Archive for the ‘Energy & Global Warming’ Category.

Add NOAA to the Fake News Purveyors

As reported by the Daily Mail:

In an exclusive interview, Dr Bates accused the lead author of the paper, Thomas Karl, who was until last year director of the NOAA section that produces climate data – the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) – of ‘insisting on decisions and scientific choices that maximised warming and minimised documentation… in an effort to discredit the notion of a global warming pause, rushed so that he could time publication to influence national and international deliberations on climate policy’.

Unicorn Roadkill – When Renewable Energy Activists Meet Physics

Jalte Jansen is a researcher at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology in Kassel, Germany (that city should ring a bell for you WW2 history buffs). Jansen appears in the One Minute Interview section of my favorite socialist science magazine New Scientist, July 25, 2015 issue. In it Jansen advocates the UK implement a plan like Germany’s Energeweinde, a plan to phase out nuclear power and replace it with renewables resulting in Germany’s CO2 emissions rising at the same time energy costs are soaring. As The Economist notes, “That outcome is the exact opposite of the intentions of the original policy.” Meanwhile the US CO2 emissions have fallen due to the conversion from coal to gas fired plants, something the Germans have refused to do.

Interviewer Chris Baraniuk asks Jansen whether the UK’s power supply could become 100% renewable. Jansen answers, “Definitely,” and says the UK could base its energy needs on solar panels and wind turbines.

Is this possible? Could cloudy, northerly (for US readers the UK sits further north than Maine) Britannia supply all its energy needs from solar and wind power?

David Mackay is a physics professor at the University of Cambridge, and is a member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Climate Change. His 2009 book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” looks at this very question. His answer? No.

The first 17 chapters of his book lays out the energy needs of a typical Brit before turning to his physics background and calculating the energy densities and potentials for wind, solar, biomass, tidal and other renewable energy forms.

His conclusion? “For any renewable facility to make a contribution comparable to our current consumption, it has to be country-sized. To get a big contribution from wind, we [calculated] wind farms the area of Wales. To get a big contribution from solar photovoltaics, we required half the area of Wales… To sustain Britain’s lifestyle on its renewables alone would be very difficult. A renewable-based energy solution will necessarily be large and intrusive.”

He bases his conclusion on the fact that renewable energy sources tend not to be dense. Take a gallon of gasoline for example. The energy within a gallon of gasoline is roughly 40 kilowatt hours/day (kWh/d) and occupies less than a cubic foot of space. Assuming wind turbines were built on 10% of the UK’s land, “we would be able to generate 20 kWh/d per person, which is half of the power used by driving an average fossil-fuel car 50km per day.” Covering 10% of the landmass of the UK, planting wind turbines in moors, farms, gardens as well as on rooftops would provide the average Brit with the power equivalent of 1/2 a gallon of gas.

MacKay builds his argument around the consumption of energy by the average UK citizen, and then analyzes the available sources to provide that energy. Evaluating solar energy he estimates 100 square meters of roof space per person (roughly 1000 sq feet for those of us who were force fed metric during the Carter dark ages and rebelled against it during the Reagan Renaissance.) He writes, “Let’s give everyone 10m2 of expensive (20%-efficient) solar panels and put them on a south-facing roof. These will deliver4 kWh per day per person.”

The UK is a windy place but sunny it usually is not.  While on a cloud free day at midday 1000w of solar energy bathes every square meter of the equator, the UK receives about 5% of that amount thanks to it’s northerly latitude, the fact that it’s not midday all the time, and its propensity for cloudy weather. So adding a roof covered by solar panels only gets the average Brit another tenth of a gallon of gas.

MacKay is no fossil-fuel funded zealot. Quite the opposite. He accepts the threat posed by anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and the reluctance of politicians and the public to curb economic growth in order to live more sustainably (otherwise known as die in large numbers to reach pre-industrial population levels.) But as a physicist understands the science behind our energy needs, which is why that he advocates the use of zero carbon emission nuclear power to replace baseload power currently provided by fossil fuels. He also recommends improving conservation, and adding renewable sources like wind and solar where and when they make sense.

To paraphrase the great Democratic Party leader Daniel Patrick Moynihan everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they aren’t entitled to their own physics. Either Jansen is wrong or MacKay is wrong. MacKay lays out step-by-step how he comes to his conclusions, showing his work as it were, yet questions his own work at many steps along the way. It turns out his figures tend to be more optimistic than those posted by official “Green” or governmental sources. Jansen just throws a statement out there without any proof backing it up other than his credentials at the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology. Typically the interviewer whiffed on asking him any tough questions.*

The New Scientist is up to its old tricks, selling unicorn fantasies while ignoring the very science that runs them down.

