy just like the sounds of his own voice too much?

    • He lives in the echo box that is created by such scientific luminaries as politicians and journalists.

      • And THEIR shining city on a hill is powered with 100% Renewable Energy. At least Science Fictions writers acknowledge that we are doomed without nuclear energy or some magical as yet unknown power source for transportation and flight. Flux Capacitor anyone?

  4. I agree that the problem with renewables is that they are not a better energy solution.
    One little quibble is when you say “Natural gas replaced kerosene lighting on a similar timescale. Electric lighting rapidly replaced natural gas.” I don’t think it was natural gas that was used for lighting. Instead it was coal gas or manufactured gas that was used.

  5. Yes, the claims are abundant of “100 mpg carburetors” and “free energy generation” being quashed by fossil fuel interests in collusion with the government. Bill is ‘way out there’ with all those claims on this one. All he needs is some local public money and a lot of luck convincing the constituents to cough it up.

    • Yet there are millions of people who actually emote along the directions of government conspiracy, fossil fuel conspiracy, etc. I read them everyday in comment sections and conspiracy blogs. The “free energy” and so forth sell quite well. People are drawn to the insanity of “someone big and powerful made this happen or kept this from happening” because then they don’t have to look at their own miserable failure.

      • Sheri
        I’ve lately been in a discussion where there was sarcastic mention of the “100 mpg carburettor”. One reply was to the effect that he had one but so far it was “only 30 % efficient”. Upgrades were promised real soon now.
        Which lead to the joke here that was current back when there were bodaceous ads for miracle fuel efficiency improvers involving magic pills and magets etc.
        Which was about the bloke who fitted them all and got pulled over by a policeman because his fuel tank was overflowing on to the road.

      • Another Ian – that is genius! I never thought of it that way!
        I have to share your genius with some friends. I’ll give you credit.

    • How about 3,587 mpg! link
      How about a lightly modified Honda CRX that gets 118 mpg on public roads! link
      How about a practical vehicle that gets 84 mpg on the highway, coming real soon! link

      • Here’s the problem, a combination of EPA rules and safety standards kill fuel mileage. Then there’s the whole “I wont drive that!” which kills a lot of prototypes.
        -The contest vehicle will never be manufactured as it’s just an expensive proof of concept testing how far one can get on a gallon of fuel.
        -The Honda CRX, built in the 80’s, would not pass current safety and EPA standards if it was introduced as a new vehicle today. This car is actually my favorite example to use when explaining to people how current regulations kill MPG. A car that got 50 mpg back in the 80’s when today they consider a car that gets 35 mpg an “econo box”. We regressed 15 mpg in efficiency over 30 years…Another favorite example is they sell 80 mpg diesel vehicles in Europe that can’t be imported to the US, they don’t pass our safety and EPA standards…
        -The Elio, first heard of them at least 5 years ago and they still are not in production. Anyway these are bypassing our safety and EPA standards (for now). Why you ask? Because they are considered a motorcycle and motorcycles don’t have to meet the same standards. As soon as motor cycle “cars” become popular enough that will change as regulators will start getting more involved.

      • Darrin, how much motorcycle driving have you done? Any in all nasty weather or heavy traffic?
        Motorcycles’, while very fuel efficient, lack of mass (and that is what makes the difference) places the vehicles at a huge disadvantage to other vehicles on the road when it comes to collisions and safety. When large semi-trailers and SUVs are out and about being operated by less than vigilant drivers, safety rules are prudent to protect the passengers of such vehicles.
        As you probably would agree passenger safety belts are a good idea, but where do you draw the line at other safety features? Are side impact structural members (door beams) too much? How about impact bumpers and crumple zones? Too much as well? As you can imagine all these safety features add mass to the vehicle and also permit it to absorb much of the inertia imparted by more massive vehicles.
        Have you every seen the aftermath of a motorcycle collision with a tree? The tree doesn’t lose.

      • Back in 1974-75 I owned a Honda Civic CVCC. It would get 50+ mpg when I kept my foot out of the gas and drove the 55 mph speed limit. I tried a couple of times to see just how good a mpg I could get and made it to 58 mpg. That car could not be built new today in the USA because of safety and ironically pollution control regulations making that car a thousand pounds heavier. CVCC met all the pollution standards at the time without the heavy equipment being used by other manufacturers. I would imagine with a modern designed more efficient engine in the same car one could easily get 100 mpg.

      • The trunk space is designed to be 27 × 14 × 10 inches, enough for an airline carry-on bag or a golf bag with the rear seat down (47+ inches).[6]
        Oh! Spiffing.

    • That’s more accurately the post-modern definition as touted by the progressive movement.
      Every step backward for humanity is a step forward toward preserving Mother Gaia’s virginity

      • I’ll meet you halfway…
        “To save the planet we had to destroy civilization, and most of Humanity with it.”

  6. I think McKibben would have better luck pushing trash-to-power projects when it comes to civil investments in power generation. He just can’t get over his CO2 paranoia.

  7. Bill McKibben thinks that so-called ‘renewables’ are an inexpensive replacement for fossil fuels. They are in fact a prohibitively expensive, impractical and anti-environmental answer to a non-problem. CO2 is a benefit, not a problem and the more we have of it the better. Fossil fuels haven’t been replaced by so-called ‘renewables’ as fossil fuel is cheap, safe, popular, environmentally friendly, runs 24/7, is low-tech and people can afford it all over the World.
    Bill McKibben is just pushing his own market-barrow.

  8. The energy sources you used as examples didn’t have the Deep State bureaucracy to contend with. Look at what’s happened with nuclear.

  9. The problem with poor sods like this bloke is that they fixate on “Big Oil” = “Fossil Fuels”. Even if collectively we were able to generate some significant percentage of energy from “renewables”, Big Oil will always be there providing the petrochemical feedstocks, lubricants, plastics, etc upon which modern civilisation depends. There is no chance that petrochemical resources will ever be “stranded” assets.

    • The “Greens” have been fanticizing on becoming as big and important as Big Oil , ever since they can remember. The only problem is that they cannot deliver the density and scale of energy that fossil fuel and nuclear can. Hydro runs into it’s own Enviro problems with fish and the like.
      It has become a Political match for control of Energy for the Planet. HE who controls EVERYONE’S Power , controls the future of the Planet. That is why they take these issues to every Despot, and 3rd world country, who have voices in the UN, with promises of more Internal Power and riches from countries like ourselves. Every failure of Renewable power, is met with never ending taxes and more money, to “make it right”, arguments. By the end of it, we will be burning actual currency in the furnaces. Also, the MSM only reproduces articles like the above, and rarely any rebuttals . It was estimated that Hillary received over $ 1 billion free advertising dollars from mentions in the MSM, prior and into the Elections. I would like to see an approximation of how much money the MSM gives, in Free Advertising, to the Greens. You know they are trying to hitch their horses in front of the Winning wagons, and Hillary’s defeat cost them dearly. They are now doubling down , on what was suppose to be a cakewalk… The Steyers, Musks, WWF, GreenPeace, and the major Enviro NGOs have formed a de Facto World Government, based on draining World Governments of Treasury monies, to support their causes, and to fund elections of THEIR Representatives.(Think California, Brown, et al.) Agenda 21, now 31 , and the UN directives are only one faction of this..Encourage people to read up, or be an effect, not cause, of the future..

  10. If by “renewables” he includes hydro-electric and nuclear generated electricity, it might be a possibility. But that would mean that all transportation and HVAC will have to use this electricity as well, so Elon and his ilk will be fabulously wealthy. Oops, the Green Blob hates hydro and nukes, so… never mind.

  11. Dang,
    I bet property prices would go up if all available land was to be covered with windmills and solar panels.
    I guess they could use spit to lubricate all of the moving parts on all of those windmills, and make those ginormous propellors out of the redwood trees they cut down to make room for the windmills.
    Que cosa tan seria!

