No Minister

Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Learning from other’s mistakes

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I’m not talking about Labour and certainly not the NZ Greens. They’re committed to a path of insanity when it comes to renewable energy, as they are most other things in our society.

No, I’m looking at National and ACT. I understand that polling shows that Jacinda still has quite a grip on the female vote in this country, and that polling and focus groups show the same cohort as being the determining factor on things like wearing face diapers to ward off the dreaded Chinese Lung Rot – and saving the planet! I also get that this is backed by a wall of almost monolithic MSM propaganda 24/7.

But we surely now have enough examples from “leaders” in renewable energy around the world who have started to run into big problems with both the unreliability of these new power sources and the increase in power costs associated with them, as well as the failure to reduce CO2 emissions, (which is what this was supposed to be all about in the first place) to be able to argue back on the basis of sheer, basic, in-your-face reality and not join the insanity.

Here’s the latest victim of that reality, South Africans left in the dark after grid collapse:

South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country.

The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power for more than 9 hours a day.

Eskom has officially said that the blackouts are not a temporary situation and they estimate that it will take “years” to stabilise the power grid. The unstated assumption is that they can manage this feat at all in the face of the path their government has followed on trying to reduce CO2 emissions by building wind farms and closing some of their old coal-fired plants and not spending money on repairs and maintenance of the others because they anticipated their eventual closure.

Does this sound familiar? It should given that we’ve seen the exact same thing happening in Australia, Europe (especially Germany), Texas, and California:

  • Power blackouts (both rolling and sudden)
  • Massive increases in electricity costs
  • Little to no impact on reducing CO2 emissions

The biggest joke here is that we may be about to commit the same suicidal actions just as the rest of the world begins to turn away from it, despite all their hot air on the subject of Global Warming, because those energy realities are starting to bite:

World leaders at the Group of 7 summit in Germany signaled they will turn back to fossil fuels despite their commitments to a green energy transition thanks to the ongoing energy crisis.

“The G7 leaders are pretending that nothing has happened to the green agenda,” Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In reality, if you look at individual member states… it’s quite obvious that the green agenda will be sunk.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party, announced last week that the government was instituting a surge in the use of coal-powered plants.

Given the steady increase in German reliance on natural gas from Russia over the last few years, their €500 billion Energiewende project increasingly looked like a farce anyway, but it’s taken the Ukranian war to make that obvious.

Habeck is not the only such Green who is waking up, with other Euro Greens beginning to not only get the message that their favoured Renewables are actually better called the Unreliables, but that new – and previously forbidden – thinking is required:

Finland’s Green Party (Vihreät De Gröna) has voted by a large majority at its party conference to adopt a pro-nuclear approach. The party manifesto now states that nuclear is “sustainable energy” and demands the reform of current energy legislation to streamline the approval process for small modular reactors (SMRs). Finland’s is the first Green Party to adopt such a position.

There will be others, judging from this article by a guy who has started up or run companies dedicated to “clean energy technologies”, energy efficient homes and so forth – a True Believer in other words:

I wasted 20 years of my life chasing utopian energy.

Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society.

For years, I chased utopian energy. I promoted solar, wind, and energy efficiency because I felt like I was protecting the environment. But I was wrong! Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. I just couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to my false beliefs about energy—myths that blinded me to what really does—and doesn’t—help the planet.

He puts forward eight measures of assessment that must all be used when looking at energy sources – emissions being just one of them. The other seven are: security, reliability, affordability, versatility, scalability, and land use.

Suffice to say that he’s realised that renewables don’t do very well when measured on all these factors, as he shows in that article.

Will National and ACT realise the same thing – and more crucially will they be intellectually and politically tough enough to make those arguments?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 4, 2022 at 10:22 am

Lessons for National from the Australian Power Crisis

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There are three key points to take away from the recent power debacle in Australia.

First, take a look at this graph of indexed electricity prices in Aussie from 1955 to 2017. After decades of steady reduction the rise in price has been steep and unrelenting since the start of the age of unreliable power in the mid-2000’s.

Remember this every time some Green tells you that Wind and Solar are cheaper than traditional base load, utility-scale power sources; “cost” is about more than just the Capex of the equipment. It’s about the cost of power shortages, limited growth, potential grid collapses, shorter plant lifetimes (25 years), and the cost of maintaining reliable backup power sources.

