Week in review – energy and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

China’s economic slow down could help its climate efforts [link]  …

A new solar boom is underway in Texas–because it makes economic sense [link]

Thought provoking article by Michael Liebreich: An Energy Sector Transformed Must Be an Energy Sector Reformed  [link] …

Coal ash far more dangerous than nuclear waste. [link]  …

GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health” — important comment in New England Journal of Medicine [link]

The #Yellow River: a historian’s perspective on China’s water crisis [link]

Australia stops investing in wind power projects, in favor of developing new technologies [link]

Ewww, the EPA doesn’t know how to deal with 300 million tons of animal poop [link]

Drought Brings Soul Searching to California Winemaking, [link]

China’s carbon emissions have been overestimated. What does this mean for the country’s emissions pledge? [link]

“Yet another land mine for GMO Golden Rice.” retraction of a key journal paper [link]

Wind turbines make bat lungs explode.[link]

Residents of 43 states could see double-digit % increases in their electricity bills under @EPA carbon rule [link]

OPEC Is Toast as US Wins the Energy War [link]

A new strategy for creating solar technology: [link]

MacArthur Foundation vows to push climate solutions w/ $50M pledge to green groups – [link]

Underreported methane leaks from natural gas gathering systems. [link]

U.S. climate rules target methane leaks [link]  …

Good post from @ensiamedia on methane’s role in #climatechange and what we can do about it [link]

“Iran Threatens The Chief Inspector Of Its Nuclear Facilities” [link] …

Islamic Declaration on Climate Change [link]

Very cool research: Turning CO2 emissions into plastic with algae? It may not be as crazy as it sounds  [link]

Texas electricity grid rises to heat wave challenge. Power market manages demand spikes, keeps prices down [link]

US-UK Report Warns of Food Insecurity from Extreme Weather – [link]

Alaska’s quest to power remote villages – and how it could spread clean energy worldwide [link]

10 theories of change: Everyone involved in politics should understand these & their limitations.[link]

Using kids to file environmental lawsuits – fair or exploitative? [link]

Japan’s plutonium problem [link]



170 responses to “Week in review – energy and policy edition

  1. Pingback: Week in review – energy and policy edition | Enjeux énergies et environnement

  2. I get a 404 error from the ENSIA story about methane. Here it is: “Climate change mitigation’s best-kept secret” by Jim Motavalli (freelance writer) at ENSIA — “Methane is a potent greenhouse gas — but there’s a lot we can do about it.”

    It’s well-written. and follows the by-now standard script for these stories. Lots of vivid specifics about cows and wells, the danger of a massive methane release causing “catastrophic greenhouse warming”, and no mention of the IPCC (whatever happened to them?).

    • Curious George

      I find the Colorado article very poorly written. I did not learn where that project is located. And they state “156 megawatts that may generate sufficient energy to provide 31,000 houses” without adding “on a summer afternoon.”

      • Yes indeed, Curious,

        That’s 5 kWs per household or a central air conditioning unit. I hope no one wants to do laundry at the same time.

  3. A new solar boom is underway in Texas–because it makes economic sense [link]


    In the afternoon, the average wholesale power price in the Texas electric grid’s western zone for the past year has been $35.43 a megawatt hour, according to data from the grid operator. Over the coming years, these wholesale prices are expected to rise, creating more opportunity for solar farms to be profitable. And in a heat wave, ERCOT rules allow wholesale prices to spike up to $9,000 a megawatt hour, creating the potential for large windfalls for solar farms and other power generators.

    It makes economic sense for those who can steal from us at a rate of $9,000 per megawatt hour.

    It makes no economic sense for those of us that must pay that electric bill.

    This is asking for Enron type scams.

  4. Steven Mosher

    “This requirement limits the efficiency of organic solar cells, a bottleneck established by research more than two decades ago. However, Ray showed through detailed computational modeling that a fundamental assumption about the organic solar cells was incorrect, eliminating the need for heterojunctions.

    “He kept saying he didn’t need to invoke excitons in order to explain many of the experimental results,” Alam said. “It turns out that the original experiment was misinterpreted.””

  5. 10 theories of change (as seen by a “progressive”): Change is the underlying reality – everything in the universe is arising and passing away with great rapidity. How change on a broader scale manifests is a product of many factors and forces, I’m not at all sure that this simplistic list would be of value to those involved in politics.

    • I’m guessing a “trained social futurist” (Sara being one of the few!) is a person paid to “communicate” the bleeding obvious at extreme length. That’s when not distorting the bleeding obvious with extreme twists…just to keep that “liberal worldview” in the forefront of any untidy “diversity”.

      Hombre, I’m betting there are thousands of university faculties we could shut down tomorrow and not miss at all.

    • What a strange column. She must live in a very different world than the one I do.

  6. There could also be competition for the statistical transfers as the latest data from the European Commission shows several countries, including the Netherlands and France, are also at risk of missing their targets.

    Engineering & Technology: UK considering loophole to escape EU renewables fine http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2015/aug/uk-emissions-loophole.cfm

    This is an indication of how irrational the EU 20% RE targets are. What is the CO2 abatement gain by forcing France to implement RE? France’s CO2 emissions intensity of electricity is just 0.069 t/MWh. Adding more renewables will require more gas use for back up. It will probably increase rather than decrease the CO2 emissions intensity of electricity.

  7. Breaking news

    BBC to fire the Met Office from supplying its forecasts and end its 92 year old relationship


    The Met Office is close by me in Exeter. Its local forecats are often hopeless and inaccurate and sometimes I feel they would get it right more often if they looked out of their window instead of at their computer screens.

    However, British weather is notoriously fickle and difficult to predict. The competitors are a NZ group (!!!) and Meteo, which seem a poor alternative. I have no knowledge of the former but Meteo I have found very unreliable when using them on the Continent.


  8. David Wojick

    Interesting journal article on publication bias regarding the (so-called) social cost of carbon. Low values do not get published.

    • i flagged this paper also, planning a SCC thread (lots of interesting new material)

      • “So, quite a remarkable idea. Analyse the published results to show that there is some kind of bias in the published estimates, and then use this to present what is meant to be some kind of unbiased estimate.”

        Annan and Hargreaves also used a Bayesian analysis on published climate sensitivity. Afterward, Annan remarked that a number of his peers mentioned they would bias results high.

      • Since AH06 lowered the upper bound to around 4.5 using a Bayesian reanalysis that has little to do with the econometric magik soon to be published in E&E, Cap’n, the connection you’re implying is far from being obvious.

      • Willard, AH06 provides a method. If you update their paper using current estimates, their results would be lower. There was a tendency to under publish lower sensitivity ranges and per Annan, a tendency to over report sensitivity. There are starting be a lot more meta-data research projects that will find things like bias and data manipulation. It’s the wave of the future.

      • The kind of bias these new E&E authors is trying to pull is not a comparison between the past and the present, Cap’n, but between what is being published at time T and what ought to have been published at the very same T.

      • Willard, “The kind of bias these new E&E authors is trying to pull is not a comparison between the past and the present, Cap’n, but between what is being published at time T and what ought to have been published at the very same T.”

        Right, so you have the opportunity at some future time to validate their method.; I am not convinced that these meta-analysis techniques are as accurate as some think, but at least it can be checked.

      • Actually, Cap’n, the E&E authors might even be able argue for publication bias as soon as scientific results evolve non-randomly.

        Econometrics’ the new sophistry.

      • Steven Mosher

        An interesting metric to look at in studies of ECS would be
        the number of critical responses.

        For example, a study that estimates high will not be criticized.
        a study that estimates low will be criticized. One exception would
        be a method that blows the roof off the top of estimates
        ( see gavins criticism of folks who predicted 10C of warming)

        another example: Nic Lewis does a do-over on a paper previously swallowed hook line and sinker by the IPCC. he basically updates
        a prior study that was uncritically accepted. he produces lower numbers
        and hordes descend on him.

        suddenly people “discover” all manner of objections to the methodology
        that was previously accepted.

        In short as long as a method produces answers “in line” with the consensus, nobody questions the method.. feed corrected data into
        that method and produce lower estimates… all hell breaks loose.

        Its interesting to watch meta analysts who dont adjust their prior beliefs as more papers come in supporting lower numbers.

      • ==> “and hordes descend on him….”

        In a discussion about bias, how does one distinguish critical analyses from hordes descending?

      • I don’t understand the resistance to the analysis.

        If you do 20 studies with an error of +/- 5 and 10 studies with an error of +/-1 the results should group around the same mean absent some sort of bias.

        Given that the actual ECS (given 22 PPM = 0.2 W/m2, or TCS of about 2.4 W/m2, or ECS around 3.6 W/m2) is in the 1 °C range those “accurate” studies still have some downward room to go.

        And yeah – the bias is pretty extreme and obvious.

        That the AR5 models use 3.2°C for ECS is almost criminally wrong.

      • Another interesting metric would be to measure the lack of critical response regarding just about any newsy that may lukewarmly help promote contrarian talking points. Another one would be to measure the distance taken to present these newsies. We could call its conjunct the whataboutism level.

