What next for U.S. climate and energy policies?

2018 elections bring mixed messages and require climate and renewable energy reality check

Paul Driessen

The “Blue Wave” never really reached shore, the U.S. Senate is still in Republican hands, the House of Representatives flipped to Democratic control, Trump era deregulation and fossil fuel production efforts continue, several governorships and state houses went from red to blue – and almost all state renewable energy and carbon tax ballot initiatives went down in flames.

On the global stage, despite Herculean efforts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and activist groups to redefine “climate change” and conjure up scary hobgoblins, the obsession over global warming, “green” energy and the Paris climate treaty has hit the rocky shoals of reality.

What does it all mean for U.S. energy and climate policy? This brief analysis might assist a divided Congress, governors and state legislators, an often confused or misled electorate, and people around the world … in making better, more informed decisions on climate and energy pathways forward.

Despite well over $150 million spent by billionaires Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and multiple environmentalist groups, hard-green voter propositions were resoundingly defeated:

A Colorado initiative would have made nearly the entire state off limits to drilling and fracking. A Washington measure would have imposed a heavy tax on carbon-based fuels and carbon dioxide emissions. An Arizona amendment would have required that half of all electricity be generated by 2050 via “renewable energy” (but not new nuclear or hydroelectric), “regardless of the cost” to consumers. Anti-oil-and-mining initiatives in Alaska and Montana also got massacred. Nevadans approved a “50% renewable energy by 2030” bill, but it must be reapproved in 2020 before it can take effect.

Voters also threw half of the Republican members of the House “Climate Solutions Caucus” out of office.

Some Democrat governors and legislatures have hinted that they may follow California’s example – and simply impose the wind, solar and carbon tax laws that recalcitrant citizens just rejected, regardless of what that would do to energy prices, jobs and low income families. That won’t go over well.

Perhaps voters understand what more ideologically motivated legislators, regulators and activists may not:

Climate and renewable energy concerns lag way behind economic, employment, healthcare, immigration, national security and a host of other worries. Fossil fuels are still 80% of our energy. Real-world evidence for “manmade climate chaos” is sorely lacking. And despite repeated assurances to the contrary, few countries are doing anything to reduce their oil, gas or coal use, or their greenhouse gas emissions.

Voters certainly know functioning economies, factories, hospitals, offices, internets and families must have affordable energy when it is needed – not energy when it’s available, at prices that kill budgets and jobs.

According to a report profiled by European media platform Euractiv, of the 197 nations that so excitedly signed onto the 2015 Paris climate treaty, “only 16 have defined national climate action plans ambitious enough to meet their pledges.” Even that is a stretch. Canada is still a fossil fuel superpower, and Ontario’s new premier has pledged to scrap its Green Energy Act and wind and solar projects – while Japan is building a dozen new coal-fired power plants to replace its nuclear facilities.

That leaves 14 “economic powerhouses” with sufficient national climate action plans: Algeria, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore and Tonga. Whether any of them is actually doing anything is questionable. And all signed onto Paris because they didn’t have to reduce fossil fuel use and wanted to share in trillions of dollars of “climate adaptation and reparation” money that industrialized wealthy nations simply won’t pay.

Moreover, in Asia at-large, some 2,000 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants are already operating or under construction – and many of them burn fuel very inefficiently and emit prodigious amounts of CO2.

Australia and Japan have both rejected IPCC demands that they phase out all coal use by 2050. The UK has begun extracting shale gas. Germany is bulldozing ancient towns and forests to mine lignite for its new coal-fired power plants. Poland is burning more coal and preparing to import U.S. shale gas.

President Trump exited Paris – and new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has promised to do likewise.

The USA is now the world’s biggest oil producer and a major oil exporter. In fact, oil production keeps climbing in the Permian, Eagle Ford, Bakken and other U.S. shale oil areas. Experts say total US oil production will reach 15 million barrels per day by 2025 at $55 per barrel, 18 MBPD at $65 and 20 MBPD at $75. America’s natural gas production is also soaring. All that will create or sustain tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in state and federal revenue. We should give all this up?

Meanwhile, Arctic and Antarctic land and sea ice are back to or above normal, while seas are rising at a barely perceptible seven inches per century. Tuvalu and other Pacific island nations claim they will soon be covered by rising seas – that have risen over 400 feet since the last Pleistocene glaciers melted … without inundating any of them, because corals grow as seas rise to nourish them.

The Maldives cleverly held a cabinet meeting underwater in 2009, to underscore their supposed plight. But any seawater flooding is likely due to islands sinking under the weight of their high rise buildings.