    • John
      Spit? No way!
      There was a reference on a machinery blog of ONE windfarm in SE Colorado that got a semi load of Mobil 1 every fortnight.

  12. I have a good friend who is an Engineer for our regional power company. Here’s 2 points he makes that many may not be aware of….
    Renewable energy cannot be relied on as a generation source in many parts of the US. (The sun is useless regionally in the dark, when it is highly cloudy, and when the panels are snow-covered in regions that have snow. Wind power is not in play on calm days.) Hydro is better, but sources are fully tapped already.
    Therefore, power companies must have capacity to provide full power when all sun and wind renewables are not producing. Purchasing and maintaining generation equipment and the ancillary things that go with it when usage is only intermittent is very expensive. All users pay for this redundancy. This redundancy (and its cost) will increase as localities move toward 100% renewable. Therefore, not only are renewables expensive to start with, their cost must include the cost of sustaining 100% reserve conventional power generation.

    • The producers don’t seem to care. They get very, very, very generous tax breaks that make the installation of useless pinwheels and panels great for them. My power company BRAGS how smart and good they are for killing eagles, ripping up prairies and making billions for Buffet. Virtue signalling, great tax breaks—who cares about customers and having the lights on? It’s about government handouts, entirely.

    • Here’s a third point for your friend.
      It takes time to fire up those back up sources, so you need to buy massive batteries in order to power the grid while that happens.
      So you end up paying three times.
      1) Enough fossil capacity to power your town.
      2) Enough renewable capacity to power your town (given the vagaries of wind and sunlight, you need faceplate ratings at least 2 to 3 times greater than your town’s needs)
      3) Enough batteries to tide you over from 2 to 1.

      • Wind farms actually consume electricity when the wind isn’t blowing.
        They have motors that keep the blades turning (albeit slowly) in order to prevent flat spots from forming on the bearings.

      • Idle question
        Wind farms shut down when the winds get too strong.
        Given this need to keep the blades turning to avoid damaging the bearings, how do they do this during high winds?
        Do the feather to blades completely and use the same system they would use for no wind?
        Do the not quite completely feather the blades, and use the power of the wind to keep the blades turning, but keep the rotation rate at 10 to 15 revolutions per hour?

  13. “This does not mean that SJWs do not appear empathetic. Quite the opposite. Most narcissists and sociopaths are highly adept at hiding their aberrant character flaws behind causes, platitudes and virtue signaling. They have to believe that the things they do and the ideals they seek to enforce are grounded in moral soil, even though the consequences of these ideals are usually destructive. When confronted with reality, that they are the villains rather than the heroes they imagine themselves to be, they can become erratic and violent.
    SJWs have effectively turned sociopathy and narcissism into a civil rights movement.”
    http://www.alt-market.com/articles/3362-a-post-mortem-on-the-corpse-of-social-justice

    • A very insightful comment EH, that adequately describes the most notorious killers of the 20th Century.
      As I wrote recently:
      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/12/25/al-gore-bilks-people-at-christmas-asking-for-climate-crisis-money/comment-page-1/#comment-2701695
      [excerpt]
      Marxism made simple!
      The Groucho Marxists are the leaders – they want power for its own sake at any cost, and typically are sociopaths or psychopaths. The great killers of recent history, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot. etc. were of this odious ilk – first they get power, then they implement their crazy schemes that do not work and too often kill everyone who opposes them.
      The Harpo Marxists are the followers – the “sheeple” – these are people of less-than-average intelligence who are easily duped and follow the Groucho’s until it is too late, their rights are lost and their society destroyed. They are attracted to simplistic concepts that “feel good” but rarely “do good”.
      George Carlin said: “You know how stupid the average person is, right? Well, half of them are stupider than that!”
      One can easily identify many members of these two groups in the global warming debate – and none of them are ”climate skeptics”.

    • People can certainly come to be true believers of their own BS. I seen this as an observer in a nasty divorce dispute. One of the parties lied so much and so often that it became a truth to part of them. The remaining part of them that still knew it was all lies was completely suppressed.

  14. From the article: “New York City is not as big as the federal government, but it’s big enough: it’s got lawyers aplenty, and the resources to do real damage.”
    Who is McKibben proposing to damage?

    • Hmm… Lawyers do more fiscal damage than anything else so I guess he wants the local residents to pay that too. It’s always easier to solve things when others pay the price.

  15. Bill McKibben is a textbook case of Winston Churchill’s definition of a fanatic: “Someone who can’t change his mind, and won’t change the subject.”
    Harping on the notions that “global warming is an immediate battle with enormous consequences,” and that a “huge, Fossil Free U.S. campaign,” can do avert it, overlooks several key facts, besides the ones mentioned in the article and previous posts.
    1. China passed the U.S. in CO2 emissions 20 years ago, and has added more coal-burning capacity in the last 15 years than the U.S. has in total. If the U.S. ceased to exist, all its industries vanished, and all 320 million people committed suicide, it would not return the world to the CO2 status quo ante of the year 2000. Nothing’s going to happen until China does it. The U.S. is not the big kid on the block anymore, and hasn’t been for almost a generation. Two weirdos from Vermont are fly specks compared to the U.S. as a whole. Luddites have been around since before the word was coined in 1805, and persist only as destructive curiosities. If the U.S. commits suicide either bodily or economically, the territory would be colonized by people less weird and blinkered.
    2. “Renewables” aren’t fossil fuel free. It takes fuel to manufacture the components, ship them here from China or Europe, and require motorized commuters to go to the sites for operation and maintenance. Windmill technicians aren’t going to drive to work in ox carts. Plus, renewables wear out (like everything else) and must be replaced. Solar panels in particular are nearly impossible to recycle. That’s a lot of junk to pile up somewhere.
    3. Fat chance New York, or any other major municipality are going to go 100% cold turkey on fossil fuels any time soon. What are they going to do? Ban trucks? Steel? Concrete? Food? Hospitals and all the sophisticated instruments they require? They need fossil fuels to manufacture and transport. Any city that bans those things will turn into a ghost town, and prove nothing, except that McKibben is nuts.
    4. The last time the world was “fossil free,” was about 1700 (except China, which has been burning coal for a thousand years.) The pre-industrial world supported 1/15th the current population, at a much lower standard of living, with life expectancies around 40 among rich and poor alike. Anyone who wants to return to that benighted state is free to do so. No one’s buying. There are still regions in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and remote islands like New Guinea that live that way, more-or-less. They attract few immigrants, and provide even fewer technological models.
    This is just for starters. I’m sure other posters can elaborate.

    • Tom wrote:
      “This is just for starters. I’m sure other posters can elaborate.”
      No need to elaborate further, Tom. You’ve pretty much nailed it.
      Best, Allan
      Post script:
      I was talking with my friend Dr. Dave last night on this topic, and I said
      “Renewables like wind and solar power will not likely improve any time soon, because there is no practical ‘super-battery’ to store power and solve their intermittency problem”.
      Dr. Dave said
      “Sure there is, it works like this: Plants and small animals store solar energy, then they decay, compress, metamorphose into coal and oil over millions of years, then we recover them from the Earth, and then we burn them, Voila! There’s your super-battery!”
      Surprising logic, coming from a medical specialist. Usually, it’s earth scientists like me who speak in terms of geologic time – the rest of the population rarely has that much patience. 🙂

      • Allan,
        This is exactly how I’ve been “brainwashing” my kids for years. Even had my son do a science project on true “solar” power describing exactly this. Why in the world wouldn’t we use the energy that our planet and the sun have so conveniently placed for us just beneath the surface? Especially when doing so returns the raw materials (carbon) back in to circulation for use later. Seriously, this is basic stuff! And all the fears about it being “unprecedented” or, as our own Nick Stokes likes to point out, an unnatural forcing (my paraphrasing of his typical position), is just fluff and nonsense.
        All this carbon, whether in the form of CO2 or just C, was at one time already in circulation. All we’re doing is harvesting the (essentially) free energy out of it before returning it for additional circulation.
        rip

