Week in review – energy and policy edition

by Judith Curry

A few things that caught my eye this past week.

Excellent article in Foreign Affairs: The clean energy revolution [link]

Very interesting analysis of energy politics in the U.S.: How Politics Obscures Environmental, Energy Gains [link]

State Department announces plans to circumvent US laws in order to advance climate agenda [link]

Carbon pricing is ‘too sluggish’ to meet climate goals, says UK envoy @Sir_David_King: [link]

The political hurdles facing a carbon tax — and how to overcome them [link]

Paris climate deal: what comes next : Nature News & Comment [link]

Stranded assets: “Many dams have become an economic burden.”  [link]

Investors:  Utility companies could fail a climate stress test [link]

By @EPA’s own definition: Corn Ethanol Is Not a Renewable Fuel [link]

Why India’s proposed linking rivers won’t work [link]

Batteries will not be the future of grid balancing in Germany [link]

Interesting perspective on social roots of the rise of steam power [link]

Surfing solar ocean platforms could one day power your home [link]

More methane murkiness. Contribution of fossil fuel extraction to recent methane trend may be an overestimate. [link]

Born Lomborg:  The smartest ways to adapt to climate change [link]

This is NOT the future we want – this Chinese city is running out of water. [link]

Saudi Arabia unveiled a plan to wean it off oil as it looks to diversify its economy: [link]

Venezuela hunkers down for 40 days of blackouts [link]

Global nuclear industry picked up steam in 2015 [link]

EU drive for ‘green’ biodiesel has increased emissions, study finds  [link]

How Can We Reduce Concrete’s Hefty Carbon Footprint? [link]  …

Upbeat appraisal of spread of Cheap Solar Power [link]

New Study Deems Solar PV Systems In Europe “A Non-Sustainable Energy Sink” [link]

How to grow more food with less water. [link]

The Tragedy of the Commons: Why Water is Best Left in Private Hands – [link]



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

  1. If you wanna cook out you’ve got to take her out.
    If you like your meat ground, cook that juicy ground round.

    Heat to fry, ain’t no lie, chicken thigh;

    If you got bad-ass sauce, you wanna baste them chops.
    When your day is gone, cook em down to the bone.

    Flame don’t die, it won’t die, it won’t die;

    If your charcoal is gone and you wanna smoke on.
    Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back.

    If you wanna cook out you’ve got to take her out.
    If you want your meat done, even juicy ground round.

    Heat to fry, ain’t no lie, she don’t lie;

    If you got bad-ass sauce, you wanna baste them chops.
    When your day is gone, cook em down to the bone.

    Heat to fry, ain’t no lie, she don’t lie;

    If your charcoal is gone and you wanna smoke on.
    Don’t forget this fact, you can’t get it back.

  2. “Carbon pricing is ‘too sluggish’ to meet climate goals, says UK envoy @Sir_David_King: [link]”

    the price of carbon is zero until convincing empirical evidence is presented that relates fossil fuel emissions to atmospheric CO2 and warming

    • Since when are we taxed for future damages that might not even occur. This whole idea is idi0cy.

    • And we should also factor in the social benefits of carbon. It might be that the poor should be paying a tax to compensate the carbon producers.

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

    • jim2,

      It looks like the cost to produce that marginal barrel of oil has come way down.

      This article deals with natural gas from the Marcellus shale, but there is a similar phenomenon taking place in the oil shales too.

      As the article states, Seneca’s cost to drill each Marcellus well has come down from about $3 million to $1.4 million to $1.6 million.

      And at the same time, due to technological breakthroughs, each well is producing natural gas at a much higher rate.

      The net result is that as the number of rigs working in Pennsylvania has plummeted, natural gas production has continued to increase:

      As I say, there is a similar phenomenon taking place with shale oil. Shale oil drillers are now saying they can produce a barrel of oil for a cost of $50. World oil markets are expected to rebalance later this year or next year. But nevertheless, if the shale oil producers’ claims are true, and they can produce a barrel of oil for $50, it may be a good while before we see oil prices north of $60 or $70 again.

      • Yes, just as I have been saying, O&G tech, which is much more technologically advanced than most people appreciate, continues to drive down the cost of exploration and production.

        Still, there will be bankruptcies in the shale oil field this year, but the $45 dollar price will be the savior of some, if that price can be maintained. The market tends to look ahead by 6-12 months, so that may be what’s happening here.

