Fossil fuels now beat wind and solar on environmental as well as economic grounds
-- Lawrence Solomon
Fossil fuels have sustained the blows of their detractors and remain unambiguously ascendant. Wind and solar are undone, and unsustainable. When governments try to impose large-scale renewable technologies, they lay waste to nature
Non-renewable energy is sustainable; renewable energy is not, not even close, not by any meaningful yardstick, not in our lifetime or in that of our children. Renewables cannot passably meet any of the important needs claimed by their champions, whether economic or environmental. Despite the hundreds of billions of dollars governments have spent over the decades in aid of kick-starting a large-scale renewables industry, wind and solar complexes are generally incapable of helping humanity progress today or in the foreseeable future. Fossil fuels, in contrast, have gone from success to success for several centuries now, with no end in sight.
Prior to the industrial revolution of the 1700s, when the world depended almost exclusively on renewable energy, poverty and subsistence was the rule. The rise of mass affluence only came when highly concentrated energy – in the form of fossil fuels — made sustainable progress possible, both material and social. Lifespans improved along with living conditions and eventually the environment did too, as fossil fuels curtailed the denuding of forested lands to obtain charcoal for industry and wood fuel for heating.
Fossil fuels continue their dominance unabated – recent projections by the International Energy Agency show the world will be consuming ever more in the decades ahead as the United States becomes self sufficient and China and India become major importers of oil and coal, the better to bring their poor out of poverty. Despite all the fossil fuels consumed in recent centuries, the world’s available store continues to increase – at existing rates of consumption, the world has centuries of fossil fuel left.
Wind and solar power – the darlings of environmentalists and multinationals alike – meet but a picayune proportion of the world’s energy needs and even then they need a crutch – generally in the form of fossil fuel backup – to sustain them. Because the Sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow, society would be vulnerable – unsustainable – if these renewable technologies tried to meet human needs on their own.
The environment would be vulnerable, too. When governments and industry try to impose renewable technologies on us on a large scale, they lay waste to nature. Industrial wind farms have become major killers of birds, from the majestic bald eagle to tiny songbirds. Last year, according to the United States Geological Survey, wind turbines killed some 900,000 bats, in the process harming farmers who depend on bats for pest control – the USGS pegs the value of bats to the agricultural industry at $23-billion annually.
Wind’s ecological trail of destruction extends back to China, which supplies most of the rare earths required in the construction of wind turbines. When we in the West erect a wind turbine, reported an investigative article in the UK’s Daily Mail, we help create “a vast man-made lake of poison in northern China” that, according to locals, withers their crops and kills their animals.
Solar, too, is anything but benign. A major 2009 report by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, a pro-solar California-based environmental justice non-profit, described the many toxic threats that come of solar, often because the toxic chemicals involved in its manufacture are haphazardly processed in China. But problems abound in the U.S., too, where solar companies such as Solyndra and Abound Solar went bankrupt after their subsidies ran out, leaving behind sites abandoned with millions of pounds of toxic waste that taxpayers will somehow have to clean up. Most cash-strapped solar companies, in fact, don’t report the levels of toxic waste they generate to state authorities, as required by law, and they are even tight-lipped about their environmental procedures to their environmental allies.
“We find the overall industry response rate to our request for environmental information to be pretty dismal for an industry that is considered ‘green,’” the Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition told Associated Press earlier this year, after only 14 of 114 companies deigned to respond to them.
Solar, like wind, also draws ire from environmentalists for the ecological implications of the enormous amount of land required — last year Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the federal government to stop a giant solar plant that would have been built on 7.2 square miles in the Mojave Desert, threatening imperiled wildlife such as the golden eagle and the desert tortoise.
On the plus side, because solar hasn’t been widely adopted – it provides less than one-tenth of 1% of North America’s energy — the damage it could cause has been limited. And with subsidies now ending, solar will soon be fading into the sunset.
Fossil fuels also cause pollution in our society but – thanks to past environmental pressure – relatively little: The enormous volumes of fly-ash, mercury, SOX and NOX that once dirtied the environment belong to a bygone era. Today, BTU for BTU, fossil fuels are generally more benign to human health and the environment than wind and solar, not to mention ethanol and hydroelectricity, which have often devastating impacts through air pollution (ethanol) and flooding (in the case of China’s Three Gorges Dam, the casualties included the farms, fisheries and livelihoods of some 1.4 million people).
