California’s on fire, and so are climate change alarmists

California Policy Center

California’s on fire, and so are climate change alarmists: Fires are burning out of control in California, and the environmentalists and Sacramento politicians are seizing the opportunity to blame global warming. They’re laying the groundwork for new legislation that will transfer even more power to the state and government unions.

Gov. Newsom said this week that he has “no patience” for those skeptical that the historic fires are anything other than a direct result of climate change: “You may not believe it intellectually, but your own eyes, your own experiences, tell a different story….” To paraphrase Groucho Marx: Who are you going to believe, Newsom or your lying brain?

Former coal and oil investor Tom Steyer added, “We didn’t have to be here. Corruption and inaction are what got us here, and only immediate, bold, transformational action will prevent these climate tragedies from getting even worse.” Climate change is real, but is it the sole culprit of the fires ravaging the state?

Green radicals are responsible for red forests: In his most recent analysis, CPC contributor Edward Ring brings much-needed balance to the discussion. He explains how the environmental movement fiercely prevented – and continues to prevent – basic forest management. Ed is an expert in this field. Before cofounding CPC, he founded EcoWorld.com and the popular “GoingGreen” investor conferences. His piece is required reading for anyone looking for a more nuanced view of why the state is on fire. He writes:In 1999, the Associated Press reported that forestry experts had long agreed that “clearing undergrowth would save trees,” and that “years of aggressive firefighting have allowed brush to flourish that would have been cleared away by wildfires.” But very little was done. And now fires of unprecedented size are raging across the Western United States.

“Sen. Feinstein blames Sierra Club for blocking wildfire bill,” reads the provocative headline on a 2002 story in California’s Napa Valley Register. Feinstein had brokered a congressional consensus on legislation to thin “overstocked” forests close to homes and communities, but could not overcome the environmental lobby’s disagreement over expediting the permit process to thin forests everywhere else.

Fire suppression along with too many environmentalist-inspired bureaucratic barriers to controlled burns and undergrowth removal turned the hillsides and canyons of Southern California into tinderboxes.
Climate change spares private forests: Katy Grimes, editor of the California Globe, points out that the disparate impact of climate change on public and private forests suggests another factor is at play, namely the lack of proper forest management in government-run forests:
 For decades, traditional forest management was scientific and successful, until ideological, preservationist zealots wormed their way into government and began the 40-year overhaul of sound federal forest management through abuse of the Endangered Species Act and the no-use movement…Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) … has warned, “Our forests are now catastrophically overgrown, often carrying four times the number of trees the land can support.  In this stressed and weakened condition, our forests are easy prey for drought, disease, pestilence and fire…. Forest fires, fueled by decades of pent up overgrowth are now increasing in their frequency and intensity and destruction… Excess timber will come out of the forest in one of only two ways.  It is either carried out or it burns out….”The same climate change impacts private lands as public lands, but private forests are not burning down because they are properly managed. Or if a fire does break out on privately managed forest land, it is often extinguished more quickly and easily because the trees aren’t so close together and the underbrush has been cleared away. 

Unions have cartelized firefighting: As Steven Greenhut explains in Reason, firefighter unions’ exorbitant compensation demands have led to fewer boots on the ground. Citing CPC’s own analysis, Steve argues that if firefighters were paid a market salary, California would have a lot more troops necessary to fight these fires:
 Frankly, union power drives state and local firefighting policies. The median compensation package for firefighters has topped $240,000 a year in some locales. California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighters earn less, but their packages still total nearly $150,000 a year. The number of California firefighters who receive compensation packages above $500,000 a year is mind-blowing. Obviously, if the state spends scarce resources in this manner, it will have fewer resources to hire additional firefighters and buy equipment that’s now in short supply…

We all appreciate the work that firefighters do, especially during another grueling fire season, but we shouldn’t forget that firefighting resource shortages are caused by a legislature that is more interested in preserving union wage levels than in creating a firefighting system that works best for the public.

Firefighters unions block fire suppression strategy: Over at Flash Report, Richard Rider explains his decades-long quest for a simple yet significant fire suppression strategy: supplemental volunteer firefighters:
 The most significant reform I have proposed — over and over through the years — is the establishment of a large supplementary volunteer fire brigade for just such conflagrations.

Our professional firefighters need our help. But the sad part is that they definitely don’t WANT our help.  For brush fires, they want “boots on the ground,” but only UNION boots on the ground.  Their goal is to get California governments to hire more professional union firefighters at $180K+ cost annually — to sit around at more and more firehouses 24/7 until — every few years — a major brush fire sweeps the area.  And even then, they will not be able to save most homes in such a fire.

Jordan Bruneau
Communications Director
jordan@calpolicycenter.org

Climate Change Barely Registers Among Americans’ List of Top Concerns, Gallup Poll Shows

H. Sterling Burnett

Just 1 percent of Americans surveyed identified the combined category of “Climate change/Environment/Pollution” as “the most important problem facing this country today,” in a newly released Gallup poll.

Coronavirus the Top Concern

The Wuhan Coronavirus remained the top concern among the 1007 adults polled by Gallup between July 1 and July 23, with 30 percent of those surveyed identifying it as “the most important problem facing the country today.” “Government/Poor Leadership,” came in a distant second among the list of concerns, with 23 percent of respondents saying it is the top problem facing the nation.

All economic problems combined were identified by 9 percent of those polled as the most important problem facing the country, with 4 percent saying the “Economy in general” is the top problem and 2 percent saying “Unemployment/Jobs” is the nation’s top concern.

With protests and riots continuing to plague parts of the county, “Race Relations/Racism” ranked as the third most important problem facing the country, with 16 percent of respondents listing it as such. This represents a significant increase in concern about race relations since April, at which time only 1 percent those polled said it was America’s top problem.

Climate Ties for Last

Only 1 percent of those polled identified all environmental issues combined, including climate change, as the most important problem facing the country.