    • I had dinner during the Obama administration with my friend, a senior US government energy official and one of his advisors. On the subject of intermittency, the advisor waved off the intermittency problem with the statement “we’ll solve that with storage”. I did not bother to reply – I was confident that my friend, who is quite competent, knew as I did that “storage” was impractical at this time (and will probably remain so for a long time).
      But this is how halfwits like Bill McKibben think – they just throw out some nonsense and then are prepared to defend it to the death. We have known about the intermittency problem of wind and solar power since forever – I even suggested a possible solution circa 2012 or earlier, but it probably won’t work very well – see below.
      Regards, Allan
      http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/02/16/wind-power-plug-pulled-in-illinois/
      Sabastian says: February 18, 2012 at 7:14 am
      RE: Allan MacRae: If we ever develop a “super-battery”
      The “Super battery” like fusion is a fanciful illusion. Batteries have been around for 150 years. Plot watts per pound and watts per dollar, and you will discover that the rate of technical progress is very slow. Because of huge demand for mobile devices (not including autos), the rate of progress has moved up recently. But extrapolation of the plot shows it will be many decades before an electric car has the range and price point of a gas vehicle.
      ___________
      Sebastian, your comment seems inappropriate in tone and context, as if I were a big fan of wind power (I’m not) and had great hopes for a “super-battery” (I don’t).
      Furthermore, you say: “But extrapolation of the plot shows it will be many decades before an electric car has the range and price point of a gas vehicle.”
      Electric cars are now appearing in the marketplace, and they may succeed or fail, but there is no need for them to have the same range as a gas vehicle – most people seldom use the full range of their gasoline vehicles, instead using their cars almost exclusively for short daily commutes to and from work.
      The key to using all these electric cars in a collective ‘super-battery” is that this application is essentially free (secondary use of the resource), which means that your economic argument about the high cost of batteries does not have much traction.
      I still see great practical obstacles for the “super-battery” concept, and I use the term broadly, to include batteries, capacitors, recycled hydroelectric power, or whatever, and I doubt that a super-battery will become a practical reality in the next twenty years.
      In conclusion:
      Wind power is still an energy dog. I wrote this conclusion, with confidence, in newspaper articles in 2002 and 2003. A decade later, this energy dog still has fleas. Even if we overcome the fatal flaws of wind power’s highly intermittent power generation profile through the use of a “super-battery”, there is still the serious problem of bird and bat kill.
      Grid-connected wind power is uneconomic and anti-environmental.
      Let me repeat yet again, for those who missed it:
      “Wind power – it doesn’t just blow – it sucks!”

      • You forgot the other minor little problem, the cost of Renewables + Batteries, even super batterires make it uneconomic.
        Not that it would stop Governments wasting Tax Payers money on them.

      • ALLAN MACRAE:
        “The key to using all these electric cars in a collective ‘super-battery” is that this application is essentially free (secondary use of the resource), which means that your economic argument about the high cost of batteries does not have much traction.”
        1. So I drive to work on a cloudy day, plug in my vehicle to charge, and lo and behold your “super-battery” begins to discharge my battery. Then when I come out to drive home, crap, I can’t leave because my battery is dead.
        2. My partner works second shift and expects a charged battery when she leaves. But guess what? Your “super battery” has drained the battery and she can’t get to work.
        3. Now it’s night and where does the power come from to charge all these dead batteries for the next day?

        • Jim Gorman, Allan McCrae:
          Notice that “I” am forced by taxpayer subsidy to pay for Jim’s expensive daily-commute-to-a-government building parking lot electric car recharge stations, and the electricity that is dispensed to the government-subsidized electric cars for the government workers who are “allowed” to recharge their government-tax creditted electric cars …

      • “Electric cars are now appearing in the marketplace, and they may succeed or fail, but there is no need for them to have the same range as a gas vehicle – most people seldom use the full range of their gasoline vehicles, instead using their cars almost exclusively for short daily commutes to and from work.”
        No need to have the same range? “Most” does not equal “all”. “Seldom” does not equal never.” “Almost” does not equal all. We do not make major purchases that merely meet our minimum requirements, but to meet all of our needs. I can get a range of 500-600 miles in a fossil-fueled vehicle, and refill the gas tank in less than fifteen minutes. That gives me some confidence that I can get to a sick relative nine hundred miles away reasonably quickly, out of the way of a hurricane or wildfire, or continue driving for several weeks in the event of a power failure or fuel shortage. It also means I won’t be spending a large fraction of my driving vacation through the mid-west waiting for a battery to charge.
        The present ev’s are fine for as a second (third, fourth, fifth) car for the wealthy, or for a single SJW who never leaves his city, but for a significant number of us, with places to go and families to carry, they are non-starters.

      • Thank you all for your comments, with which I have already agreed, when I wrote above:
        “I still see great practical obstacles for the “super-battery” concept, and I use the term broadly, to include batteries, capacitors, recycled hydroelectric power, or whatever, and I doubt that a super-battery will become a practical reality in the next twenty years.”
        Reminiscent of Willis’s standard request:
        Please do read what I have written before you agree (or disagree) with me, especially when you do so in the “first person accusatory” tense. 🙂

      • Jim – If that is your situation, you would not plug it into the super-battery. Alternatively, you would program your car to be fully charged for your afternoon departure time.
        It is obvious that the grid needs a large proportion of 24/7 dispatchable power, which relegates wind and solar power to minority status, even in the presence of a (hypothetical) practical and economic super-battery.

    • Tom
      The world was nothing like fossil free in 1700. The ports of Newcastle and Sunderland were shipping about 650,000 tons of coal per year at that time.
      http://www.dmm.org.uk/history/htdd01.htm
      By comparison, that is roughly a quarter of the total UK coal production today, though a tiny amount compared to the peak production of 287 million tons per year in 1913.

    • Good question.
      I always wonder why socialists don’t just make a society of socialists, where they would live according to their standard (as Amish do, for instance) without forcefully including non-believers (as Communists states did and still do), but the fact is, they don’t. Actually some did : Phalanstère, Kibbutz, … but despite the will and faith of participants, it always fails more than it spawns new replacement, so the scheme must have more flaws than virtues.
      Never got an answer, just a big fat silence and let’s talk about something else
      I think they just believe in “just talk about it” more than in “just do it”

    • A lot of the ones I’ve talked to proclaim that their schemes can’t work unless everyone is participating.

      • There is no excuse not to deploy Socialism on a university level, an essentially ‘closed’ society. Students do their work and get paid with grades. Let everyone do the work they wish to do, a share the average grade that work produces. Let’s see what happens.

      • But wait, jtom, there will be those in each class who are political or financial legacies at the institution. They will require full credit and lauriate status, despite the homogenization of the bourgeois’ academic performance.

      • ” their schemes can’t work unless everyone is participating” is just another way to say it can’t work if people are allowed to escape. Which is just the point.