      • GS, at least the shale oil picture is much more nuanced. Yes there are places where $50/bbl is above breakeven. There are other places where it needs to be $80-100/bbl. Depends on things like TOC and recovery factor and existing infrastructure. The best recent estimates I have seen (2014 levels of costs and productivity) in OGJ are a national average of ~$70-80.

      • ristvan,

        A 2014 cost analysis is now obsolete.

        Factor #1: As the article I linked above notes, drilling and completion costs have come way down. I don’t think they’ve come down 50% in the oil plays like in the Marcellus gas, but drilling and completion costs have come down considerably, maybe 25% to 30% if one follows the financial statements of producers that operate in these plays.

        Factor #2: Due to better completion technology, productivity is way up, at least double what it would be looking back from 2014.

        Here’s an example of an infill drilling program of EOG Resources in the Eagle Ford shale: same rock properties in the original well as the three new infill wells.

        EOG originally completed the first well in April, 2012. Then it completed three new infill wells in April, 2015.

        Here’s a comparison of the produciton from the first well to the average production of the three infill wells. During the first 12 months of production, the infill wells (completed 2015) produced an average of almost twice (196,081 BO) what the first well (completed 2012) did (107,321 BO).

      • Producers are also shutting in the least economical wells, so averages don’t apply. Obviously, they are saving money by not drilling much. Even so, some are doing little more than servicing their debt in hopes they can last until better times.

      • I don’t think those “shale oil producer claims” are true. When oil prices drop we tend to squeeze suppliers and contractors, costs come down, and we high grade the work force, which becomes much more efficient. So indeed we see a large price drop (this is why I recommended not completing wells already drilled in North Dakota and Texas, and waiting until contracts could be renegotiated and prices rebounded a bit).

        But suppliers and contractors can only go on with their business if they get a fair return, thus the current environment will last for say three years, and then we will see supplier prices increase gradually.

        There’s also a tendency to focus too much on the USA oil scene. In other nations the industry works at a slower pace, contracts can be longer term, there’s union labor, etc. And governments are more willing to change taxes to keep the industry working. Thus it’s hard to model the response to the oil price changes. In general, we know that many nations have already hit peak oil, they couldn’t stop declining even in the high price environment. This means their capacity decline, the rates we saw in the last decade, either continue or are even worse. These declines tend to be masked by agencies which add NGL and other fuels to the mix, but if we dig down and look at the fine print it seems evident the support price to avoid a shortage will be above $65, and by 2020 we will need at least $80-90 to satisfy a very subdued demand (say 82 million BOPD).

  4. From the article:

    The lies of the government and their minions at the BLS are revealed to anyone who cares to open their eyes. The BLS reported inflation rates for health insurance since 2010 is beyond laughable. They must have triple seasonally adjusted, massaged, and tweaked these figures to arrive at the absurdly false inflation figures they are feeding to the sheeple. These are the reported inflation figures for health insurance since 2010:

    2010 – (4.0%)

    2011 – 5.6%

    2012 – 10.6%

    2013 – 0.9%

    2014 – (0.8%)

    2015 – 3.7%

    According to the BLS, and built into their CPI calculation, your health insurance premiums have gone up by about 16% over the last six years. Now for the smell test. I have worked for a large employer with excellent healthcare benefits over that entire time span. My health insurance premiums have risen by 65% since Obamacare was passed. And that doesn’t capture the whole picture.

    I had no deductible in 2010. I now have an individual deductible of $1,200 and a family deductible of $2,400. My co-pay back in 2010 was $15. Today it is $25. So my out of pocket expenses have risen too. I estimate I can add another 15% of increase due to these changes. Therefore, I’ve experienced 80% inflation in my health insurance expenses versus the BLS lie of 16%.

    In case you weren’t paying attention, the BEA reported the latest GDP lie yesterday. According to these government drones, the economy grew by a whopping 0.5% in the first quarter. As you may or may not know, this figure is adjusted for inflation. Our beloved BLS propagandists assure us that inflation has been running at a microscopic 0.9% over the last twelve months. Does anyone who is not a halfwit or Ivy League educated economist actually believe that tripe?