This result indicates strong disagreement with Democrat Party leaders who regularly refer to climate change as the most dangerous threat facing the United States and the world, and with presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who said, “There’s no more consequential challenge that we must meet in the next decade than the onrushing climate crisis,” when presenting his Plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.

Five percent of poll respondents ranked “Crime/Violence” as the nation’s most important problem, 3 percent cited the “Judicial System/Courts/Laws,” and 2 percent said “Ethics/Morals/Religious/Family Decline,” “Lack of respect for each other,” “The media,” or “Healthcare” is the most important problem facing the country, ahead of environmental problems in general and climate change in particular.

This article was originally published at HeartlandDailyNews.com.

Kamala’s Dangerous Agenda

By Peter Murphy CFACT

Democratic presidential nominee, Joe Biden, has made his vice presidential choice, and he chose wisely among a half dozen considerations who are women of color: U.S. Senator Kamala Harris of California. Congratulations to her.

Sen. Harris is a “wise” choice from a Democratic political standpoint – she is presentable on the national stage and malleable on policy issues. She also fully embraces man-made global warming to the extent America and the world should rapidly transition to “renewable” energy from carbon-emitting fossil fuels. Hence, Sen. Harris readily signed on as a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal early in 2019.

Ms. Harris’ own presidential campaign crashed and burned last year for reasons that do not reflect well on her, as reported in the New York Times at the time. Nonetheless, the experience prepares her for this new, high profile role.

I met Sen. Harris at an event in New York in early 2017 shortly after she became Senator. Her presence left me no doubt she was running for president, as had another first-term senator named Barack Obama. Her similar ambition has thus far borne fruit.

As I have written, the Democratic Party is all in on an extreme climate agenda. Nearly every candidate who ran for the Party’s presidential nomination proposed some version of the Green New Deal, which only differed on how many trillions of dollars it would cost.

Neither Biden nor Harris is a political “moderate” or “pragmatic” despite the coordinated, dishonest attempts by mainstream media organs to label them such. Rather, they are liberal politicians who reflect the prevailing positions and progressive direction of their Democratic Party; Harris even more so, according to her most leftward Senate voting record.  They are who they are – why pretend otherwise?  This is not the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton in the 1990’s, much less the economic Party of JFK in the early 1960’s.

In 36 years as a U.S. senator from Delaware, Joe Biden was not among the Senate’s extreme environmentalists. None of that matters today, as he has dutifully evolved.  His climate agenda reflects the extremist vision of Sen. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Kamala Harris made her bones (figuratively speaking) in San Francisco politics, is now thrice elected statewide, and a leader of California’s political class. The state’s energy and environmental policies are her policies for the nation.

Sen. Harris’ home state leads the way in environmental extremism. CFACT has well documented the costly and destructive climate policies of the Golden state, which has the nation’s highest energy costs and is driving away the middle class and businesses to other states. California is steadily becoming an unlivable place unless you are super-wealthy (e.g., Hollywood actors and Silicon Valley techies) on the public payroll, or dependent on the state’s vast welfare system.

On the issue of hydro-fracturing of natural gas, Sen. Harris supports a nationwide ban, which goes further to the extreme than her own state that allows it on a limited basis. Her stance also contrasts with the Obama administration, which understood its economic and political importance, and Biden, who has more recently equivocated on the issue.

According to the Global Energy Institute, a nationwide fracking ban would eliminate more than 19 million jobs by 2025 and reduce America’s economy by $7 trillion. Energy prices would sharply increase, not just for natural gas, and would add nearly $5,700 to the cost of living for the average American. Plus, carbon emissions, the bane of all things global warming, would increase since the global production and consumption of oil and coal would expand.  [Addendum:  Vlad Putin’s Russia, a major oil producer, would be delighted, along with Middle Eastern dictatorships like Iran.]

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris embrace climate extremism because it is Democratic Party dogma and a priority of its billionaire donor class. Accordingly, they are no less committed to “fighting climate change” by reordering the nation’s economy, with the job losses, higher cost of living, and curtailment of freedom that would result.

Not since 1944 has a vice-presidential nominee loomed so large. That year, President Franklin Roosevelt, whose physical health was rapidly declining, replaced incumbent V.P. Henry Wallace, a socialist, with Sen. Harry Truman. Eleven weeks into the new term, FDR died and Truman became president.

If elected president, Joe Biden will turn 78 and be older than was Ronald Reagan at the end of his eight-year presidency. His cognitive decline is increasingly obvious. A President Harris could come soon, without Biden physically dying.  Such would make history, and have transformative, deleterious consequences if she or Biden beforehand impose their climate policies on America.

Polar bears thriving

Is The Demise Of Polar Bears being Exaggerated?
Ross Clark, The Spectator, 23 July 2020

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could debate climate change for five minutes without hearing about polar bears or being subjected to footage of them perched precariously on a melting ice floe?

But that is a little too much to expect. Polar bears have become the pin-ups of climate change, the poor creatures who are supposed to jolt us out of thinking about abstract concepts and make us weep that our own selfishness is condemning these magnificent animals to a painful and hungry end.

Needless to say, the Guardian and BBC jumped on the opportunity for more polar bear coverage when a paper appeared in the journal Nature Climate Change, predicting that a high carbon emissions scenario ‘will jeopardise the persistence of all but a few high-Arctic subpopulations by 2100.’ The paper uses a new predictive model by Peter Molnar of the University of Toronto.