These and other real-world facts help explain why the entire Paris house of cards could soon collapse. Which brings us back to IPCC chicanery and claims that wind and solar can replace fossil fuels.

For the past 20+ years, there has been no warming trend except during El Nino events, which have nothing to do with climate. Remove them from the picture and the warming trend is a minimal, undetectable, meaningless 0.02 degrees C (0.03 F) per decade – far less than the margin of error.

So now the IPCC is shrewdly and secretively redefining “global warming” and “climate change” to mean the combination of observed (but often “homogenized” and manipulated) temperature data from the most recent 15 years – plus assumed, conjectural, computer-modeled temperature projections for the next 15!

And on that fraudulent 30-year basis, humanity is supposed to prevent Climate Armageddon by replacing all fossil fuel use with supposedly “clean, green, renewable” energy by 2050. It cannot happen.

Just meeting America’s current electricity demand would require “covering a territory twice the size of California with wind turbines,” Robert Bryce estimates. That’s partly because placing turbines too closely together causes upwind turbines to rob wind speed from their downwind brethren (a phenomenon called “wind shadow”). That means average energy generation per turbine operating area is up to 100 times lower than what prominent energy experts, wind energy companies and promoters have been claiming.

My own calculations suggest we’d need at least twice that much land, because the more we rely on wind, the more we must place turbines in increasingly less windy areas – which exacerbates “wind shadow.” Even more land must be covered by backup battery complexes, ultra-long transmission lines to distant cities, and widespread land disturbance to get the massive quantities of exotic, strategic and conventional raw materials required for the turbines, transmission lines and batteries. None of this is “free” or “green.”

In the process, wind turbines also wipe out buzzards, raptors and bats. A new study of wind farms in India found that some 75% of raptors are exterminated in areas around turbines. That of course has numerous “ripple effects” all through the local food chains. In view of all this, we need to ask:

Why should the United States even consider getting back into Paris, adopting any carbon tax, carbon capture or carbon trading programs, turning more land into wind, solar and ethanol operations, or in any other way kowtowing to the IPCC and environmentalist pressure groups on these issues?

Why should any U.S. business, hospital, school or family be shackled by the expensive, unreliable, job-killing, environmentally destructive “renewable” energy that these mandates would impose – for no climate benefits, even if humans have somehow replaced the natural forces that have always driven climate change?

Paul Driessen is policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of articles and books on natural resource issues. He has degrees in geology, ecology and environmental law.

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26 thoughts on “What next for U.S. climate and energy policies?

  1. All true.
    With one slight caveat.

    For the past 20+ years, there has been no warming trend except during El Nino events, which have nothing to do with climate.

    For the past 20+ years, there has been no warming trend except during El Nino events, which probably have nothing to do with climate but as the energy has to come from somewhere that is unproven.

    There’s really no need to overstate the weakness of the alarmist argument. It’s weak enough already.

    • M Courtney
      It is my understanding that during an El Nino, tropical Pacific Ocean waters warmed by the sun spread out upon the Eastern Pacific Ocean’s surface, instead of sinking below the western Pacific Ocean’s surface. Thus, the warming of the atmosphere measured during an El Nino is a result of recently warmed Pacific surface waters remaining on the surface instead of being hidden below the surface.

      Therefore, we know where the energy producing warming during an El Nino came from, and also where it went afterward – dissipated to space instead of being retained below the Pacific Ocean’s surface.

      Or, do you say I am poorly informed?

      SR

      • You pretty much got it correct …… except for the part about “warm water being hidden below the surface”.

        Warm water is less dense (lighter) and will rise to the surface, iffen it doesn’t dissipate its extra heat before it gets to the surface.

        • It’s a bit trickier than that when it comes to sea water. You also have to account for salinity as well as temperature when determining water density.

    • Doesn’t ENSO vary with the PDO? I’m of the ilk that when the PDO is positive, El Nino conditions prevail, and negative PDO brings more La Nina conditions.

      • Pop Piasa:

        No, it is the other way around. PDO events are driven by the occurrence of La Nina or El Nino conditions.

        Essentially all La Ninas are caused by the injection of volcanic SO2 aerosols into the atmosphere, which cools the Earth’s surface, and all El Ninos are caused by reductions in atmospheric SO2 aerosol levels, either volcanic induced, or because of human actions that reduce the amount of SO2 aerosols in the atmosphere. The cleaner air results in increased surface warming.

        No cycles involved, they are primarily just the result of random volcanic evevnts.

  2. In 2017 Matt Ridley wrote an article on the futility of wind power.

    Even without Paul’s astute observation that lower wind speeds require further spaced turbines, Matt’s numbers are truly astonishing. And all Matt deals with is the 2% growth per annum of global electricity demands, he doesn’t even touch on existing fossil fuel replacement. Half of the enormous area of Russia under turbines just to meet growing demand.

    Nor is this technical stuff, it’s just simple arithmetic.

    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/blog/wind-still-making-zero-energy/

  3. I notice that man made climate change is being blamed for the increased severity of the fires hitting California. The meterologists seem to agree. Well, they agree, but not in the way you’d expect.

    When it comes to climate change most meterologists seem to adopt a “leave me out of it – I’m too busy doing science” approach.

    There are two relatively recent papers about the climate in S Cal.

    1)https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI3627.1

    Jumping to part of the conclusion; “if these results are confirmed, the lack of long-term warming in the generally undeveloped Sierra Nevada (annual mean trend, 1910–2003, −0.02° ± 0.1°C decade–1) coupled with significant, nighttime-only warming in the valley, suggests a regional inconsistency compared with twentieth-century simulations of climate forced by human influences other than land use changes.”

    2) https://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/JCLI-D-15-0260.1

    Jumping to part of the conclusion; “Our results indicate that the current severe impacts of drought on California’s agricultural sector, its forests, and other plant ecosystems have not been substantially caused by long-term climate change”

    For those who don’t wish to read the extracts I’ll simplify them. (1) says that the Sierras are cooling but the valleys are warming. The cause of the warming is agriculture. It points out that “the regional inconsistency…”, compared with simulations – which is meterologist shorthand for “baloney”. (2) Says that the droughts are cyclical.

    No matter what the cause, the fires are bad news.

  4. “Some Democrat governors and legislatures have hinted that they may follow California’s example – and simply impose the wind, solar and carbon tax laws that recalcitrant citizens just rejected, regardless of what that would do to energy prices, jobs and low income families.”

    That’s what has happened in Washington State on other ballot issues in the past. Voters say no, legislature says yes.

  5. Global Warming:
    “An implausible conjecture backed by false evidence and repeated incessantly has become politically correct ‘knowledge,’ and is used to promote the overturn of industrial civilization. ”
    -Richard Lindzen

    That way, we will all get what we deserve, you see.

  6. Norway “… didn’t have to reduce fossil fuel use and wanted to share in trillions of dollars of “climate adaptation and reparation” money that industrialized wealthy nations simply won’t pay.” Norway? I have alwasy thought of Norway as an industrialized wealthy nation.

    • Retired_Engineer_Jim

      Norway is an extraordinarily wealthy country.

      From memory, they are the largest single investor in the stock market having used the tax revenues from oil production in the 70’s and 80’s.

      The UK just spent their oil revenues, like kids in a sweet shop.

  7. Norway is considered a nation of fairly happy campers .
    Hmm I wonder how much their abundance of fossil fuel resources have
    to do with that ?
    As noted … the people have spoken and carbon taxes were trashed but the
    virtue signalers will ignore those views . British Columbia Liberals
    imposed a carbon tax in 2008 then promptly ignored all the sales lies they told . Revenue neutral ,
    only if other jurisdictions follow suit… etc .
    They are now addicted to the revenue and have no interest in ditching the fraud tax despite more than doubling electricity rates from their incompetent crown corporation .
    Does anyone foresee Hillary Clinton claiming again she is going to shut down coal workers
    in her next final attempt to run for office ? As long as the eco lobbyists are controlling the Democrat Party they are just stupid enough to repeat their threat .

  8. Something that weakens the ‘only xx% of our energy is renewable” argument is that the sum total of energy actually needed by society is not included in the numbers above.

    Food requires a great deal of insolation to grow. That is part of our energy need. Growing food under lights is already taking place “at scale” and is unlikely to diminish. Is that needed? We should face and report the totality of our energy requirements. It includes the solar energy that is needed to run the food chain.

    On that basis, fossil fuels constitute a far smaller fraction of the total than is claimed above. There is no point being “against solar energy”, we should be supporting the appropriate use of solar energy where it makes sense which includes creating food.

    An example of other solar energy uses include “net zero” architecture wherein homes are warmed or cooled by clever construction. In North America, that means space heating using solar, both incidental and stored. Even in the sub-Arctic this has possibilities as demonstrated for years.

    The potential for low grade heat (under 150 C) to run air conditioning and refrigeration equipment is just beginning to be explored, without conversion to electricity first.

    The food supply, which is almost entirely solar powered, requires about 5×10^17 Joules per day. If we waste half the food or, as in Africa where half is eaten by pests, it is 10^18 J/day. That is a lot of solar (renewable) energy that is part of the total energy mix. We should not discount this, because it is part of our reality.