      • Willard,”Actually, Cap’n, the E&E authors might even be able argue for publication bias as soon as scientific results evolve non-randomly.

        Econometrics’ the new sophistry.”

        Yes, they could. If a result is generally accepted as true there would be no real reason to publish more of the same. Confirmation of confirmation bias. Then if a paper is published confirming the results of another paper, how will does the confirmation match the error range of the previous studies?


      • Steven Mosher

        Joshu@ and Willard

        In a discussion about bias, how does one distinguish critical analyses from hordes descending?

        This is pretty simple.

        Suppose I did a estimate of the global temperature using ordinary kriging.
        Suppose my answer was a century trend of 2C per century and
        suppose this answer was consistent with other folks.
        Suppose the IPCC including my numbers with ZERO discussion of my method and its weakness.
        Suppose there was Zero discussion in reviewed literature of the weakness.
        Suppose there was zero infomal discusssion of the weaknesses
        Suppose people cited my result as Support of their views.
        Suppose people said that it added to the weight of evidence,

        Now suppose that Joshu@ wrote a paper using my method, but
        he corrected a couple of mistakes that he found in my data.

        Suppose his answer came out at 1.5C.

        Now suppose that his paper was lo and behold subject to critical analysis,

        how would you explain this?

        Its pretty simple. When an answer is consistent with the prevailing theory
        there is no motivation to analyze it critically.

        you could of course quibble with words. Do your best brandon. I know you can.

      • Steven,

        another example: Nic Lewis does a do-over on a paper previously swallowed hook line and sinker by the IPCC. he basically updates a prior study that was uncritically accepted. he produces lower numbers and hordes descend on him.

        Or, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence? As I suspect you realise, it is difficult to construct a physically plausible scenario in which the ECS < 2oC. It’s not impossible, but it seems likely (given the various feedbacks, the greenhouse effect,…) that it is above 2oC than below. Hence if someone publishes a paper suggesting that it is more likely below 2oC than above, it may be more heavily scrutinised than one suggesting otherwise. Similarly, a paper suggesting that it is more likely above ~4oC than below should also be heavily scrutinised, but I’m not sure that such papers have actually been published. There were some using uniform priors that suggested unrealistically high probabilities of high values, but these were criticised and – AFAIA – the method was relatively quickly changed to expert priors.

        Also, it’s not so much what is published, but how it’s received. If people didn’t latch on to low estimates, they might simply be ignored. I’m not aware of a group who would latch onto – and promote – particularly high estimates.

      • Okay, to avoid confusion, the html seems to have failed in my last comment. It’s not meant to be 20 and 40, but 2 degrees, and 4 degrees. I know some think I’m an alarmist, but that would be ridiculous ;-)

      • “It’s not impossible, but it seems likely (given the various feedbacks, the greenhouse effect,…) that it is above 2oC than below.”

        That should be “given the various feedback assumptions”, kenny.

      • > If a result is generally accepted as true there would be no real reason to publish more of the same.

        Let’s hope practitioners of the auditing sciences aren’t monitoring this comment, Cap’n.

      • > Its pretty simple.

        It’s even simpler than that: suppose I suppose seven things before breakfast, and suppose I use these suppositions to rehash lukewarm green line tests all over again:


      • Let’s hope practitioners of the auditing sciences aren’t monitoring this comment, Cap’n.

        Why do you think an auditor would be interested in a publication, Willard?

      • What makes you think my comment was about publishing, and not about the “more of the same” idea, mwg? There’s at least one meaning of “publishing” that follows from the very idea of the auditing sciences in the first place. Even if we accept the journals’ craving for novelty and not correction, it is quite obvious that the auditing sciences are not after novelty, and that freeing data and code presumes that everything can be in principle be made “more of the same.”

        Interestingly, Bender and Tom Gray reminded of the journal’s craving on “the blog” (i.e. the Auditor’s) when it was time to defend Loehle’s blunders, in more or the same words.

      • So it isn’t about publishing?

      • Not exactly. It’s about novelty, which is only one of the reason to publish. I suspect that novelty is overrated.

        There’s one section in Theodore Hill’s paper cited by Cap’n entitled Detection of Fraud Using Benford’s Law, and the F word always makes me think of the auditing sciences.

        Denizens may wonder why.

      • Thanks, for sorting though that.

      • Willard, In that case the F word related to tax F’in’ and it isn’t proof it kinda just raises flags. From what I have seen so far, F word (you can use fabrication if you like) is suspected in about 10% of papers which is what should be expected. Humans are still humans no matter what degree they have. You might find that shocking. I don’t find it shocking and I don’t consider it to be some fatal science flaw either, it’s just life.

      • Steven Mosher


        “It’s even simpler than that: suppose I suppose seven things before breakfast, and suppose I use these suppositions to rehash lukewarm green line tests all over again:”

        its not about being tested.

        Its a simple observation and one that you yourself would agree to but for the fact that you choose not to be agreeable today.

        in general people are not going to question a method if that method gives substantially the same result as other methods.

        in general they are going to see this as confirming evidence not as disconfirming evidence.

        The fact that one of the most rational people I have encounter on the internet can’t assent to this is kinda funny.

      • ATTP claims; “Or, extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence? As I suspect you realise, it is difficult to construct a physically plausible scenario in which the ECS < 2.0 C" (I assume the 20C was a typo)

        According to Professor Ken 1.5C, down from 2.0C is an extrodinary claim. Why? Because (again according to Ken) it is difficult to xonstruct a physically plausible scenario that gets one below 2.0C.

        My question is: If Professor Rice understands all of the details that go into building a scenario for the GCM's that can accurately mimic our planetary climate, then why hasn't he ended the debate for real?

        Seriously Professor, comments like the one above make you sound like a true believer, not someone who teaches physics.

      • 1.5C, down from 2.0C is an extrodinary claim. Why? Because…it is difficult to xonstruct a physically plausible scenario that gets one below 2.0C.

        That isn’t what I said. Read it again and try to concentrate time. There’s not much point in me responding to what you think I said. I’m only really willing to respond to correct representations of what I actually said.

  9. Met Office loses multi-million pound BBC weather contract. BBC puts the contract out to tender to foreign firms.


    Perhaps an opening for your company, Judith! Failing which Tony Brown might get something together.

    • Faustino

      We have a lot of seaweed on the beach here. I reckon I could put on a great service for only £15 million with minimal expenses. I am looking for backers.

      Its just stopped raining here near Exeter so I reckon there will be a three or four hour delay to the Test Match.


  10. Renewable Energy Discussion on C.E. — (1) Anyone who can not articulate the basic “concept” of ELCC in integrated resource planning is not a serious contributor;

    (2) Any Energy Engineer who does not address/reflect the concept of ELCC in discussing Renewable Energy (e.g., sound engineering based penetration levels) — is not showing good faith.

    In reading C.E., one gets the impression that solar is about to (or will shortly) crash the U.S. grid. Conveniently lost in this discussion is that solar has less than 1% penetration in the U.S.

    • That’s right. After 60 years of PV development it’s still at just 1% penetration – and going nowhere.

      Any one who cannot understand the big picture is not a serious contributor.

      1. Solar anw wind are not sustainable – they cannot supply sufficent energy through life to support modern society and reproduce themselves. So they cannot make a significant contribution to global electricity generation nor to reducing global GHG emisisons.

      2. They are a very high cost to generate electricity (all costs included).

      3. They cause as many or more fatalities per TWh as nuclear.

      4. Advocating for incentives for renewables and arguing against removing the impediments to lower cost power is causing tens of thousands of avoidable fatalities per year and around 2 million per year by 2050.

      Arguing for incentives for renewanble energy is irrationsl

      The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings

    • Renewable Energy Discussion on C.E. — (1) Anyone who can not articulate the basic “concept” of ELCC in integrated resource planning is not a serious contributor;

      Anyone who who advocates for policy – such as for renewable energy incentives – but doesn’t understand what is relevant for policy, is not a serious contributor.

      • Anyone who has “actual Integrated Utility Planning experience (that uses industry planning software like from GE, rather than their homemade Excel spreadsheets) knows that “Base Load” (and its generation resources) is not more important than other Loads (intermediate, peaking and their resources).

      • What on earth is the meaning this nonsense? What’s the relevance to policy? What’s the context you are referring to? What’s it got to do with policy analysts?

        Why do you continually ignore addressing what is relevant for policy. BTW, I know the reason: it’s because you don’t have a clue what is relevant for policy relevance and are much more interested in pushing your irrational Green your ideology and belief that renewables can save the planet.

    • Is the 1% solar penetration based on energy production or peak capacity?

      It’s the local penetration of solar that tends to matter more, especially as the peak capacity approaches the available transmission capacity for that local area.

      On a related note, the interesting thing about the west Texas solar installations is that they are a good fraction of a time zone west of the major load centers. This should ease the “solar duck” problem.

      While I have no worked for a utility, I have taken a power system course and associated lab at Cal.