  16. https://wattsupwiththat.com/2017/10/22/weekly-climate-and-energy-news-roundup-288/comment-page-1/#comment-2643835
    [excerpt]
    WHAT IS GRID-CONNECTED WIND POWER REALLY WORTH?
    Wind power is intermittent and non-dispatchable and therefore should be valued much lower than the reliable, dispatchable power typically available from conventional electric power sources such as fossil fuels, hydro and nuclear.
    In practice, one should assume the need for almost 100% conventional backup for wind power (in the absence of a hypothetical grid-scale “super-battery”, which does not exist in practical reality). When wind dies, typically on very hot or very cold days, the amount of wind power generated approaches zero.
    Capacity Factor equals {total actual power output)/(total rated capacity assuming 100% utilization). The Capacity Factor of wind power in Germany equals about 28%*. However, Capacity Factor is not a true measure of actual usefulness of grid-connected wind power. The following paragraph explains why:
    Current government regulations typically force wind power into the grid ahead of conventional power, and pay the wind power producer equal of greater sums for wind power versus conventional power, which artificially makes wind power appear more economic. This practice typically requires spinning backup of conventional power to be instantly available, since wind power fluctuates wildly, reportedly at the cube of the wind speed. The cost of this spinning backup is typically not deducted from the price paid to the wind power producer.
    The true factor that reflects the intermittency of wind power Is the Substitution Capacity*, which is about 5% in Germany (and declining) – a large grid with a large wind power component. Substitution Capacity is the amount of dispatchable (conventional) power you can permanently retire when you add more wind power to the grid. In Germany they have to add ~20 units of wind power to replace 1 unit of dispatchable power. This is extremely uneconomic.
    I SUGGEST THAT THE SUBSTITUTION CAPACITY OF ~5% IS A REASONABLE FIRST APPROXIMATION FOR WHAT WIND POWER IS REALLY WORTH – that is 1/20th of the value of reliable, dispatchable power from conventional sources. Anything above that 5% requires spinning conventional backup, which makes the remaining wind power redundant and essentially worthless.
    This is a before-coffee first-approximation of the subject. Improvements are welcomed, provided they are well-researched and logical.
    Regards, Allan
    * Reference:
    “E.On Netz excellent Wind Report 2005” at
    http://www.wind-watch.org/documents/wp-content/uploads/eonwindreport2005.pdf

  17. Wait until the “100% Renewable City” gets a power failure during a cold snap, when the wind dies and the Sun sets.
    We have experienced several of these in Canada during severe ice storms. It’s not much fun. Everything stops, Some people die. Just how delusional do you have to be to willingly put yourself in this situation?
    Bill? I’m talking to you.

  18. “Bill McKibben genuinely believe that renewables are an inexpensive replacement for fossil fuels.”
    And on that point alone he is wrong, and either is ignorant of the reality that renewables are a huge economic cost, and that by themselves renewables can not be sustained. Or is he just willfully trying to make a name for himself by this political campaigning (on this single issue), pulling the wool over the eyes of the innocent bystander who’s ignorant of the technical issues, and are unaware of Bill McKibben’s probable underlying motive is to destroy America’s economic base.
    I wonder what financial benefit does Bill McKibben get for this and from who?

    • It probably doesn’t matter one way or another to him. He’s a socialist, probably communist, and his only goal is to make everyone poor and miserable, except himself, of course, and Bernie and the other gods of global warming. If selling oil and gas could lead to socialism and dicatatorships in the US, Bill would out there pushing oil and gas and how sharing is caring and whatever else his brain could turn into a slogan for destroying freedom and lifestyles. The end is all that matter—the means are irrelevant.

      • Sheri
        A poor reader of history then. He’d likely be in the first consignment of useful idiots to go.

    • Bill McKibben is a true believer. He believes that God has given us a stewardship over the earth. He truly believes he is preventing the earth from being destroyed by doing this.

    • Tom
      Can you put a number on ‘huge’ relative to society?
      I only ask because I am in Lost Wages, Nevada. The cost of Casinos and new football stadium is huge.

      • Retired Kit P,
        Much expensive than many, many, many, many,many,many,many…
        (get the message?) than society should pay when COAL, Gas, Oil, and Nuclear are the cheaper options that operate 24/7 for many decades..
        Between the actual cost of manufacture, installation, and maintenance of those unreliables, then the required grid re-engineering to allow the unreliable to operate on the grid.
        Huge as in it’s cost in productive agricultural turned into industrial blight, cost in making the grid less reliable, cost as in $ubsidies to keep the boondoggle going. Huge as it never being able to show a return on investment over their lifetime without all that tax-payer funds as $ubsidies. While the $ubsidies continue the true cost is incalculable, just a bottomless pit of expense. (get the message?)

      • “huge” means just that.
        The cost of Casinos and football stadium ARE huge, indeed, but people are willing to pay for them. People also pay bigly for an endless list of stuff they do them no good, and even harms. As long as this is their choice, well, fair enough.
        The same applies to renewable energy: just fine as long as you are willing to pay the price (and by price, understand not just money, but also the fact that you won’t have energy when you will, but when wind and sun allows),

  19. End the oil industry and the world will come to a grinding halt. Literally. Why? Because there will be no lubricants for machines, including bird munchers. Plant based lubricants only go so far.
    You have to wonder how much thought they put in to their Fabian Utopia/ post energy era world.
    I suspect Bill McKibben’s closest living relative is a dung beetle. ONLY dung beetles and some humans have a limitless appetite for swallowing bullshit.

    • H T, I made this point earlier. There is A LOT of things the Oil Industry will/must continue to provide regardless how much energy renewables do or do not provide…

      • I absolutely refuse to fly on an airliner with windmills on its wings, rather than jet fuel engines , or a cruise ship with 300K solar panels over hanging the deck, and that is only for powering the lights.
        I would surmise that either Davos or the Paris Accord Conferences would have ANY attendees without fossil fuel transportation. I have yet to see an Amphibious Prious …

      • Bill quotes the Sierra Club, so we are talking about Agenda 21 and everything after it.
        So I don’t think he believes any of it it for 1 minute.
        What he believes in is the “New World Order”, as he thinks he qould be one of them.

      • The morally superior tell us that the stone age didn’t end because they ran out of rock and the oil age won’t end when we run out of oil.
        But the whale oil industry was about to run out of whales. We only have them to save today because mineral oil made them redundant. That sounds like a green tick to me. 🙂

    • Windmills are full of copper windings which are coated in plastics to prevent shorting. Ending the fossil fuel industry by default will end windmills.

  20. It is simply about money and who writes their paychecks. Just like it is for the climate pseudoscientists.
    Bill McKibben and his 350.org theirs funds and paychecks from the likes of Soros and Steyer. They continue to keep their hands in those pockets doing their bidding while carniaval barking, as agood laps dogs.
    Socialism. Pure and simple, activist socialism.

    • Not quite, it is a new world order they want, they are trying to destroy capatalism, which they made their money from and they want to shut off the spigot so no one else can do the same to challenge them.

  21. People can move from town to town and state to state in the USA. That’s exactly what people will do, unless Bill wants to build a mini Berlin Wall around each city as they go green. On that note, I suggest every sane person still in Kalifornia get out while you still can with more than just the shirt on your back.

  22. Here’s the rub Bill from The Australian 29/1/2018-
    ‘Battery plants will remain too ­expensive to meet long-term urban power storage needs, Nobel laureate and Obama adminis­tration energy secretary Steven Chu has warned.
    Professor Chu said the huge lithium-ion battery built in South Australia by Tesla boss Elon Musk had cost about 40 times as much as an equivalent power plant using an existing hydro-electric dam. He said while the costs of building battery plants were likely to halve over the next decade, the approach would never be cheap enough to accommodate the big seasonal shifts in renewable power production.
    He said batteries could prove viable for storing power produced during the day for use during night hours, and “maybe” up to a week later, but not over seasonal time­frames. “You need other new technologies to convert cheap re­new­able energy into chemical fuel when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing,” he told The Australian.’
    Now Professor Chu is no doubter of CO2 being a problem and after poo-pooing the battery fan club goes on to promote hydrogen as an alternative-
    “If you make really cheap hydrogen from renewables and store it underground, then you have something very different.”
    Well in the absence of pumped hydro in a dry flat state like South Australia and molten salt storage not making any headway he would have to think hydrogen now wouldn’t he? Even more over the horizon stuff as the true believers with some brains still in gear grapple with the problem of unreliables and the cost of making them equivalent to traditional thermal power. Do keep up Bill Nye and Co.

    • “If you make really cheap hydrogen from renewables and store it underground, then you have something very different.”
      Huge quantities of hydrogen are manufactured and used already. Out of fossil fuel, not renewable. For a reason (guess what).
      And even if some miracle hydrogen source appeared, you can bet the first thing we would do with it would be to turn it into … liquid fuel.