The chief remaining environmental knock against fossil fuels today relates to carbon dioxide emissions which, according to a major survey, most scientists believe to be beneficial – known as “nature’s fertilizer,” carbon dioxide has led to a greening of the planet, as satellite imagery over the past 30 years makes evident.
Fossil fuels have sustained the blows of their detractors and remain unambiguously ascendant. Wind and solar are undone, and unsustainable.
Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Energy Probe. LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com
Estimates of the exact amount of rare earth minerals in wind turbines vary, but in any case the numbers are staggering. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Sciences, a 2 megawatt (MW) wind turbine contains about 800 pounds of neodymium and 130 pounds of dysprosium. The MIT study cited above estimates that a 2 MW wind turbine contains about 752 pounds of rare earth minerals.
To quantify this in terms of environmental damages, consider that mining one ton of rare earth minerals produces about one ton of radioactive waste, according to the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security. In 2012, the U.S. added a record 13,131 MW of wind generating capacity. That means that between 4.9 million pounds (using MIT’s estimate) and 6.1 million pounds (using the Bulletin of Atomic Science’s estimate) of rare earths were used in wind turbines installed in 2012. It also means that between 4.9 million and 6.1 million pounds of radioactive waste were created to make these wind turbines.
Not only do rare earths only obtained in China create radioactive waste residue, but according to the Chinese Society for Rare Earths, “one ton of calcined rare earth ore generates 9,600 to 12,000 cubic meters (339,021 to 423,776 cubic feet) of waste gas containing dust concentrate, hydrofluoric acid, sulfur dioxide, and sulfuric acid, [and] approximately 75 cubic meters (2,649 cubic feet) of acidic wastewater.”
The wind industry is dependent on rare earth minerals imported from China, the procurement of which results in staggering environmental damages.
ARCTIC WARMING IS NOT GREENHOUSE WARMING
5 Chatham Place, Dix Hills NY 11746
After two thousand years of slow cooling Arctic, warming suddenly began more
than a century ago. It has continued, with a break in the middle, until this day. The
rapid start of this warming rules out the greenhouse effect as its cause. Apparently
the time scale of the accumulation of CO2 in the air and the Arctic warming does
not match. It is likely that the cause of this warming was a relatively sudden
rearrangement of the North Atlantic current system at the turn of the century that
directed warm currents into the Arctic Ocean. All observations of Arctic warming
can be accounted for as consequences of these flows of warm water to the Arctic.
This explains why all attempts to model Arctic warming have failed: models set
up for greenhouse warming are the wrong models for non-greenhouse warming. It
turns out that satellites which have been measuring global temperature for the last
31 years cannot see any sign of current warming that supposedly started in the late
seventies. This absence of warming in the satellite record is in accord with the
observations of Ferenc Miskolczi on IR absorption by the atmosphere. What
warming satellites do see is only a short spurt that began with the super El Nino of
1998, raised global temperature by a third of a degree in four years, and then
stopped. It was of oceanic origin.
Green Fade-Out: Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals
By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Brussels
...the climate is no longer of much importance to the European Commission, the EU's executive branch, either. Commission sources have long been hinting that the body intends to move away from ambitious climate protection goals. On Tuesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported as much.
At the request of Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU member states are no longer to receive specific guidelines for the development ofrenewable energy. The stated aim of increasing the share of green energy across the EU to up to 27 percent will hold. But how seriously countries tackle this project will no longer be regulated within the plan. As of 2020 at the latest -- when the current commitment to further increase the share of green energy expires -- climate protection in the EU will apparently be pursued on a voluntary basis.
Neil Young's oilsands stance is unfair: Rex Murphy
By Rex Murphy, CBC News Posted: Jan 17, 2014
Neil Young's negative comments about the Alberta oilsands are unfair and unpersuasive, says Rex Murphy. (Canadian Press)
In the immortal words of Homer Simpson: Rock stars, is there anything they don't know?
