Sense and Nonsense on Climate Armageddon

R. Dean Decker, Ph.D.

A good sense discussion on the Most Important Threat to Human History was provided July 14 in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, in a guest column from a retired University of Richmond biology professor.  Few discussions of the climate change controversy have come closer to my personal views, but Dean Decker has that doctorate from North Carolina State so let him make the case.  Read it in full here.

The nonsense appeared quickly with what I suspect will be one of many letters to the editor seeking to tear down his argument (and I suspect the man, but I hope the RTD will weed out those letters.)  The letter accused him of “a disservice to science” and inspired me to give Decker’s column a slightly wider audience.

More nonsense appeared even earlier, this from the Man Who Won’t Be King, Charles Prince of Wales.  “I am firmly of the view that the next 18 months will decide our ability to keep climate change to survivable levels and to restore nature to the equilibrium we need for our survival.”  I ran across that in a post on one of my favorite websites on this issue, wattsupwiththat.com. Searching for a more direct source of the quote, I found that HRH has been issuing these Al Gore-like jeremiads for years.

Yet more nonsense in today’s RTD with this piece on the “hottest June on record.”  At least reporters are careful now to add the “on record” disclaimer, given the Earth is 4.5 billion years old and efforts at worldwide measurements maybe a few decades old.  Certainly pre-satellite data is worthless for such comparisons.

So, to Decker, who is no “denier”, not at all.  On the contrary, he does a fairly clear job of describing that “climate change” is a constant global process with innumerable causes and human activity is among those causes.    Eight billion human beings striving to copy our American or European energy-guzzling lifestyle while tearing down trees and paving over green space will have an impact.  But the underlying natural cycles involved are powerful and irreversible. Yes, we are in a warming period, but it has precedent in human history. 

“So now what? No human effort will halt or reverse climate change. We must adapt to the coming changes by slowing the rate of change by whatever means possible. Reducing the demands on the earth’s carrying capacity by changing our lifestyles, switching to alternative energy sources and reducing the earth’s population among other options will help.

“Will any of these and other suggestions happen at a significant level? Probably not, even though much of the public thinks the politicians can pass legislation that will fix everything. Who is going to give up their cars, their electrical appliances, their pleasurable activities and all the things that make living what it is today in the developed parts of the world? In addition, people in the underdeveloped locations are not going to cease their efforts to achieve the lifestyles of the developed countries.”

Plenty of people will disagree with Decker’s advice to “slow the rate of change by whatever means possible,” and that’s where I might add some modification:  Do what is reasonably likely to actually make a difference, without leaving our economy crippled.  To me that does mean moving expeditiously (but rationally) to retire coal and build renewable generation where it make sense, and to encourage energy conservation in effective ways.  Market forces are doing the job and government is just fouling it up.

One of the environmental speakers at that State Corporation Commission regulatory conference a few weeks back admitted that were the government to return to the Obama-era Clean Power Plan, the entire goal structure would need to change.  Why?  Because the United States is moving toward the old CO2 benchmarks anyway.   As I noted at the time, they’ve won.

On a smaller scale that is my argument against Virginia joining the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – the targeted carbon emissions are shrinking already, and will continue to, with no trading or tax required to get there.  Some environmentalists don’t believe there is a point of diminishing or exhausted returns, but the Utopian zero emissions goals being pushed now are way beyond useful and economically disastrous.

Decker’s other recommendation is to reduce population.  He’s correct, world population growth and the resulting demand for lebensraum, energy, comfort and other resources are behind far more than just carbon emissions.  The impact on the oceans may be the real threat.  But the usual methods for rapid population drop involve war, famine and plague.  No question, those would work.  They seem to be missing from the Green New Deal public blueprint.

The climate alarmists are trying to stampede people, using the same tactics as the Twitterman in Washington.  They have the same low opinion of voter intelligence, sadly with good reason.  Many have the same goal – winning future elections.  Voices like Decker’s rarely rise above the din but are worth listening to.  Good piece, Doc.

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85 responses to “Sense and Nonsense on Climate Armageddon

  1. How refreshing. An honest, knowledgeable, practicable and wise, R. Dean Decker, Ph.D.’s commentary in the Richmond Times Dispatch, as well as Steve’s observations on that commentary.

    I also agree with Steve’s endorsement of wattsupwiththat.com. It’s essential reading, should an interested generalist reader want to cut through the fog, cant and nonsense found most everywhere else on social media on these issues.

    As for honest and knowledgeable books on the challenges that we face here in achieving real solutions, I would also recommend as a starting point for understanding the broad issues and challenges the book Taming the Sun: Innovations to Harness Solar Energy and Power the Planet (The MIT Press) 1st Edition, by Varun Sivaram (Author). This fine book requires a serious commitment of time, but it lays out real problems that those with private agendas and ideologies either actively hide from the public or do not want to hear.

  2. Meaning no disrepect to Prof. Decker, but he’s a biologist. There are plenty of reputable climatologists out there (lots of them) who believe that this climate change is not normal, could be an existential threat and is caused by humans. Also, while the University of Richmond is regarded as a top regional school, it is not known for its scientific research.

  3. During my Alaska vacation last week, we visited the Mendenhall Glacier outside Juneau. Our guide noted that the glacier has been retreating rapidly due to global warming — and has been doing so since the 1700s, when the glacier, which had been advancing during the Little Ice Age, reversed course. She also noted that 15,000 years ago, during the last (big) Ice Age, the ice was 4,000 feet thick where we stood.

  4. re: ” So, how do humans fit into the total picture of climate change? They are not the primary cause as indicated or implied by many researchers, the media, politicians and much of the general public. ”

    How does the good professor arrive at this conclusion if he essentially says there are all kinds of factors that affect climate and he apparently “believes” some scientific explanations about how some natural processes are “explained” but he rejects how CO2 and climate change is “explained”.

    Like many deniers (and yes he is), they apparently DO accept theories about plate tectonics, volcanoes, photosynthesis, what the weather and climate were like BEFORE and even when scientists predict hurricane paths and sea level rise and flooding!

    re: “However, humans have altered the rate of change, which increases the magnitude of the effects. Examples of the effects of human activities include the more recent increases in the rate of sea level rising, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other compounds from the combustion of fossil fuels, and deforestation that decreases the extraction of atmospheric carbon dioxide via photosynthesis.”

    How does the good professor explain his version of the “rate of change” and the “magnitude” of change that differs from Climate Scientists data? He just hand-waves and essentially says that science is wrong and he is right about the rate of change and magnitude. In other words, he’s just supplying his own ideas without any data or modeling – nope – just what he believes -like a lot of other deniers.

    re: “The “carrying capacity” of the earth can only support a finite amount of biomass. When, not if, the carrying capacity is exceeded, the results will be catastrophic. The population will suddenly drop to a fraction of what it is now.”

    Now he is on to another area of science that goes beyond climate , to food and water, etc and again he just inserts his own beliefs, no data to back up his assertions.

    “So now what? No human effort will halt or reverse climate change. We must adapt to the coming changes by slowing the rate of change by whatever means possible. Reducing the demands on the earth’s carrying capacity by changing our lifestyles, switching to alternative energy sources and reducing the earth’s population among other options will help.”

    what do we change and by how much? Once again, he just hand-waves “stuff”.. reasonably sounding stuff but we hear that from a lot of folks both deniers and environmental extremists. What changes do we make and how much?

    re: “Will any of these and other suggestions happen at a significant level? Probably not, even though much of the public thinks the politicians can pass legislation that will fix everything.”

    nothing fixes “everything”, but legislation DID get rid of lead in gasoline, the ozone hole, toxic chemicals and poisons; it gave us cleaner air and cleaner water. This guy is just pulling idiotic stuff out his backside!

    re: “Who is going to give up their cars, their electrical appliances, their pleasurable activities and all the things that make living what it is today in the developed parts of the world? In addition, people in the underdeveloped locations are not going to cease their efforts to achieve the lifestyles of the developed countries.”

    We did not give up cars for cleaner air nor air conditioners to address the ozone hole and thousands of other changes we HAVE MADE that did NOT “destroy” the economy even though there were folks like him predicting the same when we put mileage standards and catalytic converters on cars and pollution equipment on smokestacks and wastewater treatment plants.

    Sorry – this guy is just another denier who happens to have a “degree” in “science” but his reasoning boils down to what he wants to believe and disregarding what MOST ALL real science is saying about climate. He rejects their data and just hand-waves his own beliefs.

  5. Jim,
    I heard on NPR that Alaska recently went through a heat wave with unusual highs of 90 plus degrees. Is that nonsensical leftist propaganda?

    • “New NASA-funded research has discovered that Arctic permafrost’s expected gradual thawing and the associated release of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere may actually be sped up by instances of a relatively little known process called abrupt thawing. Abrupt thawing takes place under a certain type of Arctic lake, known as a thermokarst lake that forms as permafrost thaws.

      The impact on the climate may mean an influx of permafrost-derived methane into the atmosphere in the mid-21st century, which is not currently accounted for in climate projections.”

      Of course this coming from those “alarmist” so-called “scientists”.

      It’s amazing to me that the deniers actually CITE scientific data that describes the earth thousands and millions of years ago – they seem to accept THAT science and use it to explain their disbelief of current science!

