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Archive for the ‘Renewable Energy’ Category

Revolutions fail unless they control the State

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A few months ago Sri Lanka was rocked by massive, nation-wide protests resulting from an economic crisis. The nation had arrived at the brink of bankruptcy and suspended payments on its foreign loans – which in turn meant no more foreign loans.

The country erupted with growing mass protests that were only made worse by the government’s heavy-handed use of riot cops and then the Army. Fighting Tamil terrorists is one thing: fighting an entire country quite another, especially when it’s your own people. And of course it was more than just protests. Hungry people were literally preying on wealthy residents and officials, burning their homes and cars, including those of numerous government MP’s. One MP was assassinated by an angry mob.

But that crisis in turn was the result of an ideological, scientifically ignorant decision by its (former) President to ban agrochemicals for farming:

Within six months of the ban, rice production in the country—a once very sufficient industry—dropped 20 percent, forcing Sri Lanka to import $450 million of rice to meet supply needs and surging rice prices rose nearly 50 percent.

Now, Sri Lanka will pay farmers across the country 40,000 million rupees ($200 million) to compensate for their barren harvests and crop failures. In addition to the funding, the Sri Lankan government will pay $149 million in price subsidies to rice farmers impacted by the loss.

The protests were wildly successful in at least one respect:

[On May 9] Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, the de facto leader of the regime and the president’s brother, handed in his resignation and was forced to take refuge in a naval military base on the eastern coast of the country.

[On July 9 people stormed] the presidential palace, the Presidential Secretariat, and the official residence of the prime minister. This was an unprecedented moment in Sri Lanka’s political history. President Rajapaksa fled that evening to Maldives and handed in his resignation. 

That last article is titled the ‘Morning After’ Moment, and it could have been titled, So What Now? In other words what does a revolution do when it has succeeded in its immediate primary aim of deposing the top leaders? A Ceaușescu moment, followed by the implementation of a new system?

Not in this case, despite the unusual sight of political groups being caught out by their own voters, especially the Left who are supposedly always ready to Speak Truth To Power:

Many organized political forces tried to position themselves as its legitimate representatives; but the truth is that it was a remarkable and genuine uprising of the masses that surprised the organized left as much as the ruling political class. The country’s leading left-wing party, the People’s Liberation Front, even cautioned the public at the beginning against taking part in these unregulated protests, even if they were quickly forced to change their position and to claim a leadership role in the mass uprisings.

When you observe how detached most of the political Left in the West is from their traditional working class voters, this doesn’t sound unusual. Neither does the subsequent pandering. Sadly, niether does this:

What we are witnessing now is the return and the reorganization of the state. After the resignation of the president, the prime minister was sworn in as his acting successor. A few days later, the prime minister was officially elected, as per the constitution, by the majority vote of the parliament. The same allegedly corrupt MPs of the previous regime voted for him, meaning that their grasp on state power remains largely intact.

And “the masses” have gone home, presumably to eke out their lives as best they can. The security forces also got a second chance and have taken it with relish, with hundreds of activists arrested and thousands more being questioned by the police, plus some very dodgy imprisonment-while-awaiting-trial of the usual student activists, even though this revolution did not start in the universities. Again, looking at the outrageous treatment of the January 6 protestors in Washington D.C., with people held for months awaiting trial, one sees the similarities, as well as the US no longer being able to sneer at developing nations and their “extremist” laws. The following also struck a chord both for the USA and New Zealand:

Ironically, the president himself had allocated a nearby strip of land as the official “agitation site”[next to the Presidential Secretariat building]. Protesters, in a rare moment of agreement with the law, duly occupied the adjoining area—and began an occupation that continued for almost four months.

An allocated spot right outside the President’s building for any “Rivers of FilthTM” that may wish to turn up and protest about something. What a concept!

The writer points out that it isn’t all gloom. After all, something very significant and new in Sri Lanka’s history – a true people’s uprising that deposed a President and a Prime Minister (and decidedly dodgy and corrupt ones to boot), and that has to have some impact on voting and elections and “people’s representatives”, somewhere down the line. But the key point of such revolutions has to be remembered:

Most Sri Lankans are now waking up to the statist nightmare of “the morning after.” But it is also clear that there was no way a rational and concrete program, to be implemented later, could have emerged from such a people’s uprising…  it has to be admitted that as a pure eruption, a mass uprising cannot be posited as an alternative to politics as such.