  23. Another self proclaimed ‘environmentalist’ with a cause and no solutions. It is about the drama of the cause not doing the hard work of spending time in a classroom learningf how to identify and solve the problems.
    If you look at all the dramas, there is always another sillier than the last.
    This is why I am in favor of modest mandates. Proof of concept or proof of failure.
    Failure of renewables is an option.

  24. I’d have to add that any town or city that goes 100% renewable (unless of course it is a very small town and most of the residents heat with wood – if the greens consider firewood to be a renewable….) will end up very quickly defeating itself! For larger cities, what you will have is Detroit on steroids. Large areas of residential and commercial land will be abandoned because (of course) reliable on demand 24/7 energy will be a thing of the past!

  25. Followed by the millions out of work, empty store shelves and the collapse of the pension plans would be recipe war. To which a lot of people would be looking forward to get their revenge.

  26. As an aside here’s an interesting determination for those eager US burghers wanting to sue Exxon, Shell, BP, etc for not cease and desist apparently and note the defence the Court accepted-
    https://www.msn.com/en-au/news/australia/court-rules-against-former-gambling-addict-who-sued-crown-over-misleading-poker-machines/ar-BBIAOkm
    That’s one Constitutional Right the US founding fathers didn’t forsee, namely the right to not be hounded or prosecuted retrospectively for epidemiological risk with 20/20 hindsight. In other words any entity or individual is free to actively promote, supply, sell and trade any good or service until such time as the community decides otherwise legislatively.

  27. Activists like Bill McKibben genuinely believe that renewables are an inexpensive replacement for fossil fuels.
    It would be easier to convince me that CAGW is an actual threat than it would be to convince me that McKibben believes his own rhetoric.

  28. The city of Seattle claims to be 100% renewable. It is all smoke and mirrors. They sold the coal plant instead of closing it down.
    Think about every thing we need. Tires for example. Not made in a renewable city but they get the food to town and haul the garbage to the dump.

  29. Suggestion for Bill McKibben and others: Make the next climate conference 100% renewable. Not with carbon credit indulgences, but with actual real renewable power – for everything. Lighting, AV equipment, wireless APs, elevators, kitchens, transportation. Everything excepting emergency lighting. Not enough renewable power? Then the conference participants get to lead by example and get together and decide what to shut down. Maybe they can talk Elon Musk into loaning them a super battery to give them more time to meet — after all climate conferences are used to days of arguing over minor resolution wording changes, so making critical decisions in 5 minutes or less will likely be unfamiliar to them.
    If it really would be easy for major cities like New York to go 100% renewable permanently, it should be much easier to get one convention site somewhere to go 100% renewable for a week.
    Even a journey of 1,000 miles starts with a single step. Until I see somebody take that first step, I will remain skeptical on the possibility of the longer journey.

      • And pogo-sticks.
        I can – close your eyes if sensitive – visualise The Great Algoreithm pogoing down from DC . . . .
        Apologies if the jelly-flapping offends!
        Auto

  30. You may be interested to know that in the 1970’s I had presented a proposal to the Ontario government in Canada to construct a rotary kiln power plant fueled by municipal garbage. It would have taken up to a half of Toronto’s landfilled waste and produced electricity, steam, recovered metal and glass.
    As part of this project, I proposed to build adjacent to this power plant a high rise vegetable garden in which vegetables would be grown year round for the Toronto market. It would have been heated and powered by this power plant.
    However, the “environmentalists” opposed this project for all the usual reasons, and it died in its embryonic stage.

  31. I was recently in Acre in Israel and visited a museum showing the traditional utensils used by people – some of these were kerosene lamps (I believe the name comes from the original Swedish manufacturer) which replaced whale oil.
    Just as inevitably, renewable energies will steadily replace – although not completely – fossil fuels as the costs of the technologies decrease over time – this is already being witnessed in countries like China and Saudi Arabia that are investing very large sums of money in solar, wind etc.
    I agree with fossil fuel advocates that renewables alone will not be sufficient to power the world’s energy needs. However, where I disagree is what the back up will be. I am pro nucleur and believe that this technology is much cleaner and efficient than fossil fuels.

    • “Just as inevitably, renewable energies will steadily replace “
      Fantasy-land again, ivan?
      Just as inevitably, renewables will CRASH and leave behind a load of decaying husks and toxins when subsidies and feed-in mandates are removed, once this anti-science, anti-CO2, AGW FARCE is relegated to the sewer from whence it came.

      • Don’t skewer the argument and the facts. You know as well as I do that fossil fuels get as much subsidies as renewables. Stop the absurd lie that one does and the other doesn’t.
        Also don’t just put renewables in the context of the climate change debate. There is a strong economic argument for their usage with energy prices coming down year on year.

      • “Don’t skewer the argument and the facts.”
        I’ll leave the bs’ing up to you, ivan… you are so much more practiced at it.

      • “There is a strong economic argument”
        There absolutely ZERO economic argument for them , because need a complete extra system to back them up when they don’t deliver.

      • @ivankinsman
        ” You know as well as I do that fossil fuels get as much subsidies as renewables.”
        Oh. You do KNOW that? No you don’t,
        You never would want to be “subsidized” the way fossil fuels are, as you claim.
        A) the Saudi subsidies:
        I own oil, that I can sell $60/bbl to any people on Earth. But I decide to sell it to citizens of the country only $10/bbl. I can afford, actually I still earn money since production cost are even lower, close to 8$. But, still, this is a $50 (60-10) subsidy (so they say).
        B) the tax man subsidies
        I tax oil. Big tax, and make huge money on it. All sort of taxes, for all sort of oil and usage, to extract as much money as I can. However, people complain, and sometimes, they even lobby successfully to get some tax reduction; some other times, the tax is so great it would just yield zero as people would stop using the taxed product, so I compensate.
        So, sometimes, some oil product are taxed $50 instead of $100. Another $50 subsidy.
        Which one of the fossil fuels subsidies do you want, Ivan? I can provide a substitute. Yes, I can.
        For the A subsidies, just pay me $60 every time you buy 42 gallons of gas, and I’ll subsidies you $50, no question asked.
        For the B subsidies, just pay me $100 every time you buy 42 gallons of gas, and I’ll subsidies you $50, no question asked.
        C) the renewables subsidies
        Unfortunately I cannot provide C subsidy to you. It would cost me money (as opposed to my A and B subsidies to you, where YOU are the one to lose money)

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself. LOL
        Maybe these people really need to live in this utopia they envision for a year, and see why their point of view is so incredibly wrong.

      • ivan, you haven’t presented any facts, and it is a lie that fossil fuel gets subsidies.
        That’s only true if you take the insane notion that any tax less than 100% is a subsidy.

      • “You know as well as I do that fossil fuels get as much subsidies as renewables.”
        No we don’t.
        Stop making stuff up.

    • which replaced whale oil. you do know that the lamps and source of fuel are two different things don’t you , i.e the same lamps that run on kerosene would run on whale oil.
      And as for China and renewable, well take out hydro , and the greens do not included this , then the biggest investment they are making in in manufacturing solar panels for suckers in the west to waste their money .
      Meanwhile, it coal , coal and yet more coal .

      • Don’t be absurd. The US manufactured renewable technologies and uses them as well on a huge scale so stop talking about ‘China’ and ‘suckers in this context. The coal industry is steadily shrinking as investors do not want to put their money into a dying industry, however much Trump wants to support it.

      • @ivankinsman
        “The U.S. invested $57 billion in 2016,”
        “invested”, really?
        An investment is something you get money out of, because you earn more money or cut some spending (and any combination thereof), more than you invested.
        As far as you told us, this is not an investment, this is just a SPENDING.
        To justify your using the “invested” word, tell us how much this will allow US to earn or save.
        Good luck with that.

