Solar fades as shale gas flares

Peter Foster, Financial Post · Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

China reportedly has some two-thirds of the US$39-billion global market for solar panels, but it doesn’t use them very much. Why? Because they’re uneconomic.

The Chinese subsidize their manufacturers to take advantage of the ultra-expensive alternative energy forced on western consumers via feed-in tariffs. Smart for them, dumb for us, but since everybody is subsidizing renewables, it’s hard to condemn the Chinese. Indeed, the terms “solar panels” and “free trade” don’t belong in the same conceptual time zone, even if they are reportedly an issue at this week’s meetings in Washington between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

There are far bigger issues here than policy hypocrisy. What happens to renewable energy when alarmist climate science collapses? And even if the ideological rearguard action drags on for years, what about the fact that shale gas is about to make renewables look even more ridiculous in terms of both economics and emissions?

The feed-in tariffs that the Chinese are so assiduously avoiding at home are analogous to the medieval scam of coin-clipping, only in reverse. Governments hope that if a small amount of ludicrously expensive renewable electricity is loaded onto consumers’ bills, they might not notice. The grand policy rationale behind this piece of economic self-mutilation is that alternatives will eventually yield a market bonanza, and any nation that has successfully promoted solar and wind “champions” will mop up all the business, as in the monopoly fantasies of Karl Marx.

This policy is nonsensical at many levels. Even if climate science is not entirely bogus, the costs of renewables are likely to do far more damage than bad weather. One of the biggest promoters of solar power, Spain, has already seen its subsidy system collapse. Studies have demonstrated that each “renewable” Spanish job was bought at the cost of two regular jobs.

Then there is the fact that Nobel Peace Prize-winning climate science has set the nations of the world at each other’s throats. The height of corporate chutzpah displayed itself in Ontario last October when a group of solar companies — led by Japan’s Mitsubishi–complained about the local content rules required to receive Ontario’s super-premium, consumer-crushing solar rates. The solar robber barons had the audacity to declare that these “restrictive” rules were bad for the Ontario economy, when the entire Green Energy Act is a bummer. Japan has taken the act (or at least the bits that don’t serve its own interests) to the WTO, with European Union and U.S. support.

Similarly, the U.S. is now threatening China on solar panel trade, having already complained to the WTO about Chinese wind turbines. In response, China has pointed out that a US$60-billion chunk of the U.S. “stimulus package,” (yet another shot-in-the-foot policy) consisted of renewable subsidies, with “Buy American” clauses attached.

Ironically, U.S. solar companies are moving to China to take advantage of their manufacturing subsidies. Last week, Evergreen Solar — the third-largest U.S. panel manufacturer — announced that it was shutting its Massachusetts plant and laying off 800 workers while beefing up its operations in the Middle Kingdom. The Massachusetts plant had received some US$58-million in state subsidies. The company has never made a profit.

One much-used but entirely bogus argument in favour of alternative subsidies is that they are justified by subsidies on fossil fuels. However, the US$312-billion of fossil subsidies handed out in 2009 were virtually all by petro-tyrannies or developing countries. According to the International Energy Agency, assuming all subsidy commitments are met, alternative subsidies will soar from US$57-billion in 2009 to US$205-billion (in 2009 dollars) by 2035, but that assumption is increasingly unlikely.

The bearer this week of the bad news if you’re a climate bureaucrat–but good news if you’re a consumer–was the IEA’s chief economist, Fatih Birol. Dr. Birol noted sadly that shale gas was about to pull the rug from under renewables. The IEA now estimates that shale supplies — which have half the emissions of coal–could last for 250 years.

Dr. Birol suggested that the U.S. shale gas boom had already contributed to a sharp drop in U.S. renewable investment, but the wind and solar fandango was already imploding. According to Dr. Birol, “There will be strong debates between energy and climate and finance ministries round the world about whether investment should continue to support renewables when the situation on gas has so radically changed.” But while such ponderous debates take place, the market will be moving at the speed of profit-oriented thought, and catching on to the fact that aligning with renewable policies is looking dumber by the second.

Policymakers are still looking to take their final stand on the moral high ground. Part of the official Chinese response to the United Steelworkers’ complaint was that “If the U.S. closes the door for trading with the rest of the world, including China, in renewable energy products, the U.S. may significantly delay the already long struggle for developing alternative energy sources, if not entirely destroy this opportunity for humankind.”

This is an opportunity that needs destroying, and the Chinese may soon realize that they have backed the wrong renewable horse. At least they were never dumb enough to support using solar energy at home. And they have lots of shale gas.

Read more here.

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Spanish Renewables Moved by Corruption

During calendar year 2010, the owners of gas-fired power plants were paid 1,008 million euros to compensate for the time they were kept idle. These brand-new plants are needed to ensure security of supply. Spain has built them concurrently with wind farms to provide electricity when there is no wind.

The installed capacity of CCGT (gas plants) in Spain was 2,756 MW in 2002; 12,514 MW in 2005, and 25,000 MW in 2010. This is the part of its green energy policy that the Spanish government doesn’t crow about (here).

So here we are: renewable energies cost the Spanish taxpayers, and soon the consumers (the price of electricity has started to soar in Spain), an additional € 1 billion a year because of the idling of conventional power plants when the wind blows or the sun shines.

Spain finds it difficult to reduce its gaping budget deficit, handicapped as it is by yet another dead-weight of nearly € 7 billion in annual subsidies to renewable energies*. The government has just cut the subsidies to the solar industry by 30% until the next elections (meaning they may reinstate them in 2013) – a small gesture to appease international financial markets.

€ 6,787 million for 2010, including cogeneration and all the perks.