A BBC report, as usual, upgraded the claims made in the paper in order to state: ‘Polar bears will be wiped out by the end of the century unless more is done to tackle climate change, a study predicts.’ Except that the paper doesn’t quite say that. The high emissions scenario used in the study isn’t what would happen if the world continued on its current trajectory of fossil fuel use. Instead it uses a worst-case scenario called ‘RCP8.5’ dreamed up in 2014, which envisages that coal-burning will globally increase fivefold between now and 2100. This could be a challenge, because it would mean burning through more coal than, according to some estimates, exists on Earth. In fact, global coal-burning likely peaked in 2013. Even Nature Climate Changes’ mother journal Nature published a think piece in January calling for scientists and campaigners to stop using RCP8.5 as a ‘business as usual’ scenario, on the grounds that it is highly improbable.

But even if we were to jack up carbon emissions to the level envisaged by RCP8.5, and Arctic sea ice was to melt in accordance with the models, would it really mean the end of most polar bear populations? Given that polar bears feed on seals they catch by punching through sea ice, this may seem a reasonable claim. Yet the relationship between sea ice and polar bear population isn’t quite so simple.

A lot of the assumptions about polar bears and sea ice have been made on the back of the animals’ decline in the Western Hudson Bay area of Canada. Compared with the 1980s, sea ice there now breaks up on average two weeks earlier and refreezes a week later. As a result, polar bears are spending five months on land – where they struggle to find food – rather than four as before. Their estimated numbers fell by 22 per cent between 1987 and 2004, although this has levelled off since then. Polar bear numbers have also been falling in Canada’s Southern Beaufort Sea.

Yet it is a very different story in the Barents Sea, which lies to the north of Scandinavia and European Russia. There, the retreat of seasonal sea ice has been far more dramatic – it now hangs around, on average, 21 weeks less than it did 40 years ago. Yet polar bear numbers are stable. On Svalbard their numbers have increased by 40 percent – and the females seem to be in better physical condition now than they were 15 years ago. It is a different story, too, in the Chukchi Sea, which lies to the north of Alaska and Russia’s far east. There, sea ice forms for 41 days fewer than it did 40 years ago – yet the polar bear population seems to be stable, with no decline in the bears’ physical condition. The Kane Basin, off north western Greenland, has lost 53 days’ of sea ice in recent decades, yet the estimated number of polar bears more than doubled between 1997 and 2013.

All of which seems to indicate that polar bears, like many other creatures, have proved rather adaptable to changes in their environment. The assumption that they can only catch seals through sea ice, and will inevitably decline if their opportunities to do this disappear, seems simply to be wrong. Somehow or other, most populations of polar bears are finding enough to eat.

The end of polar bears has been predicted many times before. Indeed, one of the authors of the Nature Climate Change paper, Steven Armstrup, claimed in 2007 that the decline of sea ice would lead to a two thirds reduction in polar bear numbers by the middle of this century. The failure of overall polar bear populations to follow this downward trend, in spite of a decline is sea ice, was documented in a book The Polar Bear Catastrophe that Never Happened by anthropologist Susan Crockford. What happened to her follows a familiar story for those who refuse to toe the line on climate change: shortly after publication last year she was relieved of the post of Adjunct Assistant Professor at Victoria University, which she had held for 15 years.

The Denial by Ross Clark will be published by Lume Books in September.

Biden’s New energy Plan Is Terrible

Center of the American Experiment – Biden’s New energy Plan Is Terrible

Written by Isaac Orr in Energy, Environment on July 16, 2020

On Tuesday, July 14, 2020, presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden released his updated plan for energy, which calls for expanding renewable energy mandates to meet a 100 percent carbon-free electric grid by 2035, spending billions of dollars on wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage, an ill-conceived plan to make the entire fleet of school buses electric, a dedication to money-losing energy efficiency projects, subsidizing electric vehicles (EVs), and using taxpayer dollars to build EV charging stations.

A child’s Christmas list to Santa Claus is more realistic than this plan, but it is necessary for us to take a look at the enormous costs and immeasurably small benefits that would accrue from these policies.

What’s the Point?

Any time a politician says they are going to be spending your money, you should demand to know what you will get in return, but this isn’t what the Biden campaign has done. If the whole point of this slightly-watered-down Green New Deal is to prevent climate change, then American taxpayers should be told how much global warming this initiative would potentially prevent, and at what cost.

This information was omitted is because his policy plan would have enormous costs for no measurable benefits.

Unfathomable Costs, Immeasurably Small Benefits

Biden’s energy plan calls for spending $2 trillion in his first term, but it is crucial to remember that this figure only accounts for what the federal government would be spending on these programs. The $2 trillion figure does not account for the additional trillions of dollars American families and businesses would be forced to pay for their energy under these policies, which will make $2 trillion look like a bargain.

Despite an enormous price tag, the policies will have no measurable impact on global warming.

According to climate scientist Pat Michaels, even if the United States were wiped off the face of the planet tomorrow, it would only avert 0.052°C by 2050 and 0.137°C by 2100, which is an amount so small that it is not even scientifically detectable.

Your Green New Electric Bill Is Out of This World

Biden’s plan claims it will “achieve carbon-pollution free energy in electricity generation by 2035.” To accomplish this, “Biden will scale up best practices from state-level clean energy standards.” As we’ve seen here in Minnesota, renewable energy mandates have caused our electricity prices to increase nearly 30 percent faster than the national average. Rather than scaling up these mandates, this should be an example of what not to do.

minnesota-electricity-rates-2001-to-2019-total-electricity-1024x471

Impossibly Expensive Batteries, Anyone?

Another key focus of Biden’s plan is to invest in battery storage. But as we have discussed in the past, battery storage is an impossibly expensive fantasy. A slide created by Xcel Energy for the Midwestern Governors Association shows that electricity prices would exponentially increase the cost of electricity in the United States if the grid were to be powered by only wind turbines, solar panels, and battery storage.

california-price-of-electricity-with-100-percent-renewable-and-storage-Xcel-Energy-Midwestern-Governors-Association-1 (1)

If America were to try and use these three technologies to provide 100 percent of our electricity, the nation’s annual electric bill would grow from about $397 billion in 2019, to $6.6 trillion dollars every single year, an annual increase of $6.2 trillion.