Second, note that the Liberal-National’s have been in government during much of this time, including the last nine years just ended. So when Labor and the Left hold them responsible for much of this nonsense they will be correct.

Third, hidden by such truth is the fact that Labor and the Greens wanted to go harder and faster on all this, which may have been a better idea since the crash would have come harder and faster, with appropriate lessons learned.

Best of all it should be noted that this is all a complete waste of time and money.

The primary lesson for National here in NZ on renewable unreliable power and climate change is this: Labour and the Left want you in on this so that when the hungry, cold crowds with the pitchforks and burning torches turn up they can point fingers at you and say:

“But they did it too”

And they’ll be right.

P.S. For those National supporters frightened of the power of Climate Change as an issue, “especially with the youth”, here’s something to stiffen your spines.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 20, 2022 at 12:00 pm

Burn. More. Coal?

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In the classic comic/horror movie Return of the Living Dead, there’s a scene where the zombies eat the brains of the police trying to stop them and one of the zombies uses a cop car radio to call, “Send more cops”.

I thought of this the other day while reading about the new Australian Labor government, returned from the dead after more than a decade, led by an opponent of the Hawke-Keating Labor Party economic reforms of the 1980’s, and a man whose brain not even a hungry zombie would touch.

They’ve arrived just in time to confront a crisis in the Australian electricity system caused by the shrinking gap between power supply and demand, courtesy of the “success” of successive Labor and Liberal-National governments in squeezing out fossil-fueled power stations with wind and solar by making the former unprofitable.

So when a cold snap hit Australia recently – the Coldest Start of Winter for Over a Century in fact – the following things happened:

  • The grid operator tried to force thermal generators on at a power price less than their fuel costs, so the generators took their units off the market.
  • Thus there are power cuts in Oz and power prices have gone through the roof.
  • The authorities finally suspended the market and ordered operators to bring plants on line, for which they will be “compensated”. No doubt this will be taken by the Left as yet another example of how markets fail.

In the darkest of ironies the government was forced to grovel as well as enforce:

Labor has begged industry bosses to fire up all their coal-fuelled power stations at full capacity to ease the national energy crisis in a dramatic policy u-turn.

Just days after promising ‘real action on climate change‘, Labor today demanded the nation’s coal power stations are all brought back into service as soon as possible.

It’s not just the power plants that have been shut down but coal units that have broken down as they haven’t been maintained because they haven’t been generating income. And all the parties (except maybe the Australian National party) will talk only about how quickly they need to be shut down.

Green political hostility towards coal and gas development created Australia’s energy shortage problem, by discouraging investment in affordable energy resources, and choking off the supply of bank finance for building and maintenance of coal plants.

This is called karma. The poster child of renewable power, South Australia, actually had to burn diesel again.

I’d like to think that Aussie voters will learn something from this but they’ve just managed to escape disaster – this time – so will likely need a longer, colder power crisis. Next time the gap will be bigger, as will be the case in the USA:

Unfortunately, the reliability of the electric grid could get worse in the coming years as more reliable power plants are retired. MISO’s capacity shortfall is projected to grow to 2,600 MW by 2023, enough to power virtually every home in Minnesota on an average hour, and capacity deficits are projected to widen in subsequent years.

The graph below shows the capacity shortfall growing from 2,600 MW next year to 10,900 MW by 2027 as the green bars sink lower toward the x-axis. For context, 10,900 MW is more than the amount needed to generate Minnesota’s annual electricity on an average hourly basis. Of course, some hours will have much higher demand, and some hours demand will be lower, but the trend is troubling regardless.

That’s from a report issued by the Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator powerline outfit, which details a high risk of blackouts this Northern summer resulting from the current gap of 1,230 MW shortfall in power plant capacity to meet its peak demand and reserve margin.

This gap has arisen after 3,200 megawatts (MW) of reliable power plants, mostly coal and nuclear, were retired last year:

“Green” energy liberals have demanded, successfully, that reliable coal and nuclear plants be closed so they can be replaced by wind farms and solar installations. But those unreliable, intermittent sources can never replace power plants that actually work 24/7. Hence the blackouts that are now beginning, and will become more and more widespread if we continue to rely increasingly on undependable sources of power.