      • erikemagnuson,

        My comments relate to policies to reduce global GHG emissions from electricity (and from all energy) this century by 80% or more and to reduce emissions from electricity by 50% or more by around mid century.

        Renewable can have only a negligible contribution, but nuclear can do the whole job by end of century and a substantial part of it by around mid century.

      • Peter.
        My comments were directed at Stephen whose comments about solar penetration and ELCC raised my eyebrows a bit.

        If dramatically lowering GHG’s is a priority (I’m a lukewarmer), then nuclear has to be part of the solution. In the short term next 50 years), LWR’s have been in production for decades and thus are a mature technology. Long term would be either the EBRII/IFR/PRISM design or fusion.

      • erikemagnuson,

        Sorry, for my misunderstanding. I agree with all the statements in your comments but would qualify “nuclear has to be a part of the solution” to nuclear has to play the dominant part of replacing fossil fuels for electriciyt generation. Hydro will lose share of electricity generation as there is insufficient new hydro site available globally. Biomass for electricity is even more limited. Wind and solar cannot do the job. Thye cannot produce sufficient electricity to power modern society and reproduce themselves: http://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/

        This also shows why renwables are not viable except at low of penetration: http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/

        Eric, are you from Norway? If so you might find the last of 24 posts listed in the above link interesting: http://euanmearns.com/how-much-wind-and-solar-can-norways-reservoirs-balance/

      • Peter, My grandmother was from Norway, my grandfather was from Sweden and they met in Montana. My grandfather was born very close to what became the the Norwegian border, so that probably accounts for the spelling.

        A nuclear/solar mix has potential, with nuclear providing base load generation, solar taking care of maybe 60-70% of the peak load energy and reducing the energy storage requirements for an all nuclear approach. The problem is that peak demand in places like California occurs at 7PM, so some sort of energy storage will still be needed.

      • erikemagnuson,

        A nuclear/solar mix has potential, with nuclear providing base load generation, solar taking care of maybe 60-70% of the peak load energy and reducing the energy storage requirements for an all nuclear approach.

        That may work in some places but I suspect by the time nuclear gets to around 75% of total electricity generation world wide, as it has been for over 30 years in France ,there will be near no need for solar. Solar is not economical for grid supply just about anywhere and I doubt it ever will be. Perhaps a few percent of global electricity eventually, but not enough for us spending so much time debating and spending so much money trying to incentivise. That’s my humble opinion.

  11. It appears Mr. Trump has tapped into an issue that isn’t limited to the US. From the article:

    Immigration is the public’s biggest concern, poll says
    Immigration to Britain overtakes the NHS and the economy as the topic most likely to cause concern to voters, according to survey


  12. Carly Fiorina — Last week, the general consensus here at C.E. was that Ms. Fiorina hit a homerun. Others were not so impressed:


    • bedeverethewise

      I read the article you linked and I’m not so impressed

      • Of all the bullets Dave Roberts talks about — what is the “ONE” bullet that you are unimpressed by, or think in non-factual, or manipulative?

      • bedeverethewise

        The first argument, no nation acting alone can make a difference. First he says that 0.018 is greater than 0.000 so it’s a difference. But over the last 150 years we have had an increase of some 0.8 (almost half of it before 1940 when CO2 emissions were low) and it has made no significant difference. 0.018 is a small fraction of the error bars. To quote the author, it’s a daft argument.

        Carly’s statement that one nation acting alone can make no difference at all, is a reasonable statement.

        He goes on to say every major country needs to do it’s part (so Carly was right). But he wrongly describes America’s part as “small”, any meaningful reaction to climate change will not be small, CO2 emissions are not small a small problem..

        He then blathers on about imagined health benefits and lower costs. He says cleantech industries are booming. I would qualify that, cleantech industries boom when they make promises, when it comes time to deliver the products they promised at the prices they promised, they go boom in a different direction. Unless they are supported by government subsidies which only delays the boom.

      • bedeverethewise

        my next comment is in moderation for using the i word, but it is the only way to explain California’s approach to regulations.
        Now I have to watch Carly on meet the press

      • bedeverethewise

        Moving on to number 3
        The answer to this problem is innovation not regulation.
        This is a statement of opinion, it is in line with my opinion which is that current technology cannot make a significant difference with regard to CO2 emissions.

        I am more in line with Bill Gates on this one. I probably differ with Gates somewhat on the urgency or the certainty of negative impacts, but the need for innovation is paramount, with or without climate change.


      • bedeverethewise

        4 and 5 are about China. I’m not terribly interested in what China does, but we will see how their renewable energy policies do when their economy starts faltering.

        China shows what the real problem is. China has a lot of people, with many people living in poverty ( real poverty, not US poverty). over the past few decades, they have been raising their standard of living at an extraordinary rate. They are doing this by providing energy to their people, mostly with fossil fuels. Fact, people want a better easier way of life. The easiest way to accomplish this is with easy access to energy. The easiest source of energy is fossil fuels.

        Clean coal, meh, I’m more of a nuke fan.

      • bedeverethewise

        number 6
        Wow he got her on one, she said coal produces half of our energy. Assuming she meant electricity production, coal hasn’t accounted for greater than or equal to 50.0% since 2003, if we’re nit picking.

      • “Negative Eternalities” is just a shell game the leftists are attempting to use to justify us (the tax-paying working people) paying much more for energy than we should have to.

      • bedeverethewise

        7 “outlaw coal”
        Not every word uttered by a politician (or blogger) is intended to be a fact backed up by a source. I’ll give this one to the vox guy, “outlawing coal” is a little bit of hyperbole. I wonder if any climate change scientist/activists have ever used this kind of hyperbole? Let me count the ways…

      • bed, he only asked for one :)

      • bedeverethewise

        8 Wind turbines slaughter millions of birds
        Well, she didn’t give a time frame and as the author shows, the annual number is in the hundreds of thousands, so it doesn’t take long to get to millions.
        Now about bird deaths in general, I occasionally here about buildings killing millions of birds, yet when I walk through the streets of big cities, I never see dead birds laying on the sidewalk. Where are all the dead bodies?

        cats kill billions of birds? Not my cat, she sleeps 20 hours a day and spends the remaining 4 hours whining for food. And birds can fly, any bird that gets caught by a cat deserves to die.

        Then we get oil and coal are killing millions of birds a year?? Of what asthma? Call me skeptical.

        If you want to know how I feel about birds, I think Brian sums is up the best…

      • jim2, “Negative Eternalities”. That is a good one. Is it yours or did it come from somewhere? It says something about the lasting effect of a CO2 rise. Might be an effective slogan.

      • bedeverethewise

        9, unsightly wind turbines

        Sometimes when I drive past a huge field of turbines, I am in awe, because I so appreciate our ability to build things like buildings, bridges, power plants, etc. But I have never had to live in the shadow of one, like a slow blinking strobe light, with the noise, every day. I do live in a state that has a lot of wind power and I have seen the local grassroots fights for and against wind power.

        But you know which ones are the most unsightly? The ones that aren’t turning. These are usually the ones that are put up for reasons other than generating electricity, maybe by a university or progressive city to show the world how green they are. Usually poorly situated and a waste of resources.

        I do appreciate that the author called out the worst hypocrites, the Kennedy’s

      • bedeverethewise

        10 water for solar was covered in a previous thread, The statement was true depending on underlying facts.

      • Jim D, externalities are costs and benefits which accrue to people other than those directly engaged in an activity or transaction. Economics Online: “A negative externality is a cost that is suffered by a third party as a result of an economic transaction. In a transaction, the producer and consumer are the first and second parties, and third parties include any individual, organisation, property owner, or resource that is indirectly affected.”

        The issue of externalities is usually not straightforward: many economic activities provide both benefits and costs to third parties. Both costs are often widespread and/or difficult to quantify, and those who benefit from one externality might gain from another.

        I like Ronald Coase’s analysis of the issue in “The Problem of Social Cost.” A link showing on Google as http://www.econ.ucsb.edu/…/coase.pdf timed out, but I’ve downloaded it before.

    • what do you know about david roberts and his “energy analyst” expertise?

      “… The people peddling paranoia are confident that not many Americans will actually read the compilations of the scientific literature, particularly the economic analyses comparing the costs and benefits of various proposed “solutions.”

      An excellent illustration of this mismatch between the alarmist rhetoric and the actual research is a recent Vox article by David Roberts. Much as an Old Testament prophet, Roberts comes to his readers with a depressing message: “The obvious truth about global warming is this: barring miracles, humanity is in for some awful sh*t.”


    • Fiorina seems to envision a booming market for “clean coal” that the US is in danger of losing out on. But coal power plants with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) have been behind schedule and over budget in the few cases they’ve been attempted. The only conceivable way they could compete in power markets is under a high carbon price or with heavy government subsidies.

      Not true.

      But with renewable energy prices falling so fast that they’re becoming competitive with dirty coal in more and more places, even absent subsidies, who is going to opt for a more expensive low-carbon option that requires billions of dollars of new infrastructure? Lots of people are convinced clean coal will eventually play a role, but at the very least it’s a far less certain growth area than renewable energy and cleantech. If China is “delighted” by anything, it’s delighted to be kicking our ass in renewable energy.