Homer's truth rang out again when I heard Neil Young — expatriate, now California-based rock immortal — staggeringly claim that the Fort McMurray oil site reminded him of atomic-bomb-blasted Hiroshima.
Now, we can forgive minor sins in any propaganda war — and there is a propaganda war circling the oil sands. But to offer an equivalence, and repeat it, with the horror, mass obliteration and deaths of Hiroshima, goes so far outside all boundaries of good taste, truth, judgment and proportion as to be unfathomably irresponsible.
If Mr. Young really thinks this, he's blind. If he doesn't, he's shameless. On this one defamation alone, if he has a conscience — and I am sure he does — he should retract and utterly apologize.
Sadly, I don't expect him to. Why?
Well, because to some — some — of the people opposing this project, Fort Mac has become the symbol of a campaign: the symbol of the "war against oil," or the symbol of what they see as the "fight against global warming."
So Fort McMurray is not, for them, a particular project to be weighed and debated so much as it is a convenient target to be vilified and condemned. It is a project to be stopped, and if hauling in celebrities vocalizing super high-octane rhetoric will help the cause, why then, they are OK with that.
Fort Mac is easy pickings
As is blatantly obvious, there are hundreds and hundreds of other projects, in other parts of the world, equal or vastly larger in scope, which will not be handled with a fraction of the care, scruple and oversight that this one in Alberta will. Fort Mac is on these terms "easy pickings." Will there be an anti-oil tour of China, India, Russia, Nigeria? Not likely.
Now, there is a debate to be had. Fort McMurray is a project of great scale to be weighed on its merits and demerits. On what it contributes to the well-being of workers, to the Alberta and Canadian economies, and on the social and economic benefits it's already spread to many regions of this county, not least my own province. It also has to be weighed on its care, the supervision of the environment, safety and pace of development.
But it should not be made the concentrated vessel of every wrong and mischance of the world energy industry, and most certainly should not be the first target for every autumn superstar looking for one last kick at the publicity can.
Fort Mac is not Blake's "satanic-mill." But neither is it Shangri-la. Between these poles there can be a discussion.
However, one-sided and over-toxic condemnations amplified by the voice of a rock star are not that discussion. Mr. Young has failed to be fair, and thereby he fails also to be persuasive.
A bona fide climate scientist tells US Senators we have no idea whether human-caused global warming will be a serious problem. The media doesn’t report it.
Dr. Judith Curry has spent 30 years studying the climate. She currently chairs the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Testifying before a committee of the US Senate yesterday, this even-tempered, matter-of-fact professor made a number of remarks the public deserves to hear. For example, she referred to human-caused, greenhouse-gas related global warming as:
a theory whose basic mechanism is well understood, but whose magnitude is highly uncertain.
Hiring an appliance repair man involves a similarly well understood mechanism. He performs a task, I give him money. The fact that I’ve had to call him is less important than the magnitude of the situation. How much repairing will he need to do before my washing machine works properly? Will my bill be $50 – or $350?
The significance of Curry’s public statements has been overlooked by media outlets who are supposed to be keeping us informed. A mainstream climate scientist has advised US lawmakers that we don’t know whether the amount of warming caused by humans will be trivial or substantial.
The magnitude “is highly uncertain.” Which means: WE ACTUALLY HAVE NO IDEA WHETHER GLOBAL WARMING IS WORTH WORRYING ABOUT.
Here’s what Curry said next:
Multiple lines of evidence presented in the recent [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] 5th assessment report suggest that the case for anthropogenic warming is now weaker than in 2007…
Never mind the spin that accompanied the release of the IPCC’s summary document last September. Someone who is equipped to read the long version of the IPCC’s report, and to understand the full implications of what’s being discussed there, says that evidence supporting the idea that humans are causing significant global warming appears to be weaker – not stronger – than it was seven years ago.
Where are the headlines? Why didn’t Curry’s testimony lead the evening news? Does the public not have a right to know that a reputable climate scientist thinks the IPCC “does not have a convincing or confident explanation” as to why “there has been no significant increase in surface temperature” for the past 16 years?