    • Sorry Ivan. The cost of renewable energy has a floor. beyond which it cannot reduce and that cots is above that of nuclear power, if punitive restrictions are removed from that technology.
      The reason is very simple. Sunlight wind and wave and tide are very diffuse., They require massive amounts of structure, and the energy cost of those structures is a significant fraction if not in excess, of the energy that is derived over the lifetime of the constructed plant. Only hydroelectric, where Nature has done most of the construction for you, is a cost effective renewable.,
      Unless you are using cheap fossil or nuclear power to create the structures – cement for concrete is made by burning gas typically – you will bankrupt yourself as renewables will not generate enough energy to reproduce themselves.
      Beyond fossil there is only nuclear.
      http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Beyond_Fossil_Fuels.pdf

    • kerosene replaced whale oil
      therefor renewables will replace fossil fuels.
      Please tell me that this is not the best you can do.

  32. Activists like Bill McKibben genuinely believe that renewables are an inexpensive replacement for fossil fuels
    But note not in their personal lives , now why would that be !

  33. Perhaps there is a city somewhere in the US which would volunteer to have its supply of gas and petrol cut off at some agreed time in the near future? I’m sure Bill knows such a place?

    • I nominate Washington D.C. – it can become the first Electric City and showcase how splendidly it works. It’s going to take a lot of infrastructure work to make the transition, so we’ll allow fossil fuels to be used for that transition. Also, the generation of power by renewables is problematic, so we’ll allow for the transition to first leverage electric power generated by West Virginia coal. Once the entire city is consuming electric power in lieu of fossil fuels, the work can being to build the renewable energy production infrastructure. Of course building those structures will also require fossil fuel use. It will be a lengthy transition, completely dependent upon fossil fuels. But, once complete they can showcase how marvelous it functions. One caveat, energy production from both wind and solar is a function of land surface area so it will be interesting to see where they’re able to make these installations within the city limits.
      What’s the reason for doing this all again? Because we’re concerned that we’ve been inadvertently increasing the base of the food chain for life by emitting CO2 from burning fossil fuels?

  34. I calculated that an all renewable grid without any storage would put electricity at around $16 a kwh wholesale, and would leave nowhere for people to live or crops to grow, all land area being devoted to windmills and solar panels
    The most renewable ridden nation on earth – Germany – will miss its emissions targets…
    http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/10/11/germany-miss-climate-targets-disastrously-leaked-government-paper/
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/davekeating/2018/01/08/on-course-to-miss-2020-climate-targets-germany-opts-to-scrap-them/#5f38de348151
    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-germany-politics/german-coalition-negotiators-agree-to-scrap-2020-climate-target-sources-idUKKBN1EX0OW
    If you look anywhere its totally obvious that renewables dont work. Its been obvious for years….
    http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Renewable%20Energy%20Limitations.pdf
    http://www.templar.co.uk/downloads/Beyond_Fossil_Fuels.pdf
    And yet the propaganda continues unabated.

    • Not only will they not meet their emission targets, they have not reduced their Coal use in 40 Years, even after spending Billions on renewables.

  35. Even in this year, cold fusion procedures can be introduced at industrial scale. This can bring energy prices to the tithes and make absolutely pure energy. However, it will not be a simple process. This also shows that mainstream media do not seem to know the thing.

    • Well cold fusion doesn’t exist, and if it did, what’s the point? if its cold it didn’t make any energy.

      • Cold is a relative term. It’s cold compared to the temperatures needed to make traditional fusion work.

    • I will happly give you 1000-1 that should that ever get cold fusion working, the Greens will oppose it tooth and nail .

    • Sorry Mihaly Malzenicky, but as of this moment the claims of the cold fusion crowd have less credibility than those of the renewable energy crowd. At least the RE people can point to some working wind and solar facilities which actually do produce power. Ditto Eric Worrall above: show me I’m wrong and I’ll admit it and issue an apology.

    • Bunk.
      Go post your cold fusion crud elsewhere.
      Cold fusion never existed and never will.
      It is as stupid as the idea we can run a prosperous world on “renewables” or believe Area 51 has et artifacts and bodies.
      Those who promote either cold fusion or 100% “renewables” or UFOs are equally deceptive or deceived.

  36. Renewables suffer from the second law of Thermodynamics, in that it requires an outside source of energy to raise energy at a low “State” (say low temperature) to that of a high and useful “State”. Fossil fuels come already in an high “state” of concentrated energy; but renewables need to be harvested and also raised to a sufficiently high “State” to be useful, which takes a lot of energy – A major problem.
    OK; you can use some of these harvested renewables to raise some of the rest ; but perhaps one can see the problem when comparing the usefulness of this energy with that of fossil sources where nature has already sorted the problem.
    Indeed there is a niche market for renewable energy; but that is where it should remain – a niche market .
    PS: As an aside: If you want to warm the planet; plaster it with Solar Panels, for that is what they are designed to do.

  37. Eric, you missed that the previous shifts in energy have been driven by free markets, capitalism. Not by neo-communism and corrupted, politicized science. To quote Christiana Figueres:
    “This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution,”

  38. McKibben obviously included to attack on “big oil” from habit. Big oil, of course, is not affected by any changes in power generation – oil is not use to make any significant amounts of power these days – far too expensive. Oil executives must laugh at McKibben’s utter ignorance,. Meanwhile, oil companies (like Royal Dutch Shell) are buying up electric car charging companies and replacing gas pumps with chargers. I assume the commanded renewable power only refers to the power used by the town or city itself, not its population. If so, that doesn’t really amount to much.
    Perhaps it’s time to warn these low carbon folks to NOT reduce atmospheric CO2 levels to any great extent. The less the CO2 , the less sustaining the planet becomes.

    • Hateful people produce ugly ideas .
      Wife of a Chief on the boat was so facially ….deficient … that she was know as “The Sea Hag”
      But she was one of the kindest and nicest persons you could ever meet .

  39. Seriously, this guy is certifiable. I’m sure many on here have said as much. My worry is that our young think he is right. I mourn for their future if is ever based on people like McKibben and their incredible claims. A few hundred years ago he would have been a touring snake-oil salesman or alchemist claiming all sorts of benefits from his elixirs. He’s to old to be a ‘snowflake’; now he’s just a fake.

  40. How will those towns and cities going 100% renewable know they defeated Washington and big oil? They’ll be in the dark, literally.

  41. Does anyone really think that intelligent information disseminators don’t know that wind turbines and solar panels can never replace coal-fired power generation in a month of Sundays? Get real; this is a no-brainer for pre-schoolers, let alone pretentious wannabe-scientists. This ilk sell their souls to “The Program”, while pensioners freeze in their beds as collateral damage.

  42. Same old same old twaddle. What Bill McKibben needs to defeat is not big oil, but the population’s economic need for petroleum products. And that is just what they cannot do for at least many decades. If he really means what he says then he should go retrain as a nuclear engineer.
    People who genuine wish to, say, cure cancer will train as an oncologist or biomedical researcher. What they will not do is try and pass new laws that make cancer illegal. Simply won’t work.
    McKibben and his cities are deluded fools. What do they think they are going to do? Buy everyone a free Tesla? No. If they ban the internal combustion engine and fossil-fuel related electricity they will end up with emptied-out shells of cities far far worse than Detroit. Industry and people will flee like rats abandoning a sinking ship.

  43. If renewables were as superior as the activists claim, it wouldn’t need the subsidies and mandates they demand.

    • simple answer:
      1) big oil conspiracy.
      2) THEY know, but common people are so stupid they stick to their old dirty habits, so you need to subsidies and mandates to TEACH them.