  6. I always like to point out, we are almost 130-yrs in on this concern. By 1900 Svantes Arrhenius was very vocal (I am thinking CO2 global warming was his Nobel Prize speech in 1903 but not sure on that trivia). Arrhenius was concerned that mankind neeeded to consider this going forward…but on the whole he felt warming better than cooling. Of course now we know a new history, in 1980, American Big Oil discovered climate change would destroy humanity and hid it from American Liberals until about Year 2000. It is partially the Liberals desire to condemn and vilify so many of their fellow Americans and spin half truths (or zero truths) to get their way, that in the long run, will weaken their ability to get some of the Green changes they are pushing for… I am thinking that divisive attitude is why we got Trumped.

    Liberals are off in la-la-land trying convince all Americans that the tiniest traces of pollution are killing us all, quickly. But I think Liberals are OK if manufacturing moves to China with child labor and zero pollution ccontrols.

  7. I don’t dismiss that NASA report, Larry. On the contrary it is exactly the kind of natural process, probably unstoppable, that happened during previous warm and thaw cycles. Your reaction to his column proves its effectiveness. You are the one cherry-picking your science. And you ignore that he is recommending many of the same ways to react to this challenge, just not with the screaming Chicken Little tone and without the foolish expectation that all will be Utopian if we just do these things. This is about votes, not science and not climate.

    • Well, I’m NOT cherry-picking at all -I tend to believe science, in general across the board whether it’s about sea level rise, prior climate, plate tectonics, evolution – the whole nine yards – with the caveat that science itself is not static, always moving, new things discovered, existing theories modified/changed – it’s a dynamic body of knowledge.

      And no I do not consider other “explanations” from folks who lack the scientific background and knowledge as deserving “equal” consideration, The deniers are about what THEY want to BELIEVE and they pick/choose what science they “like” and not!

      The same folks who deny climate – actually point to other science to back up their beliefs – until it contradicts it then they discard.

  8. One can agree that human conduct is affecting the climate but still want fraudulent claims investigated. Science fraud in rampant, especially, when government money is involved. Why doesn’t the media investigate this issue? Foolish me! It would not fit with the MSM’s primary purpose – advocacy of their desired political goals.

    • If you DO “believe” that humans are affecting climate – where are you getting your information from that supports your beliefs?

      re: ” Science fraud in rampant”

      there are no shortage of folks these days who claim to be “scientists” or who cite “science” but that’s why the scientific method requires replication and concurrence from a majority of science.

      It does not mean it’s always the 100% absolute fact from on high – only that science – to this point – concurs and agrees until more is known.

      When one disbeliefs more than 90% of science that concurs – then we start talking about worldwide conspiracies and other foolishness.

      • If you and Peter G. didn’t exist, I’d have to make you up…..

      • Larry, spend 30 minutes searching for and reviewing articles about fraud in science. Fraud in science is significant. That means a large number of scientists alter their work. If scientists cheat in biological or pharmaceutical research, why do we assume that they don’t cheat in climate research?

        I’m not arguing all climate research is fraudulent but based on everything we see about fraud in other branches of science (See my link on Duke University’s settlement with the U.S. Government below), why would any thinking person believe there is no fraud in climate research.

        And since a large number of today’s journalists simply do not have ethical standards, there’s no investigation into fraud. And since the Democrats get huge contributions from billionaire know-it-alls, they won’t challenge any research.

  9. Here’s a recent example. https://junkscience.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Duke-and-U.S.-Government-Reach-Settlement-Duke-Today.pdf

    But there could not possibly be any fraud in the area of climate science. That’s part of the Left’s religion.

  10. No, it’s cherry-picking all right. The simple fact is, there is no consensus within the science community on all the facts relevant to the enormously complex process we call climate. Yes, there is global climate warming. Yes, there is more human-caused carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere than in the past. Are those two facts linked with certainty as cause and effect? : That is where the climate models bog down in controversy that cannot yet be resolved with sufficient certainty to justify spending the $ trillions necessary to reduce the human impact to benign levels. As Prof. Decker says, “A brief review of the earth’s history will show some of the more significant changes and the outcomes of these changes. As glaciers expand and recede, sea levels rise and fall. A few thousand years ago, coastal land masses were above sea level. As sea levels rose that land became submerged.” We simply cannot yet attribute what we observe reliably to a cause, as between the natural cycles and the man-made ones. Decker is correct, the world will not take action to reverse man-made emissions until we know better with greater certainty. That is why I strongly endorse better research in climate modeling, to try to come up with more convincing conclusions than we have today. Meanwhile, to those who say we don’t have the luxury of time to do any additional research, that we’re at a tipping point today, all I can say is, you have not persuaded the rest of the world and have a long way to go before you sell the economic sacrifice for GHG emissions reduction as immediately necessary. In short, you are outvoted,

  11. There IS consensus among climate scientists as well as much of other science – that’s just a plain fact:

    ” Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.”

    https://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/

    The problems that some seem to have is that if a bunch of scientists using different models do not actually predict the actual path of a hurricane or… exactly how high sea level will go or exactly what temperatures will rise to – then they feel that it’s “flawed” science… fraud, lying, etc.

    I believe it when a large number of scientists using different models say that a hurricane will go to Cat 4 and hit Charleston – even when it turns out it misses and is a Cat 2.

    That’s the way that science actually “works”.

    We do not call them a bunch of lying SOBs because they missed the Charleston forecast or how many inches of rain fell on Houston.

    It’s NOT , it’s NEVER – exact but to use that variance as a reason to disbelieve it all together and make up your own beliefs or accept beliefs of others who are clearly not in that scientific field is just folly.

    We seem to want perfection and exactness before we “accept” in Climate but we have no such criteria for – say how high science says sea level will rise – we just look at those maps as if they are the absolute truth – and the reality is – it’s the best consensus estimate – pending more study and data.

    If you want/expect more than that – and if you don’t get it – you dismiss it altogether – it’s at your peril – folks have hurricane parties all the time to “prove” the predictions are wrong…etc…

  12. Ad hominem, Steve? Huh? I read the column in the TD and came away unconvinced and unimpressed. Prof. Decker makes statements he never backs up. I have every right to question this. Not surprisingly, it was in the commentary section of the RTD. I have little respect for it, since it is chock-full of pieces by flaks and lobbyists with agendas.I did not attack Decker personally. I just pointed out that he’s a biologist. I don’t know if he’s actually done any real research into climate change. Instead, he seems to be giving us a fairly basic recitation of earth’s various ages. What I said about U of R is true. It doesn’t do much in the way of scientific research. A school like UVa does, but look what happened to Michael Mann, a real climatologist. He was hassled to death by bizarre investigations by then Atty.Gen. Ken Cuccinelli. As I said, there are many reputable scientists out there who say we are in deep trouble with global warming. Why should  we believe Decker and not them? I haven’t seen a convincing argument from you, either.

    • Peter, I suspect you can be a tough interview, doing research ahead of time and digging especially where the subject does not want to go. Did you enter the interview with Mann with the same skepticism you would have if you interviewed Cuccinelli? If not, isn’t that biased?

  13. Dean Decker is one of the most sensible, clear thinking people I know. While I think it is legitimate to criticize the lack of backup data in his article, I suspect that could be as much because of space limitations as anything else. Peter, your support for Michael Mann, who flat out lied, is remarkable. It is even more remarkable, because as you say, he was a real climatologist. But Mann had an agenda, so he lied. You don’t address that point. You simply attack Cuccinelli for his ill-advised investigation, nevermind that Mann’s approach invited such an investigation.
    I’m not seeing where Dean has any real agenda, other than to call BS where BS lives.

  14. Crazy JD,
    I didn’t exactly support Michael Mann in my comment but I have interviewed him before and I respect him. You may question his hockey stick idea (if that is your criticism) but my point is that he is a real, confirmed climatologist who has studied climate change directly. I do not know if Prof. Decker has. As for Mann’s alleged lies, that’s the word among the right wing echo chamber (National Review, fox news, what’s up, etc.) but he was exonerated of any falsification of his research by Penn State University. Maybe you could be more explicit in your criticism of him. Am I interpreting you correctly?

  15. I recently sat in on a BiParisan Policy Center meeting concerning a new industry proposed to extract CO2 from the air.

    But what’s amazing, is the armies of people and organiaztions we have working on climate change using government monies, NGO’s, university researchers etc. Just other-worldy massive resources from the old perspective that something has to make a profit to get resources.

    The unusual thing, this extraction activity wants to cooperate with fossil fuel industry so they can use the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery.

    But OK the people involved in this activity, their future career depends on government funding and mandates to (1) make CO2 enemy No. 1 and (2) mandate a new industry to remove CO2 from the air.

    As Americans we just have to realize in the USA there has developed an entire underground industry like say Medical Industry, that is trying to influence opinion and regulations. Traditional manufacturing industry has been out-numbered about 10000-to-1 now by non-for-profit opponents.