This is the equivalent of every man, woman, and child in the country paying an additional $19,000 per year for their electricity, and it is important to remember that these are low end estimates, because they don’t account for the cost of transmission lines, distribution systems, or other costs that are associated with retail electricity rates.

cost-of-wind-solar-and-batteries-usa-1-1024x599frequency-of-negative-lmp-prices-wind-and-solar-1024x635

A Lonely Nod To Sanity

In what is perhaps the one nod to sanity in Biden’s plan: it does not call for the elimination of existing nuclear power plants and it allows the United States to “leverage” existing hydroelectric resources into the future.

While this is good news and could avert some of the highest costs involved with a grid powered by 100 percent wind, solar, and battery storage, the plight of nuclear power could be greatly harmed by adding millions of solar panels and tens of thousands of wind turbines to the system because adding these sources of energy will increase the odds that power prices will turn negative, eroding the economics of nuclear plants.

The map below was produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Labs (LBL) and it shows the prevalence of negative prices on the electric grid. According to LBL:

“…Growth in wind and solar had a more consequential impact on prices in some locations and in altering how prices change based on the hour of the day and season. Specifically, growth in wind and solar impacted time-of-day and seasonal pricing patterns, growth in the frequency of negative prices was correlated geographically with deployment of wind and solar (Figure ES-2), and negative prices in high-wind and high-solar regions occurred most frequently in hours with high wind and solar output.”

Negative prices hurt coal and nuclear plants the most because these technologies are not able to quickly increase or decrease their electricity output to adapt to price changes. As a result, coal and nuclear plants are increasingly put in positions where they are selling electricity at a loss on the market because they are unable to reduce their electricity output when high wind and solar output force prices into the red.

Unlike other sources of electricity, wind facilities are able to keep selling electricity at negative prices because they are subsidized by the federal government. In fact, a wind producer can sell electricity at up to -$23 per megawatt hour (MWh) and still make money. In contrast, a coal or nuclear plant would be losing $23 per MWh.

Greatly increasing the amount of wind and solar on the grid, which is what Biden clearly wants to do, will ultimately undermine the ability of coal and nuclear plants to remain in business long term. The result is a grid like California’s, which is heavy on wind and solar during the day, but dependent upon natural gas and electricity imports from saner states (that use a combination of coal, natural gas, and nuclear power to produce their power) to keep the lights on.

CAISO-supply-trend-july-7-2020-1024x546

What About The Rest of Our Energy?

The costs discussed above are incomplete because they are just a rough estimate of what it would cost to replace the electricity we currently generate with a mixture of technologies including coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, and other renewables with a combination of wind, solar, and battery storage. The estimates above do not even begin to contemplate the enormous amount of energy the United States consumes in the form of oil for transportation, and natural gas for home heating.

This is significant, because according to EIA, oil accounted for 37 percent of all the energy consumed in the United States in 2019, and natural gas accounted for 32 percent. If we were to make a rough estimate of what it would cost to completely electrify these energy sources, the nation’s energy bill would be roughly $10.6 trillion per year, or $32,000 per man, woman, and child.

This is half of the country’s gross domestic product.

total-energy-consumption-usa-2019-1024x713

These are massive costs for zero measurable environmental benefits.

Subsidizing Electric Vehicles and Charging Stations

Biden’s plan also call for subsidizing electric vehicles (EVs) and building 500,000 EV charging stations. As we have documented many times before, these types of subsidies primarily benefit white, wealthy, liberals, and raise the cost of driving for everyone else. According to EIA, 67 percent of EV owners make more than $100,000 per year, and only 3 percent of those earning less than $25,000 own an EV.

This means EV subsidies are a wealth transfer from low-income families to the wealthy.

Wealthy-Electric-Car-owners

EV chargers are also very expensive, with the fastest chargers costing $50,000 per charger. Contrast this with replacing a gasoline pump, which costs $260 to $1,000 per unit. This means Biden wants to spend $25 billion on a project that likely won’t even replace the number of gasoline pumps we already have in existence today.

Conclusion

Biden’s plan is the epitome of the broken window fallacy. It is based on the idea that we can grow the economy by destroying it and rebuilding it over and over again. This does not bring about prosperity for anyone; just ask the Minneapolis City Council if they think the arson and destruction of businesses will be a “stimulus” for the City’s economy.

Former warmist Shellenberger rips Biden-Sanders climate plan

July 8, 2020

‘Extremely radical, terrible for workers, & the environment’ – Former warmist Shellenberger rips Biden-Sanders climate plan: – Plan ‘unscientifically blames climate change for flood, storm, & fire, damage’

https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1281020520918470657.html

Biden-Sanders climate plan:

– unscientifically blames climate change for flood, storm, & fire, damage

– would raise energy prices & increase unemployment

– would kill off nuclear, largest source of clean nrg

– would increase killing of bald eagles & whooping cranes

Both the IPCC & a major new study for the leading journal, Environmental Hazards, finds “little evidence to support claims that any part of the overall increase in global economic losses documented on climate time scales can be attributed to human-caused changes in climate”Image

The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California

Image

The entire first paragraph of the Biden-Sanders climate plan is total and utter pseudoscience, on par with astrology and the belief that wifi and 5G are giving us cancer

The document literally claims that dams failed in Michigan because of climate change.Image

Biden-Sanders plan calls for massive expansion of solar and wind, which increased energy costs

– 6x more in Calif. than in rest of US

– 50% in Germany over last decade

– by $125 *BILLION* in US states with renewable energy standards, according to Univ. of Chicago studyImageImageImageImage

Nuclear-heavy France generates electricity that is 10x less CO2-intensive than Germany for nearly half the cost

But Biden-Sanders climate plan would kill off nuclear energy, which is 55% of zero-emissions energy

Thus B-S climate plan is not about reducing emissions or climateImageImage

The Biden Climate Plan falsely claims investing “tens of billions” into energy efficiency will pay for itself

But the last time the government did this, “the upfront investment costs [were] about twice the actual energy savings,” according to major study

Image

Powering the US on 100% percent renewables would increase the amount of land required for energy from 0.5% today to 25-50%, according to the largest study to date, by Vaclav Smil, the widely respected analyst

amazon.com/Power-Density-…

Industrial wind and transmission projects are being blocked by grassroots environmentalists — often Democrats — seeking to save endangered species.ImageImage

What you’re proposing, @AOC @JohnKerry @JoeBiden @BernieSanders is extremely radical, terrible for workers, and terrible for the environment.