*On a side-note, am I the only one who watches or reads an interview with some public or otherwise respected figure, and can think of a dozen questions that are more challenging and interesting than the softball pitches thrown in what you are watching or reading? Have journalists as a whole become dim-witted or just ego-strokers? Or am I just becoming a cranky old man?

Gander Sauce

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz wants America to discuss race, not his paycheck I guess since he makes over a 1,100 the average hourly wage of his employees. Prince Charles records an appeal to Brits asking them to turn off the lights to help cut greenhouse gas emissions, then hours later takes an 80 mile helicopter trip that pollutes the atmosphere with over a ton of CO2 instead of taking a car that would have emitted a twentieth of that. Apple CEO Tim Cook likens Indiana’s religious protection laws to the Jim Crow laws that kept the races separate a half century ago, then continues to do business in China, Russia and the Arab world where gays are subjected to official state-sanctioned discrimination.

Starbucks CEO Schultz: How about hiring some African-Americans to your board and beefing up the number of women? Think of it as a cost saving measure since both women and minorities tend to earn less than equivalent white guys. And since you are so keen on progressive causes, how about setting the floor for your staff at $15/hr, an effort you not-so-progressively fought? Maybe then you wouldn’t have to not-so-progressively bust their barista union.

Prince Chuck – Helicopters are cool, especially when piloted by guys with British accents, so I can understand your desire to use one. Heck, I would if I could afford it, but then again I’m not a priest in the Church of Global Warming like you are. Now I know you’ve purchased carbon offsets but the average bloke can’t afford the expense of those indulgences, so he has to sit in the dark or suffer lukewarm tea if he wants to remain a member of the faith. If you truly believed in what you preached you’d stay put in Buckingham Palace waiting for mummy to keel over and using telepresence technology to attend all the enviro-weenie forums you champion. Perhaps you’d even forgo the palace and rent a cozy flat somewhere where you and Camilla could have tiny carbon footprints together.

Apple CEO Tim Cook – How can a gay man live with the knowledge that your firm regularly does business with regimes who oppress gays in their countries? How can you sleep at night when the employees of the companies that make your gear throw themselves off buildings if they can’t tolerate the slave-like pay and working conditions? Doesn’t the cognitive dissonance of championing leftist causes while benefiting from the suffering of your global workforce ever get to you? You have the chutzpa to attack a state where women can drive, and where gays don’t have to worry about being hung or re-educated.

It seems only fair that we hold these rich and powerful men to their own standards. The stupidity is going to keep on coming until we force those who demand one thing from a group of people “the public”, “Indianans” or “Americans” while refusing to hold themselves to the same standards.

It’s politics, not science, driving climate mania

It’s hysteria, not mania, and it sure as hell isn’t science.

US Cooling Since 1930s

More proof the science on the man-made cause of global warming isn’t as settled as some would like us to believe.

Global Warming Irony

Remember it’s summer down there in the Antarctic…

(h/t @Pedlar7)

Global Warming Scientists Trapped in Antarctic Ice

Here’s The Spectator’s headline: “Global Warming’s Glorious Ship of Fools“.


New Scientist Off Its Environmental Nut: Advocates for More Dams

I live on a small river that grows for hundreds of miles before turning into one of the largest rivers in the American southeast.  It is home to numerous freshwater fish species, reptiles, birds – all types of flora and fauna. In the Summer people drift down it in kayaks and inner tubes and people fish it around the year. At times I can hear the rumble of the river through my open windows, at other times it is silenced. I have seen it flooded and I have seen it so low it seemingly struggles to wind its way past the boulders in its bed. It is nowhere near as grand as the Mississippi or Delaware rivers, but it is a noble river in its own way especially since it is thought to be one of the oldest rivers in North America.  My love of rivers can be traced back to my hometown of St. Louis that sits at the confluence of two of them, so it’s perhaps no accident that I find myself living within a stone’s skip near one.