  5. Ethanol not renewable. The article has its facts just wrong. Corn cannot be grown on grasslands without irrigation (west Kansas with Ogallalla aquifer water). What has happened is that landbanked farmland that was taken out of production in the 1970s and 1980s and left fallow (usually with a grass/ clover cover to prevent erosion and build fixed nitrogen) under the Fed program to reduce ag surpluses has been put back into production. Plowing up virgin prairie stopped about 100 years ago.
    Whether ethanol is CO2 positive neutral or negative is a hot debate. You have nitrogen fertilizer from natural gas, diesel for farm machinery and transport, and fermentation CO2 to consider. Plus, it lowers MPG because less energy dense than gasoline. It makes sense as an octane enhancer and oxidant to reduce smog in portions below the 10% blendwall. It does not as a green biofuel. E85 makes no sense except to Iowa farmers.

  6. Clean energy revolution. Point being, there isn’t one yet. And increasing R&D is unlikely to deliver one except with respect to fourth generation nuclear, where Gates is already investing heavily (TerraPower TWR).

    • Well, gee whiz, come one…..Are you insinuating that you just don’t buy into the idea that nature is infinite in dimensions and capability thus the laws of nature that we must discover if we are to have viable, sustainable and clean renewable energy are out there somewhere beyond the wall of human ignorance and all we have to do to move the wall further out enough that we can then be able to “discover” what we need is to just be willing to spend enough time, effort and money — especially money — in the support of the R & D which seeks to make the discoveries?


    The article, “Venezuela Hunkers Down for 40 Days of Blackouts,” is billed as a, Latin Lefty Meltdown

    Are Venezuela’s problems nothing more than the inevitable result of too much socialism or is George Bush still the cause of all of their problems?

    • Bernie Sanders 2016!

    • Venezuela’s economic problems are the result of too much corruption, communist ideas, and stupidity. The regime is largely controlled by the Cuban dictatorship, they in turn are communists who are modifying classical Stalinism to blend in right wing fascist ideas. Thus Venezuela’s regime is a still born Stalinist-neofascist military controlled hybrid with incredibly high corruption and crime levels, compounded by having a really dumb venezuelan nomenklatura. It’s well on its way to a full fledged dictatorship or satrapy of the Raúl Castro Mafia, which in turn seems to be getting moral support from Obama, Hollande, the Pope, and other characters.

      • I find the widespread faith in government and disdain for free speech to be depressing.

      • Canman – since there are ~80 million immigrants, including US born children, in the US now, any hope of a non-socialist government in the US is down the drain because 60-70% of them vote Dimowit.

      • jim2,

        This must be your worst nightmare.

        I must tell you, though, that I do not share your concerns.

      • From the article:

        Filmmaker and American citizen Agustin Blazquez never thought his native Cuba would become a communist country, but now he sees the same radical shift happening in America.


      • Glenn – I’m not saying immigrants are the ONLY under-current of leftist social trends, they are a strong undercurrent. Look at Bernie Sanders. There was a time when he would have been a mere blip on the radar, but he gets traction. Some of this traction is from Millennials who feel every bit as disenfranchised as the “old, angry, white men.” Some of this traction is from the Welfare Society.

        It would be great, IMO, to see a negative income tax take the place of Social Security and all the other welfare programs. It would have to be modified for the retired and disabled, so it would work for them. But the advantage of it is that there is always an incentive to work. And if one does get a job, their total income will increase.