Which is where revolutions and the State end up entangled with each other; either the revolution’s aims get embedded in the body politic via an election and the State changes, or their’s another revolution – perhaps next time destroying the existing State to replace it with it’s own (think Russia in 1905 vs 1917).

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Written by Tom Hunter

December 23, 2022 at 1:45 pm

Malthus is dead (but reaches beyond the grave)

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I’m happy for you as well

I had thought that Malthusian stupidity had peaked in the late 60’s/early 70’s with things like Famine ’75, The Late Great Planet Earth and of course the most famous, Paul Erlich’s The Population Bomb.

All of them were absolutely certain that civilisation was going to destroy itself in the 1970’s as the population outraced food production, apparently having learned nothing from the complete failure of the original predictions on the subject by Thomas Robert Malthus at that end of the 18th century.

Failing to learn the lesson the first time is barely forgiveable, although the passage of almost two centuries could be granted. Failing to forget lessons from fifty years ago is less so, and it seems we have a new batch of doomsters, judging from this post over at The Standard (I rarely look at them, as even the Lefties of The Daily Blog complain about their one-eyed defence of Labour and ban hammers), Richard Heinberg: The Final Doubling. The focus of that article is actually on economic growth and the need to put an end to it:

Further, if the economy keeps growing at the recent rate, in the next 25 years we will approximately double the amount of energy and materials we use. And by 50 years from today our energy and materials usage will have doubled again, and will therefore be four times current levels. In a hundred years, we will be using 16 times as much.

This sort of doomster talk is even older than Malthus, with the following being from the 3rd century:

You must know that the world has grown old, and does not remain in its former vigour. It bears witness to its own decline. The rainfall and the sun’s warmth are both diminishing; the metals are nearly exhausted; the husbandman is failing in the fields, the sailor on the seas, the soldier in the camp, honesty in the market, justice in the courts, concord in friendships, skill in the arts, discipline in morals. This is the sentence passed upon the world, that everything which has a beginning should perish, that things which have reached maturity should grow old, the strong weak, the great small, and that after weakness and shrinkage should come dissolution.

I don’t know how many times this has been debunked, both in theory and in practice over thousands of years and especially since the start of the Industrial Revolution. One of the most famous debunkers was the economist Julian Simon, who won a famous victory in a 1980 wager with none other than Ehrlich over whether or not a bundle of five natural resources would become more scarce over the course of a decade. People like Erlich would have predicted a collapsed in wood supplies in the 18th century for construction and fuel – before people figured out how to find, extract and burn coal, followed by gas, oil and nuclear energy. That was actually Simon’s main point, as he tirelessly documented, and which is concisely summarised here:

The Earth’s resources are limited, but those limits are the limits of the Earth not of our abilities. And there are no known limits to our abilities — we humans are not merely gatherers of a fixed supply of resources; we are discoverers and creators of a potentially unlimited supply of resources. That was the economist Julian Simon’s still-under-appreciated point about the ultimate resource: intelligence.

The ultimate resource is the human mind. The fact that the human population has increased to eight billion while at the same we’ve got healthier and wealthier does not deter these doomsters. Only one person on that comment thread (and he’s a blogger there called “Advantage” pointed to the relentless productivity improvement in energy consumption as just one facet of this fact.

But I think the reason for the re-emergence of this theory is that the Greens and Environmental Left have finally begun to recognise that their beloved renewable energy does have limits, and they quote a source I chucked at them a few months ago, Professor Simon Michaux of the Finnish Geological Survey showing that “Global reserves are not large enough to supply enough metals to build the renewable non-fossil fuels industrial system.”, which leads the Standard writer to conclude:

Even if Michaux’s resource estimates are too pessimistic, it is still probably unrealistic to imagine that a renewables-based energy system will be capable of doubling in size even once, much less every 25 years forever more.

So even they are already beginning to realise the problems with renewable energy – but their answer is to have Zero Economic Growth. I don’t think that’s going to work, even with a global population that will be shrinking and aging fast after 2050 – which brings me to this garbage from Heinberg:

If growth continues at the current rate, we’ll have about 18 billion people on Earth by the end of this century.

To be fair to the Standard folks there are a few who buried that bullshit, pointing to rapidly falling birth rates and already shrinking populations in places like Japan, with solid forecasts of the same about to happen in other developed nations, with the developing nations merely lagging. And there’s also good news for these Lefties on this front:

The Numbers of Liberal Men Getting Vasectomies Has Skyrocketed

I’m not sure if the following is real or a joke advertisement worthy of the Babylon Bee, but in our Clown World anything is possible.

Written by Tom Hunter

December 19, 2022 at 6:00 am

Watch this heartfelt video on control

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How exactly is Net Zero sustainable?

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The forecast lithium demand to meet the Net Zero targets look to be completely unachievable. That is an enormous amount of new mining that would no doubt be opposed by self described environmentalists. The story of global growth and prosperity from the industrial revolution is tightly entwined with use of energy starting with coal, other fossil fuels and nuclear. It seems to me the underlying socialist green agenda is happily to take us all back to an agrarian lifestyle. They decry growth and seem happy to leave the undeveloped nations where they are and take the world down to their level, rather than encourage the use of fossil fuels to bring everyone forward.

Written by Whiskey&Pie

November 1, 2022 at 10:35 am

A Union boss speaks the truth

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Gary Smith, the general secretary of the GMB, tells the New Statesman’s Rachel Wearmouth…

We import a huge amount of fracked gas and we import methane from America, which is basically fracked gas… Now we have a choice: we are either going to import gas that has been fracked somewhere else in the world and put on diesel-bombing ships or we take responsibility for our own carbon. If it can be done safely, and that is demonstrable, then it’s time that we took responsibility for our own carbon emissions. …the idea that the future is going to be all about electricity, or that we’re moving to a future simply about renewables, is just not true. … listen to unions that are in the energy sector, such as the GMB.

We should not get caught up in a bourgeois environmental debate driven by the bourgeois environmental lobby …The debate on the left needs to seriously talk about climate change, but it needs to be focused on jobs. And the renewables industry, and many of those who espouse it in politics, have no interest in jobs for working class communities. And we should stop pretending that we’re in an alliance with them. The big winners from renewables have been the wealthy and big corporate interests. Invariably the only jobs that are created when wind farms get put up, particularly onshore wind, have been jobs in public relations and jobs for lawyers.

hat/tip Guido Fawkes quote of the Day

Written by Whiskey&Pie

September 23, 2022 at 10:00 am

Metaphorical Fun

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It’s nice to know that there are many decent people in our world, including people who have no reason to be decent to people who likely want to destroy their lives.

Having said that I’d be willing to bet that while the tourists whose electric car ran out of juice will see the decency of the men who helped them out, they’ll not see the irony of this moment and they’ll still continue to vote to screw those men into the ground, likely with the rationalisation that they’ll get jobs building solar panels or windmills.

This just shows you coal miners are good people and will go out of their way to help anyone friend or foe. I’m honestly glad they ended up where they could get some help because they couldn’t get a tow truck to come and this is out in the middle of nowhere. one guy even dropped off a Friend of Coal license plate when he left to go home.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 9, 2022 at 5:42 pm

When did the Germans become this stupid?

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The Lamps Are Going Out All Over Europe’

Germans have never struck me as being stupid people. It may be cliched to picture them as sober, serious, stolid citizens who make machines and systems that work, but that’s because cliches often derive from basic truths.

But there is that whole German Political Party That Must Not Be Named thing, which often seemed to be both led and run by hysterics, so perhaps there’s some flaw in the German national character that just bursts out from time to time.

Begging also does not seem to be them either.

Oh dear:

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was in Canada recently begging Justin Trudeau for Liquified Natural Gas. “Canada is our partner of choice,” said Scholz, adding “we hope that Canadian LNG will play a major role” in his country’s attempt to wean itself off Russian energy.

Trudeau was characteristically dismissive, saying there has “never been a strong business case” for exporting Canadian LNG to Europe. Of course, he was also letting himself off the hook for his government’s entrenched anti-resource-sector policies: Canada currently has not one single LNG active export terminal, and Canada’s regulatory framework is responsible for the outright rejection of sixteen of the eighteen proposed terminal construction projects since Trudeau took power.

All of this is due to the German Energiewende (clean energy transition) running into a few problems, mainly because the only way to make the transition “work” was to import large amounts of Russian gas to make up the difference – and now that strategy is stuffed because of all the sanctions against Russia due to its invasion of Ukraine. That article looks at the sad efforts to move away from coal – until now:

Of course, the plan to fire up the coal-fired power plants has been presented as an ‘emergency’ measure, in response to the war in Ukraine. As recently as December, the German government was promising to accelerate the phase-out of coal power. Instead of eliminating coal by 2038, as Angela Merkel had planned, the new government aims to end the use of coal by 2030. 

There was also more begging:

On top of reopening coal plants, Habeck was forced to visit Qatar earlier this year, in order to secure new supplies of liquefied natural gas. Photos of Habeck bowing to the Qatari energy minister were met with widespread derision on social media. This was widely seen as a betrayal not only of Habeck’s green principles, but also of the ‘moral foreign policy’ that the Green Party had promised. 

Humiliating, but what else could he do? Beggars can’t be choosers, and Germany is very much a beggar.

The Russians know it too. That’s why they’ve cut down LNG flows to Germany by 60 percent, blaming “mechanical problems” while ostentatiously burning $10 million worth of natural gas per day at the mouth of the Nord Stream pipeline rather than sending it to Germany. Russia is making the same amount of money from 1/5 of its former supply: an own-goal by the Euros.

Even in the face of this disaster the Germans are also still being fanatical about closing their nuke plants, although that has begin to at least wobble a bit in the wake of exploding energy costs. Luckily for the Germans the entire EU has declared that not only are nukes Clean and Green – but so too is Natural Gas:

The European Union voted on Wednesday to keep some specific uses of natural gas and nuclear energy in its taxonomy of sustainable sources of energy.

Ecoactivists and unhappy bureaucrats are already complaining the move is “green-washing” nuclear power and natural gas. Austria intends to bring the matter to the European Court.

Meh. They’re hankering for the 1980’s anti-nuke past while these current events are already clearly changing attitudes back to nuclear power:

The U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands have all announced plans to build new reactors, adding to Europe’s decades-old reactor fleet

Mind you, as goes Germany, so goes Europe.

The story is much the same throughout the continent — in Poland people have been lining up in their cars for multiple days in the hopes of buying rationed coal to get them through the next several months (the E.U. has also embargoed Russian coal imports). The manager of Finland’s power grid has begun telling the country to “prepare for shortages this winter.” The British were recently informed that their heat and energy costs would increase by 80 percent as of October 1, and their national grid managers, too, have begun to talk more about shortages than cost.

Meanwhile, China and India happily use all the fossil fuels Europe is not.

Written by Tom Hunter

September 4, 2022 at 6:00 am

Crush Depth

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Some genius architects and urban planners have come up with a brilliant idea for future cities on Earth.

“The Line” is a proposed three-dimensional city that is 200m wide, 500m high, 170km long, and built in the Saudi Arabian desert, 500m above sea level, according to the NEOM Project’s official website. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince and Chairman of the NEOM Board of Directors, Mohammed bin Salman, made the announcement on The Line’s official site.

No roads, cars or emissions, it will run on 100% renewable energy and 95% of land will be preserved for nature. People’s health and wellbeing will be prioritized over transportation and infrastructure, unlike traditional cities…[It] will eventually accommodate 9 million people and will be built on a footprint of just 34 square kilometers.

Here’s their two minute video.

So, what do readers think?

I think it blows! Big time. Just one of the objections I have is that line about “preserving nature” – as if humans are not also part of nature.

It’s something out of a dystopian Science Fiction story, starting out like those bright, clean spaceships in 2001: A Space Odyssey and other SF movies of the 1950’s-60’s, but likely to degrade to a BladeRunner type locale. It should be noted that critics praised the move in SF movies away from “bright and shiny” to “gritty” as being likely a touch more realistic.

Also, humans don’t react well to being “re-engineered”. We’re organic beings and often the things we create, like cities, are organic too, even if we use machines to build and run them they develop in quirky ways. Planned cities like Brasila (“...the Hotel Sector, the Banking Sector, and the Embassy Sector…“) are not regarded with any great love:

Nothing dates faster than people’s fantasies about the future. This is what you get when perfectly decent, intelligent, and talented men start thinking in terms of space rather than place; and single rather than multiple meanings. It’s what you get when you design for political aspirations rather than real human needs. You get miles of jerry-built platonic nowhere infested with Volkswagens. This, one may fervently hope, is the last experiment of its kind. The utopian buck stops here.

— Robert HughesThe Shock of the New, Episode 4: “Trouble in Utopia”, (1980)

Fervant hope dashed. I can’t recall a time in my life when Central Planners have ever given up on any of their utopian goals. At best they’ve destroyed themselves, in the sense that their plans have produced undeniably dreadful results, but mostly they’ve encountered pushback in the form of people refusing to cooperate with their grand plans and escaping to places where the plans are not being effected.

But like rust, the bastards never sleep. They never give up on their utopian schemes, witness the constant hopes in Lefty bastions like The Daily Blog and The Standard, that the government would once again own the entire power industry here.