      So far, what Vox is calling “renewable energy” is better called intermittent energy.

      Finding ways to deal cost-effectively with that intermittency may well raise the price to where “clean coal” can compete. Of course, the R&D necessary is much more than can be justified with just one plant. But there’s a large segment of the US economy that depends on the coal industry, so it’s not cut-and-dried that coal has to go.


      • AK — From a System Planning Engineering perspective, what people seem to be talking about are penetration levels above what would be supported by EELC and other System integration characteristics (e.g., hydro availability, flexibility by the percentage of natural gas combined cycle units, etc.).

      • Segrest, I think you mean ELCC. At any rate, it’s a non-issue in the grand scheme of things. The main problem is we are wasting good money on “renewables.” There is an opportunity cost there. That money could be used to solve real problems or better yet returned to the tax payer.

      • […] what people seem to be talking about are penetration levels above what would be supported by EELC and other System integration characteristics [..]

        Actually, it seems to me that they’re indulging in vague arm-waving using mostly undefined straw-man arguments.

        Of course, almost any argument claiming the unfeasibility (or lack of cost-effectiveness) of any future technology amounts to straw-man argument. Especially when they go into denial over the obvious exponential cost/price decreases involved.

      • Jim2 — Again, anyone who can not articulate the basic engineering “concept” of ELCC is not a serious contributor on Renewable Energy.

        Want to talk about penetration levels above that justified by ELCC? Now, that’s appropriate.


        There, I hope that got through.

      • Renewable energy is intermittent, but the requests for public money from the beneficiaries of renewable energy is constant.

        I know everyone loves transparency, especially those that like to “expose” the self-interest of big-coal, big-oil, and big-gas. So, who out there Is advocating for renewables because they benefit, directly or indirectly, from carbon credits, tax credits, tax write-offs, selling renewables, trading carbon credits, selling products or services that bebefit from carbon trading, etc.?

        Full disclosure – I do not benefit from renewables in any way. I also have no vested interest in climate science. I have no interest in the fossil fuel industry, though the mutual funds in my IRAs and 401(k)s probably own “big oil/coal/gas” stocks. I do admit that I have to pay for electricity and gasoline here in California.

      • JustinWonder and Jim2: Anyone who can not articulate or grasp the basic engineering concept of ELCC is not a serious contributor to the discussion of Renewable Energy.

      • I’m a power systems engineer. People can discuss other things than ELCC with renewables and be considered a serious contributor. Things such as cost and benefits.

        Likewise, you could be talking about the ELCC of renewable hamster power technology and I wouldn’t take you at all seriously…

      • SS

        “JustinWonder and Jim2: Anyone who can not articulate or grasp the basic engineering concept of ELCC is not a serious contributor to the discussion of Renewable Energy.”

        Since when do you get to decide?

        Do renewable energy projects or installations help you sell your trees?

      • Scott Basinger — I find it hard to believe that you have Integrated System Planning experience. ELCC involves matching specific load requirements with the very lowest revenue requirement options (engineering economics).

      • Justin Wonder — So many things you (and others) say here at CE just are not correct — and do not reflect how system planning engineers do their jobs (engineering economics). If you “try” to understand the “concept” of ELCC, you will go a long ways (not everything of course) in understanding how System Planners are trained and make decisions.

    • Yep, David Roberts, the author of that piece is definitely someone we should listen to. His credentials include Grist and a philosophy degree. That’s about it. From the post:

      It is with great sadness but also no small degree of pride that I’m writing to share the news that David Roberts will be leaving Team Grist shortly to join Vox.

      Where to begin about David? Maybe at the start … When he applied to be a news writer at Grist in 2003, he didn’t know much about climate change or any issues we covered — i.e., he was a philosophy grad who used to write movie reviews for IMDb — but he definitely knew news and he definitely knew how to write, so we took a chance on him. (It didn’t hurt that he tried to bribe us with a grapefruit slicer at his interview, right in the middle of our grapefruit-themed reader fundraiser.)


    • bedeverethewise

      Moving on to the second argument, California destroys lives and livelihoods with environmental regulation. Environmental regulations certainly destroy livelihoods, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but California is the poster-child for idiotic regulations.

      As far as destroying lives goes, if you concede that as of today, climate change has destroyed zero lives, I will concede that California’s regulations have also destroyed zero lives.

      Warning: This comment contains ideas that are known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harms. Prop 65

      • bedeverethewise — Thanks. Just to acknowledge I read your comments.

      • bedeverethewise

        Stephen, I value your comments here at CE, you’re one of the good ones. I always consider what you have to say, whether i agree or not. Even though I consider myself a skeptic and you probably define yourself much differently, I think we could find a lot of common ground.

    • bedeverethewise

      Finally, the Vox guy wraps up with the silly opinion that accepting the science of climate change (CO2 is a green house gas which is increasing due to fossil fuel use) means accepting his favored solutions. He claims Fiorina is worse on climate than Ted Cruz? Does that make sense?

      Basically, Fiorina is suggesting that we need to favor innovation over taxes, is that such an untenable position?

    • She didn’t hit a homerun in my eyes. Cruz questioning the consensus was more forthright and less of a dodge than Fiorina. It was also taking first things first. Obviously the first was easier to criticize since it takes on supposedly 97% of scientists that he is not. Everyone knows the futility of CO2 mitigation so it is a much easier target even if the numbers are wrong.

    • One of the morning shows had Fiorina saying that the greens had prevented building more dams and they wouldn’t be in this trouble if they had more dams. Gov. Jerry Brown responded that no amount of dams would have helped in this drought. If you don’t have enough water for years that is not going to help.

      • If she had said California should have had more damn lids, Gov. Brown would have agreed.

      • So yimmy, more dams holding back water would not have helped alleviate the shortage of water due to the drought. That’s just Moonbeam CYA BS. That would only work as an excuse for not having built dams, if all the existing dams’ reservoirs were dry by now.

        Obviously, if more dams were extant then more water would have been prevented from flowing to the ocean and more water would now be available. Of course Gov. Moonbeam can get away with that transparent BS in a one party state.

      • bedeverethewise

        The full interview is linked above.
        here is what was shown on the show,
        “You know what’s also made it worse? Politicians. Liberal politicians who stood up for 40 years as the population of California doubled and said, “You cannot build a new reservoir and you cannot build a water conveyance system.” And so for 40 years, 70% of the rainfall has washed out to sea. That’s pretty dumb, when you know you’re going to have droughts every single year. Or every three years, let’s say.”

        In the full interview, she also discussed Californian plans to manage scarce water supplies and balance environmental and economic concerns, and government agencies over-riding those plans to protect “endangered” fish.

        There was a pre-taped clip where Jerry brown responded

        “I’ve never heard of such utter ignorance, Building a dam won’t do a damn thing about fires or climate change or the absence of moisture in the ground and vegetation in California. So I think these people, if they want to run for president, better do kind of eighth grade science before they make any more utterances.”

        Carly responded:

        “That’s a lot of insults. But of course, it makes no sense what he just said. It would be helpful if he were fighting fires to have more water. Firefighters in California have difficulty getting enough water now. So they’re using other means. It would be helpful to agriculture and everything else to have water saved in the good years so that you could use it in the bad years.

        I’m not denying that California’s air is dry. That’s obvious. I’m not denying that there was a drought. But there is no denying that politicians have made this problem immeasurably worse.”

      • bedeverethewise

        In Fairness to Jerry Brown, He was not responding to Carly Fiorina, He was responding to Chuck Todd’s interpretation of what he thought Carly’s position was. So Brown’s insulting and nonsensical response was not directly to Carly’s thoughtful and reasonable comment. That may explain why he came across so poorly.

      • jimd

        Surely the greatest problem in California is the phenomenal surge in population who then want loads of water for gardens, agriculture etc.


      • Would mitigating climate change be guaranteed to stop prolonged droughts, wildfires etc?

        Answer: No

        Therefore you still need dams.

      • Jim D,

        In referring to Gov Brown, you are identifying someone even less attached to reality than you.

        Regarding Fiorna’s comment on dams: I can’t speak for Calf, but in the PNW, most of the viable dam locations have been built. So building additional dams is not always an option. However she is correct in noting that the very same organizations which are promoting CAGW as a reason to decarbonize are the same organizations with a long history of opposing new dam facilities and nuclear power plants.

        Overall I would grade her comment as being essential accurate in the context she is using it. That were California to spend less effort in regulating almost every aspect of people’s lives and instead encourge people to develop solutions and foster innovation, the state would likely be much better off.

      • From my reading around, California is also pretty much built out in terms of available areas for new dams, so it was a non-argument by Fiorina there.

      • timg56 | August 24, 2015 at 1:29 pm |

        However she is correct in noting that the very same organizations which are promoting CAGW as a reason to decarbonize are the same organizations with a long history of opposing new dam facilities and nuclear power plants.

        Between the NIMBYs, the NIMFYs, the NIMNBYs, the NIMNFYs, and the NIAYs it is surprising we build any facilities in this country.