  8. Re Varun Sivaram and Teryn Norris May/June Foreign Affairs article, “The Clean Energy Revolution.” The article is well written and I agree with many points made. It makes the case for U.S. leadership “investing at home and leading a technology push abroad” if we are talking about support for technology development and not subsidizing commercialization and startup. It falls short on the latter. The article is generally well done, and I support some of the points they make. Sivaram’s background is in photovoltaics, and he previously worked for McKinsey with focus in alternative energies. Norris worked for the policy organization, Americans for Energy Leadership, and in the Obama administration where he co-authored the Obama campaign energy platform leading into $90 billion clean energy spending in 2009 in the so-called stimulus package (better called the “if you hand it out, they will come” package), and “non stimulus” reflecting the failures of many startups and the weak impact on the actual recovery which is still palsied. Sivaram and Norris are very pro alternate energy and in the article too accepting of strong warmist assumptions. They push for “phasing out dirty fossil fuels,” and they quote high case outlooks for global temperature rise (from IPCC AR5 projections) of 2.7-3.5 oC, no mention of IPCC’s inflated climate sensitivities and inadequate treatment of uncertainties in forecasts, and no mention at all of the ongoing hiatus / slowing down. Likewise they fail to acknowledge improvements in the U.S. deriving from market actions rather than government handouts – key example being the impact of increased natural gas supplies (from fracking) contributing to substitution of gas for coal based power, and waves of retirements in the coal fleet. They support Obama’s announced agreement to support “Mission Innovation, an agreement among 20 nations – including the top three emitters, China, the United States and India – doubling public funding for clean energy R&D,” however in reality the U.S. is to double its previous commitment to clean energy, and representing 2/3s of the total for all 20 countries. Agreed in principle by the president; but just to note that U.S. spending, especially increased spending levels, will require budget agreement between future administrations and congresses. Members of Mission Innovation include the U.S., major EU nations, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, and UAE. Key platforms of Mission Innovation include 1) doubling government investment in clean energy innovation, 2) leadership from business / private sector and 3) attending to transparent and effective implementation with linkages with investor partners and other stakeholders, e.g., through such things as public-private partnerships. The real problem is how to increase support from abroad and not have the U.S. to carry by far the majority (2/3s) of the burden. The U.S. should not have agreed to be the financier carrying the burden for the other member countries. They compare the challenge of transforming the energy sector to transformations in other industries, such as technology and biotech/biomedical. However, they fail to mention these largely were extensions of existing industries and the commercialization / startups focused on new consumer products, driven by the private sector and private capital based on the market opportunities rather than government handouts. There is a role for government support in developing clean energy technologies. But they need to become cost competitive and markets, not government handouts should drive the commercialization / startup – how did the handouts work for us in the 2009 stimulus?

    • Danley Wolfe said:

      how did the handouts work for us in the 2009 stimulus?

      It seems that Keynesian pump priming does, under some circumstances, work.

      But under other circumstances, it doesn’t work.

      What are the conditions necessary for Keynesian pump priming to work?

      In a highly advanced economy like that of the United States, is an abundant supply of inexpensive energy one of the pre-conditions necessary for Keynesian pump priming to work?

      • The US economy ain’t great after 3 trillion or so dollars. It appears to be dead, Jim.

      • Government subsidization of production is inefficient whether in the form of investment incentives, subsidies, or tax rebates. If the technology is immature or has technological hurdles to overcome it makes no sense to make the investment … unless there is a clear path to non subsidized efficiency and viability e.g., identified process improvements and longer term economies of scale. The private sector is immensely better than the public sector at doing R&D but l depending on the circumstance there can be a place for government to provide funding to both. Example, the federal government has had research programs in cellulosic ethanol for >35 years (e.g., NREL) and the outlook for viable commercialization is nil. We have known that on a well to wheels basis bioethanol is unprofitable without subsidies.. I know because is did a number of feasibility studies as far back as the 1970s and the current answer is not much different than 50 years ago. It originally ramped up for reasons of energy security after the Arab oil embargos. The is no significant benefit on fuel economy or emissions today to continue except that government poured a lot of money in form of tax incentives which mainly benefited (lined the pockets of) the large ethanol producers like POET, ADM, Valero etc, but not as much the farmers supplying the corn. On solar, unless you find the way to allow ratable / continuous supply of economically produced solar power … it cannot scale up, and certainly not in a way to allow large scale replacement of conventional power plants – this has two parts 1) economic and 2) technical viability. Storage batteries to allow 100% solar supply perhaps supplemented by wind will not happen. Subsidies like the 2.3 c/kwh for renewables, escalating out over time eliminates the incentive for renewables to improve technology and efficiencies, it is counter productive.

      • Government “stimulus” is not pump-priming, it is the pump and for as long as the pump is operating then so will the economy. When the “stimulus” is turned off and the pump stops then so must the economy that is being “pumped.” Such a pumped up economy could be comparable to a hot air balloon which the pilot has tried to fly too high and has run out of fuel. Ziga-ziga-ziga — splat, don’t you know.

      • Government “stimulus” is not pump-priming, it is the pump […]


  9. More food with less water. Interesting, but poorly researched. Misses a lot of nuances. Drip irrigation is possible for small scale fruits and vegetables, but not row crops like corn and soy.
    Conserving water with smart sensor systems makes sense where water is expensive and scarce. So California and the Ogallala aquifer region in the US. Makes no sense elsewhere, like Wisconsin River valley. The center pivot systems there mainly are used for producting hybrid/gmo seed, insuring max yield independent of weather. The water table is close to the surface, and replenished each winter.

    Same considerations worldwide, except places like India and Africa have neither the farm sizes nor the money/expertise to deploy any of it. Europe is wet enough that irrigation is uncommon.