Do we not deserve to hear that much of what we’ve been told about global warming could be wrong? Here’s Curry again:
Attempts to modify the climate through reducing CO2 emissions may turn out to be futile. The stagnation in greenhouse warming observed over the past 15+ years demonstrates that CO2 is not a control knob that can fine tune climate…
The idea that carbon dioxide emissions will trigger dangerous global warming is at the very heart of the climate crisis. Take that idea off the table and there’s no longer any sane reason to pursue costly, job-killing emissions reduction programs. Nor is there the slightest justification for regarding CO2 as “pollution.”
Although I’ve been unable to find any mainstream media coverage of Curry’s testimony, the Washington Post and BusinessWeek did report on something else that happened yesterday. Eighteen activist groups sent a letter to President Barack Obama.
The term “carbon pollution” appears six times in that letter – which further declares that CO2-emitting fossil fuels “will inevitably lead to a catastrophic climate future.”
These activists don’t want much – just an entirely new economy powered by entirely different energy sources. But reinventing an economy is neither cheap, simple, nor painless. Wherever it has happened – Soviet Russia, Communist China, Cambodia – the political elites have turned totalitarian and millions have been hounded, imprisoned, starved, and subjugated.
These 18 environmental groups – including the Sierra Club, American Rivers, Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the League of Conservation Voters, and Friends of the Earth – are nevertheless keen for America to embark on such a perilous journey.
If a bona fide climate scientist thinks we have no idea what’s going on, this makes as much sense as purchasing a new washing machine before the repair man has determined the status of the current one.
Aren’t environmentalists supposed to be against the wasteful squandering of resources?
Maybe because she isn't a climate scientist and she's full of crap.
21 years off the grid and counting
"Spiegel Reaffirms Warming Stop:
“Climate: Warming Of the Atmosphere Has Paused 16 Years”"
"Science journalist Axel Bojanowski at the online Spiegel writes a report on the warming stop, reaffirming that it indeed has stopped for 16 years. But at the same time the article says, citing NASA, we that could see a record warm 2014. The heat is out there, somewhere.
Interestingly, Spiegel now says it’s the atmosphere near the surface that has paused, and not the globe or climate. 10 years ago, on the other hand, atmospheric warming was called global warming.
More than 97% of all models are wrong
The big questions is why the near-surface atmosphere has not warmed like all the models said it would. Spiegel writes:".
"Remember that all models are wrong; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful."
Box, G. E. P., and Draper, N. R., (1987), Empirical Model Building and Response Surfaces, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY. p. 74
...and even the best models are limited by garbage in = garbage out
The temperature inputs some of the models are using have been heavily 'edited'. When one uses uncorrupted data from sites away from cities an entirely different temperature projection is made, but it doesn't show catastrophic warming so it's not 'newsworthy'. That's not good science. That's why the wild temperature increases Gore presented in his docudrama never occurred, and why the IPCC has been forced to significantly reduce and revise the un-justified alarmist temperature projections.
The unedited data are freely available to anyone who wants to see for themselves.
"The trap was fully sprung when many of the world’s major national academies of science (such as the … Australian Academy of Science) persuaded themselves to issue reports giving support to the conclusions of the IPCC."
"The ‘Pause’ of Global Warming Risks Destroying The Reputation Of Science"
"Global temperatures have not risen for 17 years. The pause now threatens to expose how much scientists sold their souls for cash and fame, warns emeritus professor Garth Paltridge, former chief research scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research.
Climate Change’s Inherent Uncertainties
…there has been no significant warming over the most recent fifteen or so years…
In the light of all this, we have at least to consider the possibility that the scientific establishment behind the global warming issue has been drawn into the trap of seriously overstating the climate problem … in its effort to promote the cause. It is a particularly nasty trap in the context of science, because it risks destroying, perhaps for centuries to come, the unique and hard-won reputation for honesty which is the basis of society’s respect for scientific endeavour…
The trap was set in the late 1970s or thereabouts when..."
"Full story here at: Quadrant Online"
Polar Bears Hunt on Land as Ice Shrinks
By By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer | LiveScience.com – Fri, 24 Jan, 2014
Polar bears have shifted to a diet of more land-based food in response to climate change and melting sea ice in the Arctic, new research finds.
The results suggest that polar bears, at least in the western Hudson Bay area, may be slightly more flexible in the face of climate change than previously thought.