        If you google Luddites you find that about 20% of the US is neoluddites who believe that man is too numerous and affluent. So as much as 2/3 of the environmental movement is composed of people who oppose everything.

        Trying to have reasonable discussions with people that aren’t reasonable is act of futility.

    • Stephen,

      After watching Dave Roberts in a TED talk a couple of years back, I’m not sure I’d trust him to mow my yard and get it right.

  13. Coal: In the U.S., the “TRUE” War on Coal is cleaner, cheaper Natural Gas:


    • Yes, although IIRC the Sierra Club took a black eye for accepting donations for its “Beyond Coal” campaign from the gas industry.

      But gas has several important advantages, besides its lower carbon footprint: plants can be brought up and down more quickly (AFAIK), with fewer constraints, allowing intermittents like solar to make the biggest contribution they can. Because the capital cost of gas generating equipment is so low (with a somewhat higher fuel cost), this allows intermittents to achieve be best value in replacing fossil energy.

      More importantly, as the price of solar comes low enough, solar power→gas/liquid fuel will probably become cost-effective, despite the low energy efficiency. At that point, the gas distribution and power-generating system will be able to switch from fossil to “renewable” sources, while remaining in service.

    • Well, natural gas is not going to be cheaper than coal long term.

      If you factor in the benefits of more CO2, renewables will never be cost competitive with coal.

      • Well, natural gas is not going to be cheaper than coal long term.

        It already is when you factor in the much lower capital cost for generating capacity. Even without carbon capture.

      • PA — Anyone who can not articulate the basic engineering concept of ELCC is not a serious contributor on Renewable Energy.

      • The CO2 benefit from burning 7.5 GT (metric – the french way of measuring things) of coal and maintaining a 400+ PPM CO2 level is over $100/ton. The companies that mine the coal and burn the coal should split this bounty (taxed from manufacturers, producers, and consumers) of renewable energy products. These renewable freeloaders should be forced by law to pay for their undeserved benefit.

        ELCC eh?

        The problem with renewables is illustrated by computing availability factor by power source.

        Renewables require massive upgrades to grid ties and other measures to improve grid backbone capacity. Using unreliable power sources requires spreading the load over large segments of the grid and will necessitate more load control.

        Renewable advocates act like this is free and it isn’t. Smart grid is half a trillion $ over 20 years. And this doesn’t include the opportunity cost to consumers of having unreliable power (hence load control).

        This discussion of power always gets deluded because renewables require load control. Load control is an opportunity cost imposed on consumers because the power suppliers are unable or unwilling to meet their responsibility to provide power as needed. We need studies to monetize this opportunity cost so it can be added to the cost of renewables for planning purposes. We already know the cost of installing load control and grid upgrades is about 1/2 a trillion dollars.

        The US burns about 900 million tons of coal for power each year. If we stick with coal we can avert a $25 billion per year in power system upgrade costs.

        We should stick with coal and force the renewable advocates to rebate their grid upgrade savings of $27.8 per ton of coal burned. That is about 1/2 the cost of a ton of coal this week (central appalachian) :
        Reducing the cost of coal to its REAL COST compared to renewables (and we haven’t factored in the $100/ton CO2 benefit rebate) makes it so cheap renewables might never be competitive. If we factor in the CO2 benefit rebate US power generators should be getting paid $77.8/ton to burn coal ($50 cost – $127.8 benefit). If we start paying power producers what they deserve for burning coal we would never install renewables because they aren’t, on net, beneficial like coal is.

      • PA — When you referenced the pdf article on ELCC eh?, what is your point?

      • PA makes more strawman arguments and ubiquitous claims that certainly people like MIT, the U.S. DOE (and its labs like NREL), and EPRI very much disagree with — as unlike PA, they site “hard” engineering data.


      • SS

        “PA makes more strawman arguments and ubiquitous claims that certainly people like MIT, the U.S. DOE (and its labs like NREL), and EPRI very much disagree with — as unlike PA, they site “hard” engineering data.”

        NREL? Doesn’t the National Renewable Energy Lab have a vested interest in the promotion of “Renewable Energy”? Don’t you even suspect there might be, in the best case, confirmation bias?

        It can be difficult to distinguish the naive from the corrupt, since the corrupt are often so good at faking naïveté. If they weren’t, they would be exposed sooner. Once you can fake sincerity you have it made.

        It reminds me of a Yogi Berra quote.

        Teacher to Yogi: “Don’t you know anything?”

        Yogi: “I don’t even suspect anything!”

      • PA,

        Not only will RE never be cost competitive with coal. It can never replace it either.
        The catch-22 of energy storagehttp://bravenewclimate.com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/

        The Renewables Future – A Summary of Findings>/i> http://euanmearns.com/the-renewables-future-a-summary-of-findings/
        If you want more, see the last two posts linked at the end.

      • PA makes more strawman arguments and ubiquitous claims

        Segrest keeps saying others are not debating in good faith. This is projecting. The quote is an example of not debating in good faith. He wants to argue about hos down-in-the-weeds, network engineering, instead of contributing constructively at a level that is relevant to GHG emissions policy. He keeps dodging what’s relevant.

        It is Segrest that doesn’t debate in good faith and continually tries to divert the discussion to irrelevant points to argue about – instead of debating in good faith what’s relevant.

      • The problem with people like Peter Lang, PA, JustinWonder, Jim2, ect. is that they’ve never run (or evidently ever been exposed to) engineering software models for integrated resource planning. Their world is cherry-picking data, uninformed engineering, and conspiracy theories.

        They develop CAGW “strawman arguments” when to date, engineering decisions in the U.S. (except maybe CA) on Renewable Energy have not been driven by CO2. For example, we’re to believe that Texas is leading the U.S. in wind energy because of their concerns of CAGW?

        This crowd’s “mantra” is intermittency, intermittency, intermittency. But when accepted engineering practices of ELCC are presented to address this issue, the Lang et. al. Group cover their ears.

        In the U.S., Lang et. al. employ “conspiracy theories” on solar power. Lang et. al. have not been “privy” to the integrated resource planning modelling results of electric utilities. While utility after utility has discussed principles like ELCC and how solar was the least cost option using engineering economics for a specific decision (e.g., peaking load) — Lang et. al. just want to scream “Conspiracy!”

        As I’ve discussed so many times, if people want to criticize “mandating” Renewables above that justified by ELCC and least cost engineering economics — I agree with you. I’ve said this over and over — e.g., I oppose a U.S. Federal Renewable Portfolio Standard. Decisions should be made by engineers, not politicians.

        Lang et. al. want to always fight, making black/white, either/or, ubiquitous arguments, especially cherry picking data in making comparisons. Their “strawmen” are just silly, and don’t reflect the serious engineering decision making process in integrated planning (micro decision by micro decision).

        Addressing AGW will likely be a combination of things like fast mitigation (methane, etc.), Renewables, efficiency improvements, Nuclear, natural gas.

      • Segrest says:

        The problem with people like Peter Lang, PA, JustinWonder, Jim2, ect. is that they’ve never run (or evidently ever been exposed to) engineering software models for integrated resource planning. Their world is cherry-picking data, uninformed engineering, and conspiracy theories.

        I’d suggest a problem with Segrest is he has no understanding of what is relevant for policy analysis. So he wants to talk about what he is interested in – but it’s down in the weeds and irrelevant for the high level policy analysis needed for energy and GHG emissions policy.

        Segrest “is not here to learn or to debate. He has a mind settled on a system of beliefs and adapts the available information to fit that system. He believes this is science. More worryingly, the extension of this system of constructing arguments is to adapt data to fit the belief system when the available information quite plainly cannot be made to fit. “

      • Stephen Segrest | August 23, 2015 at 2:32 pm |
        PA — When you referenced the pdf article on ELCC eh?, what is your point?

        A second year electrical engineering student that had a term of statistics can understand ELCC it isn’t rocket science.

        The recent documentation of the $1.5 trilliion/year GHG/renewable fuels/renewable energy cottage industry cum scam indicates what is driving things.

        The number of beltway bandits in this arena is approaching infestation levels. It probably isn’t possible to fire a shotgun in downtown DC without hitting a green advocate.

        The massive numbers of lobbyists, consultants, and scientists the green/renewable industry has purchased is not an indication of the merits of their cause.

        1. CO2 is beneficial. Somewhere around 60% more plant growth and climbing. Claiming CO2 is not beneficial is lying.

        2. Carbon capture is one of the most boneheaded concepts invented by man. It is equivalent to putting plastic bags around trees and sequestering the captured oxygen to reduce rusting. Sane people don’t think this way.

        Back to Power:
        1. If renewable energy nameplate output exceeds some level around 20% some of the time power will have to be thrown away.

        2. Coal and gas plants are available to produce their rated power during peak time 70 to 99% time.

        3. Wind has 20-40% capacity factor and Solar is available about 20% capacity factor. The ability of wind to produce its name plate power during peak periods is for practical purposes nonexistent.