  44. If NYC is actually stupid enough to swallow the “climate change” Kool-Aid, fine. Let’s cut off all connections to the grid, including blocking of any cell towers (since the internet they access is fossil fuel powered – can’t allow THAT cheat!), and prohibit any fossil fuel powered vehicles to enter or exit the city. They can build all the windmills and solar panels they like. Then, after they find themselves freezing to death in the dark (winter) or dying of heat stroke in the dark (summer), WALKING up to their high-rise apartments, and have to employ horses to pull the subway trains (if they can find them in the dark), all while having nothing to eat and garbage piling up all around them (unless they can take it to a willing recipient by sailboat!), we’ll see who they are going to “defeat.”
    Meanwhile, the rest of us can stand on the Jersey side of the Hudson, pointing and laughing.

  45. Just a question, and you’ll probably think that the answer is obvious, but I believe it adds to the discussion if I ask it. Okay, more than one question, really, but:
    Do these so-called ‘greenies’ like McKibben understand anything at all about biological systems?
    Do they even vaguely understand that plants require CO2 to exist?
    Do they even have a teensy weensy clue that plants outnumber animals (inlcuding humans) by a huge amount, that they communicate with each other, and that they can wipe us out in a heartbeat if they sense that as a necessity for survival?
    Seriously, we’re just plant food, you know. When animals (including us) die, the electromagnetic force that holds us in coherent lumps of matter (insects included) shuts off and we ALL revert to minerals and become mostly fertilizer.
    Does McKibben understand any of these basic biological concepts? Do any of those people get that?
    Just asking. I’m concerned that this basic concept escapes these people, and McKibben comes off as some sort of nutball who needs counseling. He’s rather rabid, in my view.
    I’m going to go make soup now. Chicken soup, made with celeray, carrots, onion, chicken, chicken broth, and some fat noodles.

    • Haha, why is that every time you post, Sara, I find myself craving some sort of food dish or another? We might need to invoke the mods to keep you to just the science…everything else is just too darn distracting! 🙂
      rip

  46. Seems like a good idea to me. The folks in New York can adopt renewable energy without inflicting their ideas on the rest of us. While they are shivering in the dark the rest of us will be watching the Superbowl on a big screen TV in the cozy warmth of our living rooms.

  47. You could easily substitute the words LEED-certified buildings for renewables and still get the same 2x cost increase. It just requires turning off the fact-checking genes in the brain and use of the same climate bible revivals and evangelicals like McKibben.

  48. 350.org Presents: Great Moments in Renewable Energy: Transportation
    So much planet-destroying greenhouse gasses result from our transportation system that many people think we can’t get around without burning fossil fuels. This is simply not true: people used to get around just fine using only renewable energy, but Big Oil doesn’t want you to know that. Want to go from New York to San Francisco without guilt over rising oceans and bleached corals? You can do it!
    In 1853 the clipper ship Flying Cloud set the record for the anchor-to-anchor trip from New York to San Francisco: 89 days, 8 hours using only renewable energy. This beat her own previous record from 1851 by 13 hours. That record stood for 136 years until 1989 when the sloop Thursday’s Child did the same run in 80 days, 20 hours. Since then the record has been broken again in 2008 by the racing yacht Gitana 13 with a time of 43 days, 38 minutes.
    While all three craft use sail for motive power, only the Flying Cloud was totally renewable (oil lamps, no electricity, no bottled gas for cooking), and made from 100% renewable materials. She was also a commercial ship carrying paying passengers and cargo rather than a rich man’s glory toy.
    For perspective, 89 days is roughly half a US baseball season. Or about one quarter of the US presidential election cycle. So think of all the insipid blather you could miss by taking passage on a clipper ship with no WiFi or cell service. Meal service during the voyage uses only 100% organic non-GMO ingredients, and scurvy is generally optional.
    What we need is an investment in renewable transportation on the same scale we’re currently putting into roads and refineries, and some leadership. We hope to see Leonardo DiCaprio charter a clipper ship for his next Soccer World Cup party. We’re sure we can make this happen, as soon as we can find a crew of at least 40 who can work the sails while looking good in bikinis. We’re not only supporting fossil-fuel-free transportation; we’re creating green jobs!
    Bathing facilities would be limited, but complemented by large stores of Old Spice products, featuring the Flying Cloud image on the bottles (sample here).
    This has been another example of Great Moments in Renewable Energy, brought to you by 350.org — “Dedicated to Making You Live The Way We think You Ought to”.

    • What they don’t mention is that this record is for sailing ships.
      They also don’t mention that non-sailing ships usually go through the Panama Canal.
      Finally, they seem to think that getting 40 people to do a job that is normally done by half a dozen, is an improvement.

    • As early as the 1820’s and 1830’s, the British, American, and Canadian shipping firms began replacing their “successful” thousands-of-years experience sailing ships with the unproven and tremendously expensive steam-powered paddlewheel packet boats.
      Note ALSO that ALL of these shipping companies and ship builders and ship designers – also began fighting each other and their foreign government competitors – to get subsidies, construction tax breaks and funding, and operations subsidies for the (very expensive to operate!) inefficient steam packet ships!
      But the reliability of cross-Atlantic shipping for mail, for passengers, for freight, and for small consumer goods DEMANDED that steam replace sailing ships even then! Without steam, you simply could not schedule cross-Atlantic ships during the 4-5 months of winter. They simply were not reliable. Now, the sailing ships that did attempt winter crossings did not all sink of course, but they could not predict when they were going to arrive in port, when they could leave port, and how long the crossing would take.
      As soon as steam was available – even as early as the mid-1830’s – the shipping companies could schedule twice-a-month reliable deliveries. Shortly thereafter, with the Suez Canal, coaling stations around Africa and Asia, and in mid-islands of the Pacific, trans-Pacific routes started.
      And, by the way, the need for those coaling stations (and later oil supplies) greatly rewarded and provided the need for the British, French, German, Russian, Japanese, American and Italian colonial efforts from 1840 through 1920.

  49. So, it’s the artificial green blight vs the organic black blob.
    Where green implies renewable, sustainable, intermittent drivers, and globally outsourced, environmentally unfriendly, low productivity technologies.
    Choice with a lower-case ‘c’, but perhaps with an upper case ‘C’, too.

  50. Eric, I would like to suggest a theme song for 350.org.
    It’s by another rather eccentric fellow from CA.

  51. “…Global warming is an immediate battle…”
    It’s not a “battle.” Freaking zealots with their war imagery.
    “… We dare not wait for Washington to return to sanity…”
    When has Washington ever been sane? When has McKibben?
    “…The first – joining in work pioneered by groups like the Sierra Club – is to persuade towns, cities, counties, and states to pledge to make the transition to 100% renewable energy. This is now easy and affordable enough that it doesn’t scare politicians…”
    Of course it Is “easy and affordable.” Politicians pledge stuff all of the time easily and with no financial consequences. As usual, the bill (if ever paid) would be footed by a future generation and administration.

  52. The vast majority of “so called” renewable energy comes from burning wood and dung. Wind and solar combined constitue less than 1% of global energy production from what I read in one of the last IEA reports. Has Bill done a gap analysis yet?

  53. This article provides lots of wake-up-call insight for those who would take but a moment to ponder it.
    To my knowledge, there was never a mass social movement to get rid of horses as primary means of transportation. The transition to fossil-fuel-powered transportation happened because of OBVIOUS, REAL advantages over horses, I think.

    • Hey, don’t knock horses. I grew up on the back of a horse. Ask the Amish! I think they still use draft horses for threshing grain – not sure about that, but they do give demos at farm shows.
      Horses only require water, grain, bedding, a decent stable where the Greebean grooms can sleep in the loft, and a Greenbean or CAGWer to muck out the stalls. They tend to be emotional creatures, however, and demanding, too. If you’re eating an apple or carrots, they will snatch that right out of your hands. And beer. They like beer. Don’t let the horses smell the beer!
      As an aside, if you remember the Teamsters Union and the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, the teamsters started as the people who drove draft horses bringing cargo into cities or delivering from the docks to merchants. The last remnants of teamsters in the true sense are the people who take their draft horses to stone boat pulling contests at county fairs and the drivers in the Budweiser commercials.