  16. NEWSFLASH from National Resources Defense Council courtesy of Wattsupwiththat.com

    NRDC 🌎

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    America’s heavy use of toilet paper – particularly the pillowy soft kind (@Charmin) – is worsening climate change and taking a dramatic and irreversible toll on forests, especially the Canadian boreal forest, acc. to a report by @NRDC and @standearth. https://www.nrdc.org/stop-procter-gamble-flushing-away-our-forests?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=tweet&utm_campaign=Boreal …” End Quote

    For more of the National Research Defense Council’s study of your toilet paper, please see https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/19/friday-funny-nrdc-now-its-toilet-paper-causing-climate-change/

    • I was reading a biography of George Wythe the other day. The book mentioned that in the days before toilet paper, one means of… uh, well… of cleaning one’s self was to wipe with a corn cob. I’ll take these people seriously when they start using corn cobs!

  17. But on the upside, far less newsprint is being made and used these days….

  18. No nonprofit that engages in advocacy with paid employees or third-party consultants should be tax exempt. Drain the swamp.

  19. The War on Science is real. It is part of the war on truth, the war on institutions and the cultural war. In war there are winners and losers. Addressing the effects of man-made pollution from an extractive economy (no costs accounted for from extraction or p0llution – add it all up = GDP – it’s all good).

    So much winning, indeed. Science is losing. https://www.businessinsider.com/trump-war-on-science-is-led-by-climate-change-denier-2019-5

  20. Decker’s opinion piece appears to me to be an attempt to describe a place of agreement by a person of an earlier time, one who actually believes in science and facts as well as in acknowledging the immense complexity of the earth’s processes.

    The point he makes that seems to be overlooked by readers is that while geological climate change is real and beyond our scope, “humans have altered the rate of change, which increases the magnitude of the effects. Examples of the effects of human activities include the more recent increases in the rate of sea level rising, increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and other compounds from the combustion of fossil fuels, and deforestation that decreases the extraction of atmospheric carbon dioxide via photosynthesis.”

    Decker concludes with … “We must adapt to the coming changes by slowing the rate of change by whatever means possible. Reducing the demands on the earth’s carrying capacity by changing our lifestyles, switching to alternative energy sources and reducing the earth’s population among other options will help.”

    Without the opening sentence of that paragraph stating … ‘No human effort will halt or reverse climate change” …. many of you would call him a ‘crazed liberal leftist’ like you have called me.

    Instead, can we all agree with him that “In final analysis, we must adapt to that which we cannot change and fix what we realistically can”?

    • Excellent comment, Jane.

      I read Prof. Decker to say there’s much that we can’t affect, but what we can do, we should.

    • I don’t know – Decker seems to be saying contradictory things:

      ” So, how do humans fit into the total picture of climate change? They are not the primary cause as indicated or implied by many researchers, the media, politicians and much of the general public”

      “humans have altered the rate of change, which increases the magnitude of the effects. ”

      so we are NOT the primary cause but we ARE increasing the magnitude such that – “We must adapt to the coming changes by slowing the rate of change by whatever means possible.”

      If we are NOT the “primary” cause then why must we “change by whatever means possible”?

      So here’s the problem – people can and will read this according to their own biases – because Decker has left each of then something they can focus on and at the end – in toto – it seems contradictory – i.e. we are not the primary cause but we must do everything we can to head off disaster.

      If I did not believe we were a primary cause, I myself would question what we should do (or not) and be even more skeptical that what we should do is ” everything we possibly can” (regardless of cost or changes to our current lifestyle?).

      So how do we make any real sense of his words other than to just read into them what we believe ourselves?

    • Jane, yes – but you and I will have disagreements on what is realistic. There is a point of diminishing and eventually zero return.

      • This English major finds 2 words causing trouble … Primary and Realistically. Decker says the ‘primary’ cause is happening in geological time, something we can’t do anything about, but we can do something about the rapid changes that are caused by us and that are affecting the earth in our human time frame. It’s the ‘non-primary’ causes that affect us now and that we must fix.

        Decker says we must slow “the rate of change by whatever means possible,” so when he later says “fix what we realistically can,” ‘realistically’ would seem to refer to the ways we can ‘reduce demands on the earth’s carrying capacity’ and make accommodations for the change that will occur due to geological time. There is no point of diminishing returns in “whatever means possible”.

        The “fix what we can” list is out there … starting with moving away from fossil fuels for electricity and transportation as fast as possible and by building no new fossil infrastructure.

    • Jane – what do you think about placing restrictions on building in floodplains and imposing additional taxes on property owners in areas likely to flood for the construction of mitigation measures?

      Much of the San Francisco Financial District is, for example, built on ground that was reclaimed from San Francisco Bay. Should taxpayers be obligated to bail out (no pun intended) those landowners?

      • Not sure how that will pan out. The insurance industry is becoming a player and there will always be disagreements on what ‘fixes’ are beneficial to the whole community and what are even worth doing. There is a discussion down in Hampton Roads about whether or not a proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers to spend $1.7 billion on a series of seawalls, storm surge barriers and other infrastructure to protect much of Norfolk is worth doing. Some say the proposal is only a Band-Aid that will buy Norfolk only 20 years of protection.

        No matter how you look at it communities will have to allocate funds to protect against sea level rise. Louisiana has allocated $25 billion for risk reduction in their coastal master plan. The Texas Gulf Coast has an $11.6 billion storm surge protection plan and New York City has a $3.7 billion coastal protection plan for the next 10 years.

        So, I guess I see your question as a lot more complicated than I can answer or that there is really any single answer.

        • I agree things are complex but it seems insane to me to ignore: 1) structures located on land reclaimed from the water; and 2) buildings constructed in floodplains. Yet we never hear about this from most people who are active, might I say sometimes aggressive on climate change. I’m glad we seem to agree.

          Most of the areas in Manhattan that flooded in Hurricane Sandy were reclaimed from water. How much of a burden should society bear to protect reclaimed land? Likewise, local governments should grandfather existing structures built on floodplains and barrier islands. How much of a burden should society bear to preserve million dollar beach front homes built on barrier islands?

          I’ve been preached to in San Francisco about the need to change my diet. Yet I heard not a word about allowing the Financial District to return to the SF Bay rather than burden others. I don’t feel I need to change my diet to protect owners of multimillion dollar buildings constructed on landfill.

          I’d take the arguments from those most concerned about climate change a lot more seriously if they also discussed the potential (indeed, great likelihood) that proposed regulations, taxes and fees will result in a huge transfer of wealth from ordinary people to those much more wealthy or who happen to own extremely valuable buildings on floodplains or reclaimed land.

      • Seems to me the fact of global warming at this time, glacial melting etc., is uncontrovertible. We may disagree or be unpersuaded about causation, about whether the “primary” cause is geological/astronomical cycles and therefore whether removing human-emitted carbon will make much difference or be worth the enormous cost — but the fact of sea rise is upon us. Therefore building more houses in coastal flood plains is economic insanity. What to do about the ones already there is the question for policymakers.

  21. Folks, it NOT just Michael Mann – it’s 97% of climate scientists – around the world INCLUDING NASA and NOAA.

    How does one focus on Mann alone and ignore the others or how does one say Mann AND the others are LYING – in cahoots – engaging in a worldwide conspiracy to defraud what, the world?

    So the folks who don’t accept the 90+% worldwide consensus are basically saying that most all climate scientists are wrong, lying and engaging in a conspiracy.

    I cannot go there – …

    I do NOT “believe” that Climate Science is 100% dead on correct – no more or less than any other science or the scientists who predict rainfall, hurricanes, sea level rise, cancer, etc… it’s always an evolving body of science where concurrence describes the current thinking – and that can and will change as more data is collected …

    But to not believe it at all, to say that virtually ALL of climate science is a conspiracy AND to then adopt what non-scientists are saying – sorry that’s just not rational.

    The climate scientists predictions are almost certainly not 100% correct – no more than the science that predicts ocean rise or rain events, or ANY weather OR climate phenomena and that’s not the point – any more than one would expect all scientists to agree exactly on a given hurricane strength and path. But they’re NOT wrong about the general path and general strength in the aggregate and as they calibrate – they usually hone in.

    I’m just agog that people will accept all kinds of “science” for all other fields but not climate… We did not do that with Ozone – we did not have absolute certainty – (we never do) but we had enough concurrence to act and make changes ….and now we don’t.

  22. Peter’s ad hominem argument is a classic rhetorical fallacy. The appeal to authority is a classic rhetorical fallacy, Larry. It’s a smokescreen, proving nothing. Science is not a poll.

    • Science is NOT a poll – agree BUT science IS about replication of work, body of knowledge and concurrence and when concurrence in science is cast as a conspiracy – no matter the subject – we are essentially rejecting science and how it functions.

  23. Steve,
    You might find it enlightening to see what another retired University of Richmond professor — Steve Nash — has to say about global warming. He’s written a book about it. I looked and didn’t see much on the topic by Prof. Decker other than his brief newspaper column.

  24. Which I’m pleased to say has been featured on Bacon’s Rebellion, with your own post. https://www.baconsrebellion.com/wp/steve-nashs-important-book/ I saw no dismissal of him from you due to his post at lowly U of R…..nor is/was he on the science faculty with a doctorate, as I recall. That only matters to you if you disagree with the author?

    Probably the most influential book on this I’ve read, it was years ago, was by a GMU prof, physicist Fred Singer, “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years.”