Add to this € 1 billion a year for idling the back-up plants above, that’s close to 8 billion per annum, and growing: in 2013 more windfarms will be built, a lot more. I hope Sarkozy and Merkel realise what they are getting into when they say they will bail out Spain and defend the euro “at all costs”.

The Zapatero government, socialist as it may be, prefers to make cuts in social costs (pensions, civil servants’ salaries, etc.) rather than stop investing in renewable energy: in 2013, for instance, the brakes are to be lifted on wind farm expansion, and 240 projects have been presented for Extremadura alone*.

Extremadura the EU’s most important haven for declining species of large birds: storks (2 species), cranes, great bustards, eagles (5 species), and vultures (3 species). Large birds are especially vulnerable to wind turbines – see this video.

The European Commission, which is in charge of protecting these species, has received several complaints, but they look the other way.

The question is: do Spanish politicians really believe in windpower, or do they subsidise it because of the generous financial contributions they receive from this industry? It must be remembered that Spain’s two largest political parties each owe about € 300 million to the banks. These loans must be repaid somehow, and subsidies to the wind and solar industries could be the way to do it. Contributions to election campaign funds are legal, and so are subsidies: technically speaking, ahem, we are not talking about corruption.

* Not the big banks, but Cajas de Ahorros. These are regional savings banks where politicians or their appointees have a say in the credit decisions (an open avenue to graft). No wonder they’re practically bankrupt now, and must seek capital injections totalling about € 20 billion before year-end. This was announced last week the Minister of the Economy, Elena Salgado.

U.K. Energy Policy Risks Prompting Renewed `Dash for Gas,’ Lawmakers Say

By Kari Lundgren, Bloomberg

Changes to U.K. energy policy may lead to a renewed “dash for gas” as utilities choose cheap gas-fired plants over renewable projects, Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change Select Committee said in a report today.

Government policy needs to “put the cleanest form of energy at the top of the agenda,” Committee Chairman Tim Yeo said in a statement. If the type of capacity is not part of the decision-making process, companies will choose the “cheap and easy” option, the committee said in the report.

The British government is in the process of reshaping the country’s energy market and changing how plants are approved to meet climate change targets and replace aging stations. The U.K. has pledged to get 15 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade and about a quarter of the country’s generation capacity will go off line by 2015.

“The first so-called ‘dash for gas’ took place in the 1990s and helped to provide affordable energy, but a second dash for gas could crowd out the development of renewables and make the U.K. miss its climate change targets,” the report said.

Power from a natural gas-fired power plant costs about $54 a megawatt hour to produce, compared with $176 for energy coming from an offshore wind farm, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance data. A gas-fired power station emits about half as much carbon dioxide as a coal-fired plant.

“Gas plants are one of the solutions to greenhouse emissions, not one of the problems,” Mike Fulwood,an analyst at Nexant, said in a telephone interview. “There are plenty of economies in Europe that have survived on imported gas for many, many years.”

Damhead Creek

Gas-fired power plants can take as little as 18 months to build, Fulwood said. Plants approved since January last year include Scottish Power Ltd.’s 1,000-megawatt plant at Damhead Creek in southeast England and a Wainstones Energy Ltd. plant near Manchester. As many as five applications for combined-cycle gas plants are under consideration, according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

The Secretary of State should be required to review plans and take into account what plants have already been approved, the Committee said in the report. This will protect the U.K. from becoming overly dependent on fossil fuels and ensure the country meets climate change targets, they said.

EPA climate regs debated as Republicans tout ‘REINS Act’

Gabriel Nelson, E&E reporter

It’s official: The new era of Republican oversight has begun.

The new leadership of the House Judiciary Committee kicked off the new Congress yesterday by making the case for a bill that seeks to stem the flow of new federal rules. And if the first hearing is any indication, no discussion of regulatory policy this session will be complete without a debate over U.S. EPA’s use of the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases.

The bill being discussed was the “REINS Act” (H.R. 10) from Rep. Geoff Davis (R-Ky.), which would require all rules costing more than $100 million to be approved by Congress before taking effect.

Congress has delegated too much of its authority to executive branch agencies and needs to take that power back, the Republicans on the judiciary panel’s Subcommittee on Courts, Commercial and Administrative Law said yesterday. The Congressional Review Act, which was passed by Congress during the tenure of President Clinton, has failed to give lawmakers control over the regulatory process, they said.

Several lawmakers cited EPA’s climate rules as a prime target of Davis’ proposed bill. Among them was House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who said Congress needs to stop the agency’s effort to “exercise authority it was never granted.”

“When businesses have to spend these vast sums to comply with this mass of regulations, they have less money to invest to stay competitive in the global economy and to hire new employees,” Smith said. “These costs get passed on to American consumers. In effect, these regulations amount to stiff but unseen taxes on every American.”

The Democrats on the panel also raised questions about the constitutionality of Davis’ proposed fix, saying that Congress could not block rules without changing the laws that prompted them. The bill ignores the benefits of rules from EPA and other agencies, reflecting the belief “that almost all regulations are bad,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), the subcommittee’s ranking member.

Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) focused his questions on EPA’s greenhouse gas rules, reading aloud the portion of the Clean Air Act that says when an agency must begin regulating a pollutant. He suggested it was reasonable for EPA to conclude that greenhouse gases are a threat to human health and welfare, considering that Congress had given them that responsibility and the Supreme Court had said that carbon dioxide fit into the law’s definition of “pollutant.”

But witnesses such as Jonathan Adler, director of the Center for Business Law and Regulation at Case Western Reserve University, countered by arguing that the regulation of greenhouse gases is still a “decision that needs to be made by Congress.”

No one from the administration testified yesterday, and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), who held the gavel until last month, questioned their absence. Republicans want to move the bill to the floor by next week, but they should not do so without allowing the administration the chance to explain itself, Conyers said.