President Obama was the last Lefty politician to display some honesty about the true cost of renewable energy:“Electricity prices will skyrocket”:

You’d therefore think that the Democrats would be overjoyed at the massive increases in energy costs, and of course they secretly are, except for one thing crucial to a politician:

Elections have consequences, someone once said, and now the consequences of all of those elections in which Californians put leftist Democrats in office are hitting them in the wallet. They asked for it, they got it, and now they don’t like it.

The same thing – massive increases in power prices plus unreliable power plus fossil fuel plants that cannot be scrapped – has happened in Germany in particular and Europe in general, and all for poor results in GHG emissions reductions (France excepted because …. nuclear).

But never fear, the Greens have a solution:

Already, liberals are talking about a future in which you don’t control your use of electricity. Rather, a utility does. Thus, when “renewable” energy sources don’t produce enough to meet demand, the response will be “demand management.” That may mean, among other things, that you won’t be able to turn on your own air conditioning. Rather, the utility will control the temperature of your home for you.

Classic: via political control the Left create a problem and then solve it with more control. The thing is that in the USA I’m not so sure that will work given how much Americans hate being controlled. Some years ago my friend Cathy, living in San Francisco, talked to all her equally Liberal, tree-hugging friends about a great idea she’d grown up with in New Zealand – “Ripple Control” – which many of you may remember from the 1970’s and 1980’s. In the wee small hours the Department of Electricity would signal water heaters to shut down, starting them up again about 5am or so. Naturally Kiwis took it up the ass, even as they blamed Muldoon.

Her neighbours and friends completely rejected the idea and – as she sheepishly admitted – did so with some heat.

See also:

Powerless Europe (plus dirty Germany)
Energy Charades (Coal expansion in China, India, SE Asia vs. Germany)
Energy Realities (US GHG emissions reduction success vs China coal plus wind fail)

Written by Tom Hunter

June 20, 2022 at 6:00 am

Mixed Climate Messages

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In order to calculate the farm’s GHG emissions we use a computer model called Overseer. This is its logo.

Just kidding, just kidding.

But really it is the perfect name for something that will increasingly be in charge of farmers, irrespective of what they think of themselves as property and business owners. Did the model developers really think this one through?

Basically I input into this model data on what fuel and fertilisers I’ve used on different areas of the farm, food inputs, herd size, etc. Months later we get a report telling us about our emissions of nitrogen, methane and CO2.

It’s a mark of environmental story change that when I was a kid pollution meant producing all these man-made chemicals and substances that had never existed in the natural world – and then carelessly releasing them into that natural world – as they still do in places like the godforsaken Russian mining town of Norilsk.

Stopping that sort of shit was something I could get onboard for – and still do.

But nowadays, with a lot of that stuff having been beaten back, pollution means increases in the amount of natural stuff – like nitrogen, methane, CO2, etc – and it’s rather difficult to have industry or agriculture that doesn’t do that or alter nature in some other way. In fact it’s pretty much impossible, as thousands of years of forest clearance for British Neolithic farming showed.

We’re human; changing our environment to enable us to live better is pretty much what we do.

Thus I’m sure you will be impressed to know that I’m in the lowest quintile of environmental degredationists. 😅😅😅😅

However, the latest message about good old Overseer was a bit confusing….

Dear Tom,

Re: 2021/2022 Environmental data (previously called Nutrient Budget data)

We listened to farmers feedback and built an improved system to capture your environmental data. Please find the link to the new portal below. When you go to enter your data, please print off or have the attachment handy to get started in the new system and how to watch the overview video…

Blah, blah, blah. So far, so standard, soooooo boring. But the next bit made my day:

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

I think you can all guess that it’s NOT electric!.

Could have been worse I suppose. The prize could have been this.

Yeah baby!

Written by Tom Hunter

June 15, 2022 at 6:08 pm

Sustainable Living?

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I came across this rather sweet video a few weeks ago by an English guy who has, over the last five years, built an off-the-grid lifestyle on eighteen acres in the countryside.