  10. The essay on the political obstacles to a carbon tax was informative, but I was struck by this:(A side note on the social cost of carbon: It is an estimate of how much a single ton of carbon emissions imposes in social costs, through climate damages. Most of those damages are in the future, so they are discounted and expressed in terms of today’s dollars. There are reasons to doubt that the kind of modeling exercises that produce the SCC actually tell us anything worthwhile, but that’s a subject for another post.)

    The authors do not seem to accept that the “reasons to doubt” that kind of modeling are a large factor behind the political opposition. As noted in the responses to the Nature report that CO2 has a net greening effect, actual evidence that CO2 has been beneficial is discounted(!) by the tax proponents in favor of hypothetical costs in the future. Word is spreading (cf BBC and others) about the disparity between actual evidence and modeled conjectures.

    • actual evidence that CO2 has been beneficial is discounted(!)

      Well, that isn’t entirely true.

      I believe they recognize that there is more growth.

      However they believe growing more food to support a larger population is harmful.

      If you believe feeding people is harmful there is a high cost to carbon.

  11. By @EPA’s own definition: Corn Ethanol Is Not a Renewable Fuel

    Golly. I wonder what other issues they might be wrong about.

  12. Surfing solar ocean platforms could one day power your home [link]

    According to Heliofloat, despite weighing just 5-50kg per square meter, it could hold a load of up to 100kg per square meter. If this works out, it could allow companies to build sea solar platforms both inexpensive enough and sturdy enough to allow real profit.

    Seems eminently workable to me. But it’s hardly the only solution. I can come up with a couple more off the top of my head, and probably more if those turn out infeasible.

    Sea-based solar farms could easily come with underwater tanks that get emptied with pumps when power is abundant, creating a stronger and stronger pressure differential with the ocean water outside. When power is needed, simply release the seals and let water rush in, turning turbines and generating power for you to use while your panels lie in darkness, or your turbines sit motionless, without wind. On land, we have to do with by pumping water up to an elevated reservoir and using the power of gravity; in the ocean, other solutions could end up being more affordable.

    Yup. I’ve been saying this for a while. The turbine technology for pumped hydro is fairly mature.

    The technology for underwater pressure exclusion is new, but there are several likely approaches, all of which are, IMO, likely to work.

    • When the article said “release the seals” I was picturing the sea equivalent of rodents on a treadmill.

  13. Upbeat appraisal of spread of Cheap Solar Power [link]

    In the near term, a surprising amount of intermittency can be managed cost effectively with gas turbine backup, and this works even as electricity sector carbon emission are pushed down to a third of today’s values

    This is taking the wrong perspective (IMO). Look at it from the perspective of installed CCGT, fueled by gas or liquid hydrocarbons: capital costs are cheap (~60¢/watt, IIRC), while fuel costs higher than coal make up for it.

    But once dual capacity for solar and CCGT are installed, every watt-hour provided by solar is a watt-hour’s worth of fuel not paid for.

    By this logic, solar PV could reach penetrations of 15-30% (generated, not capacity), while fully paying for itself in saved fuel costs.

  14. Not dead yet:

    Global Nuclear Industry Picked Up Steam in 2015

    great article thanks JC

    • But that raw count can be misleading, because a wind or solar gigawatt is not the equal of a nuclear gigawatt in productivity and longevity. Wind turbines have an average capacity factor—the electricity they generate divided by what they could generate if they ran at full capacity all the time—of about 25 percent, while solar power clocks in at about 15 percent on average. Those low capacity factors reflect the productivity deficit from the fickleness of wind and sun.

      Ah, yes, clean energy that can actually be used for something. The difference between generating consumable power, and producing power for style points.

      • Too bad most of that is going on in China and India. Although that is gen II stuff. Hopefully the US will catch up by gen IV

      • China is prototyping a Gen IV version of any technology they can think of.

        By the time the US gets serious about Gen IV China will have some of their commercial Gen IV reactors operating.

        China’s head start and an at least 4 times lower construction cost make this a lost cause. We might as well wait a 7 years and buy Chinese – their reactor will be operational before an American reactor started today would.