        4. Renewable resources have to be modeled as very unreliable generation plants (about 3 times worse than the worst coal plant) for planning purposes. They are unproductive the majority of the time the equivalent of a coal or gas plant “down for maintenance”. However – not all coal plants will need maintenance simultaneously, it is possible to have all wind generators over large areas operating at low output simultaneously.

        5. Renewable resources require massive infrastructure upgrades. The fossil fueled grid was hierarchical. The renewable grid is going to need grid “backbone” capacity be greater and more matrixed, and include more endpoint (consumer) load control.

        6. Renewable resources will increase the cost of other grid assets since they will have to be used in a suboptimal way.

        7. None of the electrical engineers (please correct me on this) really have a problem with up to about 18% renewable penetration. If the renewable subsidies were ended and renewables earned their way by merit alone onto the grid there wouldn’t be a lot of concern or excitement about this.

        If any of the commercial power systems people would like to correct any of my power points – have at it.

      • Stephen Segrest wrote on August 24, 2015 at 8:43 am:

        “For example, we’re to believe that Texas is leading the U.S. in wind energy because of their concerns of CAGW?”

        No, they are doing it because it is cost effective for the investors, given that federal policy has distorted the marketplace for the explicit purpose of making investments in wind energy profitable. Of course the investors make money, but the profit margin comes from somewhere else, not from the wind generators.

        Warren Buffett: “I will do anything that is basically covered by the law to reduce Berkshire’s tax rate. For example, on wind energy, we get a tax credit if we build a lot of wind farms. That’s the only reason to build them. They don’t make sense without the tax credit.”

        From: http://dailycaller.com/2014/05/06/warren-buffett-i-build-wind-turbines-to-lower-my-corporate-taxes/

  14. Oil has continued it journey towards $40. The year out, WTI contango sits at ~$8, putting pressure on oil to storage. Dennis Gartman has called a bottom in oil, or at least close enough to buy some of the more substantial E&P companies. We’ll see how that works out for him. US stock markets lost a pretty amazing 3% on Friday. China’s economy has slowed and the Fed may finally raise interest rates come September.

    I am amazed that I haven’t heard more about this in the news, but after spending $3.5 trillion, the US economy is barely breathing. Where is Krugman now? Will he admit that Keynesian economics is a dismal failure? Not holding my breath.

    We would have done better to let GM go through bankruptcy and suffer a deep recession. We could have handled it the way the 1921 depression was handled. From the article:

    What exactly were the Federal Reserve and the federal government doing during these eighteen months? The numbers don’t lie: monetary policy was contractionary during the period in question. Allan Meltzer, who is not an Austrian, wrote in A History of the Federal Reserve that “principal monetary aggregates fell throughout the recession.” He calculates a decline in M1 by 10.9 percent from March 1920 to January 1922, and in the monetary base by 6.4 percent from October 1920 to January 1922. “Quarterly average growth of the base,” he continues, “did not become positive until second quarter 1922, nine months after the NBER trough.”

    The Fed raised its discount rate from 4 percent in 1919 to 7 percent in 1920 and 6 percent in 1921. By 1922, after the recovery was long since under way, it was reduced to 4 percent once again.

    Meanwhile, government spending also fell dramatically; as the economy emerged from the 1920-21 downturn, the budget was in the process of being reduced from $6.3 billion in 1920 to $3.2 billion in 1922. So the budget was being cut and the money supply was falling. “By the lights of Keynesian and monetarist doctrine alike,” writes Grant, “no more primitive or counterproductive policies could be imagined.”

    In addition, price deflation was more severe during 1920-21 than during any point in the Great Depression; from mid-1920 to mid-1921, the Consumer Price Index fell by 15.8 percent. We can only imagine the panic and the cries for intervention were we to observe such price movements today.

    The episode fell down the proverbial memory hole, and Grant notes that he cannot find an example of a public figure ever having held up the 1920-21 example as a data point worth considering today. But although Keynesians today, now that the episode is being discussed once again, assure everyone that they are perfectly prepared to explain the episode away, in fact Keynesian economic historians in the past readily admitted that the swiftness of the recovery was something of a mystery to them, and that recovery had not been long in coming despite the absence of stimulus measures.


    On the current QE situation:


    Energy prices:
    OIL 40.29
    BRENT 45.46
    NAT GAS 2.687
    RBOB GAS 1.547

    • From the article:

      While we have been watching the Islamic State and discussing Iran, something much bigger is happening in the world. We are witnessing a historic fall in the price of oil, down more than 50 percent in less than a year. When a similar drop happened in the 1980s, the Soviet Union collapsed. What will it mean now?

      The Saudis “know it hurts them but they hope it will hurt everyone else more,” says Maugeri, now at Harvard.

      Major oil-producing countries everywhere are facing a fiscal reckoning like nothing they have seen in decades, perhaps ever. Let’s take a brief tour of the new world.

      Venezuela: Hugo Chávez’s popularity, his “21st-century socialism” and his mismanagement of the country’s economy were made possible by one factor: a prolonged oil boom.

      Russia: As with Chávez, Vladimir Putin’s popularity coincided perfectly with a steep rise in oil prices, which meant higher Russian GDP, government revenue and, thus, subsidies to the people.

      Iraq: Oil makes up about 90 percent of the Baghdad government’s revenue, and despite the fact that it is pumping out as much as possible, it faces a massive drop in available funds.

      Iran: Despite the initial windfall that Tehran will get from the relaxation of international sanctions, it is, like most petro-states, dysfunctional.

      Many American experts and commentators have hoped for low oil prices as a way to deprive unsavory regimes around the globe of easy money. Now it’s happening, but at a speed that might produce enormous turmoil and uncertainty in an already anxious world.


  15. Climate Change Police. From the article:

    Have you ever been skeptical of a climate change story presented by a major media outlet? A new tool holds journalists to account for the veracity of their stories. “Using the Climate Feedback tool, scientists have started to diligently add detailed annotations to online content and have those notes appear alongside the story as it originally appeared. If you’re the writer, then it’s a bit like getting your homework handed back to you with the margins littered with corrections and red pen. Or smiley faces and gold stars if you’ve been good.” The project has already prompted The Telegraph to publish major corrections to their story that suggested the Earth is headed for a “‘mini ice age’ within 15 years.” The article has been modified in such a way that there is no more statement supporting the original message of an “imminent mini ice age.”


  16. The coal ash piece in Sci Am is an apples to oranges crock. Sure, there is trace radiation in fly ash. There in bananas also (K40). And everywhere else. At levels so low it doesn’t matter. The only reason fly ash might expose one to more radiation than a nuclear power plant is that the permissble radiation escape from a nuc is exactly zero. But the radwaste will kill for many hundreds of years if not properly contained. And withnReid havingnblocked Yucca Mountain, itnis sitting around everywhere in dry cask storage, which it should NOT be. Scientific American is no longer scientific or American.

  17. Right you are. The caverns at Yucca were last exposed when a great inland sea filled the plains from Utah to the Pacific and the N American continent was split almost in two. Dinosaurs roamed the shores and inhabited the waters. That was 60,000,000 ybp. But it is deemed safer to store it in 104 above ground locations. What a mess the green machine makes.

    • The real travesty here is that the so-called “waste” contains much more energy than has been extracted from it thus far.

      • There are several molten salt gen 4 reactor concepts that could both extract that energy and very significantly reduce the volume and the nature of the residual radwaste. For example, MIT’s TransAtomic Power. Essay Going Nuclear. It is irksome that billions have been spent on renewables and almost nothing on gen 4 nuclear research.

      • GE got $13 million in DOE grants at the end of 2014 to push the PRISM design a bit further towards completion.

        Sooner or later the economics/politics of burning nuclear waster in a fast breeder will be better then burying it.

        IMHO Once the utilities manage to claw back the money they paid for Yucca Mountain from the federal government there will be funds for a fast breeder.

      • The article is pure bull. The title says fly ash to nuclear waste, but it’s actually comparing the radioactivity in the coal power plant smoke stack shadow to the radioactivity OUTSIDE a nuclear power plant. >¿<

        Then there's this near the bottom of the alarmism…

        <blockquote"You're talking about one chance in a billion for nuclear power plants," Christensen says. "And it's one in 10 million to one in a hundred million for coal plants."

        ○¿● Holy precautionary principal Batman.

      • The numbers I remember were that typical coals had about the same energy content in combustible matter as from the fertile nuclear fuel. Some coals have ~50X the energy content in fertile nuclear matter than combustible matter.

        The SA article was correct in stating that in normal operation coal plants cause more radiation exposure to the general public than nuclear plants.

        As for next gen nuclear plants, my preference is for the EBRII/IFR/PRISM over the MSBR/LFTR design. The former needs a starter load of 23Pu, which we have in abundance, while the latter requires 235U or 233U. The IFR keeps more of the fission products in solid form than the MSBR.

    • Scott,

      We could safely store all existing spent fuel rods in Closed Cask Storage Containers.

      Ship the constainers to some western state with lots of wide open desert (several tribes have offered to host the site) put a chain link fense around them and hire local security to drive the perimeter in pickup trucks.