The video is him showing viewers all the things he has built, which is a pretty impressive list:

  • A “cob” house.
  • Miniature hydro-electric dam.
  • Solar panels and power shed/workshop for batteries, invertors, etc.
  • Woodwork shop.
  • Metalworking shop (in progress).
  • Greenhouse.
  • Saw milling machine.

He’s also done this for very little money.

I suspect that he and his unseen girlfriend, “Pip”, are vegetarians because while he’s very proud of their vegetable gardens, he only refers to their chickens as a source of eggs, and although their are sheep there’s no mention of them being sources of meat.

But here’s the thing. As impressive as all this is, the fact is that he’s done it using machinery that had to be produced in factories: all of his big 3-phase woodworking machinery; numerous other smaller woodworking and metal working tools; the very useful chain saw; various electronics, including the components of the power system.

Those factories can’t be run off solar panels and small hydro dams. While it would have been possible to do all this by hand without such tools it would have been a hell of lot harder, taken longer, and the results likely more primitive. Aside from the construction itself his ongoing lifestyle will require regular replacements of components or entire machines – like the solar panels and batteries – which he cannot produce.

In short, it’s an industrial civilisation that’s enabling him to live like this. To what extent such a civilisation can be reduced or downgraded while still being able to support hundreds of millions or billions of people to live such a poetic and rustic lifestyle is an unanswered, and perhaps unanswerable, question. Certainly in the Developing world, billions of people are moving in the opposite direction from this guy – with all that implies about their demands for energy and technology.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 9, 2022 at 7:00 am

Radical Emptiness

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I must admit that I was bracing myself this Monday morning at the prospect of Labour’s latest plans for tackling AGW, given all the talk about dairy farmers being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year for our terrible Green House Gas (GHG) emission sins!

I was therefore immensely pleased to read this in Kiwiblog on Tuesday morning:

Stuff took the time to tally up these 284 listed actions and classify them.

Over half (158) are not really plans at all, but are plans to make a plan down the road, or to scope the scale of a possible policy, or develop an evidence base to build a policy on.

Excellent. NZ Labour strikes again. Plans and more plans amounting to nothing, although unfortunately a lot of money will be pissed up against various walls. It’s reached a sad stage in government when the best you can hope for is that the ideological fanatics you oppose turn out to be incompetent morons who couldn’t find their assholes with a mirror and a magnifying glass.

Still, let us be grateful for small mercies and the fact that for all the bloviating about the Climate Crisis, Labour have figured out that to really reduce emissions as far and as fast as they want would mean doing things that would be … harsh. This was explored from a US perspective in this article from 2019 where the writer lays out the reality of “getting serious” about reducing GHG emissions by imagining what a True Believer President (Democrat naturally) would have to do:

Inslee had launched his campaign two years earlier as a longshot, single-issue candidate. But events rapidly outpaced what had begun as a boutique candidacy intended to call attention to climate change.

As his first act as president, Inslee declared a national climate emergency. As his second, he announced national carbon rationing. Until further notice, consumers were limited to one tank of gas per month. Based on time of year and regional climates, natural gas and heating oil deliveries to households were cut by as much as 60%. Utilities were directed to submit plans within the month to cut total electricity generation by 40% and to optimize their existing generation mix to use as little fossil generation as possible.

In this imaginary scenario Inslee wins because Mother Nature delivers droughts, storms, tornadoes and hurricanes that perfectly fit his campaign. Congress follows Inslee (a real politician btw) and:

  • Nationalises the entire US electricity industry (the massive TVA and BPA are already public).
  • Creates a National Renewable Energy Corporation to produce enough wind turbines and solar panels to produce 60% of the nation’s electric power by 2030.
  • Creates the National Nuclear Energy Corporation, which takes over all private nuclear businesses build 200 single-design reactors in a decade to handle the other 40% of power needs.
  • Nationalises the Big Three US automakers to retool all their factories in three years to make EV’s.

While it’s imaginary the writer compares this to what is actually being proposed or being done to show how moderate even the calls of most US greens are.

As many environmentalists and even elected Democrats have come to believe that serious climate disruption is already upon us, it has become fashionable to call for a World War II-style mobilization to fight climate change. But virtually no one will actually call for any of the sorts of activities that the United States undertook during the war mobilization—rationing food and fuels, seizing property, nationalizing factories or industries, or suspending democratic liberties.

