Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Climate Change Warriors

While the Obama administration was effectively ignoring the war in Syria and projecting weakness on the world stage, it hard at work fighting another war—the war against climate change.

Rather than brag about Obama’s steadfast determination to defend the nation against enemies near and far, liberal Democrats can tout the great strides it has made on the renewable energy front. Take that, Kim Jong-un!

The Powerline blog (via Maggie’s Farm) has the story of a new solar energy farm in Minnesota. It boggles the mind.

John Hinderaker writes:

Solar power is expensive, unreliable and environmentally destructive. So it doesn’t come into being through consumer demand; rather, by government fiat or subsidy. The federal government controls the military, so, sadly, our armed forces have been dragged into the government’s alleged fight against “climate change” to a humiliating degree.

The Minnesota National Guard’s facility at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, is a case in point. Yesterday, an array of public officials hailed the opening of a 60-acre swath of solar panels that will produce a pathetic amount of energy, during the daytime and assuming it isn’t cloudy. 

Is this an efficient and effective way to produce energy in abundance and economically? Funny you should ask.

Hinderaker quotes Tom Seward:

Our military used to boast about its fire power. These days the brass brags about its solar power. The Minnesota National Guard has just unveiled the latest weapon in the war on global warming. It’s a 60 acre solar panel farm at Camp Ripley in north central Minnesota. Row upon row of 120,000 solar panels standing in precise military formation, the biggest solar installation at any National Guard base in the country.

But as turns out to be the case more often than not in Minnesota, sunshine proved to be elusive for the occasion.

What do sixty acres of solar panels produce, in the way of energy? Do they light up a city? Do they light up a state? Do they drive tanks and aircraft carriers? What about submarines? And besides, what happens to them during a thunderstorm... or other infelicitous weather event?

Hinderaker answers the burning question:

The solar facility can provide electricity for only 1,700 homes, a ridiculously small number, at “full capacity.” But solar installations never reach full capacity, and if it is dark or cloudy, they are irrelevant. No one would argue for ugly 60-acre scars on the landscape based on a cost/benefit analysis.
In Duluth, the best proxy for Camp Ripley, there are an average of 77 sunny days per year. Hey, that is better than one in five! Of course, they don’t have any sunny nights in Duluth, so there’s that.
Proponents of solar panels, in particular the Lt. Gov. of Minnesota, explain that they will reduce the number of storms in the state. It takes one’s breath away. How can anyone be that stupid? The answer is, it’s not about the science, it’s a religious belief.

Hinderaker concludes:

But maybe it is irrelevant to point out how wrong the global warming alarmists are, and how severely their uneconomic installations damage the environment. Their doctrine is a religious faith that has nothing to do with science or history, and everything to do with government greed, so rational arguments are wasted on them.


Ares Olympus said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sam L. said...

Virtue signalling is expensive, because virtue is expensive.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Hinderaker: "Solar power is expensive, unreliable and environmentally destructive."

If it's so environmentally destructive -- solar panels require hazardous materials, abundant water, heavy concrete footings and land use (read: habitat loss) -- why are we doing it?

I can understand purchasing expensive solar panels to power one's home -- assuming that's your thing -- but putting them on your own roof doesn't impact the environment in the same way acres of solar panel fields do.

The religion of the Left is government. More, more, more government. It's not about protecting or saving the environment.

1,700 homes get power (on a good day) for 60 acres of dedicated solar production. Silly.

Windmills are even more stupid. Not flexible, not reliable and very expensive. In terms of environmental impact, windmills kill migrating birds in large numbers, are most unsightly, and must be secured in the ground with a 30' x 30' x 30' concrete block. Very destructive. But the golf clap from the greenies are deafening.

Ares Olympus said...

(Let's try again) What a load of . This is why people shouldn't get their news from bloggers.

"In Duluth, the best proxy for Camp Ripley, there are an average of 77 sunny days per year."

Why is Duluth the best proxy? Duluth exists in a valley 400 feet below the wider landscape, so it has more fog than most cities. Obviously this is just cherry picking.

Camp Ripley is closer to St Cloud than Duluth, and just as close to the Twin cities as Duluth.

Perhaps this is that blogger's sources.


City Sunny Partly Sunny Total Days With Sun
Duluth 77 102 179
International Falls 76 101 177
Minneapolis & St. Paul 95 101 196
Rochester 86 97 183
St. Cloud 97 102 199

Perhaps if we invested in some superconducting power lines, we can make Arizona as the source of 100% of the PV electricity generation in the U.S. but there's also an issue of local self-reliance.

And wind is still more economical than photovoltaics. Like I participate in Xcel Energy Windsource program that usually costs a little more than the base price.

Using fossil fuels for electricity is the insane thing. Of course it looks impressive how much electricity can be generated from coal plants, but that looks less impressive when you see the mile long railroad cars sending coal in, and ash out every day, which has to be disposed of somewhere.

Our descendants are pretty much screwed, whether climate change, pollution, or resource depletion is their bottleneck. I expect we're going to make ends meet NOT by having renewables completely replace fossil fuels, but rather than our descendants are going to have to learn how to do more with less, and learn how to work with natural variations of renewables sources, like time-of-day pricing, so big electicity consumers like manufacturing may adjust their production schedules based on when energy is cheapest.

Its not rocket science, and we'd have to do a lot more crazy things as a Martian Colony, with 1% of the air, 100 degrees colder, half the solar energy, and no fossil fuels, and even if they found coal beds on Mars, there's no free oxygen to burn it.

Anyone with a little cleverness can burn through 100 million years of stored solar energy. But how clever is it to make our descendants do harder things than we are willing to tackle?

Ares Olympus said...

p.s. I see Vox interviews Tea Party Activist Debbie Dooley. There are a few "conservationists" on the right, even if it is taboo in most right-circles.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbmt_WeNBck I’m a Tea Party conservative. Here’s how to win over Republicans on renewable energy.
Activist Debbie Dooley has some choice words for individuals who believe that fossil fuels have no impact on the environment. “If you think fossil fuel is not damaging the environment,” she says, “pull your car in a garage, start up your engine, and inhale the exhaust fumes for a few minutes and see what happens.”

You could be forgiven for suspecting that Dooley might be a Democrat. According to a Gallup poll conducted last year, 85 percent of Democrats believe humans are contributing to increases in global temperature. But she’s not. Dooley is a conservative, gun-owning Trump supporter who also happens to be a co-founder of the Tea Party.

Dooley runs Conservatives for Energy Freedom, where she advocates for the expansion of renewable energy and for cuts to government regulations she believes hinder that growth. Through her efforts, she has even won over unlikely allies such as Al Gore.

The problem, according to Dooley, when speaking of her fellow conservatives, is that “they've been brainwashed for decades into believing we're not damaging the environment.” As a result, Dooley speaks with her fellow conservatives about renewable energy in a political language conservatives respect, using phrases like energy freedom, energy choice, and national security.

According to Dooley, when speaking to conservatives in these terms, “you have a receptive audience and they will listen to you. If you lead off with climate change, they're not going to pay a bit of attention to anything else you say.”

While I'm 100% sure that Conservatives ought to be conservationalists as well, I don't clearly buy her argument that republicans are reformable.

I agree that "climate change" is a weak argument in general because most of the consequences won't be known clearly for decades and once you see the results, there's no simple path to undoing, and removing CO2 from the air quickly would take more energy than existed in the fossil fuels we burned in the first place.

And the crazy thing of partisan politics is that if things were slightly different, Conservatives would now be arguing the need for weening our economy off fossil fuels, and liberals would be arguing we can't afford to do the right thing because poor people around the world need to experience all the benefits of our modern liberal economic paradise. Or whatever.

Anyway climate change isn't a good "conservation" issue, while resource depletion is a good issue, and reducing our foreign dependencies on energy is a good issue, not just because wars are started over depleting resources, but because the longer and wider we expand such artificial dependencies, the harder it will be to reduce those dependencies before nature makes us.

trigger warning said...

"Perhaps if we invested in some superconducting power lines..."


You mean "invented", not "invested". Unless you've come up with a breakthrough to run a cryogenically-cooled cable between Arizona and Maine. You should patent that, get rich.

There's a eensy-weensy teensy-tiny problem with superconductivity. Nobody know how to do it above -70° C. And even that's a lab demo with an exotic pressurized hydrogen sulfide device.

The problem with Goebbel Warming "solutions" is the inertia of a vast mass of idiots daydreaming about "investments" in nonexistent technologies. Mars, indeed. :-D Gentlemen, tune your flux capacitors.

Here's a tell you can rely on: when the power output is measured in "households" rather than MWh, there's a scam in the woodpile.

Ares Olympus said...

TW, I'm not the one suggesting we cut studying the earth and send Humans to Mars. I'm merely using it as a counter-point to the claim we're too poor to invest in living on earth without fossil fuels.

Space exploration aficionados experienced the thrill of anticipation in the hours before President Trump’s speech Tuesday night, with advance word that he was going to call for a return to the human exploration of space.

Sure enough, in his closing words Trump declared that for a country soon to celebrate its 250th anniversary, “American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.”

Trump’s brief, offhand comment had the tone of an impulsive notion that, like so many of his other policy pronouncements, won’t get any follow-through. Let’s hope so, because the idea of sending humans to explore distant worlds is loopy, incredibly wasteful, and likely to cripple American science rather than inspire it. And that’s assuming that Trump’s notion doesn’t have the ulterior motivation of diverting American scientists from their Job One, which is to fight climate change right here at home.

There may be scams in the woodpile, but I'm sure the cost of any imagined 1,700 "households" on Mars is going to be a tad higher.

And it is true that investments in the space program can lead to the development of new technology that can also help us on earth, but we could also consider "solar farms" are a place of learning no different, except much cheaper and lower risks than trying the same on Mars for our imagined bold astronauts.

James said...

True virtue is very expensive to those who have it. Virtue signalling is cheap (to almost free) by it's user, the cost always being paid by someone else.
Climate change, SWJism, etc, all of these are merely paths to gain and hold power by the top of the progressive pyramis (always have been), those at the bottom it's merely dreams, unicorn dust, fleeting and fey.

Ares Olympus said...

I see James Hansen is supporting a GOP plan for a revenue-neutral carbon tax, or at least it was a GOP plan before the GOP went off the denial deep end. And Hansen also supports nuclear power, which is a taboo for many environmentalists on the left.

I agree it seems to be the only way that isn't completely hopeless to help us transition to a future where we're not dependent upon using more fossil fuels year after year after year. And course its not just America's problem. We're just setting the standard on wastefulness, and there are some 7 billion others on earth who would love to waste as much as Americans, if we don't find a better way to live before our free ride of bubble economics finally ends.

Hansen says there is a way to push climate action forward, which from his point of view is a no-brainer. He recently embraced a proposal by GOP elders to implement a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would pay dividends to every legal resident in the U.S.

In a recent interview with Scientific American, Hansen made it clear that U.S. President Donald Trump’s complete dismissal of climate science is hardly the way forward. But at the same time, he criticized the former Barack Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan for being too focused on regulation and, overall, simply ineffective.

GOP elders have suggested a starting price of $40 per ton of carbon. Hansen suggests $55 a ton, which would generate a dividend of approximately $1,000 per legal resident and a maximum of $3,000 for a family with two or more children. According to his logic:

“This [carbon tax] actually stimulates the economy. If it’s a tax taken by the government, it makes the government bigger and it depresses the economy. That’s why I object to the Democrats as much as to the Republicans. The only way the public will allow a carbon fee is if you give the money to them — people don’t want to see the price of gasoline at the pump going up.”
Furthermore, Hansen made it clear that his vision of a more resilient world is not one limited to relying on solar and wind power. Nuclear power, he insisted, has to be part of this equation; in his view, it has done much to reduce carbon emissions as well as illnesses and premature deaths from pollution. And as emerging economic powerhouses such as China and India continue to grow, there is no way they could phase out coal consumption without including nuclear as part of their energy portfolios.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

Ares, Stuart's Climate Change posts always bring out your best material, and your most sound reasoning. I am particularly curious about this comment: "I'm merely using it as a counter-point to the claim we're too poor to invest in living on earth without fossil fuels."

Are you saying this to be contrary? You're not making a counter-point. You're talking about stuff that TW said doesn't even exist. That's not investment in a tangible, possible technology. You're talking about science fiction stuff. You have a fixation with fossil fuels.

Ultimately, you recommend we invest in what is fashionably called "renewable" alternatives to fossil fuels. I would like you to tell us specifically what you would invest in. Because there is no free lunch. You may not like fossil fuels or their byproducts, which you believe are unsustainable, destroying the planet and a threat to life. What I'd like to hear about are your alternatives.

You talk as though we are ignorant people who are not conservation-minded, which is a leap you have no evidence for. There is no perfect means of energy. All have byproducts and tradeoffs. What environmentalists do is evangelize fantasies -- that we can create something from nothing using "renewable" fuels. It's magic! The reality is something much different. Fossil fuels are abundant, flexible, inexpensive and easy to exploit. Perhaps someday we will find alternative energy sources that outweigh the clear problems with today's "renewable" sources. But the issue with anthropomorphic Climate Change is that it is a ruse, a lie that is made up to concentrate more wealth, control and power in the hands of government. Government is a terrifically inefficient way to distribute resources.

We are not rich enough to invest in the exotic, expensive and unfeasible technologies you and others speak in lofty tones about. It is a poor use of finite resources to put all our energy into fighting a fashionable political/academic/activist theory, a theory whose only remedies seem to be more taxes, more mandate, more centralized control and more onerous regulation. This story is familiar in terms of who benefits.

You refer to all these "facts," along with voluminous quotes and web references that seem to point to all the same sources, the same people. And every comment you have these days is punctuated with some derogatory shot at Trump, even when his name doesn't appear in posts. Trump owns your mind.

Anytime there is anything posted here about Climate Change, you seem to come unglued. Not sure what you're trying to accomplish, but your way of going about it is not effective.

And as it applies to Mars, the red planet (your favorite) is a frontier for exploration. Climate Change is a dogma that exploits working people, promulgated by silly freeloading people chanting "Science says..."

Like Hansen says, the solution is nuclear power. FIRE UP! Safest and cheapest, by a long shot. Yet say nuclear power and the environmentalist wackos go wacko. California has only one operational nuclear plant left, and they are supposed to be the most environmentally concerned, the most progressive, the most cutting edge, etc. It's pathetic. There is no energy source the environmentalists can support, except for the magical "renewable" sources that can't support our current needs. Then we get to the true Leftist credo: "We must do with less." Except you know how the story goes, and who actually has to do with less: we, the citizens. The government will never do with less. Never. There's always a social justice crusade around the corner.

"And the crazy thing of partisan politics..." is that you cannot even see that you are partisan. Ultimately, one theme flows through all your keystrokes: you think you're smarter than the rest of us. That's the comedic part of all this.

David Foster said...

The most useable form of solar power generation is hydroelectric...yep, hydro is basically solar...and it has an integral storage feature, so the generators keep working after a few cloudy days. But the environmental left has been on a real jihad against hydro, even wanting to tear down existing dams.

David Foster said...

Also, France has been generating something like 80% of its electricity from nuclear for years, and it just works. Somehow or other, the hysteria-selling about nuclear hasn't been as effective there as it has been here and even more so in Germany.

Ares Olympus said...

IAC, I didn't hear any reply on the revenue neutral carbon tax plan that Hansen advocates.

I am convinced nuclear is the only modern energy resource that can compete with fossil fuels, if it was a level playing field. And of course that would mean not independently designing a dozen $50 billion powerplants, but nuclear clearly needs economy of scale just like everything. We need plans for 1000 power plants with identical designs and interchangable parts and full life cycle designs from birth to death.

Unfortunately the world has turned against nuclear power, and I don't have the influence to fix this. And we can't even agree where to store the waste, despite the fact that coal ash is more toxic on multiple dimensions than radioactive waste.