If you love rivers you are going to hate dams. You don’t have to be a tree-hugging hippy to see the damage dams cause. They drown habitats upstream from them and lay waste to those downstream making dams about as environmentally sound as strip mining. Since people tend to live near water they displace entire communities. China’s thirst for cheap power has led to its building monstrosities such as the Three Gorges Dam, perhaps the most obscene use of concrete since the Colosseum. It’s plans to develop dams throughout southeast Asia have alarmed its neighbors, and in Africa an Ethiopian project to dam the Nile is causing tense relations between it and countries downstream including the Sudan and Egypt, increasing the possibility of the world’s first war fought over water resources.

But in its zeal to promote renewable energy, New Scientist magazine has become a cheerleader for dams. On it’s July 6, 2013 cover it hails the “Age of Renewables: Green Electricity Poised to Overtake Gas.” “The Age of renewable energy is upon us. Within three years, the amount of electricity generated worldwide from wind, solar and hydro energy will exceed what is made using natural gas…” Of the renewables, hydroelectric is the heavy lifter according to a sidebar article “Top Of The Green Energy Charts” at 16% of global electricity generation in 2011, compared to only 4.2% for onshore wind, biofuels, geothermal and solar panels combined. So for this to be the age of renewables, dams will have to do the heavy lifting: “Room for development: in Africa only 8 per cent of the potential hydropower sources have been used.” Supposedly that includes the sources Ethiopia and Sudan are threatening war over.

For the first century of its existence the Army Corps of Engineers dammed nearly every free-flowing river in the country, and it was the environmentalists who fought the Corps in the courts, engineering a reversal whereby the Corps is now dismantling dams and helping to restore the habitats of land spoiled by them. Now environmentalists are changing their minds and advocating for their construction? Are they nuts?

Irrational global warming alarmism coupled with fear of nuclear power and fracking gas production have twisted the minds of environmentalists to where they are now advocating solutions they would have protested against as recently as a decade ago. “”There are now well-developed procedures for managing the sustainability of dams,” says (International Energy Agency spokesman Adam) Brown. A planned dam on the Congo river, for instance, will not flood any land: the river flows at such high volumes that a reservoir isn’t needed.” Dam sustainability makes as much sense as “clean coal”; both are oxymorons with no evidence backing them in contrast to the proven safety of nuclear power and fracking. Environmentalists attack natural gas production even though it has lowered American carbon emissions to levels not thought possible without gutting the American economy. Over 100,000 wells having been subjected to fracking, and the science regarding its safety is settled; but that hasn’t stopped environmentalists from spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about the safety of fracking. Movies like Gasland and its sequel are about as scientifically honest and accurate as a poorly edited Creationist pamphlet left on a gasoline pump, yet Greens believe the lies and thereby undermine their own cause by supporting dams. My how times have changed.

At a time when European governments are cutting back their subsidies on renewable energy, a fact mentioned nowhere in the article nor considered a primary contributory to the supposed “age of renewables”, this article seems ill timed. But leaving that aside the advocating of building dams is as striking to me as saying “Go ahead and throw your garbage out of your car window while you’re driving.” Of course this is the same movement (and magazine) that supports wind turbines, ugly monstrosities that blight the landscapes and chew up birds. So perhaps it’s not just the love of dams that prove environmentalists are off their nut. After all rivers can run free and birds soar without being cut to pieces around a nuclear or gas fired power plant.



Consensus? Not So Much Really

Because trees can’t lie:

The long-term trend now revealed in maximum latewood density data is in line with coupled general circulation models7, 8 indicating albedo-driven feedback mechanisms and substantial summer cooling over the past two millennia in northern boreal and Arctic latitudes.

That’s global cooling baby. Better burn some carbon to fight it!

Irony – Now Fortified With Even More Irony

So Ryuichi Sakamoto and Kraftwerk headline an anti-nuclear power concert in Japan. Both Sakamoto and Kraftwerk are considered pioneers in the electronic music frontier, and as an avid electronic music fan myself I appreciate the music of both.

Kraftwerk Lobbies for Fossil Fuels

The interesting fact about electronic music is that by definition it requires electrons, and lots of them. One cannot play electronic music without them the way a folk musician can pick up an acoustic guitar and play folk music. Although I believe it would be intriguing to have a full acoustic orchestra play techno music, electronic music simply cannot be done without electricity, and that requires generation from fossil fuels, wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, and nuclear sources. Japan is only 16% energy self-sufficient, and nuclear power provides 13% of its energy needs down from about a 24% prior to the disaster. But it hasn’t replaced nuclear power with renewables such as wind or solar. Even if it wanted to do so Japan lacks the space for solar and wind farms, so it has substituted coal, natural gas and oil.

Copyright 2012 Washington Post

Having an electronic music concert at night when solar power is not available to power the instruments, computers, sound boards, amplifiers, speakers, lighting effects, communications gear, air conditioning, and transportation to and from the venue to protest a form of power that such events require allows a connoisseur of irony to indulge in one of modern life’s increasingly common pleasures.

In my view the backlash against nuclear power since the Fukushima disaster is misguided. All Fukushima reactors survived one of the largest earthquakes in modern history and operated as designed. The failure was one of imagination: siting all backup power where a tsunami could destroy it. Backup systems should have been redundant and sited in several locations immune to all possible waves. The disaster presents an opportunity to learn from mistakes and make nuclear power even safer than it is today just as flight went from being one of the most dangerous ways to travel to the safest in less than a century. More people die in coal mining and solar panel manufacturing and installation every year than have died during the entire history of nuclear power generation. I’ve always believed that people fear nuclear power because of the images of the atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, plus the awe-inspiring power of images of above ground atomic bomb blasts and the fact that we cannot see, taste, smell or touch radiation. The irrational fear of nuclear power makes otherwise intelligent people act stupid, and the anti-nuke movement is filled with scientists, engineers and others who should know better.

Concerts like No Nukes 2012 are more of an emotional reaction than a rational one. For environmentalists concerned about global warming, nuclear power presents unlimited carbon-free power. To avoid using nuclear power, fossil fuels must be substituted, meaning increased carbon emissions. These are not a problem for those of us who are not global warming alarmists, but it must be a terrible dilemma for those who are. Conservation can only do so much in a modern world increasingly reliant on technology, and besides, isn’t an electronic music concert held at night for thousands by European musicians flying from the other side of a planet to perform a luxury that a warming world can’t afford? It would have been much more effective to have had the concert completely online, with Kraftwerk performing from Europe during the day, using solar panels to power their instruments while Sakamoto used hydroelectric to power his portion of the broadcast – unless of course Kraftwerk, Sakamoto and the organizers of No Nukes 2012 really aren’t concerned with their carbon footprints, but they still aren’t off the hook: they should perform benefit concerts for those who die in the fossil fuel extraction business, plus the untold numbers killed by radiation, mercury, dioxins and other poisons released when fossil fuels are burned and solar panels are manufactured.

Don’t Make Sacrifices to Gaia Just Yet

I’m currently reading The Story of Earth by Robert Hazen chronicling the origins of the Earth from the remnants of generations of stars that exploded since the Big Bang, through its formation in the solar nebula, its near destruction after being hit by a planetoid that formed the moon, on to the present day. It’s an easy read for anyone curious about the process of how the Earth formed from interstellar dust. Hazen covers the physics and chemistry that lead to our planet without boring the reader or patronizing him or her, so I highly recommend it.

I mention Hazen’s book because I’m reading it at a time when heat waves are setting records throughout the country and the Spanish word derecho has entered the popular lexicon. For climate scientists and global warming alarmists it is a time for “I told you so’s” and an example of “what global warming looks like,” as the faithful cave in to the temptation to equate weather with climate against their better judgement. When Colorado burns and the Midwest mirrors the desert Southwest, the siren song is irresistible, and resistance is futile when reporters are begging for quotes and interviews are to be had by scientists who, let’s face it, weren’t the popular kids in school, so I suppose it’s okay to let them enjoy their moment in the spotlight.

The problem with this is that according to their own beliefs, global warming will lead to extremes in both directions – hot as well as cold – and that while the central US parches other parts of the world may be enjoying unprecedented rainfall such as Australia which itself suffered from devastating droughts just a few years ago. Like most faiths, Anthropogenic Global Warming covers all bases: flooding? Blame global warming. Drought? Blame global warming. Evidently the only weather one can’t blame on global warming are gentle tropical breezes and rains or the boring weather you’ve experienced over the period of your lifetime.

Much has been made in the Midwest of the record breaking heat. Records have been kept for almost 120 years. The age of the Earth is 4.567 billion years. That’s less than 3 millionths of 1 percent (.0000026% to be exact) of its history. To help put that in perspective, if we imagine the entire 4.567 billion year history of Earth as a single year, the time spent record keeping would be less than a second (830 ms). During most of that time Earth’s climate seesawed between hellish heat and frigid, ocean-freezing cold. Although records are being broken by a degree or two this Summer one shouldn’t don sack cloth and ashes just yet. It’s just as likely that Mother Nature is simply being her own, unpredictable self, at least to us, while following heating and cooling patterns and trends that last millions of years.

Just as ancestors were thousands of years ago, we are being told to that we must change our evil ways to please the natural forces at work in our world. While we are clearly technologically superior to our long-forgotten ancestors who cowered in fear at the sight of a solar eclipse or danced to please the gods to make it rain, we aren’t all that different from them. We still have high priests that claim to know Secret Knowledge about the workings of complex systems of the world, and they still demand that we do something, anything to exert our control over nature. Back then it was burning condemned prisoners to guarantee the harvest; today it’s cutting our carbon footprint. Both have about the same chances of impacting the natural forces at work in the world that remind us daily just how puny and insignificant we are on this planet.

But if you are a global warming alarmist, there is still much to be happy about: the US continues to cut its carbon emissions:

(T)he US is on track to cut its CO2 emissions 17 percent below the 2005 levels by 2020 — and to keep cutting our emissions levels beyond that.

Its secret? Fracking. The US is going to frack its way to a greener world, and something tells me its going to drag global warming alarmists kicking and screaming as it does so. All the sack cloth and ashes (carbon free of course) demanded by wealthy Greenies like Al Gore won’t get us there, but the Evil Fossil Fuel companies (hiss!) will. It’s almost as if Sauron appeared to Frodo and Sam, handed them the ring and provided a security detail for their trip to Mount Doom. To greens it doesn’t make sense, and they refuse to accept it, but yet the US continues towards a carbon neutral path, heedless of their disbelief.

Update: Record floods in the UK. Rain ‘Til September threatens the Olympics. Global Warming to blame? Sure why not. Like every religious person knows there’s nothing like believing in something impossible to disprove.

Global Warming Heretics Aren’t Stupid

From the British publication New Scientist:

Copyright 2012 New Scientist

Global Warming alarmists have been trying to tie themselves to established theories such as evolution and relativity for years, and have pilloried those who question their theories as religious zealots who don’t understand the scientific method. The dogma of the Green Religion demands absolute fealty, and a common attack on those of us who dare question it are that we don’t understand science.

Too bad the facts show that we do, we just don’t reach the conclusions based on the evidence that the global warming alarmists leap to. That makes us apostates in their eyes which is fine by me; I view Science as a refuge from dogma and doctrine not a substitute for them.

The Green Religion

“It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion. I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use … The greens use guilt. That just shows how religious greens are. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting (carbon dioxide) in the air.” – James Lovelock, environmental heretic. Wonder how long before he is burned at the stake, with his “excommunication” covered by carbon credits issued by one of Al Gore’s trading firms.

Attack on Fracking Betrays Shaky Understanding of Economics

I subscribe to New Scientist, a British weekly science publication because of a life long interest in the natural sciences. Unfortunately to enjoy stories on the Theory of Everything or excited baryons I have to put up with the magazine’s neo-Socialist bias. The publication regularly pillories anyone who questions the “settled science” of anthropogenic causes of global warming as “deniers” while attacking hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of rock deep in the earth’s crust to release oil and natural gas, even though there is little evidence that the process is environmentally harmful. The editors must feel that such unscientific and irrational attacks on fossil fuels are what their readership demands judging by the letters they publish.

From the May 9, 2012 issue, letters section.

The real danger from fracking is not the small earthquakes it can cause or even the disposal of the chemicals used in the process (28 January, p 8). It is that we may discover a glut of gas that will drive down the price of all fossil fuels. Natural gas will not replace coal, but will simply increase our use of what will have become a cheap energy source.

One of the problems I have with many people who claim to be “environmentalists” is their ignorance of basic market economics. A “glut” of natural gas will not “drive down the price of all fossil fuels;” an abundance of natural gas will force the price of natural gas down. It will not necessarily cause the prices of other fossil fuels to fall. A comparison of the historical prices of natural gas, coal and oil finds that there is some correlation in prices between oil and natural gas and oil and coal (correlation coefficients of .81 for oil and coal, .85 for oil and natural gas), but not between coal and natural gas (correlation coefficient of .46). For comparison, the correlation between the price of crude oil and the year was .79 reflecting the fact that prices generally go up over time.

Fossil Fuel Historical Price Comparison

Bill Powers, writing for Financial Sense, details the price relationship between natural gas, oil and coal. Historically natural gas traded at the “10-1 rule” against oil, meaning that the price of a million BTU of natural gas should be roughly 1/10th that of a barrel of oil. When looked at in terms of energy content, that relationship is “6-1”, or 1/6th the price of oil. Stephen Brown and Mine Yucel, two researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, have determined that during rising oil prices, the 6-1 relationship is more accurate while the 10-1 relationship is the norm when oil prices are falling. In terms of coal, Powers notes “With the price of Central Appalachian (CAPP) coal currently trading at $73 per ton, up from $60 per ton for much of last year, a recent study by Credit Suisse (CS) indicates that natural gas prices would need to rise to approximately $6.30 per mcf before coal and natural gas trade at parity for electricity generation.”

Today’s natural gas price is $2.25. With oil at $83 a barrel, natural gas is now trading against oil at a 36-1 ratio. Most utilities in the US have the capability to switch off coal fired generators and switch on natural gas powered generators, or vice versa, to use the cheapest fuel source available on the market. And they have switched. Coal is now responsible for 34% of US electrical generation, the lowest level since 1973 when statistics began and roughly on par with natural gas generation.

By the writer’s logic falling natural gas prices will somehow manage to lower the prices of fossil fuels, but why wouldn’t falling natural gas prices impact renewables like wind and solar? In fact in an oversimplified view of supply and demand, that’s exactly what would happen. Natural gas demand would dry up the demand for other fuels, both fossil and alternative, causing the supply of these sources to become more abundant. The abundance in turn would cause the price to fall to match the decreased demand, making these sources attractive alternatives to natural gas. Eventually supply and demand across all sources would reach equilibrium, just as predators and prey in a wilderness will eventually achieve a stable balance.

But this simplified state ignores the reality that coal will not be produced at a loss so it will not be mined. Since oil and gas occur naturally together its possible that a a glut of oil will coexist with an abundance of natural gas. In the past natural gas was simply burned off as a byproduct of an oil well, but oil cannot be disposed of as easily. Wind and solar are threatened by cheap natural gas, and have yet to come up with an economic energy storage medium. Natural gas can be liquified and stored. Oil can sit for years in a tank field, and coal in a pile ready to release their energy immediately upon need. Neither wind nor solar are capable of that. The electricity they create must be used immediately which is fine during a sunny day or when the wind is blowing, but on a still night it’s either do without energy or use a fossil fuel or nuclear backup.

We will be left with much further to fall when the gas runs out. That is because the cheap energy will have prevented the introduction of renewable-energy infrastructure, so we won’t even have that to fall back on.

Like Santa Claus, the tooth fairy and Obama’s humility, peak (fill in the blank here) is a myth. Peak oil remains a controversial topic among environmentalists and gold bugs for a reason: there’s no proof it exists. From an oil perspective the world can be broken into the following areas: places with cheap oil, that is places like Saudi Arabia and Russia where oil is easy and cheap to pull out of the ground; places with not-so-cheap oil such as Venezuela, Mexico, the United States and Canada; places that may or may not contain not-so-cheap oil; and places that don’t have oil at all. What we are finding is that the last area in the list, places that don’t have oil, are gradually getting smaller and smaller as it turns out they have oil and join the places with not so cheap oil area due to improved techniques for finding oil where none was expected. New engineering methods such as fracking have lowered the cost to recover oil that was once thought unrecoverable, making the oil cheaper to pull out of the ground. The higher the price of oil, the more incentive there is to find and refine the last drop of oil, and the higher the price becomes due to demand, the more likely new supplies will be found and those with known reserves thought uneconomic to exploit begin to produce. Similar arguments can apply to natural gas and coal, both much more abundant than oil. There may in fact be peaks for these fossil fuels, but they are hundreds of years if not a thousand years away.

In the meantime, we will be testing the theory of climate change with abandon.

Econmatters writing for Seeking Alpha states, “Although the amount of emission generated from natural gas is still under hot debate, depending on if you take the ‘life-cycle calculation’ approach, natural gas is generally considered cleaner burning than coal and petroleum. A Congressional Research Service’s 2010 report concludes if natural-gas combined cycle plants utilization were to be doubled from 42% capacity factor to 85%, then the amount of power generated would displace 19% of the CO2 emissions attributed to coal-fired electricity generation.” General Electric which makes both fossil fuel and wind turbines finds switching from coal fired to natural gas plants could save 150 million tons of CO2 by 2020. Environmentalists might argue that life-cycle calculations show natural gas emits more CO2 than other fossil fuels, but such calculations are never applied to alternatives methods of power generation such as wind and solar. They can’t be, since natural gas is itself a storage medium for energy. There are as of yet no large scale storage methods for electricity generated by wind turbines or solar cells, and if there were their manufacture, transport and storage would have to be included in such life-cycle calculations.

I am unconvinced that global warming is occurring and that humans are behind it, but the US has the ability to lower its carbon footprint thanks to cheap natural gas. But this isn’t good enough for environmentalists like the letter writer in New Scientist. Instead of viewing natural gas as a way to lower greenhouse gas emissions today, he despairs over its impact on methods of power generation that are impractical, expensive and polluting (ask the Chinese about the damage to the environment manufacturing solar panels cause.)

The author of the letter to New Scientist represents a type of reactionary that I’ve watched take over the conservation movement during the last 20 years. They arrogantly believe they completely understand the world in all its complexities. They know fully its fossil fuel reserves, even as new deposits are discovered on a daily basis. Their rigid thinking ignores the resilience of markets, the creativity of scientists, engineers and inventors, and the progress of science and industry. Their dogma sees humanity as a blight on the world, an Eden bespoiled by the breath of every child or the touch of every human hand, forever preaching that doom shall befall us unless we return to the old ways, whether it’s leaving the village to return to the forest, the city to the farm, or as today forsaking the modern world to return to our barbarous “natural” state of subsistence living and high mortality. Luckily these people have been for the most part ignored throughout history and instead of stopping progress have been run over by it. But they never quit since they are sustained by their faith. They simply dust themselves off to try again to inflict their dystopian vision of the future and idyllic view of the past upon the rest of us.

I have become used to finding such religious arguments in science magazines, but it doesn’t mean that I agree with them or even enjoy them. But I suppose they remind us that even the brightest, most atheistic scientists are not immune to irrational beliefs.

Mission Accomplished: Rising Gas Prices Are Exactly What Obama Wants

After 3 years spent strangling the American fossil fuels industries, the Obama Administration has exactly what it wants: soaring energy prices. The Wall Street Journal quotes the future Secretary of Energy Steven Chu in a December 12, 2008 interview, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” At the time a gallon of gas sold for $1.61 a gallon. Today the average price is $2 more, a 123% increase. Mission accomplished.

Killing the Keystone XL pipeline was just the latest in a long list of administration efforts to raise the prices of oil, natural gas and coal. Immediately after taking office in 2009 President Obama cancelled 31 oil and gas offshore leases. His administration has cancelled lease sales in Ohio to placate opponents of fracking and a lease sale off the Virginia coast. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf the administration placed a moratorium on oil and gas exploration, even though the courts ruled it illegal, forcing thousands out of work and losing the Treasury $30 billion in lease royalties. The Obama administration’s draft plan for 2012-2017 bars oil and gas exploration in the majority of the Outer Continental Shelf. As Federal Affairs Manager of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) Chris Pandoni points out, that hasn’t stopped other nations from drilling offshore of the United States. Canada drills off the coast of Maine, Russia off the coast of Alaska, and Cuba, with Chinese help, off the coast of Florida. The administration has also forced Shell to halt operations in Alaska on a project set to produce 1.4 million barrels a day. An article in the Houston Chronicle reports the oil industry’s frustration with the administration. “These have been the most difficult three years from a policy standpoint that I’ve ever seen in my career,” said Bruce Vincent, president of Houston-based oil and natural gas producer Swift Energy. “They’ve done nothing but restrict access and delay permitting.”

“The Obama administration, unfortunately, has threatened this industry at every turn.”

The administration, facing skyrocketing energy prices during an election year, is in complete denial. White House spokesman Jay Carney parrots the line that it takes years to develop these resources, then takes credit for rising domestic production, the result of political decisions by the Bush administration. Much of this production has come from private land, with production on government land collapsing. Even the production of private land is threatened by opponents of fracking who run to the courts claiming that the practice causes earthquakes and pollutes groundwater even though there is no proof that it does either. The administration then talks about the cyclical nature of gas prices, rising in the spring and falling in the autumn. This of course ignores the fact that today’s prices are breaking seasonal records, putting the nation on track to having the most expensive gas prices in history this summer.

The basic problem is that these prices are exactly what this administration wants. As Steven Chu himself has pointed out, rising gas prices force people to drive less. It compels them to buy more fuel efficient cars and to move to cities where public transportation is readily available. By driving less the carbon footprint of Americans shrinks, the glaciers in the Himalayas and polar bears in the Arctic are saved, and the political power of democratic machines in large cities like Chicago, New York (Bloomberg is technically not a Democrat but he governs like one), Boston, Philadelphia and Washington DC is enhanced.

Of course the problem is that the glaciers in the Himalayas are not disappearing, the polar bears aren’t drowning in the Arctic, and none of America’s largest cities are undergoing an influx of suburbanites prepared to give up their 3,000 sq. ft homes in safe neighborhoods for 1,200 sq. ft. townhouses in de facto urban war zones. What is happening is that the Obama administration is forcing Americans to continue indebting ourselves to regimes like Hugo Chavez’s in Venezuela and the sheiks in the Middle East instead of becoming self reliant using domestic sources and guaranteed imports from Canada, one of our most trusted and steadfast allies. But this also has a silver lining because high prices make alternative energy competitive, allowing the administration to justify investments in green companies with ties to the administration like Solyndra.

Which brings me to another point. For eight years liberals railed about Dick Cheney and his ties to Halleburton, as well as the close ties between other members of the administration to the defense and energy industries. Yet illegality was never proven. Fast forward to this administration which is shoveling out stimulus funds and grants to supporters in “green industries” like Solyndra. Not a peep from liberals even though the allegations of corruption are much more serious and come backed by evidence. Meanwhile Al Gore has seen his wealth skyrocket from $2 million in 2001 to over $100 million today thanks to his investments in green energy companies, many backed with taxpayer funds, as well as in carbon trading schemes. As a believer in the adage that “money corrupts” I am suspicious of anyone who is well-connected benefiting from taxpayer largess regardless of their party affiliation. Yet Gore and other prominent Democrats reap windfall after windfall from the Obama administration’s policies and anyone who raises the topic is attacked for being a crazy right winger.

Liberals aren’t immune to corruption. It is a human foible not a Republican one. Thanks to a cooperative mainstream media little is made publicly of the benefits Gore and those like him reap from higher gas prices and an administration that is raiding the treasury to hand out money to companies using the word “sustainable” in their prospectus and with well-heeled liberals on their boards. Could Al Gore or billionaire Solyndra investor George Kaiser tell you within a quarter what a gallon cost at his neighborhood filling station? Ask any American and he or she could probably quote you the prices down to the penny (unless they’ve gone up a dime in 2 minutes).

And from the Obama administration’s view, this is how it should be. It is merely rewarding its friends just like the Bush Administration did, even though the facts don’t bear that out. Men like Gore, Kaiser, and billionaire LightSquared investor Philip Falcone are creating green jobs, even though those jobs are for the most part in China. America is becoming a more “normal” country, with “normal” meaning in-line with Europe in terms of dependency on a central government and energy prices. The only problem is timing: the price of gasoline won’t peak until July which is uncomfortably close to the November election. Still, with a GOP party in disarray, the deep pockets of George Soros, Warren Buffet, Falcone and Kaiser financing the re-election campaign, and a friendly media protecting it the administration should be able to ride out the energy prices and win in November. Once that happens, nothing will stand in the way from completing the makeover of the United States into France or Greece (Germany is out of the question because Germans don’t run astronomical deficits.)

Then it will be Mission Accomplished.

Obama's War on Oil

Watermelon Environmentalists – Green on the Outside Red on the Inside

James Delingpole lays out the case against anthropogenic global warming hysteria and other environmentalist dogma’s in his book, “Watermelons: How Environmentalists Are Killing The Planet, Destroying The Economy And Stealing Your Children’s Future.” He writes about his experience in this article in The Daily Mail.

“As someone who loves long walks in unspoilt countryside and who wants a brighter future for his children, I’m sickened by the way environmental activists tar anyone who disagrees with them as a selfish, polluting, anti-science ‘denier’.

The real deniers are those ideological greens who refuse to look at hard evidence (not just pie-in-the-sky computer models which are no more accurate than the suspect data fed into them) and won’t accept that their well-intentioned schemes to make our world a better place are in fact making it uglier, poorer and less free.”

Rachel Carson and her ilk have blood on their hands. Millions of Africans and south Asians died because of their fear-mongering in the West. It’s a dirty secret that isn’t discussed by the mainstream environmental movement. In fact it’s a shame but it seems those who care about the environment aren’t associated with environmental groups anymore because even the Sierra Club and other so-called moderate organizations have been hijacked by zealots.