  15. Stranded Assets
    The article starts with journalist Cassidy who wrote a prophetic piece about the coming troubles of the home mortgage industry that did occur and appears to me to be over and currently a non-factor. Economists and financial analysts are predicting now something like what Cassidy predicted. They may be prophetic too. The price of oil, coal and natural gas is low and this is bad and could lead to an economic collapse. At that point some investors buy the stranded asset and places it back in service.
    Dams and coal plants cost a lot and take a long time to build. The fact that they involve long time horizons makes them risky. As has been the case for about 100 years. Peoples attention span may be shortening as they look down at their smart phones every 30 seconds and just can’t do long time frame projects so much. Solar and Wind takes less time to build and would seem to be a better match for short attention spans.
    There are more droughts. So water is getting scarcer. Conventional energy can require a lot of water. People care more about their drinking water than the price of electricity. Water is the Achilles Heal of business and they don’t realize that.
    Dams are being canceled. Cleaner Hydro-power is struggling. This will not however effect coal and natural gas prices or unstrand any of those assets. Things are bad.

    • R, except in China (Three Gorges) hydo is struggling because there just isn’t that much more viable stuff to dam. Hetch Hetchy, nearly as beautiful as Yosemite, got dammed to serve San Fransisco. I doubt Yosemite will ever get dammed. Law of diminishing marginal returns after beavering away for more than a century. Don’t think it has much to do with prices of fossil fuels or droughts. World just ran mostly out of dammable real estate.

      In theory there is still stuff in the Himalayas. Except nobody knows how to build a sufficiently earthquake proof dam to be safe.

      • ristvan,

        Who needs earthquakes?

        “One of the power stations, the Vishnuprayag dam in Uttrakhand, was heavily damaged in June 2013 by a flood on the Alaknanda River.”

        I believe one of the main drawbacks for many Himalayan hydro schemes is siltation. Another nearly as bad is the chance of GLOF. One is slow ruination, the other much faster.

        One might think that the experts in charge of planning multi billion projects would raise objections, but their job is to press forward, not argue with the politicians.

        As an indication of how political expediency may overrule common sense, a river in Nepal being considered for a 300 MW hydro plant, is called the Dudh Kosi. In English – Milk River. The amount of silt carries turns it white.

        One might well wonder about siltation problems, if such a river is dammed. History demonstrates that siltation has occurred to the point where dams are holding back much silt, and little water. But no matter, if the World Bank says it must be a good thing, then carry on!

        All very interesting.


  16. Nuclear power 1/3 the cost of wind per MWh: http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/issues/nuclear/not-dead-yet

  17. “The EPA, which enforces the standard, required that for corn to be considered a “renewable fuel,” it could not be grown on previously uncultivated land.”
    Why stop here? Only corn grown on the site of a prior oil spill or in a retired open pit mine, can be called renewable. I want to call timber a renewable fuel. But what if I build a golf course there after I clear cut it all? Some corn and timber is more equal than the others, or corn is corn is corn. Renewable doesn’t mean anything. It’s marketing.

  18. Paris climate deal: what comes next?

    Possibly, global cooling until ~2030 — and, beyond…

    Nikola Scafetta believes that, “The partial forecast indicates that climate may stabilize or cool until 2030-2040.” Scafetta’s forecast is based upon, ‘physical mechanisms’ — like the Sun and the big planets and what he calls ‘the phenomenon of collective synchronization of coupled oscillators’ — as for example when a physical mechanism like ENSO (The El Niño-Southern Oscillation) and changes in solar activity, combine to make something unimaginable. Qing-Bin Lu believes that, “a long-term global cooling starting around 2002 is expected to continue for next five to seven decades.”

    Sergey Kotov, Klyashtorin and Lyubushin, Craig Loehle in the US, Lin Zhen-Shan and Sun Xian in China, and Adriano Mazzarella in Italy say that, “climatic cooling will occur during the first decades of the 21st century,” and that that, “cooling is under way, the length and intensity of which remains unknown.”

  19. Sorry, could you repeat that?

    “In fact, there are groups of people for whom Klingon is their only common language. There are friends who only speak Klingon to each other. In fact, at least one child was initially raised as a native speaker of Klingon.” As such, Paramount should not be allowed to claim copyright over the entire Klingon language, both in written and spoken form. The language is a tool for people to communicate and express ideas, something people should be allowed to do freely under U.S. law, LCS argues.


  20. Re: “State Department announces plans to circumvent US laws in order to advance climate agenda”

    Did not know the 1994 funding prohibition statute even existed. Interesting point by the authors.