The bill will get another hearing in the Judiciary Committee before lawmakers decide whether to report it out of committee, said Howard Coble (R-N.C.), chairman of the subcommittee.

Introduced in the Senate last year by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), the REINS Act has not garnered any Democratic sponsors. But with support from top-ranking Republicans such as Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), it could quickly face a vote in the House.

Republicans have challenged the characterization of the REINS Act as a partisan effort to stop President Obama’s agenda, but they agree that the procedural step likely would have caused rules such as EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations to stall on Capitol Hill.

“I can tell you, that would not pass,” Davis said yesterday during an interview with Fox Business Network, referring to EPA’s effort to limit greenhouse gases. “It didn’t pass a liberal-dominated Congress and would not pass now. This is really an end-run around the will of the American people.”

“EPA Expands Climate Agenda to the Current Fleet of Power Plants and Refineries” — VanNess Feldman

by Marlo Lewis

January 20, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

On December 23, 2010, one day before the Yuletide season when Members of Congress, the media, and Tea Party activists are least likely to watchdog the federal bureaucracy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced rulemakings to establish New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from power plants and refineries. Or maybe “whispered” would be more accurate.

If you didn’t read the text of EPA’s press release and just skimmed the headline, you would not know the agency had just launched the next phase of its greenhouse gas regulatory program. The release carried this bland and uninformative title: ”EPA to Set Modest Pace for Greenhouse Gas Standards/Agency stresses flexibility and public input in developing cost-effective and protective GHG standards for largest emitters.”

Then on Dec. 30, with public attention still diverted by holiday celebration, EPA published two proposed settlement agreements in the Federal Register outlining the agency’s plans to establish GHG performance standards for utility steam electric generating units and petroleum refineries. The proposed agreements are between EPA and a gaggle of State, municipal, and environmental litigants.

In a recent (Jan. 19, 2011) Alert, VanNess Feldman, a law firm specializing in environmental issues, explains the significance of this under-reported development:

These new regulations have potentially broader reach and impact than the New Source Review (NSR) greenhouse gas rules that became effective on January 2, 2011 under the “Tailoring Rule” timetable. Most notably, the NSPS, notwithstanding their name, can reach not only new and modified facilities but also existing facilities.

Unlike NSR “best available control technology” (BACT) standards, which are determined on a case-by-case basis for each new or modified “major emitting facility,” NSPS standards apply in advance to all new or modified major emitters within specific industrial categories. What’s more, as the Alert explains, EPA working with State environmental agencies can apply NSPS to existing, non-modified sources.

The Clean Air Act’s NSPS provisions—which require EPA to set industry-specific performance standards for facilities that emit significant quantities of certain air pollutants—include separate tracks for new and modified facilities (section 111(b)) and existing facilities (section 111(d)). Under section 111(b), EPA directly establishes NSPS for new and modified facilities. Section 111(d), by contrast, establishes a cooperative federal-state process under which EPA first establishes “emissions guidelines” for facilities in the relevant category.

These guidelines are then translated by states into enforceable performance standards for facilities within their boundaries. States may apply less stringent standards or longer compliance schedules if they demonstrate that following the federal guidelines is unreasonably cost-prohibitive, physically impossible, or that there are other factors that reasonably preclude meeting the guidelines. States may also impose more stringent standards or shorter compliance schedules in appropriate cases.

EPA, in cahoots with the usual pro-Kyoto State attorneys general and eco-litigation groups, is engaged in an end-run around democracy. The Clean Air Act was enacted in 1970, years before global warming was even a gleam in Al Gore’s eye. The statute does not even mention ”greenhouse gases” or the ”greenhouse effect.” The Act as amended in 1990 does include the terms ”carbon dioxide” and “global warming potential” — but only in the context of non-regulatory provisions, and in each instance followed by a caveat instructing EPA not to jump to regulatory conclusions. That admonitory language would have no legal effect, and would have been pointless for Congress to include, if, as the Supreme Court mistakenly opined in Massachusetts v. EPA, the agency has separate authority under other provisions to ‘enact’ regulatory global warming policy.

The longer Congress tolerates this usurpation of legislative power, the harder it will be to stop, because firms that spend millions of dollars to comply with a regulation may gain little from its repeal. They may even acquire a vested interest in preserving the rule as a barrier to entry if it hobbles upstarts less able to bear the expense. Moreover, the proposed rulemakings are just step one of a broader campaign to establish GHG performance standards for numerous industrial categories such as steel plants, cement production facilities, and paper mills.

Things are moving swiftly. Under the proposed settlement agreements, EPA will propose NSPS rules for power plants by July 26, 2011 and finalize them by May 26, 2012, and propose NSPS rules for refineries by December 10, 2011, and finalize them by November 10, 2012. If the Tea Party Congress means to stop EPA from Kyotoizing America, it must do so in the very near future.

Dominic Lawson: The Population Timebomb Is A Myth

Post is here. Source: UK Independent

The doom-sayers are becoming more fashionable just as experts are coming to the view it has all been one giant false alarm.

The human appetite for bad news knows no bounds. That is why gossip is usually malicious and why, on a grander scale, prophets of doom are always guaranteed a credulous audience. Conversely, good news – however well attested – is generally squeezed in the margins of newspapers.

For example, The Independent buried in a few paragraphs a story with the headline “Population growth not a threat, say engineers”. But at least The Independent found some space to cover the publication of a report last week by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers entitled Population: One Planet, Too Many People? – I could find nothing about it in other newspapers.

The reason for that distinct lack of column inches is that the institution answered its own question in the negative. No, there are not (and will never be) too many people for the planet to feed. As the report’s lead author, Dr Tim Fox, pointed out, its verdict is not based on speculative guesses about the development of new agricultural processes as yet unknown: “We can meet the challenge of feeding a planet of 9 billion people through the application of existing technologies”. For example, Dr Fox pointed out, in Africa, no less than half the food produced is destroyed before it reaches its local marketplace: with refrigeration and good roads, the developing world could avoid this horrendous waste.

Interestingly, another detailed report on “sustainability” published last week by the French national agricultural and development research agencies came up with the same answer. The French scientists set themselves the goal of discovering whether a global population of 9 billion, the likely peak according to the UN, could readily have access to 3,000 calories a day, even as farms take measures to cut down on the use of fossil fuels and refrain from cutting down more forests: their answer was, you will be thrilled to know, “yes”.

Some people will not be so thrilled. There is an increasingly noisy claque of Malthusians who insist that an “exploding” global population (as they put it) is going to lead to disaster – from Boris Johnson to Joanna Lumley, not to mention Jeremy Irons and Prince Charles. For example, last weekend The Independent published a lengthy interview with the Bermuda-based philanthropist James Martin, who has given Oxford University $125m to set up a forecasting institute in his name. Mr Martin’s own forecast is that “by mid-century we’re going to be using the term ‘giga-famine’, meaning a famine where more than a billion people will die, a catastrophe on a scale that’s never been known before on Earth.”

Martin sounds uncannily like Paul Ehrlich, the secular saint of the neo-Malthusian movement. Back in the 1970s, Ehrlich’s book The Population Bomb became a global best-seller on the back of his forecast that by the end of the century even the United States would be enduring mass famine and that there was no better than a 50 per chance of anyone remaining alive in Great Britain by the year 2000. You might have thought that events would have discredited Ehrlich as a forecaster, but he is still constantly cited as an authority by the population control freaks, and is himself remarkably unbothered by the fact that agricultural techniques had rapidly developed in a way which he was unable to envisage. Asked in 2000 about his prediction of a wipe-out of the UK by famine, he replied: “If you look closely at England, what can I tell you? They’re having all kinds of problems just like everybody else.” If his original forecast had merely been that “The world – including Britain – will have all kinds of problems”, I somehow doubt he would have found a publisher.

One reason why the population doomsters have come out in force in recent weeks is that, according to the UN Population Division, this year will see the number of living inhabitants hit the figure of 7 billion; or according to an imaginative piece of global palm-reading by The Guardian: “Later this year, on 31 October to be precise, a boy will be born in a rural village in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. His parents will not know it, but his birth will prove to be a considerable landmark for our species as his arrival will mark the moment when the human population reaches 7 billion.”

Or it might not; but we get the drift: lacking only the prognosticated presence of three wise men from the East, this is a Big Moment. It’s also not a bad moment, either for the parents (they’ll probably be delighted it’s a boy) or for the planet. While the misanthropic Malthusians will gloomily see his arrival as just “another mouth to feed”, he might more charitably be seen as another human whose ingenuity, creativity and intellect can be of benefit to the world.

As a matter of fact the population doom-sayers among the media and showbusiness are becoming more fashionable just as the experts are coming round to the view that it has all been one giant false alarm. This year National Geographic magazine is making population its theme; but its lengthy opening essay was notable for its lack of alarmism. It quoted Hania Zlotnik, the director of the UN’s Population Division, saying: “We still don’t understand why fertility has gone down so fast in so many societies, so many cultures and religions. It’s just mind-boggling. At this moment, much as I want to say [SPPI note: Why would Zlotnik “want to say” so instead of wanting to simply find the truth?] there’s still a problem of high fertility rates, it’s only about 16 per cent of the world’s population, mostly in Africa.”

The most fashionable of all arguments for some sort of global anti-natalist legislation comes in the form of professed concern for the atmosphere – too many people produce too much CO2, thus damaging the planet via climate change. The Malthusians have seized on this as grist to their mill, having been refuted on every other argument. Yet Joel Cohen, the professor of populations at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, told National Geographic: “Those who say the whole problem is population are wrong. It’s not even the dominant factor.”

Apart from anything else, the developed world, which uses vastly more energy per capita than sub-Saharan Africa (the only part of the globe with high fertility rates) [SPPI Note: This is hard to believe when the average age in the Gaza strip is 15-years] is going through a period of rapid demographic decline. As Matt Ridley, the author of The Rational Optimist, pointed out last week, the world’s population is not “exploding” but growing at 1 per cent a year, and the actual number of people added to the figure each year has been dropping for more than 20 years.

Still, morbid pessimism about the ability of the Earth to support its population has always been with us. In AD200, Tertullian wrote: “We are burdensome to the world; the resources are scarcely adequate for us.” Of course, the resources of the planet are not, in the purely mathematical sense, infinite; but neither is the population.

This thought ought to be of some cheer; but I fear that even if the entire world of science and engineering accepts this form of rational optimism, it will not change the mind of a single Malthusian. They’ve been wrong for so long. Why stop now?

Greens lie, Africans die

Falsehoods about insecticides and bednets continue to leave a path of destruction and death

Paul Driessen and Robert Novak

Fina’s little body shook for hours with teeth-chattering chills. The next day her torment worsened, as nausea and vomiting continued even after there was nothing left in her stomach. Finally, her vomiting ebbed and chills turned to fever, drenching her body in sweat. Then more chills, fevers, nausea, convulsions, and constant, unbearable pain in every muscle, bone and joint.

She cried out, and tears mixed with sweat. But no one could help her. She had no money for doctors, medicines or a hospital room. She didn’t even have a mother or father to comfort her. All the orphanage school staff could do was caress her, pray and hope she’d get better – and wait for her to die.

And in agony that never stopped from the time the malaria first struck her down, Fina Nantume did die. So did 49 of her classmates, out of 500 students in the APEA Primary School for orphans in Kampala, Uganda, in 2005. Most of the survivors were also afflicted with malaria at least once that year. Some became permanently brain damaged. Others died in subsequent years.

Fina didn’t have to die. None of these spirited, beautiful young students had to die. None of them had to get malaria. The disease is preventable and treatable.

Then why did they? Why does half the world’s population remain at risk of getting malaria? Why are some 250 million people infected annually – with 90% of the agonizing chills, fevers, nausea, brain damage and death occurring in sub-Saharan Africa?

It’s said malaria is a disease of poverty, and poor countries don’t have enough funds, doctors or medicines to treat the disease – or prevent it in the first place. True enough. But malaria is also, and much more so, a disease of callous, intransigent environmental extremism and wanton disregard for human life. A disease whose prevention is hampered, and actively thwarted, by pervasive opposition to mosquito-killing insecticides, and mosquito-repelling DDT.

Anti-pesticide activists say they support other interventions: education, “capacity building,” modern drugs and bednets. Indeed, international funding for malaria prevention and treatment has risen from perhaps $40 million in 1998 to almost $2 billion in 2010. Millions of women and children now sleep under insecticide-treated nets. Millions now get diagnosed quickly and receive decent care and medicines.

These anti-malaria programs “saved nearly 750,000 lives over the past ten years.” the World Health Organization enthusiastically asserts. “That represents an 18% reduction in child mortality, compared with 2000.” That’s wonderful news. But it’s not good enough.

We would never tolerate 18% as “good enough,” if American or European kids’ lives were at stake, or if a 70-90% reduction in disease, misery and death rates were possible. And it would be possible, if we could end the lies and obstructionism that restrict access to mosquito killers and repellants that can dramatically reduce infection rates and the need to treat a quarter-billion cases of malaria every year.

But the lies and obstruction are prevalent, and effective. Here are just a few of the most egregious.

“Nets are just as good as insecticides.” Prevention should always be the first line of defense. That’s why we chlorinate drinking water and vaccinate people against measles, mumps, polio and flu. Insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) certainly help and should be used. But they are a supplement to, not a substitute for, larvacides, insecticides and
DDT that kill mosquitoes and keep them away from people.

Bednets help if they’re used regularly and properly. They don’t help if they’re torn, people are working, there are only enough nets for a family’s small children and pregnant women, or it’s too hot to sleep under one. Indoor residual spraying (IRS) eliminates behavior as a consideration; it protects everyone in the house, 24 hours a day.

“Bednets are more cost-effective than indoor spraying.” This assertion is backed by several studies that anti-pesticide groups and ITN manufacturers allegedly financed. However, the studies compare bednets with IRS using pyrethroids like ICON, instead of DDT.

Pyrethroids are far more expensive and must be applied more often than DDT, which raises IRS costs significantly. The studies also fail to include all the costs associated with manufacturing and distributing the nets. Independent analyses found that nets are actually three times more expensive than spraying the inside walls of homes with DDT.

Much more important, spraying DDT once or twice a year keeps 80% of mosquitoes from entering the home, irritates those that do enter, so they leave without biting, and kills any that land. No other chemical, at any price, has these repellency and irritation features.

DDT helps doctors treat more patients with often scarce ACT drugs and dramatically slash disease and death rates – often by 90% or more.

“Mosquitoes will become resistant to DDT.” This is highly unlikely. DDT use today is restricted to disease prevention, whereas pyrethroids are used extensively in agriculture and ITNs, greatly increasing the risk of resistance to these DDT “alternatives.” Once that happens both non-DDT indoor spraying and bednets will become far less effective, and malaria rates could skyrocket. In addition, there is no evidence that mosquitoes have ever become resistant to DDT’s repellency and irritation effects.

Moreover, reliance on nets and pyrethroid sprays significantly reduces prevention and increases the need for treatment. This can stretch scarce hospital, medical staff and drug resources to the breaking point. It increases the likelihood that malaria parasites will become resistant to Artemisia-based drugs, especially monotherapies. And it magnifies the pervasive and growing problem of substandard and counterfeit drugs replacing scarce supplies of reputable ACT combination therapies.

“DDT has dangerous side effects.” Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network, Environmental Defense, International POPs Elimination Network and affiliated radical groups love to say “some researchers think” DDT and its break-down byproduct DDE “could” inhibit lactation, “may” weaken immune systems and are “associated with” low birth weights in babies. Not only is this rank speculation, but malaria definitely has all these side effects; it also causes severe brain damage, an inability to work for weeks on end, and agonizing death.

Opposing DDT use on the basis of bogus side effects is infinitely worse than opposing cancer-curing chemotherapy because of the nasty and very real side effects of vincristine, asperaginase, methotrexate and other chemo drugs.

“DDT will poison the global biosphere.” Anti-pesticide zealots claim even indoor spraying with DDT will “contaminate” soils and waters for decades and “damage entire regional environmental systems.”

Baloney. IRS involves small amounts of DDT on walls. The chemical and its derivatives break down. Detection does not equal destruction. Our ability to detect chemicals at the equivalent of one second in 32 years does not equate with damage to any organism, and certainly not to entire ecosystems.

There is no magic bullet. We need every weapon in our arsenal to control and eradicate this vicious disease. DDT and insecticides aren’t necessary or appropriate in every case – but when needed health officials must be able to employ them, without recrimination or retribution.

The “net” effect of these bald-faced lies is that anti-pesticide zealots are perpetuating poverty, misery, disease and death in malaria-endemic regions all over the world. Safe in offices made malaria-free by the very chemicals, technologies and prosperity they deny to others, these baby killers and their financial benefactors are violating the most basic human rights of people in poor nations: the right of access to technologies that enhance and safeguard life.

Their reign of terror must end, before they usher in a disaster of truly epidemic proportions.
_________

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Congress of Racial Equality, and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power – Black death. Robert Novak is professor of medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and has devoted much of his life to combating malaria.

Fina Nantume – 1996-2005 – APEA Primary School, Kampala
Requiescat in pace. May her memory be a blessing, and a call for better malaria policies.

See also the attached collage of all 50 APEA students who died from malaria in 2005.

Costly ‘green jobs’ solar plant sued by greenies

Thomas Lifson, American Thinker

A costly proposed solar power plant in Ivanpah, California, touted by President Obama as a “green jobs” initiative, is being sued by environmentalists. Nichola Groom of Reuters reports:

According to court papers, the non-profit Western Watersheds Project alleged U.S. regulators approved Brightsource Energy’s 370-megawatt Ivanpah solar energy plant without conducting adequate environmental reviews, and asked the court to order the defendants to withdraw their approvals.

The complaint names the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the agencies’ heads and other staffers, as defendants. None was immediately available for comment.

“In an ill-conceived rush to accommodate massive renewable energy projects … the federal defendants precipitously approved unnecessarily destructive energy development of the California Desert Conservation Area without first conducting adequate environmental reviews.”

The complaint said the project’s approval process failed to analyze and mitigate the Ivanpah plant’s impact on migratory birds, the desert tortoise, which is a threatened species under federal law, desert bighorn sheep, groundwater resources and rare plants.

As Peter Wilson reported to AT readers last October, President Obama claimed that Ivanpah “is going to put about a thousand people to work,” a very misleading figure. There will be an average of 650 people working to construct the plant, but once it is completed, there will be only 86 permanent workers, mostly performing maintenance. The cost to taxpayers: a $1.37 billion loan guarantee for Ivanpah. There have been a series of bankruptcies and closures of green power schemes lavishly subsidized with public funds. Wilson wrote then:

Brightsource investors include Google.org (a member of Van Jones’s Apollo Alliance) and the California State Teachers Retirement System. Billions in federal financing, billions every year for the next thirty years in taxpayer subsidies for above-market priced electricity, with profits going to Obama insiders like the Apollo Alliance and a teachers’ union? Should we really call this “clean” energy?

If the Western Watersheds Project derails this poorly conceived, rushed-through scheme, for whatever reason, they will save American taxpayers and California electricity consumers a pile of money.

Confessions of a Greenpeace founder

By Patrick Moore

You could call me a Greenpeace dropout, but that is not an entirely accurate description of how or why I left the organization 15 years after I helped create it. I’d like to think Greenpeace left me, rather than the other way around, but that too is not entirely correct.

The truth is Greenpeace and I had divergent evolutions. I became a sensible environmentalist; Greenpeace became increasingly senseless as it adopted an agenda that is anti-science, anti-business, and downright anti-human. This is the story of our transformations.

The last half of the 20th century was marked by a revulsion for war and a new awareness of the environment. Beatniks, hippies, eco-freaks and greens in their turn fashioned a new philosophy that embraced peace and ecology as the overarching principles of a civilized world. Spurred by more than 30 years of ever-present fear that global nuclear holocaust would wipe out humanity and much of the living world, we led a new war — a war to save the earth. I’ve had the good fortune to be a general in that war.

My boot camp had no screaming sergeant or rifle drills. Still, the sense of duty and purpose of mission we had at the beginning was as acute as any assault on a common enemy. We campaigned against the bomb-makers, whale-killers, polluters and anyone else who threatened civilization or the environment. In the process, we won the hearts and minds of people around the world. We were Greenpeace.

I joined Greenpeace before it was even called by that name. The Don’t Make a Wave Committee was meeting weekly in the basement of the Unitarian church in Vancouver.

In April 1971, I saw a small article in The Vancouver Sun about a group planning to sail a boat from Vancouver across the North Pacific to protest U.S. hydrogen bomb testing in Alaska. I immediately realized this was something real I could do, way beyond taking ecology classes and studying at a desk. I wrote the organizers and was invited to join the weekly meetings of the small group that would soon become Greenpeace.

The early days of Greenpeace were heady indeed. It was 1971 and the height of the hippy era. I was in a bitter battle to obtain my Ph. D in ecology at the University of British Columbia over the objections of a few industry-backed professors who had forced their way onto my thesis committee. I became radicalized and joined the group of anti-nuclear activists.

We realized all-out nuclear war would be the end of both civilization and the environment — hence the name we soon adopted, Greenpeace, as in “let it be a green peace.” We chartered an old fishing boat to sail to ground zero to focus public attention on the nuclear tests. We believed the revolution should be a celebration. We sang protest songs, drank beer, smoked pot and had a generally good time.

We survived that first voyage, but we never made it to the test site. The U.S. Coast Guard cut us off at Akutan Harbor and made us turn back. However, our mission was a success because our protest was reported in the media across North America. As a result, thousands of people from Canada and the U.S. marched on border crossings across the continent on the day of the H-bomb test and shut the crossings down. Soon after, President Richard Nixon cancelled the remaining tests in that series. We could hardly believe what our ragtag band of peaceniks had accomplished in just a few short months. We realized that a few people could change the world if they just got up and did something.

It was the beginning of a very wild ride. High on the victory of vanquishing a world superpower, in early 1972 we repeated our “take it to ground zero” protests with France, which was still conducting atmospheric tests of atomic and hydrogen bombs on Mururoa, a small atoll in the South Pacific. France had refused to sign the 1963 treaty banning atmospheric testing signed by the Soviet Union, Britain and the United States.

We found David McTaggart, a Canadian living in New Zealand who was willing to sail his small boat across the South Pacific, and the next protest was on. The first year the French navy rammed a hole in the boat and forced it ashore. The second year they beat up our captain, an event secretly photographed by one of the crew. The beating catapulted the story to the front pages of French newspapers. Within the year France announced it would no longer conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere.