And we tried it already. Before the Green New Deal, I helped create the New Apollo Project. It was a disaster:

youtube.com/watch?v=N-yALP…

The Biden-Sanders climate plan is identical to the climate plan of @JohnKerry when he ran for president in 2004. You might recall how that turned out.

Please consider learning from the past rather than making the same mistakes Democrats have been making for decades

 

Reminder: How Progressive “Programs” Keep African Americans Down

Suddenly the country has descended into a paroxysm of guilt over the situation of African Americans, particularly the fact that as a group they have not caught up to whites or other ethnic groups in average income or wealth. Accusations of “systemic racism” or even “white supremacy” are everywhere, particularly issuing from the Black Lives Matter movement.

And accompanying the accusations are newly insistent demands for more spending on government programs and redistribution schemes of every sort. More for housing programs, more for social work programs, more for education programs, more for homelessness programs, and on and on. Perhaps the ultimate such demand is the demand for “reparations,” which as far as I can tell means very large but unspecified amounts of free cash simply handed over to every African American in the country. Exemplifying this last demand is the cover story from the New York Times Magazine this past Sunday, written by Nikole Hannah-Jones (she of the fraudulent “1619 Project”) with the title “What Is Owed.” Most of the piece is about why if you have any moral compass whatsoever you must feel guilty, guilty, guilty. Only at the very end do we get to the punch line:

If black lives are to truly matter in America, this nation must move beyond slogans and symbolism. Citizens don’t inherit just the glory of their nation, but its wrongs too. A truly great country does not ignore or excuse its sins. It confronts them and then works to make them right. If we are to be redeemed, if we are to live up to the magnificent ideals upon which we were founded, we must do what is just. It is time for this country to pay its debt. It is time for reparations.

Yes, you have inherited the sins of your ancestors, and the only way to redeem yourself is by handing over vast piles of cash. How much? No amounts are mentioned here. I guess you should start with a few trillion, and then we’ll tell you if it was enough. It won’t have been. Then hand over a few trillion more, and we’ll continue from there.

Even assuming that resources are infinite, is there any reason to believe that this kind of thing can ever meaningfully improve the lives of current and future African Americans in this country?

This seems like an appropriate time to remind readers that this site contains a treasure trove of posts giving details of the enormous amounts of means-tested anti-poverty and redistribution programs already in existence in this country (currently running in the range of $1.2 trillion per year if federal, state and local spending are all included), and of the total failure of any of those programs or any of that spending to alleviate poverty of African Americans or other poor Americans to any meaningful degree. The $1.2 trillion comes to some $30,000 for each of the 40 million or so people said to be in “poverty” by the official definition, or some $120,000 for each “poor” family of four. With the official “poverty threshold” most recently (2019) set at $25,750 for a family of four, how is this even possible?

My posts on this subject, some going back as far as 2012, are collected under the “Poverty” tag in the Archive section. But since there are some 119 posts under that tag, I’ll just give a few highlights for today:

  • From November 25, 2019, “No Amount Of Disastrous Failure Can Kill The Fantasy Of A Government-Directed ‘Great Society’”. Excerpt:  “And it’s not just that all the government spending has not reduced the measured rate of poverty nor the number of people in poverty. It’s that the failures of the anti-poverty and Great Society programs are well-documented and out there for everybody to see and study. Medicaid beneficiaries have no better health outcomes than non-beneficiaries; job training program beneficiaries have no better job prospects than non-beneficiaries; Head Start program beneficiaries have no better educational outcomes than non-beneficiaries; etc., etc., etc. And on top of all that, where the goal of all the spending was to achieve societal justice and harmony through redistribution of resources, instead we have only fomented anger and resentment in the program beneficiaries.”

  • From January 16, 2018, “Surprise: Progressive ‘Anti-Poverty’ Programs Increase Measured Poverty”. Excerpt: “Nearly all “anti-poverty” handouts are provided to the beneficiaries either as in-kind distributions (housing assistance, food stamps, other nutrition programs, Medicaid, cell phones, clothing assistance, energy assistance) or as refundable tax credits (EITC).  But the official poverty measure only counts “cash income” in the definition, and therefore excludes all of these things.  A given family could get $100,000 or more per year in the in-kind benefits and tax credits (and many do, such as those here in Manhattan, where a spot in public housing in a desirable location can by itself be worth over $100,000 per year), and still be counted as “in poverty.”

  • From March 16, 2017, “Here’s What’s ‘Cruel’: Trapping The Poor In A Lifetime Of Dependency.” Excerpt: “[From the New York Times] you get the idea.  The little people are incapable of facing any downside risk of life on their own.  Any failure of the federal government to accept and provide for any and all downside risks of life, right down to a couple of aspirin to help with a headache, is “cruel.”  It’s “heartless.”  It’s “a humanitarian crisis.”