Yup, Adapt or Die... it's the oldest game on the planet. Bears are much better at it than naked apes.
It would appear that the polar bears in Canada are adapting better than the bears in Norway.
Life is not fair, it's hard.
Annual survival of polar bears in Davis Strait has increased since the 1970's.
Nunavut says a new survey shows Canada's polar bear population hasn't significantly declined in the last seven years as predicted
You just go ahead and do what you think is best for climate change.
The polar bears would prefer that you take the train to Churchill Manitoba and come for a stroll on the tundra to visit them. They love Americans, yum...
Judge Says Websites Must Face Defamation Lawsuit For Calling Climate Scientist A ‘Fraud’
A judge for the D.C. Superior Court on Thursday refused to let libertarian think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and conservative news site National Review off the hook from a defamation lawsuit brought by climatologist Michael Mann, saying the sites’ musings about the accuracy of Mann’s research may not be protected by the First Amendment.
Mann had sued the outlets in 2012, claiming they published defamatory articles accusing him of academic fraud and comparing him to a convicted child molester, former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Specifically, Mann alleged that CEI published — and then National Review republished — an article calling Mann “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data in the service of politicized science that could have dire economic consequences for the nation and planet.”
Judge Frederick H. Weisberg on Thursday ruled that while “opinions and rhetorical hyperbole” are protected speech under the First Amendment, accusing a climate scientist of lying about his seemingly factual data is serious enough to warrant defamation claims.
“The allegedly defamatory aspect of this sentence is the statement that plaintiff ‘molested and tortured data,’ not the rhetorically hyperbolic comparison to convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky,” Judge Weisberg wrote.
The statement “he has molested and tortured data” could easily be interpreted to mean that the plaintiff distorted, manipulated, or misrepresented his data. Certainly the statement is capable of a defamatory meaning, which means the questions of whether it was false and made with “actual malice” are questions of fact for the jury. … To state as a fact that a scientist dishonestly molests or tortures data to serve a political agenda would have a strong likelihood of damaging his reputation within his profession, which is the very essence of defamation.
Judge Weisberg denied CEI’s and National Review’s motions to dismiss the lawsuit.
Mann’s scientific work and professional conduct have been celebrated, questioned, and vindicated more than perhaps any other scientist in recent memory.
In 1999, Mann published a timeline of global temperatures stretching back nearly 1,000 years, which showed fairly stable trends until 1900, when temperatures spiked sharply upward. This was deemed the so-called “hockey stick” diagram, which “became a lightning rod in the debate on whether humans were influencing the climate,” The Daily Climate wrote in 2012. In 2007, Mann, former Vice President Al Gore, and the authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize for work connecting human activities to global warming.
In 2009, however, a string of emails illegally obtained from University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom purported to show that Mann and the climate scientists he worked with had manipulated the data. Investigations were conducted by more than seven organizations, from the National Science Foundation to Penn State — all of which said the allegations were baseless. Still, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli spent two years and $500,000 unsuccessfully suing to obtain more emails from the University of Virginia, where Mann had once worked. That investigation also came up empty.
Judge Weisberg’s full order on Thursday can be found here.
21 years off the grid and counting
Fortunately no one on this forum would have promoted such unjustified comparisons...well almost
Climate Change’s Inherent Uncertainties
Virtually all scientists directly involved in climate prediction are aware of the enormous uncertainties associated with their product. How is it that they can place hands over hearts and swear that human emissions of carbon dioxide are wrecking the planet?
Emeritus professor Garth Paltridge, former chief research scientist with the CSIRO Division of Atmospheric Research.
Scientists doing that are little more than Climate Change funding whores. We know who they are, and they've lost our respect.
It does appear that we have begun a new period similar to the Dark Ages in which scientific research is corrupted by a religious environmental fanaticism supported by some crony capitalism currying favour. Environmental scientists: the priesthood of the 21st century. Buy your carbon indulgences today!
Times change, but people don't.
"Home? I have no home. Hunted, despised, living like an animal. The jungle is my home. But I will show the world that I can be its master. I will perfect my own race of people, a race of atomic supermen, which will conquer the world."
Martin Landau as Bela Lugosi in "Ed Wood". 1994.
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