In other words even the zealots are full of it, and, although they probably are genuinely alarmed, don’t actually see climate change as the immediate and existential threat they publicly say it is. The article is lengthy and goes into some detail about the post-war history of the US Left in five sections:

  • The Libertarian Left.
  • From Public Goods to Market Failure.
  • Communitarian Capitalism.
  • Tilting with Windmills.
  • Our Divided Neoliberal House.

All of which has led them into a position where they can’t go for the imaginary ideas of a President Inslee. Thankfully, because it would likely be a catastrophe. If you think that’s OTT I suggest you look at what’s happening in Sri Lanka as a direct result of an ideological, scientifically ignorant decision by it’s (former) President to ban agrochemicals for farming. Which led to this:

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.

Which then led to this:

Sri Lanka is on the brink of bankruptcy and has suspended payments on its foreign loans. Its economic miseries have brought on a political crisis, with the government facing a protests and a no-confidence motion in Parliament.

The reserves declined to $3.1 billion by the end of 2021, and to $1.9 billion by the end of March, he said. With foreign currency in short supply thanks to less tourism and other revenues, official reserves were tapped to pay for importing essentials including fuel, gas, coal and medicines beginning in August 2021.

Which has led to this, with only enough petrol to last one more day.

I note that the NZ Feckless covered this story a couple of days ago and in the story I read did not once mention the organic farming decision that led to all this. Stuff talks only of Chinese infrastructure projects and debts. Dishonest assholes.

Adam Smith once said, in reply to a student’s concerns about Britain being ruined by the loss of the American colonies, that “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”. Sri Lanka is about to test the limits of that – and don’t for one moment think it couldn’t happen here if we had equally fanatical environmental decisions made along the lines of “President Inslee”.

NZ Power Blows

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(Re-posted and bumped from last year as an addition to GD’s electricity post.)

After the recent power blackout, which did not affect me, I took a look at Peter Creswell’s long-time blog, Not PC, for his take on the situation.

It turned out that he had nothing new to add to warnings he’d made years, even decades, ago:

if I may continue a well-worn theme of previous posts over several years (No PowerNo power, againStill No Power‘More power!’ says India. ‘No power,’ says NZPower outrage ) and remind you of several famous power outages (such as Auckland 1998, 2006, 2009 … ) this news and that conclusion above simply confirms what should have been obvious years ago: in this country the lifeblood of production, energy, is running out. Not because New Zealand is short of resources with which to produce energy. But because politicians and earth-first worshippers have declared we are not allowed to use them.

That’s from 2012, although he did include this recent comment from one Hamish Rutherford.

“Between the decision to rip up the rules on the gas market, to the difficulty consenting renewables projects, to the threat to build hydro storage at Lake Onslow, the market is simply responding to the signals that the Government is sending it.”

Running through his old posts the most detailed was Meet the Enfeebled, which had lots of graphs on power production, like this one:

... over the years from from 1980 to 1998, the growth in New Zealand’s generating capacity matched the growth in demand, growing at an averaged rate of about 150MW per year.  Despite this, regular power shortages such as the famous outages of 1992 showed that even at this time capacity was near its limits — partly because of the lack of backup generation for the occasionally fickle hydro generators.

The basic thrust of the article was that since the turn of the Millennium (up to 2008 when the post was written) production growth had not matched consumption growth. You can read the detail of power stations built and closed:

TOTAL NEW CAPACITY 1993 – 2008:   1850.5 MW .

TOTAL DECOMISSIONED 1990-2008:       1333 MW

TOTAL NETT NEW CAPACITY SINCE 1990: 949.5 MW

This while consumption grew by 2700MW. The margin was growing thin. But what’s happened since the mid-2000’s? This from the MBIE:

Luckily the consumption has also plateaued at tje same time to roughly the same level: 42,000GWh vs 44,000GWh production.

That is likely due to the steady conversion to energy saving devices such as LED bulbs and heat pumps, as well as the steady increase in insulated houses. But there will come a point where even slow economic growth of 2-3% per year will eventually outpace the improvements in energy efficiency.

But the greatest increase will come with the flip side of the renewable energy push: the electrification of everything. Below are the NZ consumption figures for 2018 in Petajoules (source MBIE report. pdf pages 14-15):

The supply figures are a little different, since we have to import most of our oil while we produce more than we consume for coal (38 vs. 25) and gas (172 vs. 74).

Current total electricity production from all sources in NZ is about 160PJ. So we’re talking about more than doubling our electrical production, and some 84% of it already comes from renewable sources. Geothermal has grown tremendously since 2005 but there are limits being approached quickly. Hydro reached its limits years ago; there have been more cancelled hydro projects to add to Not PC’s 2008 list – and most of those have been due to the Resource Management Act and the Environment Court

So that leaves Wind and Solar, which means an even greater increase needed from that slim red line below.

Basically from 8Pj to more than 300Pj – an increase of 3,750%.

I’m being generous in allowing that the remaining 82PJ might come from a mix of new hydro and geothermal, with a slight assist from residential PV (solar panels).

Moreover that’s just to replace current fossil fuel energy consumption.

=======================

UPDATE:

Rather than looking at Petajoules which involve efficiency conversion assumptions, commentator Chris Morris suggests simply looking at TWh.

The ballpark number to electrify NZs energy demand (with a lot of assumptions) are about a doubling of the grid so 90TWhpa. Here is a 2019 MBIE analysis of it, Electricity demand and generation scenarios. Notice how they claim cost of renewables is cheaper – it isn’t as there is no cost for integration into the grid. Market distortion by credits also there. And if it was cheaper, it wouldn’t need subsidies.

=======================

UPDATE II

Where does our energy come from? (NZ)

42 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy”

=======================

Finally it must be noted that since Wind (and solar) are unreliable, tanking to zero on a regular basis, they will need backup generating capacity – 300Pj of it. Where will that come from? A doubling of hydro/geothermal power? In the case of Hydro it has problems itself, though nowhere near as bad as Wind, but Huntly was built to back them up in drought years.

To paraphrase Sir Humphrey, these are heroic assumptions.

There is one other possibility that should not be dismissed, even as crazy as it may sound. I’m not talking about Thorium Molten Salt Reactors, Fusion reactors or nuclear power in general on the supply side.

No, I’m talking about crushing the demand side. A policy of Zero Economic Growth, or even negative economic as all that fossil fuel energy is shut down to enable a Zero Carbon nation. Look how happy many Greens are with what Covid-19 has delivered to Fortress NZ: the huge reduction in airline flights to and from the nation and the subsequent massive drop in tourism and internal travel in general.

After all, as Robert Bidinotto explains:

Typically, the person who calls himself an “environmentalist” is really just a nature-loving “conservationist.” Appreciating the earth’s natural beauty and bounty, he is understandably concerned about trash, noise, pollution, and poisons. Still, he sees the earth and its bounty as resources–resources for intelligent human use, development, and enjoyment. At root, then, his concern for the earth is human-centered: he believes that this is our environment, to be used by people to enhance their lives, well-being, and happiness.

But the leaders of the organized environmentalist movement have a very different attitude and agenda.

Their basic premise is that human activities to develop natural resources constitute a desecration of nature–that, in fact, nature exists for its own sake, not for human use and enjoyment. By their theory of ecology, they see man not as the crowning glory of nature, nor even as just another part of “the web of life”–but rather as a blight upon the earth, as the enemy of the natural world. And they see man’s works as a growing menace to all that exists.

Written by Tom Hunter

April 24, 2022 at 12:45 pm

We need more cuteness

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I also wonder about the title of this Twitter piece: are Pandas surviving in the wild?

They are still bears after all, and I have to think that in the somewhat tougher conditions of surviving using their own abilities, that they’re somewhat tougher in the wild than when they’re being taken care of by humans in zoos.

It must be really nice having everybody think how cute you are and then doing nothing during your day except things that make everybody think how cute you are.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 21, 2022 at 3:37 pm

Powerless Europe

with 11 comments

No, not powerless in the face of Putin over the Ukraine, although there is a link between the topic of this post and that.

Powerless in terms of energy, although there is both bad and good news.

The Bad News.

Electricity for delivery next year surged as much as 6.4 per cent to an all-time high in Germany, Europe’s biggest power market. France, which usually exports power, will need to suck up supplies from neighboring countries to keep the lights on as severe nuclear outages curb generation in the coldest months of the year.