In three years our little band of protesters had forced two superpowers to substantially alter their nuclear weapons testing programs. We proved again that a small group of dedicated people could effect real change at a global level. Nothing could stop us now.

In 1975, we took on the challenge of saving the whales from extinction at the hands of huge factory whaling fleets. This campaign really put Greenpeace on the map and made us a worldwide icon. By the early 1980s, we were confronting the annual slaughter of baby seals, opposing driftnet fisheries, protesting toxic-waste dumping, blocking supertankers and parachuting into nuclear reactor construction sites. Our campaigns were highly successful at changing opinions and energizing the public. Through the power of the media and the people, we were steadily influencing government policies and forcing industries to clean up their acts. We had achieved the support of the majority of people in the industrialized democracies.

By 1982, Greenpeace had grown into a full-fledged international movement with offices and staff around the world. We were bringing in $100 million a year in donations and half a dozen campaigns were occurring simultaneously. During the early 1980s two things happened that altered my perspective on the direction in which environmentalism, in general, and Greenpeace, in particular, were heading. The first was my introduction to the concept of sustainable development at a global meeting of environmentalists. The second was the adoption of policies by my fellow Greenpeacers that I considered extremist and irrational. These two developments would set the stage for my transformation from a radical activist into a sensible environmentalist.

In 1982, the United Nations held a conference in Nairobi to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first UN Environment Conference in Stockholm, which I had also attended. I was one of 85 environmental leaders from around the world who were invited to craft a statement of our collective goals for environmental protection. It quickly became apparent there were two nearly opposite perspectives in the room — the anti-development perspective of environmentalists from wealthy industrialized countries and the pro-development perspective of environmentalists from the poor developing countries.

As one developing country activist put it, taking a stand against development in his woefully poor country would get him laughed out of the room. It was hard to argue with his position. A well-fed person has many problems, a hungry person has but one. The same is true for development, or lack of it. We could see the tragic reality of poverty on the outskirts of our Kenyan host city. Those of us from industrialized countries recognized we had to be in favour of some kind of development, preferably the kind that didn’t ruin the environment in the process. Thus the concept of sustainable development was born.

This was when I first fully realized there was another step beyond pure environmental activism. The real challenge was to figure out how to take the environmental values we had helped create and weave them into the social and economic fabric of our culture. This had to be done in ways that didn’t undermine the economy and were socially acceptable. It was clearly a question of careful balance, not dogmatic adherence to a single principle.

I knew immediately that putting sustainable development into practice would be much more difficult than the protest campaigns we’d mounted over the past decade. It would require consensus and cooperation rather than confrontation and demonization. Greenpeace had no trouble with confrontation — hell, we’d made it an art form — but we had difficulty cooperating and making compromises. We were great at telling people what they should stop doing, but almost useless at helping people figure out what they should be doing instead.

It also seemed like the right time for me to make a change. I felt our primary task, raising mass public awareness of the importance of the environment, had been largely accomplished. By the early 1980s a majority of the public, at least in the Western democracies, agreed with us that the environment should be taken into account in all our activities. When most people agree with you it is probably time to stop beating them over the head and sit down with them to seek solutions to our environmental problems.

At the same time I chose to become less militant and more diplomatic, my Greenpeace colleagues became more extreme and intolerant of dissenting opinions from within.

In the early days we debated complex issues openly and often. It was a wonderful group to engage with in wide-ranging environmental policy discussions. The intellectual energy in the organization was infectious. We frequently disagreed about specific issues, yet our ultimate vision was largely shared. Importantly, we strove to be scientifically accurate. For years this had been the topic of many of our internal debates. I was the only Greenpeace activist with a Ph. D in ecology, and because I wouldn’t allow exaggeration beyond reason I quickly earned the nickname “Dr. Truth.” It wasn’t always meant as a compliment. Despite my efforts, the movement abandoned science and logic somewhere in the mid-1980s, just as society was adopting the more reasonable items on our environmental agenda.

Some activists simply couldn’t make the transition from confrontation to consensus; it was as if they needed a common enemy. When a majority of people decide they agree with all your reasonable ideas the only way you can remain confrontational and antiestablishment is to adopt ever more extreme positions, eventually abandoning science and logic altogether in favour of zero-tolerance policies.

The collapse of world communism and the fall of the Berlin Wall during the 1980s added to the trend toward extremism. The Cold War was over and the peace movement was largely disbanded. The peace movement had been mainly Western-based and anti-American in its leanings. Many of its members moved into the environmental movement, bringing with them their neo-Marxist, far-left agendas. To a considerable extent the environmental movement was hijacked by political and social activists who learned to use green language to cloak agendas that had more to do with anti-capitalism and anti-globalization than with science or ecology. I remember visiting our Toronto office in 1985 and being surprised at how many of the new recruits were sporting army fatigues and red berets in support of the Sandinistas.

I don’t blame them for seizing the opportunity. There was a lot of power in our movement and they saw how it could be turned to serve their agendas of revolutionary change and class struggle. But I differed with them because they were extremists who confused the issues and the public about the nature of our environment and our place in it. To this day they use the word industry as if it were a swear word. The same goes for multinational, chemical, genetic, corporate, globalization, and a host of other perfectly useful terms. Their propaganda campaign is aimed at promoting an ideology that I believe would be extremely damaging to both civilization and the environment.

The main purpose of my new book is to establish a new approach to environmentalism and to define sustain-ability as the key to achieving environmental goals. This requires embracing humans as a positive element in evolution rather than viewing us as some kind of mistake. I believe we should celebrate our existence and constantly put our minds toward making the world a better place for people and all the other species we share it with.