  9. Can’t wait for Steyer to run for President and piss away what ever he has left .
    Reality though Hillary will run again … they are addicted to the game .
    Her best hope is Bills baggage croaks before then .

  10. This essay is filled with speculation and lies.

    “Meanwhile, Arctic and Antarctic land and sea ice are back to or above normal, while seas are rising at a barely perceptible seven inches per century.”

    Um, no. Arctic “sea ice gain during the first half of the month was quite slow. By the third week of October, extent was still tracking below all years except 2016. However, toward the end of the month, the pace of ice growth increased.” It’s now just barely above 2017, too.

    7 inches of sea level rise may be considered imperceptible, true. I live in Minnesota, and I can’t see it from here. Those in Florida and Hawaii might just notice a change. Oh, wait – they already have!

    “The Maldives… seawater flooding is likely due to islands sinking under the weight of their high rise buildings.”

    I followed the link. “Likely” is the key word, since apparently this is pure speculation.

    “For the past 20+ years, there has been no warming trend except during El Nino events, which have nothing to do with climate. Remove them from the picture and the warming trend is a minimal, undetectable, meaningless 0.02 degrees C (0.03 F) per decade – far less than the margin of error.”

    ENSO not part of climate???? Why remove them from the picture? If they are part of the increase in average global temperature, they must be getting stronger, and isn’t that significant? …Ah, it’s all based on a simple graph! “Lets omit this data, and see what happens! Look! We can give that appearance of very little warming if we just knock off a few years. But leave the other El Ninos in, because they don’t do much.” Classic “fake science.”

    “So now the IPCC is shrewdly and secretively redefining ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’ ..”
    There was nothing secretive about it. It’s in the Core Concepts box!

    “And on that fraudulent 30-year basis, humanity is supposed to prevent Climate Armageddon by replacing all fossil fuel use with supposedly ‘clean, green, renewable’ energy by 2050. It cannot happen.”

    This is BS. IPCC:

    “In energy systems, modelled global pathways (considered in the literature) limiting global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot (for more details see Figure SPM.3b) generally meet energy service demand with lower energy use, including through enhanced energy efficiency, and show faster electrification of energy end use compared to 2°C (high confidence). In 1.5°C pathways with no or limited overshoot, low-emission energy sources are projected to have a higher share, compared with 2°C pathways, particularly before 2050 (high confidence). In 1.5°C pathways with no or limited overshoot, renewables are projected to supply 70–85% (interquartile range) of electricity in 2050 (high confidence). In electricity generation, shares of nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) are modelled to increase in most 1.5°C pathways with no or limited overshoot”

    70-85% is still high, but it’s not ALL renewables.

    “Why should any U.S. business, hospital, school or family be shackled by the expensive, unreliable, job-killing, environmentally destructive “renewable” energy that these mandates would impose – for no climate benefits, even if humans have somehow replaced the natural forces that have always driven climate change?”

    – The expense is in the investment. After that it’s free.

    – Unreliable… Maybe you should do a little research into grid-capacity energy storage, Paul. It increased by 68% last year (still less than 1% percent of grid capacity, but it’s a beginning). New, more affordable technologies are in development, and beginning to come online. A decade from now, the picture will be very different, I predict.

    – The renewable energy sector supplies supplies 10 million jobs worldwide, and 800,000 in the U.S.

    2017 data:
    “Proportionally, solar employment accounts for the largest share of workers in the Electric Power Generation sector. This is largely due to the construction related to the significant buildout of new solar generation capacity. Solar technologies, both photovoltaic and concentrating, employ almost 374,000 workers, or 43 percent of the Electric Power Generation workforce. This is
    followed by fossil fuel generation employment, which accounts for 22 percent of total Electric Power Generation employment and supports 187,117 workers across coal, oil, and natural gas generation technologies.26”
    43% IN SOLAR ALONE!
    Although this doesn’t account for those employed in fuel operations, solar still tops natural gas when electrical generation and fuels are combined, and it’s double the employment in coal extraction and generation. Oil beats solar, but not renewables combined.
    https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/01/f34/2017%20US%20Energy%20and%20Jobs%20Report_0.pdf

    – Environmentally destructive…he cites research in India to prove his point. While it’s true that in the U.S. some older wind turbines have killed a lot of animals, this has changed as designs and locations have changed. Compared to the environmental destruction of a mountaintop removal coal mine or an oil spill, renewable energy is pretty benign.

    A bunch of really lame (and erroneous!) arguments here. One wonders if Paul Driessen is just lazy, or lies intentionally. This is the first article of his I’ve fact-checked. Credibility: nil.

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