  25. Now, back in the real world of real science, analysis, and intelligent discussion:

    “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to Renewables “Crushing” Natural Gas, by David Middleton / 2 days ago July 18, 2019

    Every year since at least 2014 the U.S. Energy Information Administration has published a report called Levelized Cost and Levelized Avoided Cost of New Generation Resources as part of their Annual Energy Outlook. I went through each report since 2014 and built an Excel spreadsheet to look at the year-to-year changes. What I found was fracking hilarious.

    I specifically looked at the average Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) for five (5) generation sources:

    Natural Gas Advanced Combined Cycle
    Advanced Nuclear
    Solar PV
    Wind – Onshore
    Wind – Offshore

    The currency and year of entering service is noted on each line. Each year’s report estimates the average cost of power plants entering service in the near future in current U.S. dollars. I also included the outlook for 2040 that was in this year’s report, even though it is a [email protected]$$ed guess.

    See Chart-

    Who else is surprised by the fact that the capital costs for Natural Gas Advanced Combined Cycle have been cut in half since 2014?

    See Chart-

    Look ma, no subsidies! If nuclear power was subsidized like solar & wind… we might have already replaced coal with natural gas and nuclear power.

    See Chart-

    Despite all of the advances in technology, solar PV still doesn’t work 70% of the time.

    See Chart-

    Not Bad when (and if) the wind blows.

    See Chart

    (But) as Ron White would say – JUST REMEMBER, YOU CAN’T FIX STUPID

    For more see: https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/18/a-funny-thing-happened-on-the-way-to-renewables-crushing-natural-gas/

  26. It’s all about the capacity factor, always has been. With a better price coming on storage technology, some of those lines may get closer as the output of solar and wind can better align with the demand (the big problem now.) And I’m for TOD pricing so those who can run up their electric bills at midnight :).

  27. We’re still at a point where we seem to have two minds about it – 1. – it’s a hoax made up by bad scientists and the real problem is that it’s a natural cycle that is way bigger that our impacts and 2. but we can reduce our impacts by –

    why reduce impacts at all if it’s not real?

    I’m not a hopeful person about storage technology coming to “rescue” us (there is some immutable science involved in converting energy from one form to another without a lot of loss) but it is interesting that we talk about it because we can a LOT right now to reduce impacts merely by “burning” wind and solar when it IS available and each kilowatt generated that way is a kilowatt NOT produced from fossil fuels.

    Essentially if we had enough wind/solar – we could shift most of our fossil fuel use to nighttime when demand is lowest – perhaps cut our use of fossil fuels in half without storage technology.

    Next – we could – quite easily – with technology – lower/increase HVAC thermostats to rooms not being used and entire homes not being used while folks are away. REC electric Cooperative essentially does this right now with their ecobee thermostats.

    On our trip west, we’ve gone through multiple mountain ranges and very large hills and they’re dotted with huge wind turbines – and a quick check of Wiki in term of generation, tells us that these turbines far outnumber people in these places so the excess power goes into the grid to serve more dense places.

    I doubt that we’ll duplicate in the east because of scenic concerns but out here they seem to be accepted. In the more rugged and rural mountains of Virginia and West Virginia (especially where they have already destroyed mountain-tops – it’s possible.

    My bigger point here is that we DO have enough places to put wind/solar in far larger amounts and while no source of electric energy is really “free” – there are huge differences in environmental impacts between fossil fuels and non-fossil fuels including Nukes ( where a “breakthrough” on melt-down technology would likely overwhelm the “storage” ideas – i.e. wind/solar power the day and Nukes power the night.

    We’re not there yet – if we were then every one of the worlds 10,000 inhabited islands would be powered by wind/solar/nukes? instead of uber-dirty bunker diesel oil which emits far more carbon (both in transporting it and burning it) than natural gas.

    • Larry, don’t forget the ideal site for offshore wind on the east coast. The Mid-Atlantic Bight, our continental shelf from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, has been called the potential ‘Saudi Arabia of Wind’. Wind speeds on the Bight are higher, blades can be larger, and the ‘sea breeze effect’ generates power during times of high demand onshore. Bight wind farms could produce the equivalent of 70% of America’s current electricity generation, exceeding the regions current demand of 73 GW of electricity by 400+%.

      The offshore industry is now starting to be built in NY and New England where the price of electricity is higher than ours. Installations are underway in MA, NJ, NY, and MD. Prices are becoming competitive. Those offshore leases Dominion won in 2013 can provide the electricity equivalent of 2.5 nuclear plants.

      The deniers have lost the denial argument but their powerful corporate backers and instigators have changed their tune to now say it’s time to fight openly as victims of “a very sophisticated, well-funded machine.”
      GEEZ! They also say we have good messaging!

      You are not alone in looking to islands … but their transition will happen… https://rmi.org/our-work/global-energy-transitions/islands-energy-program/
      “Accelerating the transition of island economies from a heavy dependence on fossil fuels to a diverse platform of clean energy and energy efficiency while establishing a blueprint for other island economies.”

      https://cleanenergyfinanceforum.com/2017/12/05/how-small-islands-can-transition-to-renewable-energy
      Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are on the front line of climate change, facing the damage of shrinking coastlines and the ravages of tropical storms. However, these 57 island nations around the world can attempt to address this global challenge by relying on their renewable resources including sunshine, wind, hydropower and biomass. The topic was the subject of multiple events in November at COP23 in Bonn, Germany.

      AND islands are also leading in the global discussion because unless the rest of us change the islands may disappear for good.
      https://time.com/5478446/climate-change-vulnerable-countries/

  28. I think Jane’s summary of Mr. Decker – “In final analysis, we must adapt to that which we cannot change and fix what we realistically can”? Makes a good deal of sense.

    There is much that we do not fully understand about the forces that are contributing to the warming that the data show is occurring. But that is not a reason for doing nothing.

    Our massive switch to gas in the past decade is not a solution to the human contribution of greenhouse gases. Dominion’s latest plans show that their carbon emissions will remain about the same for quite some time and two large gas-fired merchant generating units have been approved outside of Richmond. Emissions of carbon dioxide will be higher within the borders of Virginia in the future to say nothing of the related emissions of methane, which are 86 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2, 20 years after release.

    We don’t all have to agree about the climate change issues to know we can easily do something about these emissions. The good news is that the solutions also provide lower cost energy.

    Many of the arguments about fixes are about which are the best new sources of energy. We are still stuck with the 20th-century mindset about how our energy system should work.

    Most commenters speak about what new source of energy is best. But we really don’t need new sources of energy from our utilities. In the last 10 years, Dominion’s weather normalized peak demand has been flat, even with new data centers. Yet, they have added nearly 4,400 MW of new gas-fired combined cycle units since 2014. The 590 MW Bear Garden combined cycle unit was added in 2011.

    We have a surplus of generation in the DOM Zone and in PJM. No new additions are needed from our utilities in order for us to have reliable supplies of electricity, for some time to come.

    The push for new supplies comes from the profit motive of the utility holding companies, not the need to supply some unfilled demand.

    If we freely allowed customer-sited facilities or the connection to community solar or PPAs with independent producers, customers could reduce their energy costs without putting a cost burden on other customers.

    Energy efficiency is the lowest cost source of new generation. If done correctly (not put in the rate base), it costs nothing and creates much more long-term employment than power plants and pipelines.

    Lowering our energy costs creates a more competitive economy, both within the U.S. and for exports. The inexpensive, available means to accomplish this are being obstructed by the major utilities because it harms their current business model.

    So change the model. Our monopoly utilities have been promised a fair return in exchange for reasonable rates. Instead we are getting higher rates for projects we don’t need. They can make a fair return modernizing our transmission and distribution system. A monopoly does not guarantee them unfettered extraction of profits from customers. There must be an equivalent value in return.

    Why should we pay extra for facilities that release emissions that could contribute to future costs? We don’t have to all agree on how the warming might be occurring to know that our present energy path does not make sense.

    Reed has noted that the Levelized Cost of Energy calculated by Lazard has declined for combine cycle units in the past few years. This is due to efficiency improvements in converting gas to electricity. But much of the LCOE decline has been related to the cost of gas falling to historic lows because of an ongoing surplus of production. This trend is unlikely to continue.

    The lowest cost point for the gas units ($41 – $74) is about the average cost of utility scale solar ($36-$46), but the current high-end of Lazard’s estimates for gas units are nearly twice the cost of solar.

    The energy industry is setting us against one another by using the climate debate to distract us from dealing with the easier and cheaper solutions that will make us less dependent on them.

  29. “The energy industry is setting us against one another by using the climate debate to distract us from dealing with the easier and cheaper solutions that will make us less dependent on them.”

    But we are also being set up for one of the largest transfers of wealth from the middle and working classes in human history – recorded or not. We are seeing increased ocean levels because of glacial melting and sinking land. But that directly affects landowners at or near the ocean or tidal bodies of water. To the extent the rest of the United States pay higher prices for energy, carbon taxes or pass-through costs for Wall Street’s carbon trading, or taxes for public works designed to protect dirt near water, wealth will be transferred from the masses to those who own property being protected (i.e., near water).

    I’m not arguing against renewable energy or flood mitigation actions. But I submit that no one is raising the alarm for what will destroy the lives of ordinary people. The environmental movement will, if left unchecked, destroy the United States.

