Breaking the Bank for Climate Emergencies

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Progressives and climate alarmists have proposed various plans to lower CO2 emissions. These plans are ineffective to lower emissions and associated increases in global warming, are prohibitively expensive and limit individual energy choices while making energy more expensive. In the 1950s, Dutch dam-builders turned fossil fuel energy into protection from Mother Nature at a fraction of the cost of today’s green proposals.

The EU’s declaration of a climate emergency takes resources away from real emergencies and stifles evaluation of practical, cost-effective alternatives that can shelter people from the potential impact of climate change.  Emergencies provide an opportunity for a power grab to advance a collectivist aim:

“Emergencies” have always been the pretext on which the safeguards of individual liberty have eroded.”Friedrich von Hayek

It is encouraging to see that scientists are starting to speak up with louder voices about people taking climate change predictions beyond a scientific framework. For example, 700 scientists recently urged politicians to deprive climate change activists of this emergency status. But politicians could not resist and declared an emergency anyway.

The emergency declaration is a regressive tax on the world’s poor. It will boost unreliable, inefficient and expensive zero-emission energy that cannot scale commercially. As a result, it will make energy more scarce and expensive – something that is already observed in countries and states where renewable energy is more prevalent. This will make it even harder to provide power the everyone, making it tougher for the world’s poor to protect themselves from Mother Nature.

Mandating zero emissions is prohibitively expensive. Nobel Laureate Nordhaus shows that ambitious policies like the Paris Agreement target of 3.6°F would cost the world $134 trillion. The Clean Power Plan is expected to reduce temperature increases in the year 2100 by 0.023 – 0.057°F, and as Bjorn Lomborg explains, delaying temperature increase over the next 80 years by 8 months. Another doozy is the Green New Deal, with an expected cost between $52 and $93 trillion, to be spent over 10 years. That represents a whopping 24 – 44% of US GDP for a period of 10 years.

A cheaper alternative to these green emergency plans would be to do absolutely nothing. The IPCC estimates that a laid-back approach toward climate change will reduce 2070s average world incomes by 0.2 – 2%, which would be insignificant given GDP per capita will likely have grown by some 300-500% by that time.

A more practical alternative is to spend money on protection in places where this is needed. Spending on protection is much more practical and cost-effective than fighting CO2 emissions. Earth’s atmospheric pool with everyone’s emissions suffers from a tragedy of the commons problem, and governments around the world are behind on the reduction pledges. Protection is generally paid for by the people who need, who then benefit from it.

A Dutch history lesson from the 1950s is instructive for the achievement of practical and cost-effective protection from Mother Nature.

For centuries, the Dutch have been fighting – and mostly winning – the battle to claim land from the sea. It has made for a proud Dutch attitude when they reflect that “God created the earth, but the Dutch created Holland.” The fight also came at a risk – Mother Nature would sometimes take battle gains away in massive floods. The last flood in modern time was in 1953. Almost 2,000 people died, and overall damage represented about 5% of Dutch 1953 GDP.

It would be a wake-up call for the Netherlands. The Dutch had already dammed off the Zuiderzee with a 20-mile dam in the 1920s and 1930s to protect hundreds of miles of their northern coastline.2 The 1953 flood initiated a government-led program to build what would become the Delta Works. In addition to increasing dike height across the Dutch shoreline, the Delta Works would dam off several estuaries in the west of the country to minimize the length of dikes requiring extra height and to reduce cost and impact.

With this massive civil engineering projects, the Dutch turned energy, mostly from fossil fuels, into protection and shelter. While average sea levels around the world have risen about 25 cm over the last century, the Dutch increased their average dike heights by about 3 m.

The most surprising aspect of this massive engineering project is its cost. 890 million euro for Delta Works and raising the height of other dikes, to be spent over ~25 years – represented less than 0.5% of Dutch GDP per year.