  18. Almost no other country in the world allows a baby born to illegal aliens to automatically be granted citizenship. That circumstance actually does not exist in the United States, either. From the article:

    Myths about birthright citizenship—promoted by liberals, embraced by establishment Republicans, and repeated by mainstream media pundits without critical examination—have been debunked by experts spanning the political spectrum. But none of those people are being given A-list treatment by major media outlets to respond.

    Among modern scholars who can shed light on this issue, Professor John Eastman—the former dean of Chapman University’s law school and a former law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas—thoroughly discusses the original meaning of the Citizenship Clause in From Feudalism to Consent. He explores the congressional speeches of two of the clause’s primary authors, Senators Lyman Trumbull and Jacob Howard, and how they made it clear that this part of the amendment only applied to children born to parents who were not citizens of another country. Yet Eastman—who is also an experienced media commentator—has not been featured on major shows this week to inform the public discussion.


    • To simplify and explicate the con law arguement, the first clause of the 14th amendment specifies two citizenship tests. 1. Born. 2. Subjects to allegiance. It is the second part that is subject to interpretetion as to intent.
      At the time, the 14th was passed to prevent southern states from denying emancipated slaves US citizenship. There was a ferocious on record debate about Indians (these days, pc original Americans). It was crystal clear that being born here did notvia 14th convey to them citizenship, since they owed allegiance to their tribe and reservation, not the US. It was not until 1923 that ‘Indians’ were granted the OPTIONAL right of birthright citizenship under the second partof the test.
      Moreover, the only time SCOTUS ruled, they found the Chinese daughter of LEGAL Chinese residents was a citizen. NOT of illegal residents. Fascinating.

  19. Here’s one:

    Jim Chanos is betting against Elon Musk’s solar company

    Interesting the reasons why, however.

    Solar City was basically getting the consumers to take out loans to fund the installations and he likened it to sub-prime crisis.

    The reason, Chanos says, is because solar is becoming much cheaper than the total cost that Solar City is charging, so the relative value of these installations will decrease – high leverage of a depreciating asset is not a good recipe.

    So, green masses can take heart that solar is becoming so cheap ( to buy, anyway ). If it just didn’t have the down time that had to be backed up by something else, it would even be efficient. But it doesn’t and solar will remain irregular and inefficient.

    • Look at that exponential rise for renewables, at the end. Nothing matches it except coal, and I suspect the curve for coal is invalid prior to about 1870. From Wiki

      Anthracite (or “hard” coal) exploitation began before the War of 1812 spurred by the interest and opportunism of the Wurt brothers of Philadelphia. Burning clean and smokeless, anthracite became the preferred fuel in cities, replacing wood by about 1850, the same pattern seen in Europe. The East became deforested, driving up price of fuel wood. Anthracite from the Northeastern Pennsylvania Coal Region and later from West Virginia was valued for household use because it burns cleanly with little ash. It was also used in the early foundries of Philadelphia, New York, Newark and Allentown. The rich Pennsylvania anthracite fields were close to the big eastern cities, and nearly every major railroad in the Eastern United States such as the Reading Railroad, Lehigh & Erie, Central Railroad of New Jersey, Pennsylvania Railroad and Delaware and Hudson Railroad, extended lines into the anthracite fields. Many railroads began as mining company shortline railroads. By 1840, annual hard coal output had passed the million-short ton mark, and then quadrupled by 1850, and as it grew it pushed railroad construction, mining and steel production in a synergistic symbiosis.

      Bituminous coal (or “soft coal”) mining came later. In the mid-century Pittsburgh was the principal market. After 1850 soft coal, which is cheaper but dirtier, came into demand for railway locomotives and stationary steam engines, and was used to make coke for steel after 1870.[1]

      Total coal output soared until 1918; before 1890, it doubled every ten years, going from 8.4 million short tons in 1850 to 40 million in 1870, 270 million in 1900, and peaking at 680 million short tons in 1918. New soft coal fields opened in Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, as well as West Virginia, Kentucky and Alabama. The Great Depression of the 1930s lowered the demand to 360 million short tons in 1932.[2]

      For that chart to be correct (prior to about 1870), total energy usage would also have had to be increasing exponentially. Which, come to think of it, isn’t all that unlikely.
      From http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10#

  20. Proof that the left has a lock on tolerance. From the article:


    At the seventy-third annual Worldcon science fiction convention on Saturday night, social justice warriors did their best impression of the nightmare firemen of Ray Bradbury’s classic Fahrenheit 451, choosing to burn down the Hugo Awards and damage science fiction instead of seeing works of heretical authors outside of their exclusive clique winning awards.

    Earlier this year, Breitbart reported on the Sad Puppies and Rabid Puppies voting slates, which swept many major categories for the Hugo Awards, science fiction’s coveted fan-voted awards. This year’s Hugos were hotly anticipated: fans and industry insiders alike were curious to see if social justice could come together to act with the uniformity of thought of the Borg to overcome the Puppy’s nominations.

    The Puppies slates have been characterised by some in the media as “raging white guys” upset that sci-fi is providing a home for more diverse voices. But a quick glance at the authors they actually chose for their slates shows this to be nonsense.


    • It’s nothing new. The science fiction community has been infested by socialist ideologues since forever.

      For instance, when Atlas Shrugged was published, the regular book reviewer for Astounding Science Fiction published a review that:

      […] is hostile from the first sentence, and since he considers the novel a rant (a word he uses more than once), he apparently feels entitled to review in a ranting tone. Fundamentally, he considers Ayn Rand a science-fictional outsider: in his own phrase, not one of us:

      Since we’re one big happy family, we’ve evolved rules of our own for our kind of society, and the fans don’t really raise hell in the mail or at meetings unless someone steps outside and pretends fiction is fact. Because our “world” is farther removed from reality than, say, the world of the mystery reader/writers, our house rules may be a little more artificial and arbitrary. We understand them, and work with them, but it’s rare for a rank outsider to blunder in and use a SF theme without showing himself up as a rank greenhorn …

      But they keep on trying, because we have a richly rewarding field here, and now and then there’s an Aldous Huxley, a George Orwell, or Olaf Stapledon, or Pat Frank. More often there are Ayn Rands.

      There is an error in every single sentence quoted. To refute just the first, Miller’s hindsight must have been wearing deeply rose-tinted glasses to forget all the internal conflicts as to what science fiction and its fandom are all about. See Sam Moskowitz’s The Immortal Storm and so on.

      Miller ladles in a number of major plot spoilers, which I won’t do here. But his spoiler-free general description is accurate enough:

      We’re shown a society to which Gresham’s law has been applied, so that there is an accelerated down-grading of everything good to the level of the mediocre. Laws are made and rewards allotted on the basis of need, not of worth and performance: the businessman who succeeds because of his own brains and hard work — his competence — must turn over his inventions and most of his business to competitors who can’t get it through their heads that bolts need nuts.

      Business is corrupt; labor is corrupt; education is corrupt; government compounds the corruption of them all, since it is jockeyed and swayed by them all.

      Okay, sure, but kind of extreme, don’t you think? Lucky we don’t live in a society anything like that.


      As for pro-capitalism, Miller concedes that Rand has the skill to “meet the special demands of this kind of story”, but her prejudices (“blinded by her own bile”) won’t let it happen. […] Miller wraps up with a prediction and a put-down, demonstrating that unlike Tiresias, a reviewer blind to what is in front of him is not thereby gifted with prophecy:

      … As it is, I doubt that you’ll even want the remainders, at the price they’ll have to charge. Watch the secondhand stores for a mint copy, with jacket, that someone just could not get through. I rented mine.

      John W. Campbell, editor of Astounding Science Fiction, then published his own review, “clearly an answer to Miller’s.”:

      Campbell’s review is more general than Miller’s; he probably figures rightly that most of his readers will have seen the earlier review. He starts off on an entirely different note:

      This work is science fiction in the same sense George Orwell’s 1984 was. It’s about equally bleak, in many respects. But it is, I think, more important; Orwell described what tended to happen. Ayn Rand describes, with powerful accuracy, some of the forces that make disaster happen … and what the methods used by the destroyers are. The psychological tricks that permit a weak, snide, useless, incompetent to bind the strong and constructive by means of that strength. The story is apparently — at first glance — a study of sociological forces. But unlike any professional sociologists’ works, it recognizes that sociology starts at home — with the individual-individual relationship patterns.

      Thus even a dystopia is made up of individuals. Campbell understands that Rand’s vision of American society and its threatened future is embodied in the psychology of her characters, the creative personalities of constructive people but also the destructive and negative qualities of the destroyers. He is impressed by the portrayal of the latter’s methods:

      The magnificent contribution of Ayn Rand’s book is that she has described in unparalleled brilliance of clear detail, exactly what many of those methods are.

      She hasn’t solved the problem of what to do about those methods; true. But she has done a better job of pointing out, with perfect clarity, the techniques that will drive men into suicidal insanity, than any psychological treatise I’ve ever seen.

      Campbell is clear that the sinews of Atlas Shrugged are psychology, sociology, philosophy. And, hearkening back to his first sentence, he’s perfectly willing to call it science fiction and not worry any more about that.