    • “But I submit that no one is raising the alarm for what will destroy the lives of ordinary people. The environmental movement will, if left unchecked, destroy the United States.”

      As regards this issue, truer words were never said, and the principal driver here is greed, thus the blind ideology, clothed in do good-ism, virtue signalling, and an appalling unwillingness to acknowledge and admit to what is happening, or would happen, in reality, should these ideologues and crony capitalists get their way.

    • Here is the opening of a new post from Wattsupwiththat:

      WHAT THE GREEN NEW DEAL IS REALLY ABOUT — AND IT’S NOT THE CLIMATE
      charles the moderator / 12 hours ago July 20, 2019

      By Allan M.R. MacRae, B.A.Sc., M.Eng.

      On July 4, 2019, I published the article “THE COST TO SOCIETY OF RADICAL ENVIRONMENTALISM”. There was a reason why this article was published on July 4. My article begins:

      Ever wonder why extremists attack honest scientists who oppose global warming and climate change hysteria? Ever wonder why climate extremists refuse to debate the science?

      IT IS BECAUSE GLOBAL WARMING AND CLIMATE CHANGE ALARMISM WAS NEVER ABOUT THE SCIENCE – IT WAS ALWAYS A FALSE NARRATIVE, A SMOKESCREEN FOR THE TOTALITARIAN OBJECTIVES OF THE EXTREME LEFT.

      Some people may think this was statement was inaccurate, or that I was being unfair. However, one week after my article was published, Democratic New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, fully verified my statement. He said, as written in the article below:

      “The interesting thing about the Green New Deal, is it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all,” Chakrabarti said… … “Do you guys think of it as a climate thing? Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing,” Chakrabarti added.

      Following is another excerpt from my July 4 article that demonstrates how utterly impractical the Green New Deal is – the Green New Deal is energy and economic lunacy – it cannot work:

      “4. Humanity needs modern energy to survive – to grow and transport our food and provide shelter, warmth and ~everything we need to live. Wind and solar power are too intermittent and too diffuse to be practical or effective. Green energy schemes have been costly failures.

      Fully ~85% of global primary energy is from fossil fuels – oil, coal and natural gas. The remaining ~15% is almost all nuclear and hydro. Green energy has increased from above 1% to less than 2%, despite many trillions of dollars in wasted subsidies. The 85% fossil fuels component is essentially unchanged in past decades, and is unlikely to significantly change in future decades.

      The fatal flaw of grid-connected green energy is that it is not green and produces little useful (dispatchable) energy, primarily due to intermittency – the wind does not blow all the time, and the Sun shines only part of the day. Intermittent grid-connected green energy requires almost 100% backup (‘spinning reserve’) from conventional energy sources. Intermittent wind and solar electrical generation schemes typically do not even significantly reduce CO2 emissions – all they do is increase energy costs and reduce grid reliability.”

      For balance of article see:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/20/what-the-green-new-deal-is-really-about-and-its-not-the-climate/

    • Regarding Wind Farms, below is an edited extract of a Wattsupwiththat article entitled Wind Farm Back-of-the-Envelope Economic Analysis dated July 21, 2019

      Guest post by Larry F. Brown, PhD

      “We visited a wind farm in southern Utah recently. I’ve always been curious about the costs, profitability, and physical size of these things as well as the footprint and environmental impact. I had 3 meetings with the man in charge of maintenance of the wind farm, a landowner who leases land accommodating 4 of the turbines, and a man who works in the industry in Colorado – and did some internet/newspaper research.

      The maintenance superintendent told me they have 27 towers, that the installation cost was about $2 million each, and that each turbine is rated at 2.3 megawatts/hr but produces an average of 1.3 megawatts/hr (= 1,300 kW/hr) … The project pays about $1 million in taxes to the community each year and has a 20-year lease.

      A nearly 400-foot-tall propeller-tower is a very imposing structure…huge. The propellers appear to be moving very slowly but the tips of the blades normally travel at 180 to 200 mph. The blades can ice up, which requires deicing (with electricity) and can throw ice a significant distance – hence each tower has a flying ice danger zone clearly labeled with signage.

      I pay about $.11/kWh for my electricity here in western Colorado. So, beginning the process of calculating the profitability of these things, each tower @ 1,300 kW/hr could produce an average of $143/hr = which would be $3,400/day = $1,253,000 of electricity/year. Sounds good – so far.

      [Note – Germany boasts about their renewable energy effort but Germans pay about $.35/kWh on average – 3.3 times more than we do here in Grand Junction – and their rates can get as high as $.50/kWh.]

      The $.11/kWhr I pay includes all the distribution costs, etc. The wind farm is not paid $.11/kWhr for their electricity. According to the ISO Wholesale Power Market Prices, the electric company sells electricity for about $.03/kWhr so instead of grossing $1.253 million, they might gross about $342,000 per year per turbine. Still sounds good – so far …

      “BUT WAIT!” (- as they say on late night TV when giving you the hard sell).

      All of that income happens only if the machines produce 24/7/365. They don’t … I don’t know what percent of the time these particular turbines produce electricity, but studies show the wind only blows the right speed (the wind can blow both too soft and too hard) 18 to 19% of the time on average across the country. 18 to 19 % of $342,000/year = $65,000. MMmmm, all of a sudden, the economics don’t look very good. $65,000/year/tower is nowhere near enough to even pay the interest on a 5% loan to construct the tower $2 million tower.

      It gets lots more complicated when you consider that the wind farms are being subsidized by the government with the Production Tax Credit (PTC) … A credit is money back. And the PTC is a “Refundable Tax Credit” which means the company does not just get to pay fewer taxes but actually gets paid by the government even if it does not owe any taxes.

      The PTC subsidy has been in effect now for 27 years …today the subsidy is about $.02/kWhr. So, the power company gets money back in the form of a subsidy for roughly 67% of what they produce – i.e., the company gets money back to the tune of $.02/kWhr after it sells the electricity for $.03/kWhr. If the company sells $3 million of electricity they get the $3 million plus a PTC subsidy of $2 million. That is a huge subsidy! In fact, I think it is the biggest subsidy ever given for anything.

      T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett both have huge investments …both have openly said that wind farms would not be economic without the PTC.

      Note: Now, if I were the company and using the above example, I would report a gross income of $5 million. But, as a taxpayer, it’s more honest to say the wind farm has a gross income of $3 million. It would be dishonest to include a subsidy as profit. So, my back of the envelope calculations will go on from here without considering the subsidy as income.

      Note: I would be surprised if these wind farms pay any income taxes. Potential taxable income can be written off against the investment for many years – probably the life of the project – without even dipping into the PTC.

      Then, I don’t know for sure, but I think the turbine manufacturers also are subsidized by the government.

      However, the economics get worse – much worse. The maintenance man said the towers cost about $2 million each – i.e., about $54 million for the 27 towers. Each tower probably does cost $2 million to install, but there are many other development costs associated such as land and right-of-way leases, power line construction, road construction, fencing, runoff control, revegetation, etc. Newspaper articles reported that this particular wind farm cost about $130 million, which is about $4.8 million per turbine. That means the income of $65,000/yr/turbine won’t even come close to paying the interest on a $4.8 million investment.

      Note – According to the Wind Technologies Market Report, US wind turbine market prices in 2016 were just under $1,000 per kilowatt, or about $2.3 million for a 2.3-megawatt turbine (about $1,000 / kilowatt). These turbines installed cost about $4.8 million for a 2.3-megawatt turbine ($2,087 / kilowatt). An offshore turbine project recently approved off the coast of Virginia is projected to cost $25 million per megawatt ($25,000 per kilowatt). Wow.

      In addition, the turbines are very technologically sophisticated and require constant maintenance. For example, the oils used in the turbines are very temperature sensitive and, when the turbines are not generating power, they must be heated – with electricity. Various articles point out that, although they produce electricity intermittently, they consume it continuously. Whether the wind is blowing in the desired range or not, they need power to keep the generator magnetized, to keep the blade and generator assembly facing the wind, to periodically spin that assembly to unwind the cables in the tower and to balance the pressure on the shaft, to heat the blades in icy conditions, to start the blades turning when the wind is not blowing fast enough to keep them going, to keep the blades pitched to spin at a regular rate, and to run the lights, internal control and communication systems.

      One article I read indicated that in a worst case analysis, these large wind turbines might use as much electricity as they produce. I don’t assume the worst case and just lump electrical usage in with the many other maintenance costs.

      I assume the maintenance cost for this wind farm (manpower on call 24 hours, office rental, trucks/fuel, electric consumption, security, snow removal, replacement parts, etc.) to be at least $750,000/year. Additional expenses of this particular wind farm (mentioned earlier) are the $1 million paid in taxes to the local government and the $1,000/tower/month) rent to the landowners. Together these 3 expenses add up to $2,074,000/year = about $77,000/turbine/year, so the income goes down from the $65,000 to a negative $12,000/turbine/year. For simplicities sake, let’s just call it $0/turbine/year. Said another way, this project, according to this back-of-the-envelope calculation, makes no money.

      Note: I tried two times to get the company to review these calculations. They did not respond.

      And, all those materials (and permits and land leases) have a life expectancy of 20 years. What happens after 20 years? There is a wind farm in northern Colorado that is no longer producing, purportedly because the maintenance cost is too high to rehabilitate the turbines. The wind farm sits abandoned. All mining companies are required to bond for reclamation of a site when mining is done. I do not think this is true for wind farms.

      Another interesting thing … the dynamics of the power market are shifting. It used to be that peak power prices occurred during the day. Now they occur at night when solar is not producing. Thus, renewables are now generating when the prices are lowest in the diurnal power price curve.

      The bottom line back-of-the-envelope conclusion of this economic evaluation is that these things are not even close to being economic.

      And, environmentally, they kill birds and bats – millions of them … The tips of the blades are actually moving at 180 to 200 mph. No wonder a bird can’t see them coming. And, apparently bats don’t even have to be hit by the blade to die. The way bats are killed is that the passing blade creates a vacuum and the bat’s lungs explode even if he doesn’t come into contact with the blade. And, yes, I know that cars and windows and cats kill birds but cars and windows and cats don’t kill eagles and falcons and other protected birds and endangered species, and cars, windows, and cats don’t kill bats.

      And, the stupidest, most injudicious, most reckless thing of all is that the Obama administration granted permits to wind farms to kill birds and bats, including endangered species. All other industries are fined big dollars for killing birds – not wind power. Double Standard? How crazy is this?

      Then, the coup d’état – The craziest part of this whole thing is that we must keep 100% of the fossil fuel plants operating to generate electricity during the 80+ % of the time the wind is not blowing at the right speed. Wow. So, what do we save?

      We continue to build thousands of these things at a cost to the taxpayer of $ billions/year. Why in the world are we doing this? I’m dumbfounded.

      As indicated, each tower in this farm cost about $4.8 million. Assuming a 5% loan, each tower would have to produce $240 thousand per year to break even – i.e., even pay the interest on the loan. And, any normal investment would have to have some percent profit per year, (say 5%) … That would mean that each tower would have to make $480,000 per year. My calculation indicates they don’t make any real money. My calculations might well be wrong. They might even be wrong by a factor of 2. But I doubt very much if my calculations are off by $480,000/turbine/year.

      My conclusion: Companies are making money on these things, but the source of the profit is only (or at least mainly) coming from the Production Tax Credit – the subsidy paid by our government with our tax money for these projects. It’s obvious that T. Boone Pickens and Warren Buffett were right. Without the PTC (for the past 27 years) these things would not exist.

      To make it worse, laws and regs have mandated electrical companies to produce x % of their electricity from renewable sources by such and such deadline. The renewables can’t make money so the electrical companies raise the overall price of electricity to cover these higher cost renewables. How silly is this? …

      The bottom line? A total waste of money – a total boondoggle – profitable to companies only because we, the taxpayer, are subsidizing them – and why are we subsidizing them? – because it’s green and it makes us feel good. And because a few “politicized scientists”, a whole bunch of liberal politicians, and the United Nations espouse that the burning of fossil fuels is causing global warming by adding CO2 to the atmosphere.

      Well, we are indeed adding CO2 to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels but CO2 is an insignificant greenhouse gas. CO2 has increased from 0.028% to 0.041% of the atmosphere (an increase of 0.013% percentage points) in the past 140 years. The theory says man’s 3% contribution to the 0.013% increase is causing global warming. How could only 3% of that minuscule 0.013% (i.e., a component comprising 0.00039% of the atmosphere) cause global warming? It can’t. Even more absurd, we are supposed to believe that taxing and selling carbon credits for that 0.00039% of the atmosphere will curtail the warming, slow the ocean level rise (as Obama promised), and save the planet?

      It’s nonsensical. CO2 is not a pollutant. CO2 is a fundamental requirement for life and the added CO2 is actually greening the planet – vegetation worldwide is growing about 20% faster and using less water than it was because CO2 is a fertilizer for plant growth.

      I think we should stop building these wind farms — tomorrow.

      Larry F. Brown, PhD”

      Please see the full article found at:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/07/21/wind-farm-back-of-the-envelope-economic-analysis/

        • Should your “gold standard” advisors and other players tell the truth about the serious shortfalls of renewable power being hidden from the public, they’d likely be forced out of business by most all of their clients involved in the subject (heist). Hence, the truth has been hidden now for four decades +. Why? All one needs to do is follow the money.

          • Jane Twitmyer

            Reed,
            I haven’t a clue what you mean. Lazard’s is not my advisor. They are an old Financial Advisory and Asset Management firm that choose to do a fact based comparison of energy resources.
            Do take a look at their cost comparisons and the explanation of how they arrive at their conclusions.

        • “I haven’t a clue what you mean.”

          I am not surprised.

          • Jane Twitmyer

            So let me try again … Where are your facts?

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            “So let me try again … Where are your facts?”

            Did Lazard, and any one of their ilk, predict that America’s sub-prime mortgage lending programs in operation for more than a decade would blow up the US economy, and nearly collapse the American banking and long established financial systems, in 2008?

            Did Lazard or its ilk predict that Germany’s experiment with renewable energy since 2000 would be a failure?

            Did Lazard predict the massive collapse of the American real estate development and finance industry in the early 1990s?

            Or that B. Obama would double the US debt of America’s Federal government, creating more public debt in 8 years (2008 to 2016) than was created in the entire 2016 year history of the United States?

            One could go on forever with such examples. Large institutions fail in these predictions all the time, in fact the failures here are the norm, not the exception, and in each case individuals see these events coming where institutions do not, and their warnings go in vain.

            Now, since you are such a expert and proponent of wind energy, telling us how, for example, that:

            “The Mid-Atlantic Bight, our continental shelf from Cape Cod to Cape Hatteras, has been called the potential ‘Saudi Arabia of Wind’. Wind speeds on the Bight are higher, blades can be larger, and the ‘sea breeze effect’ generates power during times of high demand onshore. Bight wind farms could produce the equivalent of 70% of America’s current electricity generation, exceeding the regions current demand of 73 GW of electricity by 400+%.”

            Given all your confidence, surely you can tell us how Mr. Larry F. Brown, PhD’s wind farm analysis given above is wrong – not with theory, not with a blizzard of empty words and hopes and bluster – just the facts please.

          • Jane Twitmyer

            WOW! An analysis of costs and economic predictions are two separate things.

            I sent you the facts from Lazards … do take a look at their factual analysis of comparative costs.

          • Reed Fawell 3rd

            “WOW! An analysis of costs and economic predictions are two separate things.”

            And off she goes, back into the weeds.

            The real world is a scary, and unforgiving place. But what, me worry? Not when I’m having so much fun, making so much money, enjoying so much status, popularity, and group think with my happy tribe of true believers, riding our own new and precious, and great and grand, big wave we’ve built to ride forever!

            Or so I thought till it crashes, bringing my world of illusions crashing down, and bringing everybody I know down with it, including all those hiding from it, and all those caught in it, until it swept me and them all away, along with all our fudged and phony numbers and predictions, and hopes and dreams.

            Looking back on it all now, it seems that all these big swings – from hope to great to awful things – all have started, and built up huge and ended with a crash, the same way. I’ve seen it happen big about a dozen times now, since I was old enough to begin to understand.

  30. TMT,

    What I was suggesting creates lower energy prices than our current path and more consumer choice. It is intended to give most people a say in their energy future instead of leaving it to a few large organizations.

    What is good for the environment – energy efficiency, customer-sited and third-party renewables is the less expensive choice now. Even the utilities recognize that.

    Building in floodplains is a social/political issue skewed by the the short-term profit mindset of developers and the real estate industry. We need a way of looking at life-cycle ownership and social costs for this.

    • Tom, where are the lower prices from renewables? Where are lower prices for LEDs and other energy saving devices? They aren’t there and I expect I won’t see them in the foreseeable future, if ever. I’d trust Prince Charles’ climate predictions before I’ll believe the claim that the environmental movement seeks to better the human condition. I mean this in a global sense; I’m not aiming at any individuals.

      We see Jeff Bezos, who loses money on a number of his businesses, investing in space because earth is doomed. Why doesn’t he and other lefties invest in a company that produces LEDs and sells them for the price of an incandescent bulb?

      We are not going to see clean energy at lower prices. Environmentalists are dedicated to increasing energy prices, pushing people to live in apartments, opposing single family home neighborhoods, fighting the existence of private vehicles, taxing energy use, allowing Wall Street to trade carbon credits, getting federal grants, etc. All while closing their eyes to the celebrities that fly personal jets, live in 50 room mansions and the like.

      As Walter Mondale said, “Where’s the beef?” Environmentalists won’t be happy until they can regulate everyone’s life and destroy the middle and working classes in America.

      • The issue you raise of wealth transfer … according to American Amnesia where most of this info comes from … wealth isn’t being gobbled up by environmental or ‘do good’ groups, but by our modern Robber Barons. They are leaders of the industries that take over their sector of the economy. WSJ analysis … over 1/3 of industries that compete in markets that meet the federal standard to be labeled “highly concentrated” … up from ¼ in 1990.

        The most consolidated and powerful industries include health care, finance and energy. Those 3 sectors spent over $1Billion each on lobbying across 2 years and their results have been aimed at blocking any government efforts at reforms whether those be environmental or just to fix distorted markets. They are running a ‘prevent offense’ and so are not as visible as recipients of government funds.

        Regarding energy … Nicholas Stern, former Chief Economist of the World Bank says energy is the “greatest market failure the world has ever seen.” The International Monetary Fund recently calculated that the fossil industries cost the US an “astonishing $600 billion a year … related largely to local pollution, contributions to wasteful congestion and global warming.” That cost to us is their profit.

        Health care …in 1980 US and Switzerland had the comparable per capita spending. Then the Swiss government moved to control costs and universalize coverage. Now they spend 1/3 less per capita with enviable outcomes. The total spending difference over the period, $15 trillion, would wipe out all US federal deficits over the period.

        So it looks like the environmental movement, far from stealing money from citizens is trying, however, recently unsuccessfully, to hold the highly concentrated and politically powerful industries accountable for the true costs of the products they make.

      • There ARE lower prices from renewables and LEDs now than there used to be. And there ARE lower prices due to these new technologies in absolute terms, compared with what came before them, if you take the full useful life of each new technology into account. Most dramatically the cost of photovoltaic sheets has dropped so dramatically in recent years that they pay for themselves quickly even at the small scale a homeowner/rooftop installation is capable of,
        relative to the retail cost of the grid electricity consumption they displace, and utilities are building big-scale solar arrays not to be p.c. (though they do often claim bragging rights) but because utility-scale solar is among the biggest moneymakers on the grid these days.

        Granted, these new technologies went through a startup phase where they required subsidies before they generated efficiencies of scale in manufacturing and marketing sufficient to bring the up-front costs down. But, TMT, I’d say these are two notable standalone success stories, today, WITHOUT regard for their “green” contribution.

        OK now, that said, if a company like Dominion doesn’t pass those savings along to customers maybe you have a different bone to pick, with how the retail utility handles its generation construction and wholesale power purchases, but don’t blame that on renewables technology.

        On the larger issue of wealth transfer, TomH and I both agree with Dean Decker — the only difference being, I don’t think our nation (let alone most others) is ready to make the economic sacrifices necessary to really make a dent in the carbon load in our atmosphere sufficient to reverse the current warming cycle. Therefore, it falls in the “learn to live with what you cannot control” category absent better evidence of something we CAN do.

      • TMT, I think Acbar gave you an excellent reply to your question.

        Let me just say that major corporations, who have financial experts on staff to compare the cost of various alternatives, have invested in energy efficiency projects (including lighting with LEDs).

        T. Boone Pickens, a former oil man, is one of the primary developers of wind farms in West Texas. He has done so because it was profitable for him and for the utilities he sold the electricity to. Wind does have tax credits (as does solar) that makes its output less expensive. However, these will phase out in 2020 and expire in 2022. As we have covered on this blog before, the subsidies for oil, gas and nuclear have been far greater and gone on far longer than for renewables.

        To me, it makes sense to use subsidies to establish an industry, as we have done with wind and solar. But it does not make sense to keep them going for 50-100 years, as we have done for nuclear and fossil fuels.

        The cost of energy values calculated by Lazard use unsubsidized costs for renewables, but the more expensive values for the price of electricity from gas-fired units still include the effects of the current subsidies for fossil fuels.

        My point is that numerous “rational actors” such as individuals and large corporations, are making the economic evaluations and are choosing to use a variety of energy technologies that you claim have no value. I cannot debate your blanket assertion unless you give me data that applies to a specific situation.

        My general argument is that these facilities are being invested in to an increasing degree, because people believe that they serve their economic interest.

        Regarding regulation, I have consistently argued for two major points.

        1) Virginia regulators should do the job they are authorized to do.

        Manipulation at the legislative level has hamstrung the SCC and is adding billions to the energy costs of families and businesses in Virginia, without a benefit in return.

        2) There should be less regulation that prohibits increased energy choice by Virginia consumers. Laws and regulations have been used by our utilities to obstruct consumer choice for their added profit.

        The natural monopoly is the wires. Utilities should have the freedom to build solar, wind, energy efficiency, etc., but on a level playing field with everyone else. There should be no guaranteed profit by putting these projects in the rate base. If they can provide a lower price or better value than what others in the market can provide, then let the customer make a choice.

        I don’t understand how you see such a program as destroying the middle class. I see it as giving them the freedom to fend for themselves and not be held under the thumb of a monopoly power that charges more for providing services that a monopoly is not needed to protect.

  31. you write:
    “climate change is a constant global process with innumerable causes and human activity is among those causes.”

    this is akin to saying:
    “death is an inevitable result of the activities of the biological organism, and walking into an oncoming locomotive is among those activities.”

    this line of reasoning has been debunked time and time and time again by CLIMATE scientists (not “biologists”) who will point out that the RATE of change is unprecedented in ALL geological/climate HISTORY. this accelerated rate is due to one cause and one cause ONLY: human industrial carbon emissions.

    yes we all die eventually, but science is telling us that we are walking onto the tracks.

    and that is what all the data and evidence show.

  32. Yes, the vastly accelerated rate of climate change can all be attributed to human activity and according to Decker … we must “slow the rate of change by WHATEVER MEANS POSSIBLE, ”

    Acbar, it is not a just question of costs. Even Henry Paulson says we do not need a silver bullet. We can make the changes we need to make with the technology we have now.

    We all know the ways … adopt electric transportation supported by renewable electricity. Transportation now produces more emissions than our utilities. And … efficient buildings. Buildings use 70% of our electricity. PACE loans can provide the funds to save 20-40% of buildings utility bill and be cash flow positive on day 1 of the loan payback. I would also add … stop new uses of natural gas to make electricity. The emissions from methane only remain in the atmosphere for 10-15 years and, while they are there, are 85 times more potent than CO2, as described by Howarth and Co. from Cornell.

    Green House Gases are cumulative and that by itself is a good enough reason to do what we can now. Old infrastructure needs to be replaced and replacing old systems is a large part of those costs required to create a clean energy system. Not paying the oil companies to seek new resources … part of that $20 billion we annually hand out to the fossil companies in tax expenditures … will certainly cover some of those costs.

    Finally, all of the papers that deal with the changing the system end up saying that basic regulatory change will be required. As Tom has often told us … it is not in the utilities interests to reduce sales with efficient buildings or on-site generation when their rates and profits depend on increased capital investments and more sales. Let’s get going.

  33. I must say, this is wonderful to read, and watch like a movie, a blizzard of words and studies and word play by academics, and digital talking heads consultants, and public relations folks that have no experience in building anything, and who are expert at taking no risk, but talking, talking, and talking on someone’s else hidden behalf pulling the strings who are expert at gaming systems and gambling with other peoples money, the public’s money, for their own private benefit. Keep on talking guys. Keep on talking, talking, talking. It is fun to read and watch.

  34. I’m glad you are entertained.

    I have been trying to share my many years of experience with developing multi-billion dollar utility projects. In the states where I worked, the state and federal regulators asked important questions and expected accurate answers. They also felt compelled to follow the law as best they could.

    The people I worked with understood the importance of providing a reliable supply of reasonably priced energy. We were also aware of the need to balance customer interests, but that was best achieved by the participation of an objective regulator that was unconstrained by interference from the state legislature.

    We sometimes grumbled about things the regulator didn’t seem to fully understand, but we provided more complete explanations rather than issuing press releases that misled the public about what was really going on.

    I am disappointed to see a less rigorous approach to energy issues in Virginia. To be fair, there was less profit seeking by utility-holding companies when I was working on energy projects. Most of the utilities were single entities that were attuned to the need for balancing customer interests, and not conglomerates primarily interested in increasing shareholder value.

    Armchair quarterbacks are entitled to their talk and opinions and possible entertainment. But if we want a better energy system for Virginia and our energy companies, some of our citizens are required to actually enter the arena and do the research and make the comments to regulators.

    Those comments are mixed with those from other sources and final decisions are often different than what various stakeholders would like.

    I have found that comments are most effective when based on thorough research from respected industry sources, not from partisan blogs of any particular persuasion.

    My hope is that the time spent providing information for Bacon’s Rebellion encourages an exchange of ideas and not the nattering that passes for political discourse these days.

    Energy issues are complex and it is often easier to deal with them from an overarching world-view, rather than the pertinent facts. But there are many experienced, capable people who contribute comments to Bacon’s. They are likely to be opinion leaders in their community. I don’t expect that we will all share the same opinion. That’s the benefit of dialogue. My hope is that we can learn things from each other and broaden our perspective. Then share something of what we have learned with our friends and our communities, even if we don’t agree with all of it. In that way, our decisions about these important issues might get a little bit better.

    • The problem Tom, is quite simple. To date, your predictions and most assertions on this bog have been wildly wrong. Given your track record to date, I don’t trust your judgement or assertions in your area of expertise in the least, so place little stock in them. Nothing unusual about that, happens on the time.

      • As to your second sentence, what you say about TH’s factual assertions is simply not true, they are not “wildly wrong” but accurately summarize his experience in the field and information that’s well documented — and he deserves to hear anyone else who knows this arcane field speak up and say so. As for his predictions, the proof lies well in the future and you and I can speculate all we want, it’s the next generation’s problem anyway; but if they want my opinion (a rare event) my recommendation is to take Tom’s fact-based vision very seriously. When it involves the future of the electric grid there is a lot at stake, a lot rides on getting it right, and we are lucky to have good discussions here about it; don’t shut that discussion down.