Today, Delta Works maintenance and upkeep of “delta height” cost less than 0.1% of GDP. With sea levels rising by about 3 mm every year, maintaining a risk level of flooding at once every 10,000 years is conducted at relatively little cost to a thriving economy that exists below sea level behind the protective barrier.

Even though this example is from a time when people were kinder and politicians built consensus, it shows that planning improvements for the ‘collective good’ can work out, even when done by government. However, care should be taken in identifying real emergencies, and to address them with a practical and cost-effective mindset.

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71 thoughts on “Breaking the Bank for Climate Emergencies

  1. Ummmm….Guest blogger ?

    “This will make it even harder to ( provide power the everyone ? ), making it tougher for the world’s poor to protect themselves from Mother Nature.”

        • I’ve experienced it first hand. They install emission controls but either shut them off or don’t maintain them all of the time.

        • Except, that is comparing one volcano to all of China. The fact is, there are many smokers (undersea vents, not cigarettes) and volcanoes emitting gases all over the world, many recently discovered and others we don’t even know about.

          …These and hydro-thermal vents may explain why changes in atmos co2 don’t line up with fossil fuel emissions

          https://ssrn.com/abstract=2997420
          And why the perfectly balanced IPCC carbon balance requires circular reasoning.

          https://ssrn.com/abstract=2873672
          https://ssrn.com/abstract=2654191

          There is ALSO this from NASA.
          The OCO-2 mission has provided vital insights into the failure of the Bern Model, particularly to role of the tropics in regards to being sources rather than assumed sinks in CO2.

          “OCO-2’s orbit also allowed it to observe significant carbon dioxide signals from isolated plumes of three volcanoes on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. One orbit directly downwind of Mt. Yasur, which has been erupting persistently since at least the 1700s, yielded a narrow string of carbon dioxide that was about 3.4 parts per million higher than background levels — consistent with emissions of 41.6 kilotons of carbon dioxide a day. This is a valuable quantification of volcanic emissions, which are small compared to the average human emissions of about 100,000 kilotons per day.”
source:
          https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?feature=6971
          https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2017-267
          While NASA tried to downplay that single volcanic release at 0.04% of today’s anthro-emissions of 100,000 tons/day, a deeper reflection on the fact that those continuous volcanic emission compared to past anthro emissions, and its totalities over 200+ years, and that Mt Yasur is just one volcano of likely dozens or hundreds spread across the planet of 70% ocean is quite another matter.
          Is it any wonder that the OCO-2 team has gone quiet since their pivotal 2017 publications?

          I realize you are speaking of SO2 and these are about CO2 but volcanoes and smokers also emit SO2
          How much sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas does Kīlauea emit?
          http://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-much-sulfur-dioxide-so2-gas-does-k-lauea-emithttps://www.usgs.gov/faqs/how-much-sulfur-dioxide-so2-gas-does-k-lauea-emit
          Kīlauea typically emits between 500 and 14,000 metric tons of sulfur dioxide gas (SO2) per day during periods of sustained eruption. During the 2018 eruption at Kīlauea’s Lower East Rift Zone, SO2 emissions were over 30,000 metric tons per day, in keeping with the increased vigor of that …

          Multiply that by a large and still unknown number of volcanoes and smokers and you have a whole lot of SO2 (and CO) being emitted every day.
          It is hardly valid to compare all of China’s SO2 to just one volcano’s emissions.

          • We know more about the Moon than the Mid Atlantic Ridge. This Ridge/rift is separating at one inch, 2.5 I’m a year. Yet we are probably only aware of about a tenth of the smokers along this rift.

          • Good question. I looked up more info on this volcano. I was surprised to find one site state that there are no signs of sulphur in the area around the caldera or lake. The SO2 signature could be coming from Manila which is not that far away.

      • A powerful eruption in Ecuador last night was the 3rd volcano to erupt over this weekend of the full moon, and at the solar minimum.