The crunch is so severe that it’s forcing factories to curb output or shut down altogether. Aluminium Dunkerque Industries France has curbed production in the past two weeks due to high power prices, while Trafigura’s Nyrstar will pause production at its zinc smelter in France in the first week of January. Romanian fertilizer producer Azomures temporarily halted output.

That was in December when 10% of France’s nuclear was taken offline for various minor reasons, with 30% expected later in the winter. As a result French power was already trading at 1,000 euros a megawatt-hour for the month of February.

All of this has been a long time coming, driven mainly by Germany’s mania to appease the Global Warming Gods:

Germany continues its “disastrous” Energiewende transition to a low-carbon or net-zero future by shutting down reliable, resilient, and affordable natural gas, coal, and nuclear plants. In early 2021 German federal government auditors found the “country would need to spend over $600 billion between 2020 to 2025 to maintain grid reliability.” This is on top of the $580 billion already spent by the Germans on Energiewende while closing the Brokdorf, Grohnde, and Gundremmingen zero-carbon nuclear reactors on December 31, 2021.

That last was an especially stupid decision in light of the desire for a zero-carbon future – but it clashed with German politicians living in a 1970’s/80’s anti-nuclear past:

It was only 10 years ago that nuclear power made up almost a quarter of the electricity generated in the country. Following the impact of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown – German Chancellor Angela Merkel took the decision that same year to phase out the country’s nuclear power stations by 2022.

It’s not surprising that France and Germany also ban fracking, as do several smaller western European countries, including Ireland. Britain has also joined the insanity:

Despite the ongoing energy crisis in Europe, the British Oil & Gas Authority (the same government department that banned fracking in 2019) has ordered resource company Cuadrilla to “permanently seal the two shale gas wells drilled at the Lancashire shale exploration site, with the result that the 37.6 trillion cubic metres of gas located in the northern Bowland Shale gas formation will continue to sit unused.”

British politics site Guido Fawkes points out that this self-sabotage is utterly insane since “just 10 percent of this volume could meet U.K. gas needs for 50 years [and] U.K. imports of Natural Gas are expected to skyrocket to over 80 percent by 2050.”

Moreover the emissions from all that imported gas will be greater than for domestically produced gas. To make things even worse the current British Conservative government has decided to follow in the German footsteps on renewable energy, with a goal of Net Zero-Carbon by 2050, with no detail on how CO2 emissions might be absorbed, leaving it all to a 100% production decrease by going all electric with renewable energy. In Britain (not the sunniest of places) that means wind farms – lots and lots of windfarms. How impractical is this?

Renewables just can’t carry this load, as is seen around the world, with this example from Alberta:

At the same time, Alberta’s entire fleet of 13 grid-connected solar facilities, rated at 736 megawatts, was contributing 58 megawatts to the grid. The 26 wind farms, with a combined rated capacity of 2,269 megawatts, was feeding the grid 18 megawatts.

The biggest joke of all of this is that the wind and solar (The Unreliables) result in nations like Germany having to burn more coal and import more gas to run the old parallel energy system, making them dirtier than nuclear-powered France.

But it gets even worse. Modern, industrialised countries that refuse to produce sufficient energy will not survive as independent countries and in the case of Europe it’s produced a geopolitical nightmare:

Gazprom [a Russian state-run energy company] supplied almost a third of all gas consumed in Europe in 2020 and will likely become an even more important source in the short term as the continent shrinks domestic production. Some of the biggest economies are among the most exposed, with Germany importing 90% of its needs.

Which is why Germany has been so keen on working with Russia to build the Nord Stream II gas pipeline (764 miles under the Baltic Sea and costing $11 billion). More Russian energy to the rescue! That pipeline will double the volume of gas pumped by Russian-controlled gas giant Gazprom directly to Germany. And Germany’s largest supplier of coal? Russia, of course.

No wonder Putin felt he could invade Ukraine, that seeming energy stranglehold on the dominant Western European power must have seemed like a trump card.

The Good News

The Ukrainian invasion has done to the Germans what Trump could not do: convince them of their strategic folly.