There’s also another unspoken aspect to this, summarised well by the secondary headline in this article, The Dehumanizing Tyranny of Densification:

The prevailing vision of environmentalism today caters to a global oligarchy.

Or perhaps Kip’s Law:

“Every advocate of central planning always — always — envisions himself as the central planner.”

In other words I very much doubt that Mohammed bin Salman or any of the other Saudi Princes will be giving up their palaces to live in this utopia. It’s probably intended for the army of Pakistani immigrant workers that their economy needs in order to operate.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 29, 2022 at 2:19 pm

The delicious bite of reality

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Let’s start with the good news before getting into the bad news.

Investment Giant BlackRock Loses $1.7 Trillion In Six Months

BlackRock lost $1.7 trillion of its clients’ money since the beginning of the year — the largest sum ever lost by a single firm over a six-month period, according to a Wednesday report from Bloomberg analyst Marc Rubenstein.

Blackrock are one of the largest fund managers in the world, controlling trillions of dollars of their clients’ funds – which is often the retirement and pension savings of typical American investors.

So why is this good news? Because BlackRock have been one of the leading proponents of the bullshit known as ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance), insisting that companies it invests in use this method of measuring themselves rather than boring old crap like revenue, profits, dividends and ROI (Return on Investment):

By adopting ESG goals — or, in the case of BlackRock, pushing portfolio companies into adopting ESG goals — executives commit themselves to pursuing green energy, appointing a certain number of minorities to serve as managers, or otherwise blending profitability with progressive politics.

BlackRock have been bullying bastards on this matter since they have so much financial power. They even managed to place three environmental activists on the 12-person board of Exxon Mobil. That’s how much power they have.

Or perhaps had. You’ve all heard of luxury goods, things you can buy when you have a lot of money. Well there are also things called luxury ideas; electric cars in a world of $NZ 20/litre petrol; a world of organic farming and 100% renewable energy, But also very gauzy academic ideas like ESG or White Privilege and Critical Race Theory.

Which is to say that when times get tough, when the food, the petrol and the money start running out and that Bachelor in Environmental Gender Studies just ain’t pulling in the big bucks, luxury ideas tend to get jettisoned, and right quick. BlackRock is not at that stage yet; more pain must be inflicted on them.

However, an exclusive Daily Wire poll conducted by Echelon Insights showed earlier this year that 64% of respondents believe “individual investors whose savings are being invested” should ultimately decide whether retirement funds and pension plans are allocated according to ESG criteria. A mere 20% believe that “Wall Street asset managers” should make such decisions.

As an old varsity buddy cum investment manager in Wellington told me in the wake of the 1987 share market crash, regarding some clients who’d ignored his warnings, “People don’t react until the blowtorch is applied to the goolies”.

Goolie burning is a nasty business, as Sri Lanka has found out and which deserves its own post. But for the moment let’s note this:

“But the underlying reason for the fall of Sri Lanka is that its leaders fell under the spell of Western green elites peddling organic agriculture and ‘ESG,’ which refers to investments made following supposedly higher Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria. Sri Lanka has a near-perfect ESG score (98) which is higher than Sweden (96) or the United States (51).”

Michael Shellenberger, from his article ‘Green Dogma Behind Fall Of Sri Lanka

It’s a tempting idea to kidnap the BlackRock execs and dump them in Sri Lanka where they’ll have, shall we say, direct contact with the joys of near-perfect ESG score. Assholes.

Meanwhile in China….

Because nothing says “Your bank is safe but you can’t get your money out” than encountering a Main Battle Tank blocking the front doors.

Could be worse; in the future they’ll probably be using these instead – and this is not from the well-known firm, Boston Dynamics that pioneered these things: this is a Chinese model.

Germany’s a gas, man

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It was apparent several years ago to people like President Trump that Germany was getting far too hooked on Russian gas in its attempts to shut down it’s own coal-fired and nuclear generating plants. However, when Trump addressed this to Chancellor Merkel she dismissed the concerns and when he raised it again in a UN speech…

Germany will become totally dependent on Russian energy if it does not immediately change course.

…. the arrogant German representatives literally laughed at him (the video from which this is taken shows this even more clearly).

I guess the dumb bastards aren’t laughing any more, judging by the release of this analysis from Deutsche Bank.

Wood for heating? I’m cool with that for the farm, in fact I love my wood-burning fireplace. But for a mass of urban dwellers in a 21st century developed nation? How many houses would even have such a thing anymore?

And as this article points out, you can actually run cars on wood gas, and during WWII they did so in Germany and other nations.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 19, 2022 at 7:40 pm