A lot of environmentalists are stuck in the 1970s and continue to promote a strain of leftish romanticism about idyllic rural village life powered by windmills and solar panels. They idealize poverty, seeing it as a noble way of life, and oppose all large developments. James Cameron, the multimillionaire producer of the most lucrative movie in history, Avatar, paints his face and joins the disaffected to protest a hydroelectric dam in the Amazon.

I believe:

– We should be growing more trees and using more wood, not cutting fewer trees and using less wood as Greenpeace and its allies contend. Wood is the most important renewable material and energy resource.

– Those countries that have reserves of potential hydroelectric energy should build the dams required to deliver that energy. There is nothing wrong with creating more lakes in this world.

– Nuclear energy is essential for our future energy supply, especially if we wish to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. It has proven to be clean safe, reliable, and cost-effective.

– Geothermal heat pumps, which too few people know about, are far more important and cost-effective than either solar panels or wind mills as a source of renewable energy. They should be required in all new buildings unless there is a good reason to use some other technology for heating, cooling, and making hot water.

– The most effective way to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels is to encourage the development of technologies that require less or no fossil fuels to operate. Electric cars, heat pumps, nuclear and hydroelectric energy, and biofuels are the answer, not cumbersome regulatory systems that stifle economic activity.

– Genetic science, including genetic engineering, will improve nutrition and end malnutrition, improve crop yields, reduce the environmental impact of farming, and make people and the environment healthier.

– Many activist campaigns designed to make us fear useful chemicals are based on misinformation and unwarranted fear.

– Aquaculture, including salmon and shrimp farming, will be one of our most important future sources of healthy food. It will also take pressure off depleted wild fish stocks and will employ millions of people productively.

– There is no cause for alarm about climate change. The climate is always changing. Some of the proposed “solutions” would be far worse than any imaginable consequence of global warming, which will likely be mostly positive. Cooling is what we should fear.

– Poverty is the worst environmental problem. Wealth and urbanization will stabilize the human population. Agriculture should be mechanized throughout the developing world. Disease and malnutrition can be largely eliminated by the application of modern technology. Health care, sanitation, literacy and electrification should be provided to everyone.

– No whale or dolphin should be killed or captured anywhere, ever. This is one of my few religious beliefs. They are the only species on earth whose brains are larger than ours and it is impossible to kill or capture them humanely.

Dr. Patrick Moore is a co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace and chair and chief scientist of Greenspirit Strategies Ltd. in Vancouver. His new book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout: The Making of a Sensible Environmentalist, is available at http://www.beattystreetpublishing.com

The Bakken factor

Could this oil reserve become that reliable bridge to a sustainable energy future?

HOUSTON CHRONICLE Jan. 13, 2011, 8:10PM

The news may not rate with a No. 1 ranking in the college football polls, but residents of North Dakota have reason — make that 11 billion reasons — to have their own celebration in this new year.

Eleven billion barrels is the latest estimate of reserves in the state’s share of the Bakken Formation, which extends for some 25,000 square miles from Canada down into Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas. Increasingly, the Bakken is being viewed as a major oil resource in the United States.

Eleven billion barrels is double the previous estimate of reserves, and could eventually push North Dakota into second place among the states for oil production, leapfrogging over California and Alaska and trailing only Texas. We won’t know for sure for a couple of years, but this is considered likely by experts, according to an Associated Press story published in the Chronicle (“North Dakota oil patch larger than expected: If estimate is correct, state might soon pass all but Texas in production,” Page B1, Jan. 3).

Good for North Dakota – and better for the U.S. That state’s contribution to the nation’s oil production has risen from 1 percent to 6 percent in recent years, and that number figures to continue upward. Observers say daily production of 700,000 barrels is likely within the next four to seven years. That is significant.

The Bakken doesn’t yet rank with Spindletop in the annals of oil lore, but it has yielded its share of tall tales. Over the past few years, the precise size of the reserves in the formation has been the subject of intense speculation and debate. A mythology about the Bakken has even sprung up: Some have conjured that the total reserve may be several times greater than that of Saudi Arabia, home of the world’s largest reserves. Well, not quite – at least not yet. But the speculation hasn’t kept the conspiracy theorists from wondering why information about the true Bakken reserves has been withheld.

It hasn’t been. Over the past two decades, reliable estimates about the size of these reserves have grown as more exploration and drilling has occurred across the shale-based formation. Improvements in technology that have made the resource more economic have also spurred upward revisions of reserve estimates.

Taken together with greatly enhanced estimates of reserves of natural gas (made accessible by hydraulic fracturing technology in massive shale formations across the country), the Bakken reserves have the potential, it seems to us, to change the picture for the United States in dramatic ways. In just the past few years, our oil and gas outlook has shifted from one of ever-increasing reliance on foreign oil and gas sources to the possibility of greater reliance on domestic reserves.

The optimistic forecasts about reserves in the Bakken formation, located in relatively accessible areas in the heart of the North American continent, raise this question: Do these resources represent an alternative to drilling in higher-risk areas such as deep water in the Gulf of Mexico, or in politically sensitive areas such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska? It is no secret that restriction of drilling in less risky areas with great promise has been one large reason for going into ever deeper Gulf waters, where risks to human life and the environment are greater. Does the Bakken formation change that picture?

We believe this: The news about the enhanced estimates of reserves in North Dakota, coupled with the development of potentially enormous natural gas plays in Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York state, should be the driver for a revamped national energy policy that relies more heavily on these resources to build a bridge into a future based on renewable energy. This country does not need to be held hostage to oil coming from politically unstable areas. Increasingly, it seems, we have a choice. Let’s find out more.

President Obama has an opportunity to make this case – and we encourage him to do so in his State of the Union address, set for early February.