In a landmark speech on Sunday, Chancellor Olaf Scholz spelled out a more radical path to ensure Germany will be able to meet rising energy supply and diversify away from Russian gas, which accounts for half of Germany’s energy needs: “We must change course to overcome our dependence on imports from individual energy suppliers,”

This will include building two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals, one in Brunsbuettel and one in Wilhelmshaven, and raising its natural gas reserves… Germany has 24 bcm of underground caverns of gas storage, which are currently around 30% full, according to industry group Gas Infrastructure Europe data.

That’s great news, especially since the USA’s fracking revolution has unlocked vast reserves of gas in the last fifteen years. So much that it crushed LNG prices, resulting in a massive shift from coal to gas for electricity generation, enabling it to beat its Kyoto Treaty targets (a treaty it never signed anyway) and most of the rest of the developed world for CO2 emission reduction. It also caused the USA to convert numerous LNG coastal terminals from import to export capability – just in time to send huge LNG carriers across the Atlantic to Europe.

The Germans have also halted the Nord Stream II project.

But it’s not just gas, as the country’s economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens, said,

“There are no taboos on deliberations“.

Germany is also weighing whether to extend the life-span of its remaining nuclear power plants as a way to secure the country’s energy supply, the country’s economy minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens, said.

Habeck also said letting coal-fired power plants to run longer than planned was an option, throwing into doubt Germany’s ambitious exit from coal, which is planned for 2030.

A GREEN said that! Jesus! Talk about a Road To Damascus conversion. Amazing how war can do that. And it’s not just the Germans:

Italy will increase the domestic production of gas and may reopen coal-fired power stations under plans to ensure energy security, Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Friday.

The news gets even better:

Soaring energy prices and a geopolitical crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are looming over the European Union’s attempts to agree a raft of tougher climate change laws, raising concerns that some could be delayed or scaled back.

That passive voice is just to make Global Warmist readers not feel too downhearted, but when you look at the impact even before the Russian invasion of Ukraine you can place a sure bet on “delayed or scaled back” – and not just “some” either:

A UN-backed green investment fund is on the brink of failure three months after its launch during the Glasgow climate summit because institutions including big banks never delivered expected seed funding.

Chuckle. Even the dark clouds of Vlad The Impaler have silver linings.

Written by Tom Hunter

March 3, 2022 at 6:00 am

Many factors in Putin’s head

with 9 comments

There are a lot of known factors that have driven Putin’s decision to conduct a full-scale invasion of the Ukraine – and perhaps one that has not been considered up until now.

This article by historian Sir Anthony Beevor nails some of them:

In his bizarre and rambling treatise last week immediately before his declaration of war on Ukraine, Putin’s anger against Lenin was very clear. He blamed the Bolshevik leader for having introduced into the constitution of the USSR the idea that the national republics were all equal.

The fact is that he is living in a crazed fantasy world of the imperial past when he declares ‘a hostile anti-Russia is being created in our historic lands’. In his view, no population from the old Tsarist empire has the right to follow its own path.

Putin’s other belief, that the West was largely to blame, came from the rash ambitions of the United States, Nato and the EU in the first decade of the millennium to promote democracy everywhere. It was a dangerously naive crusade.

Then there’s this take from Condoleeza Rice (whose PhD was on the USSR):

After she had left office Condoleezza Rice recalled one of her last meetings with Vladimir Putin. He told our then Secretary of State, “You know that Russia has only been great when it was ruled by strong men. Like Alexander II, like Peter the Great.” Rice said, “I remember thinking, and then is Vladimir the Great supposed to be in that line?” She was too diplomatic to ask. But she went on, “I am sure he’s not wholly rational. He´s a megalomaniac. And you have to deal with the 5% chance that he might in fact be delusional.”

I think we’re well into that 5%.

But the following probably also factors into his mind. Watch these two clips and imagine Putin watching them.

But underlying crap like that are populations that either quietly shrug their shoulders and accept it or agree with such messages.

Also note that another of the Gigantic Democrat Brains, former Secretary of State under Obama, John Kerry raised this big concern about the Ukrainian invasion, which shows just how the West’s Climate Change policies help Russia and China (and why they’re so supportive of Western groups pushing Zero Carbon policies).