  54. McKibben is suffering from delusions, not illusions.
    He is profoundly evil, projecting his self loathing onto the world.
    The assault on our lives by the faux green NGOs needs to be vigorously pushed back.

  55. Great Greenie Delusional Dreams:
    In Greenie World, both CO2 and “fossil fuels” are evil/bad/the enemy of man, when the opposite is true.
    In Greenie World, “Renewables” are not only “good for the planet”, but they are “affordable”, when the opposite is true.
    In Greenie World, they are “winning” the Climate Wars, when the truth is that they’ve already lost.
    The more they lose, the more they double-down on the lies, the virtue-signaling, and the delusional thinking.

    • LENR fails my “why hasn’t it happened already” test. If I’m wrong I’ll publish an apology, but think about it – what is preventing people in the know from pirating openly available lab results and building LENR systems to power their houses?
      The only thing I can think of which could prevent this from happening is LENR doesn’t work.

  56. MarkW, Allan. Et al
    “Kit, since you are so knowledgeable, perhaps you can detail what has changed since then.”
    Experience!
    For example before 2005 there was less 100 MWe of wind capacity in the Pacific Northwest but that experience indicated that the PNW could add wind because of existing hydro, nuclear and fossil steam plants. BPA had concerns about integration of wind. Here are the results:
    https://transmission.bpa.gov/business/operations/wind/baltwg.aspx
    No problem!
    Allan premise is that a problem one place is a problem everyplace and a problem at one point of time is a problem forever.
    I suspect Allan is not very good at physics. I have a huge amount of experience with modern physics (E=MC^2) and Newtonian physics using wind to power our sailboat against the current of the the Columbia River.
    Allan is an example of someone with an agenda who does research to support his agenda. He is guilty of confirmation bias.
    Aside from watching wind go from zero to several thousand MWe, I have the same interest in wind as other power sources since I have worked at power plants. I do not need to make up stuff to be against something.
    I sure enjoy using the power.

    • I see nothing in here that refutes what Allan wrote.
      I just see you pontificating and proclaiming that since a little bit of wind power could be handled by throttling other plants, more could easily be handled.
      Heck with economics.

  57. Cities gong 100% rebewable will certainly create climate refugees as people leave to seek air conditoning, hating, transport and jobs.

  58. I look forward to hearing on the grape vine that Bill McK has gone off grid, off the internet, off fossil cars, planes, trains and buses, and grows his own food.

  59. “Big Green” is just “Big Oil” in another guise. But “Big Green” is worse in many ways. At least Big Oil can earn it’s profits, pay for it’s operations, and it’s people with it’s own revenue. Big Green, however, relies on the state to compel the people to provide it’s revenue, via subsidies, or regulations removing Big Oil as a competitor. The ironic thing is that Big Green and it’s energy systems are no less disruptive or destructive to the environment than conventional energy. If people could open their eyes and look over or around man-made political and ideological dogma, and see things in simple economic terms (known as “follow the money”), we would all be better off.

    • I do not see any evidence to support the claim that fossil fuels are disruptive to the environment.
      As to your conspiracy theory, put a sock in it.

  60. Weepy Bill, make sure you’re not pulling a Danny Trevathan and celebrating a touchdown before you’re actually in the end zone.

  61. We’ve just launched a huge Fossil Free US campaign,

    Does he mean that he and all the “climate science” fossils are going to retire or that their “green” has been retired by the US voters?

  62. “..New York City is not as big as the federal government, but it’s big enough: it’s got lawyers aplenty, and the resources to do real damage….” Now there’s a real bipartisan statement. Let’s let all the states that want to commit climate suicide go right ahead. The only consolation I would demand is those people that don’t want to join the madness don’t have to. Purely voluntary participation.

  63. Bill McKibben
    Global warming is an immediate battle with enormous consequences. We dare not wait for Washington to return to sanity – nor do we have to…
    YOU, SIR….are an idiot.

  64. The whole “transition” thing is a nonsense. The only transition I can see is going independently off grid if you are either wealthy enough or willing to live a more minimal lifestyle. For the average consumer, forget it, a working grid is required.
    A town in my State claims to be going totally renewable by 2022, four years away. When you ask them what the plan is to get there, they instantly attack and accuse you of being negative. When simply asking about reality is negative, you really have to wonder.

    • I do not think the average person has the skill to go off grid.
      We spend a certain amount of time off grid. In the summer it is the Pacific ocean and the winter in might be in Texas along the Gulf of Mexico.
      Our motor homes have had $10K Onan generators. Push a button and presto you have 120 vac to charge the batteries and run two A/C. In theory that is. The generator on a first motor home was gasoline and not properly maintained. Let me count the ways I hate carburetors.
      Our second motor home uses propane for the generator. Our 20 year old generator has three electronic black boxes. A control board, an electronic governor, and an electronic voltage regulator.
      Onan will charge you $1000 to trouble shoot, $600 for the new piece of electrons, and $400 to install.
      Some of you will see the problem here.
      There is a after market for either rebuilding or new electronic parts. If you are handy with a DVM to figure out what you need than you cam fix it yourself.
      Our generator is again running fine after replacing the voltage regulator for under $300.
      Off course propane is not renewable. Gasifiers were used during WWII. Another example of a practical renewable energy source that is way harder than fossil fuel.
      That is if you like way harder.

    • It takes more skill when idiots like Musk and the government are paying for things.
      First off you have to fix the cheap junk they provide. My system is top drawer. Aside from the voltage regulator, I had to troubleshoot the inverter. Sending back to the factory is another $1000 to take the cover off. Cheap compared the cost of a new one.
      Also replaced a solenoid to connect the batteries. Surprised it lasted so long since it was 6v rather than 12v. The scorecard so far is two relays and three pieces of electronics, a bunch of fuses, and a lot my time.
      You have to have skill to manage your loads. Just bought a higher rated power meter because when I load tested the generator, it stalled when both A/Cs tried to start at the same time. Off course I was intentionally not managing loads by putting as much as load as I could.
      So what can you do with batteries and the inverter. Not very much. My system will not even try to run A/C or the hot water heater on 120 vac. The fridge suck the batteries down in a few hours if you forget to switch it to propane.
      In the morning, you can not make coffee, toast, or use the microwave because 1000+ watt loads trip the inverter on low battery voltage.
      This how I manage off grid (boat or motorhome) and still enjoy the convenience of 120 vac. Two battery banks that each can start an ICE off propane or diesel to generate electricity. A third gasoline generator with a pull rope to start. That is three sources of fossil fuel.
      I do have solar panels to maintain batteries when not inuse. Inverters must be isolated even when they are not inverting. It is 50 watts on the motorhome.
      You are not really ‘offgrid’ until you need a shortwave radio to call for help.

  65. Just wrot this on the Guardian comment section:
    Oh the bad Americans and their President – just look at Germany, the beacon in the use of renewable energies. Electricity price tripled since 2000 thus subisidies transfered from the poor to the solar middle class and wind barons, CO2 Output not reduced for 8 years but rising the last two years. Wind and Solar are covering 3,1% of the primary energy consumption – according website of German economy ministry.
    The other beacon is China – having pledged not to rise CO2 output starting from 2030 and building 700 new coal power staitions around the world.
    O brave new world thas has such people in it!
    Just I wonder why the USA have reduced their CO2 output steadily for 15 years or so – through use of that bad fracking gas.
    just take a dose of reality…
    *****
    to this article:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2018/feb/01/its-not-okay-how-clueless-donald-trump-is-about-climate-change#comment-111773223

      • Well done for trying. You do see some critical comments get through, but too many people get their comments deleted at The Guardian for me to even bother trying anymore. They need readership from us more than we need to have freedom of speech at The Guardian. The Guardian is still hemorrhaging money. I used to buy it, but they will get not another cent from me if I can help it.

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