        Looking at the past history of the Taal volcano the major eruptions were in May 1754, January 1911, and a period of activity from 1965 to 1977. One thing in common with those 3 starting dates is that they all occur around the solar minimum just like the eruption on Saturday.

    • “Greta” (Svante ? Adarsh ?) ‘s answer on “her” page :

      “Greta Thunberg

      Some people have been asking who manages this page. First of all, since last spring I only use Facebook to repost what I write on my Twitter and Instagram accounts.
      Since I have chosen not to be on Facebook personally ( I tried early on but decided it wasn’t for me) I use my father Svantes account to repost content, because you need an account to moderate a Facebook page. The rest that is shared on Facebook is reposted from Twitter and Instagram by the guy who founded the Greta Thunberg Facebook page long before I knew it existed. His name is Adarsh Prathap and he lives in India. Since a lot of people thought it was my official page in the beginning I asked if I could co-manage it and he said yes.
      All texts posted on my Facebook page has of course been written by me, just like everything else.”

      “the guy who founded the Greta Thunberg Facebook page long before I knew it existed. His name is Adarsh Prathap”

      Identity theft ?

      What a pathetic (and fraudulent) farce.

      • I don’t have twitter,instagram and someone hijacked my email address for their facebook account. For five years on and off I have tried to get through to the FB ( FB is not for facebook) to but no avail.

    • You can probably get a good idea who writes each script by using an analysis program.
      I think that was done on Gleick a number of years ago.

  2. If these morons actually knew the coming nuclear molten salt reactor technology, they would aslo know that the U,S< could build (rather fast) enough molten salt small modular reactors, which coupled with the current 10% hydro and 20% conventional nuclear, would make all electric power carbon free and produce enough to also power an electrified fleet of automobiles for less than one trillion dollars.
    And the power could be produced at 4 cents per kWhr, without any need for peak load generators

  3. Back to topic…

    40 years ago, I lived in Krimpen aan den Ijssel, just to the right of Rotterdam on the map, and well below sea level. I also worked on a computer networking project for the Rijkswaterstaat, part of the Delta Project.

    It’s all very well to say that “planning improvements for the ‘collective good’ can work out,” but that depends on whether those improvements are cost-justified. (Individually, as well as collectively). In the case of the Delta Project, the February 1953 floods triggered (rightly) a re-think on Dutch flood defences.

    But the “climate change” issue today isn’t like that. “Climate action,” from the ordinary person’s point of view, merely means heavy costs (for nothing) and loss of freedoms. Moreover, the case that human emissions of CO2 (or anything else) are nett dis-beneficial, has never been proved. Certainly not beyond reasonable doubt, as ought to be required by any sane court of law.

    As for the EU… there are many good reasons why every half way sensible person in Europe is trying to get away from it!

  4. That represents a whopping 24 – 44% of US GDP for a period of 10 years….

    Stating this as a fraction of GDP may be obscure to many people — after all many folks spend 20% of income on shelter (rent or mortgages) and manage to get by. Another way to state this, which may reverberate better with people, is that it represents probably all of U.S. savings for a period of half a century to a full century. Savings is what is available for new projects as 95% or so of GDP is needed to maintain living standards and run government. And keep in mind that savings currently helps pay for infrastructure through bond sales, etc.

    • Or that it’s basically going to consume all Federal taxes over that period, leaving nothing for anything else.

      • MarkG,
        The Left/Dem/Greens will say the solution is simple. They will raise taxes on “The Rich” to pay for everything including CC. The dumb, even the educated dumb if not, especially, the educated dumb, will believe them.

  5. Coming back on topic: Archaeologists have to dig to find structures that were above ground when in use. In other words, in many places the ground is rising thanks to new material landing on it. In Holland, what is the rate of ground rise? Could it eventually catch up with sea level? Do the Dutch do anything to encourage the ground to grow faster?
    Bangladesh is or was growing, thanks to sediments from the Ganges. Do the Dutch try to tap into river sediments?
    China has reportedly stopped accepting the rest of the world’s garbage. Could the Dutch take over the business, and be paid to gain land height from the land-fill? (OK, maybe that one wouldn’t make much difference?).

    • The sea level rise at Den Helder naval base has been an average of 1.5mm a year since 1865. In a century, our children can add another meter to the dykes.

      – Deltas grow due to regular river flooding. The rivers were dyked to prevent flooding beyond the winter beds. So no new deposits of soil are arriving.
      – After the 1993 Christmas floods of the Meuse, gravel was mined from the river banks to increase capacity.
      – Polders subduct significantly after construction as the soil dries out.
      – The European plate near Scandinavia is still bouncing back from the last glacial, causing some subduction elsewhere.
      – The coast of Holland is basically a string of sand plates and dunes from Belgium to Denmark, slowly being washed northeast by the currents. The beaches need to constantly be replenished. Not to fight climate change but to reverse erosion.

      + The port of Rotterdam was expanded by land reclamation. Dredging the seabed and pumping it into a new peninsula. Extensive hydrological scale modeling was used before construction, to avoid erosion elsewhere. That is the extent of the recent land growth.

      • RLu wrote:

        “The sea level rise at Den Helder naval base has been an average of 1.5mm a year since 1865. In a century, our children can add another meter to the dykes.”

        Sorry, but why a metre? 200mm will do it at this rate.

        Is this a typo or are you future proofing and then some?

        • @Craig
          In the spirit of: If you have to dig up the clay core of an earth dam, don’t mess about. Concrete is cheap. Make the cutoff wall as deep as current technology allows and add enough to fix it for centuries to come.

  6. This is so interesting. In our Carbon Capture process we produce so much calcium carbonate we had to look for another market, so we would not flood the world market. https://youtu.be/RQRQ7S92_lo
    What we came up with is creating very large “lego” blocks. At the power plant site we will put the calcium carbonate into these molds and cure them using the waste steam heat from the power plant before it gets to the cooling towers. The cured building blocks will then be loaded onto rail cars and be transported to the coast where it gets put onto barges and by crane these blocks get lowered into the ocean and stacked.
    This is using the CO2 that is causing the problem to resolve the situation. These building blocks can be created at power plants across the country and around the world.

    • Do you have anything but spam advertising?

      “This is using the CO2 that is causing the problem to resolve the situation.”

      CO2 isn’t causing any problems, unless you are a plant-hater. When did you stop beating your plants?

    • In my region, we have been using limestone as a construction material for centuries. No need to use natural gas to turn limestone into quick lime, just to capture some of the CO2 released by making the quick lime and turning it into limestone.

  7. To be fair, it helps to be able to use those “small” barriers…that could be used in some locations like bays but not for, say, the vast majority of the US coastline.

    And considering the Army Corps failures with New Orleans and the Everglades, I’m not very confident in our government to handle these sorts of projects. Furthermore, the impression among engineers of the Army Corps is that they are bottom-of-the-barrel in the field.

  8. When rationale economists make statements, activists that generally do not understand basic math, give a ‘doh’ look; meaning that of course we’ll pay the costs, and more.

    “as Bjorn Lomborg explains, delaying temperature increase over the next 80 years by 8 months. Another doozy is the Green New Deal, with an expected cost between $52 and $93 trillion, to be spent over 10 years. That represents a whopping 24 – 44% of US GDP for a period of 10 years.”

    Every real economist knows that spending “a whopping 24 – 44% of US GDP for a period of 10 years.” that much of a country’s GDP without substantially improving the country’s productive capacity immediately puts the economy into a tailspin.
    Wars consume considerable portions of a country’s GDP as the country’s production capacity curns out war product. i.e. countries expand their production to conduct a war.

    Spending even 24% of GDP without expanding the country’s production capability stresses if not maims the remaining 76%. GDP declines substantially.
    A classic socialist/communist government economy.

    • That $52 Trillion buys absolute power and control over the impoverished masses, completely dependent on the State. It places that power in the hands of a political ruling class and their allied rich, powerful oligarchs.