  35. Reed, this is a Blog; we are supposed to talk, here. The only question is whether anyone is listening to you or me, or learning anything. Larry? Peter perhaps?

    Jane, I am not concerned solely about costs. My children have to live here long after I’m gone and I really do care if, on their and their children’s watch, the oceans are going to rise 200 +/- feet driving half the world’s coastal population into an increasingly arid interior. Certainly it’s happened before in the recent prehistoric past, and if the Thwaites ice sheet continues to melt as seems quite likely now, the resulting flow from higher ground in West Antarctica looks like it would add 20 feet or so to sea level right. The question is, can the world’s nations get their act together to do anything collectively to head that future off? The track record is not good, so far; in fact I’m darned pessimistic that we can muster timely worldwide support for GHG reductions to stop global warming; indeed one reason is that there isn’t even a consensus on what GHG reductions are needed let alone if any level of reduction starting tomorrow would be sufficient.

    Well then, that moots the academic discussion of whether this warm-up is man-made or merely man-aggravated because if it’s inevitable anyway, whether due to man or nature, we will have to adapt to a world with a larger population crammed in the space available and less arable land. And yes, I completely agree that for even that future to remain feasible for our children we have to be better stewards of what we have today, including, invest in all the things you mentioned: home heating efficiency and renewable resource electricity for transportation and industry and off-shore windmills and a cleaner air environment with less fossil fuel consumption. In short, we need to shepherd our limited resources whether GHGs are the proximate villain or not!

    Given our fractious partisanship these days and our other priorities, I just don’t see the political will even in the better educated U.S. and Europe to commit the economic resources to do anything meaningful about GHGs without far greater certainty of what we hope to accomplish — until it’s too late to matter. The Union of Concerned Scientists can place all the full page ads in the NYT they want to but it won’t persuade the voters in those red states to pass a carbon tax (the only rational way to align economic incentives with comprehensive GHG reduction, in my view). A large part of the next generation is mad as hell about it but they can’t call the shots. So, as Dean Decker says, let’s work on what we actually can do, by personal example (even shaming), and by State if not federal legislation.

  36. cbar,
    I don’t know your background but since you believe that I (along with Larry Gross) need to “learn” from certain views on this blog posting, I think I should give you my background.
    I am proud to say I have been a journalist for 45 years. I first started covering energy on my first job at a small daily in North Carolina. The little city was spending thousands of dollars to build a transmission line across the Tar River to tap Carolina Power & Light’s grid so it could dump more expensive VEPCO’s (now Dominion) supply.
    Later, in Virginia, I reported extensively on Dominion’s Surry and North Anna nuclear plants, visiting both more than once. Working out of the McGraw-Hill Washington bureau, I visited just about every coalfield in the U.S., including Wyoming’s Power River Basin and lignite fields in North Dakota.
    As Moscow bureau chief for BusinessWeek in the 1980s and 1990s, I traveled to Siberia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan to report energy stories. I once went by helicopter to cover a Conoco project on the tundra of Timan Pechora in Russia.
    More recently, I wrote a book about Massey Energy and the coal industry. Research for it took two years of reporting from Central Appalachia, China, Mongolia and Japan where I got as close as I could to Fukushima. My publisher was St. Martin’s Press/Macmillan, which I believe is fairly reputable. West Virginia University Press bought rights to the book and published an expanded paperback version.
    So, I think I can safely say I have more than a passing understanding of energy matters that you don’t seem to recognize.
    My problem with Decker’s column was that he gives us a lesson that the world’s climate changes (I already knew that) and that mankind should take steps not to accelerate it (duh). He doesn’t really say how this can be accomplished.
    Where I differ from you is that I don’t readily buy into the usual conservative dogma that (1) climate change is overstated or a hoax, (2) Michael Mann is a liar, (3) it’s going to happen anyway so don’t worry about it. I gather from you that this is what I need to “learn.”
    It would be very helpful if commenters on the blog were treated as adults even if they have different perspectives. Acbar, I really don’t need to be patronized.

    • Ah, the difficulty of sarcasm when people don’t recognize it. I was responding to another’s sarcastic remark, “Keep on talking, guys. Keep on talking, talking, talking.” I did not say you “need to learn from certain views on this blog” – au contraire, you and Larry are two who most often ask provocative questions and respond to others and therefore might learn something; a closed mind neither asks nor listens nor learns. For that matter, do you really think from what I’ve said above that I “buy into the usual conservative dogma” on this subject?

  37. Newsflash from Today’s Wall Street Journal –

    “… total U.S. oil and gas production since 2014 has jumped by about 5.7 million barrels of oil equivalent a day. That means that over the past half-decade alone U.S. oil and gas production gas increased by roughly 13 times the total output of ALL domestic solar projects and more than four times the total output of every wind turbine in the country.” End Quote. Caps added.

    For more information see WSJ’s “A Reality Check for Solar and Wind” by Robert Bryce, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of “A Question of Power: Electricity and the Wealth of Nations,” to be published in 2020.

    These statistics on growth of oil & gas production over past 5 years are in stark contrast, quite the reverse, from the unqualified predictions of wind and solar advocates writing now for years on this blog.

  38. I am surprised when I hear this sort of cheerleading from conservative sources.

    Our current national energy policy, directed by those who want to Make America Great Again, promotes the rapid development and export of strategically important fossil fuels to other nations for the short-term profit of a few corporations.

    It will be some time before we make a full transition away from oil in our transportation sector. Commercial and military aircraft currently depend on derivatives of crude oil, although the DOD has been investigating alternatives for a while.

    Cars, trucks, naval vessels and commercial cargo ships depend on derivatives from oil too.

    Our plastics, fertilizer, pharmaceutical and other industries depend on natural gas and oil derived compounds.

    It seems foolish to me to ramp up production, usage and export of unique fuels that we will need until we can wean ourselves from our dependence on them.

    Australia has exported its cheap gas for over a decade, only to increase domestic prices by 300% and create spot shortages. We seem to ignore other evidence when there is money to be made.

    Most of the increased production in the U.S. is coming from shale-bound oil and gas. Shale wells reach peak production in 3-5 years, then rapidly decline. The most productive areas are drilled first, with subsequent wells being less productive and more expensive to drill. All of this is ignored by policymakers, bent on creating the most profits now, while ignoring the future consequences.

    As with financial meltdowns, irresponsible government spending, the human and financial costs of wars, the price of this faulty policy will be paid by the ordinary citizens of America.

    Those who are extolling the ramping up of fossil fuel use, often are the same people who most loudly proclaim their patriotism. I can’t reconcile the two positions.

    How is selling more of a strategic material to others, only for us to pay more for it later, a good idea?

    How is increasing the emissions of the combustion products of fossil fuels anywhere in the world a good idea?

    America is a high-cost labor market. We must use our intelligence to reduce the cost of production in order to provide more job opportunities for our skilled workers. Learning how to produce our goods and services using less and lower-cost energy will increase our economic competitiveness and improve the natural world that supports us. This would be good for America and a fine example for the rest of the world.

    • Heard it all before Tom, heard it for years, just doesn’t work. Obama tried. And every year your vision falls ever farther behind. Fact are tough things to ignore. Let’s make America Great Again.

  39. Much of what I have said has been based around the premise that our use of electricity is no longer increasing, even though our population and economic activity is. It does no longer makes sense for us to manage our energy system as if we are still in the 20th century when we had periods of double digit growth in electricity usage, and when it was coupled with GDP and population growth.

    Facts are tough to ignore. Shown below is the total annual electricity consumption in the US from 2007-2017. The data was supplied by the providers of electricity to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. These are actual sales, not adjusted for differences in weather between the years.

    Sales to Ultimate Customers (Thousands of MWh)
    2007 3,764,561
    2008 3,733,965
    2009 3,596,795
    2010 3,754,841
    2011 3,749,846
    2012 3,694,650
    2013 3,724,868
    2014 3,764,700
    2015 3,758,992
    2016 3,762,462
    2017 3,723,356

    As you can see, our national usage of electricity in 2017 was less than what we used in 2007, before the Great Recession.

    Here is information about Dominion’s peak load over a similar period, although these data are normalized for differences in weather. Dominion’s peak demand for electricity has been flat or declining over the past decade, even with increases in customers, state economic activity and data center growth.

    ?resize=768%2C568&ssl=1

    You can call it fake news and go on about your business. But it is hard to have a conversation about alternatives if we can’t agree on basic data, that is objectively collected.

  40. No way I’m reading through all this without continuing education points 🙂 But I always learn something from Tom and Acbar when I have the patience to wade in….they don’t always change my mind but at times they do.

    • As Tom said, “it is hard to have a conversation about alternatives if we can’t agree on basic data, that is objectively collected.” Hopefully we supply at least a fair summary of the basic data to support a discussion that is very much needed.

      • And I, for one, greatly appreciate it. You don’t see much from me on these energy posts because this field is totally new to me and I have nothing of value to add. But, I do read them and I learn a lot. (I want my continuing ed points!)

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