But a carbon tax, as all economists will say, produces the right effect. Fossil fuels are cheap now, but they won't always be cheap, and the fossil fuels we produce in the future will be ever more dirty, and more costly to extract. Fracked natural gas is the exception to the rule, but NG is also the most volatile in price, so at the moment its so cheap we'd rather flare it than capture it, and yet if we keep expanding our uses for it, including wasteful liquidification and expanding markets, we'll hit a crisis where we may not be able to afford to heat our homes in the winter when things go badly.

Anyway, raising carbon taxes will have the effect of creating artificial price increases that will allow rival fuels and technologies to compete sooner against as you say a one-time usage "abundant, flexible, inexpensive and easy to exploit" fuel we're betting civilization on now.

Overall where I'm most pessimistic isn't our inability to deal with the environment, but our dependence upon debt and grown economics to keep everything running. This "funny trick" allows unsustainable assumptions to continue far longer than if we had to live honestly within our means now. Somehow the future must always be larger to pay for the debts of the past, and this has worked for 40+ years of fiat money.

So when things fail, it won't be in 100 years from climate change, or 50 years from fossil fuel depletion. Rather it'll be when international trade breaks down and our "trust horizons" shrink, and the rise of Trump in part heralds this future. It's just sort of ironic that nativism is growing fastest in America of late, while as best I can tell, we're the ones who most benefit from global trade so far, and our unit of currency can outcompete any other currency in a race to the bottom.

So while our billionaires dream of human commercial space travel, we'd surely be better of learning how to design cities that can thrive when our trade breaks down, and we can't make anything we need to keep everything running.

Carbon taxes won't save us, but they will prod us into being slightly more prepared when the worst coming finally gets to our doorstep.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

I don't care about carbon taxes, Ares. You do. I don't care what Hansen thinks, either. You disdain Republicans until they agree with you. So you found one. You fox. Carbon taxes are sin taxes to punish something that ought not be a sin, considering the insanity of the "renewables" fraud. Keep trying to prod people around to your point of view. They'll certainly appreciate your care and concern.

Anonymous said...

Ares Olympus knows a lot about Minnesota, but little about climate.

Anonymous said...

Solar power in Minnesota??? It didn't even work year-round in Arizona (a more likely candidate state) when we lived there, albeit several years ago.

Ares Olympus said...

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said... I don't care about carbon taxes, Ares. You do. I don't care what Hansen thinks, either. You disdain Republicans until they agree with you. So you found one. You fox. Carbon taxes are sin taxes to punish something that ought not be a sin, considering the insanity of the "renewables" fraud.

Your statements about my disdain are hypocritical. I've spent my whole life trying to not be partisan, tried to see all sides. Unfortunately the republicans are simply worse in general, however much delusion there is with the democrats. I see no reason at all that Climate change should be a partisan issue, except out of convenience.

I agree "Virtue signaling" can be part of this and Democrats' hypocrisy would be instantly exposed if modern republicans proposed a carbon tax and say poor people can't afford it, even if they get a tax rebate at the end of the year.

Wednesday I went to a City council meeting on a $8300 street assessment. One lady spent 5 minutes at the microphone talking about how she was employed and couldn't afford the option to pay it all upfront, but the city had a 15 year payment plan.

No one wants to spend money they don't have to spend, and yet when you're an addict, you'll pay whatever it costs, even if you have to cheat and steal to keep your fixes coming. Someday fossil fuels won't be as cheap by depletion even if not by taxes, and our children will be paying for our short-sighted thinking.

I have a number of friends with "cabins" up north, and many not on the grid, so they depend on small solar panels and have to carefully monitor their electricity and conserve their stores if they get a few cloudy days in a row. When we have to pay attention, we can use a lot less, and when things are cheap, we prefer to not pay attention and blame the providers when they raise their rates marginally to cover their costs.

We're pretty well spoiled, and its only when we lose electricity after a storm that we have a chance to realize how dependent we are upon big systems to keep us comfortable.