  • From October 16, 2016, “It Sounded So Good When They Promised To Solve All Of Our Problems”. Excerpt: “[A]fter 80 or so years of promises and tens of trillions spent, have any of the major problems been solved?  Of course, it’s the opposite.  Indeed, it’s fair to say that all of the big government redistribution programs are in crisis.  A trillion dollars of annual spending on “poverty” and there are close to twice as many people today said to be in poverty than the day the War on Poverty started.  Medicaid, supposed to be a temporary thing for a few years until poverty was eliminated, instead explodes bigger and bigger every year (now at over $550 billion per year and still rapidly growing). . . .”

  • From August 7, 2016, “A Culture Of Cheating . . .” Excerpt: (quoting from one Dalia Ramos, who lives in a public housing project in Puerto Rico): “The projects were built to house the working poor, like [Ms. Ramos], but over time they have cultivated a beat-the-system culture, in which working off the books and lying about your income means getting more money from Washington.  ‘I have all these people around me who don’t pay anything,”’she says. ‘They just hang out.’”

  • From April 28 and 29, 2015 (the time of the riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddy Gray), “Do You Think That The Government Can Fix Poverty? Look At Baltimore” and “Can The Government Fix Poverty? — Part II”. Excerpt (from April 28): “As befits its status as a relatively poor city, Baltimore has long “benefited” — if you want to use that term — from more than its pro rata share of the government programs and handouts supposedly designed to cure poverty.  [In the U.S.] about 14% of the population [is on food stamps].  In Baltimore . . . it’s more like 35%.  Or consider public housing.  According to HUD’s website here, well less than 1% of U.S. families live in public housing.  In Baltimore, it’s more like 4.5%.” From April 29, 2015: “[In Baltimore] the high school student absence rate hovers at 49.3%.  How did it get there?  Baltimore of course follows the Democrat model of government-monopoly unionized public schools.  According to figures compiled by the Baltimore Sun in 2013, Baltimore in 2011 ranked second among the nation’s 100 largest school districts in per student spending.” Plenty more at the links.

There’s plenty more if you want to go through the archives. Have at it!

Climate News – July 2020

A review and commentary on topical matters concerning the science, economics, and governance associated with climate change developments.

Alan Moran

1 July 2020

Developments in science

Professor Ralph Alexander’s review of extreme weather finds there to be no trend in precipitation, hot and cold days, hurricanes.  He notes that the IPCC, though espousing global warming has so far adhered to the path of science by finding little to no evidence linking extreme weather to global warming.

Veteran activist Michael Shellenberger in his new book Apocalypse Never recants his previous alarmist views, and now argues, among other things:

  • Climate change is not making natural disasters worse
  • Wood fuel is far worse for people and wildlife than fossil fuels
  • The build-up of wood fuel and more houses near forests, not climate change, explain why there are more, and more dangerous, fires in Australia and California

David Whitehouse reviews a comprehensive study, published in Science, that shows warming in West Antarctica, often cited as a precursor to a general global warming, is not seen in East Antarctica and has nothing to do with increased emissions. The evidence was insufficient for those with acute forms of confirmation bias like Michael Mann, the serial litigator who concocted the “hockey stick” that purports to prove modern warming is unique.

Roy Spencer tracks actual and modelled climate trends since 1979 and finds the models project temperatures 50 per cent greater than actual.

The warm May in England was paraded by the BBC as evidence that global warming was taking place.  Central England has remarkably good temperature records back to 1659 and Paul Homewood shows we have in fact had 47 hotter Mays than in 2020.

Developments in Economics

The collapse in demand has reduced electricity prices.  In Germany this has led to an increase in the green surcharge on consumer bills which in 2020 will be €26.2 billion, with the government paying €11billion of this.

Around 5,000 German wind turbines with a total output of 3.7 gigawatts (GW) will fall out of the 20-year “EEG” subsidy regime at the end of the year. The subsidy was €24 billion last year ($AUD 40 billion) where it contributed around €67 per MWh on top of the market price of €53 which, compounding the windfarms’ distress, has collapsed to €34.

In spite of subsidies having transformed Australian energy costs from the world’s lowest to among the highest, a new publication by Beyond Zero Emissions, bankrolled by Cannon-Brookes and other foundations, claims more such subsidies will create a million new jobs. The green activist, Fatih Birol, who heads the International Energy Agency, has a similar agenda. But the Guardian’s environmental alarmist Adam Morten reports that 11,000 Australian renewable energy jobs will disappear unless the government increases subsidies.

India and China, however are giving coal a more prominent place in energy production.  Indian PM Narendra Modi, has announced a privatisation program, saying “coal sector has finally been pulled out of decades in lockdown and liberated”.  In China, Greenpeace reports a massive new upsurge in new coal plant and Bloomberg expects the 2021-25 Five year Plan to feature further increases.

Developments in politics

GWPF’s YouGov survey finds COVID-19 has overtaken global warming as a concern in UK

What a difference a virus makes!  California’s Governor proposes to cancel January’s $12 billion “climate budget” of subsidies to low emission purchases, action against ocean rise, and support for technologies. However, California is not averse to imposing new costs on others and has passed laws requiring truckers to reduce their emissions.

The EU, notwithstanding the posturing of “President” Ursula von der Leyen, has agreed to abandon the $15 billion a year that airlines would have been obligated to spend to do their bit for climate change prevention.

But the European Commission wants to set up a €40 billion Just Transition Fund, allegedly for CO2 reduction but which will specifically ban nuclear investments

As part of its zero emissions by 2050, the UK is to have a stand-alone Emissions Trading System –  a carbon tax – at a £15 per tonne ceiling and covering plant that accounts about one third of emissions.  This is unlikely to be sufficient and, according to the Green Alliance, the government must spend an extra £14bn a year to meet its climate targets, while simultaneously reducing support for other initiatives. Greens are also angry that not enough is directed to their favoured schemes in the UK government £5 billion COVID-19 recovery spending.