      Campbell wraps up his review with a little humorous prediction of his own, demonstrating in miniature the great editor’s prophetic insight that allowed him to shape science fiction probably more than anyone else, ever:

      By the way — this is a book to start on Friday evening. You won’t be much good to anyone else until you’ve been allowed to finish it. It’s quite a yarn, as well as a philosophical work.

      Now, quoting from the review of The Immortal Storm mentioned above,

      The critical early cultural split among SF club-goers was whether any given organization was to be devoted to science education and science hobbies, or to discussion of science fiction itself. Or some mixture. A later source of major acrimony was whether the fans should embrace Communism, promote Communist causes and so on. Technocracy and Esperanto were other issues as much divisive as cohesive.

      So we can see that science fiction, probably more than any other literary field, has been imbued since its beginning with the wider philosophical/ideological controversies present in general society.

      As I said, it’s nothing new.

  21. The link to this article is broken: Thought provoking article by Michael Liebreich: An Energy Sector Transformed Must Be an Energy Sector Reformed

    I googled it and here is the link:

    It’s thought provoking ok. Most of the thoughts I had when I read it are not printable.

    This has to be one of the dumbest essays on energy I have ever read. To give a flavor here are some quotes:

    “I am not an activist, and not really an environmentalist (just a keen outdoorsman). And despite the analysis laid out above, I am certainly no Marxist. But I am profoundly bothered when I see unfair, oppressive, society-harming actions by the energy industry.”

    “I am disgusted when I see coal companies rushing, like cigarette companies of old, to addict the next developing country to their poisonous products. I am disgusted when I see politicians – in the free world, mind! – forbidding scientists from discussing the negative impacts of fossil fuel use, and shackling their economies to the industries of the past.”

    “As it stands, the energy industry is almost as bad on social inclusiveness as it is on sustainability. At one of the leading traditional energy events in Houston this year, the proportion of women speakers was just 7 percent.” (My comment: About the same as climate science and most of the science, engineering and mathematical disciplines. )

    There is one thing Mike Blomberg knows how to do and that’s make money and he’s willing to do it by exploiting anything and anyone .

    The Mike Blombergs of the world lead to the Bill DeBlasios.

    • Cars still use the CAN bus – which is literally the serial cable from the ’80s with a couple power pins added on each end. Couple that to communications systems like Onstar or various app/car environment linkages, and unsurprisingly you get all sorts of lovely potential problems.
      The newest car isn’t immune either: Tesla’s are more vulnerable in many ways because they don’t even have the analog gauges that at least most regular cars still do. Imagine how much fun can be had by causing speedometer or battery readings to be much higher or lower than actual, or varying them randomly.

  22. David L. Hagen

    Kansas Scraps Renewable Energy Mandates

    In a significant setback for the renewable energy industry, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) signed a law rescinding the state’s renewable energy mandates and replacing them with strictly voluntary goals.
    Kansas enacted its mandate in 2009, requiring investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives to provide at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources. The mandate rises to 20 percent in 2020.
    The wind industry initially opposed the legislation but eventually ceased fighting the change in exchange for lawmakers withdrawing a proposed excise tax on wind energy production. . . .
    “Federal government data show wind power is substantially more expensive than coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy. That is why the wind power industry cannot exist in its current form without laws forcing consumers to purchase its product. The economic pain of Kansas’ wind power mandate is evident in the state’s electricity prices, which rose eight times faster than the national average between 2009 and 2013, coinciding with the substantial increase in wind power generation in Kansas.

  23. Residents of 43 states could see double-digit % increases in their electricity bills under @EPA carbon rule [link]

    “Overall, the regions hit the hardest by high electricity prices are areas served by rural electric cooperatives, which prominently feature crucial industries like agriculture and manufacturing. ”

    Great, shouldnt need those. They should probably be nationalized anyway.

    • bedeverethewise

      don’t be silly nickels. The average American family will save an extra $85 in their annual energy bill. You see, we build more expensive renewable energy systems, then we build gas back-up plants, then we build a new smart grid that can handle the widely distributed, intermittent power. Those things are all added expenses and will be added to your bill. But on the other hand there must be many hidden savings that we will realize to more than offset those expenses. Savings such as….um….uh….well, there are just too many to list them all here. It’s simple math.

      • Time to move to gas generators for everything. Ha!

      • Utility CEO: Generators Will Soon Make Electric Grid an ‘Antiquated System’Utility CEO: Generators Will Soon Make Electric Grid an ‘Antiquated System’” Feb. 28, 2014 | 2:46 p.m. EST

        David Crane, president and CEO of NRG Energy, said as solar power, wind power and energy storage grow more efficient, and as more American homes also come to rely on cheap natural gas, energy customers will switch from buying power to generating their own through “microgrids” – perhaps in as little as 30 years.

        “There will come a day, in a generation or so, when the grid is at best an antiquated system to a completely different way of buying electricity,” he said Tuesday during a panel discussion before a crowd of hundreds at the ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit outside Washington, D.C.

        “Everyone just stop a moment and think how shockingly stupid it is to build a 21st-century electric system based on a system of 130 million wooden poles,” he said. “Stop trying to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, and start talking about, ‘How do we get rid of the grid?’”

      • Nice, @AK!
        Just played an outdoor (band) gig, tried to get our front-man to brag the band was powered by Gasoline and Propane (generators).
        Others do not have as much fun as I in being politically incorrect, unfortunately.

  24. Several articles on China, and several comments on their energy policy above.

    The Chinese economy is the favorite example of the economically illiterate of the efficacy of “state run capitalism”. Lots of talk about massive growth and increase of living standards, with absolutely no understanding that virtually everything we know about China comes through the Chinese Communist Party.

    The thought that a group of communists can run a massive, complex economy, let alone that they would be honest about the economic data they publish showing its success, is so ridiculous that it requires willful ignorance to believe.

    Decades of fake five year plans showing the strength of the Soviet economy, and the “brilliance” and sophistication of Gorbachev, meant nothing when it came to maintaining government control of a “free market” economy.

    We don’t even really know how much the Fed has been propping up the stock market in the US for the last decade. How anyone thinks they know what is going on in China is beyond me.

    The DOW opened down 1000 points today, apparently based on fear of the Chinese economy imploding. Western economists have known about the ghost cities that pepper the Chinese landscape and other economic houses of cards for over a decade. But everyone is surprised that the Chinese communists are no more capable of steering their economy than the US is.

    NO ONE truly understands the modern, interconnected global economy. But today just the threat of a collapse of the massive Chinese economic bubble destroyed hundreds of billions of wealth in the west.

    You all want to worry about China’s building nuclear power plants, rather than coal? The real question is whether billions of Chinese will have to go back to burning dung, and trash the already weak global economy as they go. Western central planners have damaged the world economy a great deal already. This means that if the Chinese domino falls, the ability of the western economies to stand is questionable.

    The closing of Lehman Brothers sparked a global panic. Wait and see what happens when an economy of 1.4 billion Chinese collapses.

    But hey, a global depression might limit CO2 for a decade or so, so who cares about the billions who will remain in, or return to, gut wrenching poverty?

  25. GMOs, Herbicides, and Public Health” — important comment in New England Journal of Medicine [link]

    The editorial in NEJM by Phillip Landrigan & Charles Benbrook on GMO aligns precisely with the Union of Concerned Scientists position on agricultural GMO (Poisoning our Children) and its recommendations for more research before any EPA approvals for current and future products.


    The only suggestion with which I agree is post-marketing testing and periodic reporting to EPA of all products. Only with large data sources and experience over time will the nuances of safety and benefit will allow evidence based decision making. Using small sample sizes and already at risk animal species for cancer or endocrine or whatever consequence to drive policy is an anathema to me.

    I see I have gotten back to climate change science again.

  26. Well, what a surprise!

    “Carbon credits undercut climate change actions says report: the vast majority of carbon credits generated by Russia and Ukraine did not represent cuts in emissions, according to a new study. The authors say that offsets created under a UN scheme “significantly undermined” efforts to tackle climate change. The credits may have increased emissions by 600 million tonnes. … the vast majority of Russian and Ukrainian credits were in fact, “hot air” – no actual emissions were reduced.”


  27. The Newsmax article on US energy production and OPEC nations is pretty weak.
    Sure, many of them have built up enormous welfare states, but it is more than a little disingenuous to ignore the massive corporate debt – fueled by ZIRP (the Federal Reserve’s multi-year retiree tax by currency issuance program) which the shale industry has engorged itself on.
    And equally it is disingenuous to say that “some” production is able to be profitable at present prices – industry wide data shows anything but overall profitability.
    The last bit of agitprop? Exports of oil products to Mexico. Unless I’m sadly mistaken, the US still imports at least half of its oil from outside – principally Canada and Mexico but with plenty of other sources. Some of this oil is exported after being converted via refineries or other processes, but the vast majority is still consumed domestically.
    I also note that gas prices are still nowhere near what they were in 2002 – when oil prices started climbing above $40: