Archive for the ‘Climate change’ Category

Blowing in the Wind   Leave a comment

Much of the justification for subsidies, tax credits, and mandates for increasing wind energy production in the U.S. is that it will create jobs and help cool our planet’s fever. Given that Interior Alaska just set a record for the longest period of time between 50 degree days, I doubt the planet has a fever, but let’s just follow that rationale for a moment.

Subsidized green jobs destroy other jobs in the economy, but it also turns out that increased wind power decreases carbon emissions much less than previously thought, and in some instances, could increase emissions.

First, wind power displaces power from natural gas more than it does coal, and coal combustion emits almost double the carbon emissions that natural gas does.

Second, the intermittency of wind forces coal and gas-fired plants to operate inefficiently and actually increase emissions. Coal plants run most efficiently when continuously running, so the ramping up and down of conventional coal plants to make up for intermittent wind pumps out more carbon dioxide.

This has proven to be the case in Colorado and Texas, two states that have adopted a renewable portfolio standard, which mandates that wind be included in the state’s electricity supply. The Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States looked at the power plant records from these two states and found:

Coal-fired power plants are designed to run most efficiently at stable rates and are not well-suited to accommodate the load variability imposed by the integration with wind generation. Cycling causes coal-fired power plants to operate less efficiently, and reduces the effectiveness of their environmental control equipment, which together drive up emissions. Paradoxically, using wind energy in such a way that it forces utilities to cycle their coal generation often results in greater SO2, NOX and CO2 emissions than would have occurred if less wind energy were generated and coal generation was not cycled.

The study also found that in Texas, the use of wind saved only 600 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2008 and found an increase of CO2 by 1,000 tons in 2009.

How much environmental benefit are we really getting? Let’s pretend wind power will reduce emissions as much as the government says it will. A renewable electricity standard (RES) mandating that 25% of our energy be generated from renewables would reduce emissions by only 4.9% by 2030. To put this in perspective, President Obama and Congress’s target is to reduce carbon 80% by 2050.

Are your teeth grinding yet? According to climatologist Chip Knappenberger an 80% reduction would moderate temperatures by only hundredths of a degree in 2050 and no more than two-tenths of a degree at the end of the century. These temperature reductions are almost too small to measure. How much temperature moderation do you think a 5% reduction in CO2 will produce?

None of this would matter if wind energy could compete without mandates and subsidies and provide consumers with cheap electricity. Higher electricity prices have rippling effects throughout the economy. More expensive electric bills force businesses to make production cuts and reduce labor.

A Heritage Foundation study found that if Congress implemented a 22.5% RES by 2025, household electricity prices would jump 36% and industry prices by 60% by 2035. There would be 1 million fewer people working on average with the RES in effect than if there were no RES. As the mandated level of renewable use rises over time, so do the economic losses. It is estimated GDP lost from these impacts will total $5.2 TRILLION by 2035.

If wind can compete absent subsidies, mandates, or tax credits, then Americans will benefit from a more robust, competitive energy market. To suggest that windmills are the answer to our economic and alleged climate problems is nothing but blowing smoke to the American people.

The Peasants are Revolting!   1 comment

The ruling class is keener to reform the American people’s family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones. The ruling class’s self-definition is definite and its contempt for opposition on this topic is obvious. It believes the Christian family as well as the Orthodox Jewish one is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance of religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles. They see the traditional family as the greatest barrier to human progress because it looks to its own interests, often defined by mere coherence against outsiders who the ruling class feel most often know better. The family prevents its members from playing their proper roles in social reform and, shudder, it reproduces itself.

Since marriage is the family’s fertile seed, government at all levels, along with “mainstream” academics and media, have waged war on it. They legislate, regulate, and exhort in support not of “the family” — meaning married parents raising children — but rather of “families,” meaning mostly households based on something other than marriage. No-fault divorce diminished the distinction between cohabitation and marriage — except that husbands are held financially responsible for the children they father, while out-of-wedlock fathers rarely are – giving most men a really good reason not to marry. The tax code penalizes marriage and forces those married couples who raise their own children to subsidize “child care” for those who do not. Top Republicans and Democrats led society away from the very notion of marital fidelity by precept as well as by parading their affairs and serial marriages.

Not surprisingly, rates of marriage in America have decreased as out-of-wedlock births have increased. The biggest demographic consequence has been that about one in five of all households are women alone or with children, in which case they have about a four in 10 chance of living in poverty. Since unmarried mothers often are or expect to be clients of government services, it is not surprising that they are among the Democratic Party’s most faithful voters.

While our ruling class teaches that relationships among men, women, and children are contingent, it also insists that the relationship between each of them and the state is fundamental. Hillary Clinton wrote law review articles and books advocating a direct relationship between the government and children, effectively abolishing the presumption of parental authority. Thirty-five years ago, my high school nurse could not give me an aspirin without my mother’s consent. Today school nurses administer pregnancy tests and ship girls off to abortion clinics without the parents’ knowledge. Parents are not allowed to object to what their children are taught. The government, however, may and often does object to how parents raise children. The ruling class’s assumption is that what it mandates for children is correct ipso facto, while what parents do is potentially abusive. It only takes an anonymous accusation of abuse for parents to be taken away in handcuffs until they prove their innocence. Only sheer political weight (and in California, just barely) has preserved parents’ right to homeschool their children against the ruling class’s desire to accomplish what Woodrow Wilson so yearned: “to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.” The Obama administration recently suggested that “right” can be taken away.

What is the right way for human beings to live? By what standard is anything true or good? Who gets to decide these things? Implicit in Wilson’s words and explicit in our ruling class’s actions is the dismissal that Americans can answer these questions for themselves. This dismissal of the American people’s intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the essence of our ruling class. Its principal article of faith, its claim to the right to decide for others, is precisely that it knows things and operates by standards beyond others’ comprehension.

While the unenlightened ones (we the people) believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are subject to His and to His nature’s laws, the enlightened ones know that we are products of evolution, driven by chance, the environment, and the will to primacy. While the un-enlightened are stuck with the antiquated notion that ordinary human minds can reach objective judgments about good and evil, better and worse through reason, the enlightened ones know that all such judgments are subjective and that ordinary people can no more be trusted with reason than they can with guns. Because ordinary people will pervert reason with ideology, religion, or interest, science is “science” only in the “right” hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledges them.

The ruling class is united and adamant over its right to pronounce definitive, “scientific” judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes, that “scientists say” this or that, ordinary people — or for that matter scientists who “don’t say,” or are not part of the ruling class — lose any right to see the information that went into what “scientists say.”

When Professor Michael Mann concluded, while paid by the state of Virginia, that the earth’s temperatures are rising “like a hockey stick” from virtual stability in 2000, some observers called foul because billions of dollars’ worth of decisions ride on his conclusion. Virginia’s attorney general subpoenaed the data to investigate the possibility of fraud. The University of Virginia’s faculty senate condemned any inquiry into “scientific endeavor that has satisfied peer review standards” claiming that demands for data “send a chilling message to scientists…and indeed scholars in any discipline.” The Washington Post editorialized that the attorney general’s demands for data amounted to “an assault on reason.” The “hockey stick” conclusion was subsequently discredited and Mann and associates are on record manipulating peer review. How many people heard that?

By identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition. They cannot prevent Americans from worshiping God, but they can make it as socially disabling as smoking, turning it into something done furtively and with a bad social conscience. They cannot make Americans wish they were Europeans, but they continue to press this nation of refugees from the rest of the world live by “world standards.” Each day, the ruling class produces new “studies” that show that one or another of Americans’ habits is in need of reform, and that those Americans most resistant to reform are pitiably, perhaps criminally, wrong.

We Must Save the Polar Bear   Leave a comment

Aren’t they cute?

They’re less cute when they’ve decided you are what’s for dinner.

Environmentalists are worried that polar bears will become endangered because sea ice in the Arctic is melting due to climate change. For the record, I believe the climate is changing. It’s always been changing and it always will change. A 1000 years ago, sea ice was at a minimum. The Vikings colonized Greenland and farmed on the southern coast. Then the climate grew colder and the Greenland Vikings starved to death. We can’t farm on the southern coast of Greenland today, so logic dictates it was warmer then than it is today. In the late 19th century, ships were sailing the Northwest Passage for a handful of years until the sea ice once again moved in and sailors froze and starved to death when their ships became locked in ice. That free sailing is still a few years away now, so that era must have been warmer. Both eras were pre-SUV, so what caused that warming? I’m just wondering.

Polar bears survived those prior periods of low ice. Polar bears can swim very well — up to 200 miles without a rest, according to University of Alaska-Fairbanks researchers. There’s no actual evidence that any have drowned in the Beaufort Sea or any other part of the Arctic Ocean. While they really prefer fresh-caught seal for dinner, they can hunt on land when they need to. They have always spent summers on the coast. According to the Polar Bear Specialist Group, the world population of polar bears did not change appreciably from 2005 to 2009. The Western Hudson Bay subpopulation showed some population decline, but it’s only one out of 19 subpopulations. Polar bear population around Barrow, Alaska has nearly doubled since the 1971 hunting ban and some biologists suggest the population is at an all-time high. Polar bears, like their brown and black cousins, are omnivores. They prefer seals, but they have a varied diet and will eat fish, kelp, caribou, ducks, sea birds, musk ox, and walrus. They also love blueberries, a wild fruit that shows dramatic growth in the current warming trend. Polar bears are one of the few predators that actively hunt humans. Although actual attacks are rare, Alaska has a law that makes it a crime to attempt to pet a polar bear. Why do we need such a law? Well, because some tourists have tried to pet the cute little man-eaters and then their survivors have tried to sue the State of Alaska for not protecting their eaten relatives from their own stupidity.

 But they are incredibly cute … for maneaters.

So, now they’re on the threatened species list even though their numbers have not declined because of the not-fact-based fear that they will forget how to swim.

We really cannot make this stuff up!

The Law of Unintended Consequences   3 comments

Oh, yeah! Here’s a great idea!

Let’s reverse global warming by mimicking the effects of volcanoes.

I think it’s an interesting idea and certainly more sensible that the usual suggestion of just stop using fossil fuels and rely on renewables. Renewables are unreliable and low efficiency, hydro ruins rivers and salmon habitat, and the average American is inexplicably terrified of nuclear. Fossil fuels are here to stay for the long-term future because they work.

And seriously, there’s mounting evidence that global climate change is driven by a natural cycle of solar variation. It’s always seemed like hubris to think that humans could nudge that behemoth even a little bit and you can’t blame the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warming Period on fossil fuels. The article, from The Alaska Dispatch, brings that up – Alaskans wouldn’t object to a little global warming. It also acknowledges that there are a lot of costs associated with subsiding permafrost soils, rising sea levels (if they ever do rise; they really haven’t yet), and the comments mention the acidification of the oceans (which is more a prediction than a measurable effect at this point.

But, this … can anyone say “unintended consequences”? I remember the winter after Mt. Penatuba blew up – it snowed 12 feet in Interior Alaska. Snow doesn’t melt here, so that was 12 feet on the ground come April. We shoveled snow two or three days every week all winter long. Then we had no summer – it snowed in mid-May, rained all summer and then snowed again September 10 – a full month ahead of schedule. Seeding the clouds to stop/slow global warming seems a lot like the science that said “prevent forest fires at all costs” that led to a 100-year store of dead wood in our forests that resulted in several out-of-control forest fires in the last decade.

Sometimes we humans really need to pause and realize that we are not that bright and maybe we ought to just leave some things alone, learn to adapt, relax and stop acting like we’re God. We aren’t. We can’t control the sun, climate change is probably out of our control too. Stop panicking and trying to push the boulder up the hill. Adapt! In a couple of centuries or next year the climate will start to cool and then we can adapt the other way. It’s what we as a species do best, so let’s do it.


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