Spain is planning €90 billion in investment to enable renewables to supply 74 per cent of demand by 2030. In a triumph of hope over experience, the Spanish government claims its plan will create 107,000-135,000 jobs per year.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is thought to be a candidate for AG under President Biden.  He sued ExxonMobil Corp., Koch Industries and the American Petroleum Institute, saying they have long deceived consumers over the effects of climate change.  Ellison has links to Communist and Nation of Islam identities.

Former head of the Australian Greens Party, Bob Brown, has stepped up his opposition to windfarms in Tasmania due to their visual intrusion and bird killing.  He opposes the plan to have a second undersea electricity link with the mainland and considers lower usage of electricity to be the best strategy.

Whimsy

According to Joe Biden, “Climate change is linked to increased pregnancy risks — and heartbreakingly, Black mothers are being hit the hardest.”

“Come into my parlour, said the spider …” – a newly discovered variant of the huntsman spider has been named after Greta Thunberg.

In June, I published the following climate related articles:

It is Time To Cancel The Democratic Party For Its Long History Of Racism

Here in the United States, the environmental movement has been completely taken over by the campaign to ban use of fossil fuels, with the stated goal of slowing or preventing “climate change.” But at this point, is the “climate” campaign really about the climate in any meaningful way? The alternative hypothesis is that the principal goal of the anti-fossil-fuel movement in the United States is destruction of the American freedom-based economic system, commonly going by the name of “capitalism.”

So let’s consider whether the anti-fossil-fuel campaign in the U.S. could really be about its avowed goal of saving the planet from climate change caused by greenhouse gases. If that were the case, then the campaigners would be principally focused on the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, mostly CO2, not only in the U.S. but in the world.

The campaigners are definitely focused on blocking any and all fossil fuel development in the United States. Environmental groups with what seem like infinite funding sources bring litigations on any and every possible theory to seek to block absolutely every proposed fossil fuel development in this country.

To illustrate the relentlessness of the litigation war, consider something called the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP), a multi-billion dollar project intended to deliver natural gas from sources in West Virginia over to the Atlantic coast of Virginia. An environmental group called the Cowpasture River Preservation Association, represented by environmental lawyers from the Southern Environmental Law Center, brought a suit to stop the pipeline on the ground that its permit to cross the Appalachian Trail, which had been granted by the Forest Service, was not properly authorized. As you are likely aware, earlier this week the Supreme Court ruled in that case that the Forest Service had the power to issue the permit.

So is it now all clear sailing for the ACP? Not so fast. The SELC takes the position that the pipeline is “still lacking 8 permits.” As just a single example, one of those is a dredging permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The pipeline developers thought they had that one because back in 2017 the Corps had issued a nationwide permit for all pipeline projects with impact on waterways below certain thresholds deemed de minimus. Just in May, that permit was vacated by an Obama-appointed federal judge in Montana, in a case involving the Keystone XL pipeline. A law firm here warns that the Montana ruling may well have nationwide impact on all pending natural gas pipeline construction. So everyone including ACP awaits hearing from the Ninth Circuit on that one, a year or more from now.

And then, of course, there are the other six permits, all of which will with certainty also be litigated all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. You can be sure that every other pipeline project seeking to move forward in the United States is facing a comparable barrage of litigation.

But how about in other countries, including countries with four and more times the population of the U.S.? Today’s email from the Global Warming Policy Foundation has yet another roundup of accelerating fossil fuel development, mostly coal, from some of the largest countries around the world:

  • In India just today, Prime Minister Modi has announced that the government is auctioning off a large group of formerly publicly-owned coal mines in order to spur faster commercial development.  From IANS News Service: “Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said that the coal sector has finally been pulled out of decades in lockdown and liberated. . . . ‘Today, we are not just launching the auction of commercial coal mining but are also pulling out the coal sector out of years in lockdown,’ Modi said during the video address during the launch programme.”

  • China continues to accelerate the pace of construction of new coal power plants. From Bloomberg, June 10: “A wave of new coal power plants are under construction or in development after the country lifted curbs on new builds. . . . About 46 gigawatts worth of new plants were under construction as of May, the study said. Another 48 gigawatts were under various stages of development. . . . About 29.9 gigawatts of new coal power capacity was added last year, making a total of about 1,040 gigawatts, according to China Electricity Council data.” (The U.S. has a total of about 220 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation capacity, per EIA data.).
  • Pakistan, a country of over 200 million people, is also moving to rapidly increase power production from coal. The International News on June 18 reports that Pakistan is planning to increase the share of coal in its energy mix by up to 30%, and a Thar coal project was commissioned in July 2019 as a “priority national project.”

So can anything meaningful in terms of world greenhouse gas emissions be accomplished by the endless climate campaign and litigation barrage in the United States? The answer is no. Damage to the U.S. economy for no discernible purpose is another question.

Next Up In The Stupidest Litigation In The Country: The Science?

For some reason I haven’t seen much about this even on climate-focused websites; but in late May one of the litigations that I have named as being among the stupidest in the country, and which had been dismissed by the trial court, got reversed and reinstated by the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

What next? The defendants — who are five major oil companies — had managed to get the two related cases dismissed at the trial court level on purely procedural grounds, without ever having occasion to address the merits of whether the so-called “settled science” of greenhouse-gas induced catastrophic climate change is complete baloney. Now they are running out of such procedural defenses. If they are not going to just concede the cases and fork over billions of dollars, it now looks like they will likely need to attack the fake science. I don’t know that they will. But I do know that they soon may not have much choice.

I’ll begin with a relatively thorough history of these cases so far. Back in 2017, the Cities of San Francisco and Oakland in California, at the urging and with the assistance of environmental activist outside lawyers, filed cases in the California state courts alleging common law tort claims for “nuisance” against five major oil companies (Exxon, Chevron, BP, Conoco and Shell). A “nuisance” claim is the kind of thing you can bring against your neighbor for, for example, having a smoke stack that dumps large amounts of toxic ash on your house. In the Oakland and San Francisco cases, the theory is that all burning of fossil fuels constitutes a “nuisance” because of contribution to global warming. In their complaints, the plaintiffs paint horrible scenarios of impending environmental doom from the burning of fossil fuels produced by the defendants, including sea level rise that supposedly would soon swamp these coastal cities.