      That is what the Climate Change Scam is really about.

  9. Sid,
    I missed what your comment has to do with “The EU’s declaration of a climate emergency . . .”

    But just in case: How many degrees lower temperature will you achieve by lowering these blocks into the ocean?
    There is only (some say) less than 12 years to save the world.
    And the cost?

    • Who cares about lowering temps. Think of the easy money to be made from taxpayers. We’re talking billions with a B.

  10. While not to diminish what all is going on with the re-ordering of the Louisiana coast, this came from the 22 December 1981 Lafayette (LA) Advertiser. “Plaquemines Parish could vanish within 50 years unless solutions are found to stop the alarming disappearance of Louisiana wetlands, a researcher warned Monday.” What was actually quoted was “…almost disappear in 50 years.” Be careful what you predict, this Parish is all of the river south of Belle Chasse, just below New Orleans. The “land loss” [mostly marsh] rate peaked after that, a lot of it subsidence but still over a decade to go.

  11. >>making it tougher for the world’s poor to protect themselves from Mother Nature.<<
    This is the ultimate goal. Just like the ban on DDT and the push for abortion, the goal is to find ways the self-styled elite can rid themselves of all the nasty, smelly morlocks.

  12. Another doozy is the Green New Deal …

    Is it my imagination or is the Democrat Party completely disjointed right now?

    • it’s not your imagination. The democrats consist of fiefdoms right now, each doing its own thing: warren, biden, sanders, pelosi, the squad. Thanks to trump, the GOP’s normally soggy spine is unusually solid right now and it’s revealing tremendous weakness in the democrats.

      • I can’t help but recall how the lefty media and some top Democrats were crowing about the dysfunction in the Republican primary in 2016. Many of their wizards predicted that it would take a decade or two for the Rs to regroup. D is for delusional.

    • Scarface – you are absolutely correct and we better get cranking before the next glacial period is upon us.

  13. I will just wait to see the world end in 12 years, that is absolutely free! I begin to get the feeling these environwhackadoodles are going to become the 21st century’s pariahs, driven out of society and forced into permanent refugee camps. People are waking up when they see that it is all lies.

  14. “In the 1950s, Dutch dam-builders turned fossil fuel energy into protection from Mother Nature at a fraction of the cost of today’s green proposals.”

    I first learnt – sixty years ago – of the ingenuity of the Dutch. We need to arrange guided tours for alarmists to show them this incredible and beneficial engineering that they seem blissfully unaware of. And of course to show them how the huge Groningen gas field discovery in 1959 which has helped to pay for this work. This is all real engineering that works – not like the futile attempts at climate engineering!

    • Are you serious or sarcastic?

      I would take Dutch engineering any day over climate engineering. Which works?

  15. Now I read” Weeks after Venice, Italy, suffered some of its worst floods in more than 50 years and was mostly underwater, its famous canals have dried up and been left unnavigable because at low tide.”
    Waiting for the spin on how the melting glaciers and rising ocean caused this.

  16. Boston has 3X more land area than it had in the 18th century. Amortizing the cost of adding fill to create that additional land over the period since it was created – against the amount of real estate tax collected on it since it was created – has to be infinitesimally SMALL!

    https://media.giphy.com/media/7yED45EeFiFj2/giphy.gif

    (I’m pretty sure this was created by a BU architectural student for a term paper. We need MORE of these for the history of other coastal cities.)

  17. One of the best examples of a city that mitigated against sea level rise and future hurricane flooding disasters is Galveston TX that raised most of the city from 11 to 17 feet after the 1900 hurricane decimated most everything on the island and killed ~10 thousand people. https://www.1900storm.com/

    (Unfortunately, the same dredging technology that was used to raise Galveston was later used to deepen shipping channels up into Houston to allow oil tankers to load closer to the oil wells thus bypassing Galveston and eliminating a primary source of income.)

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