The oil companies could have chosen at that point to defend on the ground that the so-called “science” behind these scenarios of doom was fake. But these defendants have shown time and again that they are scared to death of the media pushback (CLIMATE DENIERS!!!) that they will face should they make any effort to go after the fake science. So instead of that tack, the defendants embarked on a series of procedural maneuvers. First, they “removed” the cases to federal court. If you get sued in state court, you can “remove” the case into federal court if you can meet certain criteria, one of which is that the claims against you arise under federal rather than state law. The plaintiff cities in these cases had carefully crafted their claims to arise under state law rather than federal; but the defendants argued that the federal environmental laws and the federal Clean Air Act pre-empted the field, and that any claim against them in this area was of necessity federal, whether it said so or not. On removal, the cases landed in the federal Northern District of California before a Judge Alsup. The plaintiffs moved to send the case back to state court because the claims were state claims; and the defendants moved to dismiss the cases on the ground that the “nuisance” theory did not stand up under the federal environmental law.

In June 2018 Judge Alsup ruled for the defendants on both of those issues, and dismissed the cases.

Since then the wheels of justice have been grinding at their typical glacial pace. The plaintiffs appealed to the relevant Court of Appeals, which in this circumstance is the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco. Nearly two years on, the Ninth Circuit has now rendered its decision. Here is a copy. The bottom line: the Court of Appeals ruled for the plaintiffs on both issues. The federal environmental law is held not to fully pre-empt these claims; the claims are therefore state law claims; the cases therefore have no basis to be in federal court; and they get sent back to state court.

The defendants still have procedural steps they can take, but at this point they are mostly playing for time. First, they can ask for an en banc rehearing in the Ninth Circuit, but that is very unlikely because the panel decision was unanimous. And then they can try a run at the U.S. Supreme Court, but that is also a long shot, if perhaps somewhat less so. Even if those options come up completely dry, as is more likely than not, it will take well more than a year for that process to play out.

Suppose that all falls flat. Somewhere a year or two from now these oil majors are going to find themselves in California state court with no real defense other than that global warming caused by emissions from their products poses no serious risk to the plaintiffs. In other words, the science.

Multiple commenters out there have suggested that this will now be the end of the oil business, or at least of the major oil companies. If the Ninth Circuit decision stands up, the activist environmental lawyers are ready with complaints in hand to be filed by essentially every jurisdiction in the country seeking a cut of the vast lucre of the oil business. It will be like the tobacco litigation, they say. The defendants will inevitably be swamped by the tide of litigation. Your city is not next to the rising seas? No problem — you can claim prospective damage from tornadoes or hailstorms or something.

Two principal options for going forward present themselves. A former colleague of mine sends along a client alert memo from the Wachtell Lipton law firm, advising of the Ninth Circuit’s decision, and suggesting the outlines of a strategy that Wachtell would recommend for clients to follow. You may recognize the Wachtell firm as among the premier law firms in the country for strategic advice to major corporations. Wachtell is also the law firm representing Conoco in the two cases in question. Here is their advice from the memo:

Corporations and directors can . . . manage their exposure by actively evaluating climate-related risk, considering sustainability initiatives, implementing appropriate operational and board monitoring procedures, and documenting all these efforts.

This borders on the idiotic. Is any oil company actually going to keep the crocodiles away by trying to paper over their main activities with a bunch of so-called “sustainability initiatives”? The fact is that they are fundamentally in the oil business. Nobody with a brain is going to be fooled. But of course, Conoco has actually hired Wachtell. And you’ve probably seen all those ads from Exxon about algae research and other such diversionary tactics. Good luck with that guys.

Another approach is outlined by Christopher Monckton in a post on June 8 at Watts Up With That, with the headline “Climate litigation: big oil must fight on the science or die.” Monckton argues that the science of catastrophic global warming is completely fake, and further that courts that have been confronted with fake scientific claims are much better than you might think at figuring that out and putting the charlatans in their place.

As a first example, Monckton cites the litigation back in the 1990s between tobacco companies and the EPA over the alleged dangers of indoor second-hand tobacco smoke. As with the oil companies in the Oakland and SF suits, the tobacco companies exhausted all their procedural defenses and motions without success, and then were forced to present the science — which, in the case of second hand smoke, was extremely strong for their side, and weak for the EPA. In 1998, a federal judge in North Carolina named William Osteen wrote a 100 page opinion excoriating the EPA and vindicating the tobacco companies on this issue. (Of course, the tobacco companies had other problems in the case of actual smokers.). Monckton:

If anyone doubts the competence of the courts to decide upon disputed questions of science – a doubt frequently and nervously expressed by climate lobbyists desperate to avoid thorough judicial scrutiny of their preposterous position on global warming – that doubt is dispelled by Judge Osteen’s masterly consideration of the substantive scientific merits of EPA’s case.

And then there was the litigation in England where a truck driver, seeking to protect his kid from the propaganda of Al Gore’s climate movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” brought suit to get that film excluded from the English schools. Monckton again:

The moment the Government received the scientific testimony, it folded and agreed to pay half a million dollars’ costs to the truck-driver, and to circulate the movie only if it was accompanied by 77 pages of corrective guidance.

I would say that I am not quite as sanguine as Monckton. The global warming issue is highly politicized, and a very progressive judge could very likely not be subject to convincing even by the most completely definitive demonstration. On the other hand, the oil companies are coming to the point when they can’t duck this issue. So far, the alarmist side has had a huge advantage of funding even with no real science to back it up. That could soon be changing, maybe after the string gets played out for another year or two.