  21. Could Foreign Affairs be any more automated in its cliche mongering and snobby green preaching? What with triumphal arm raisings in Paris and impending “planetary catastrophe” you could shut your eyes (and minds, of course) and imagine it was 2006. (After that the text faded and I was invited to subscribe. Yeah, sure FA, right after I buy those Nigerian carbon credits.)

    Mind you, as a quasi-hippie and conservationist I’m easily sucked in by stories of energy innovation. And I’m sure if the horny, angry and ravenous Bill Gates of the 1970s was in the hunt for some breakthrough energy source he’d be in with a chance. But Bill Gates is now the IBM of the 1970s, envisioning change and innovation as glossy makeovers of the old and sclerotic.

    I remember when Australia had an education revolution based on CD ROM and Encarta. Then it had another one based on bloody Windows laptops, not that long ago. Talk about an expensive mess.

    Top-down. Always believed in, never works.

    • For example, thanks largely to green extremism, coal, our cheapest and most abundant power source, is in big trouble in the United States.

      Is coal really the cheapest? When you add in the much larger capital expense of coal-fired power plants vs. CCGT?

      In their “Energy Resources Policy,” adopted by Sierra’s board of directors on Oct. 22 is a list of the “Resources Opposed by the Sierra Club:”


      Synthetic natural gas

      According to the actual document, which Tom Harris doesn’t appear to have linked in his screed, what they oppose is:

      3. Coal-to-Gas (Synthetic Natural Gas or SNG) and Coal-Bed Methane

      While gas produced from coal is cleaner than coal when combusted for power or heat, the lifecycle process to produce gas from coal has huge negative impacts on land and water resources and communities. Also the amount of carbon dioxide and other pollutants (SOX and NOX) produced during the lifecycle of various coal-to-gas technologies make these fuels unacceptable. The Club also opposes all coal-bed methane (CBM) production, a very destructive gathering method that forces gas and groundwater out of seams of associated coal.

      Harris and the Sierra Club may be on the same page here, but I’ll point out that they’re claimed opposition does not include gas produced from solar/electrolytic hydrogen and CO2 captured from the atmosphere.

    • David Wojick

      I suspect that if your technologies ever become important the Sierra Club will oppose them. Coal fired power has been grossly over-regulated along the lines of nuclear, making it much more expensive than it needs to be, as with nuclear. Gas will be next, which is Harris’s primary point.

      I suppose screediness is in the eye of the beholder. I find his little piece succinct and important.

  22. From the article:

    The so called unprecedented global warming from 1976 -2007 can be explained by the extra warming resulting from the simultaneous occurrence of positive PDO and positive AMO during the last 30 year period especially 1995 -2007. A similar period occurred during about 1915-1945 and especially 1925 -1944 when almost an identical warming took place.

    CO2 seems to have very little to do with these naturally occurring climate cycles as they were happening well before manmade CO2 began to rise.
    Yet strangely PDO and AMO are not even covered in the IPCC climate models. Now I wonder why? Could it explain why their predictions to date are so far off and so soon after only 1-2 years after the release of their last report?


    • David Wojick

      The IPCC per se does no modeling. They do draw upon the major modeling centers, coordinated by CMIP. PDO and AMO are generally not included, nor are they considered to be forcings.

      • But I think it’s safe to say we, globally, will have fewer droughts as the AMO comes back down. We’ve had more droughts and El Ninos because AMO has been positive. Great fodder for the alarmists.

      • David Wojick

        I have no idea whether it is safe to say this or not, probably not. Climate is not that simple.

      • Just looking at history. But you are right, that isn’t 100% bullet proof.

    Still examine it by a few experiments. Nothing is too wonderful to be true, if it be consistent with the laws of nature; and in such things as these experiment is the best test of such consistency.”

    Michael Faraday (1791–1867) Laboratory journal entry #10,040 (19 March 1849); in The Life and Letters of Faraday (1870) vol. II, edited by Henry Bence Jones, p. 253.

    Acceptance of powerlessness over the force of the Creator, Destroyer and Sustainer of every atom, life and planet in the solar system helped me become part of the stream of life.

    An experimental/spiritual awakening to reality.

  24. RE: Batteries will not be the future of grid balancing in Germany

    On April 18, at 10:00am I wrote in response to:


    take a look at [German electrical output] weeks 42-45 for 2015 here by selecting 2015, weekly, conv. > 100-mw:


    Let’s suppose that Germany decides to multiply both solar and wind capacity equally until they can meet the demand of those four weeks (or weeks 8-11 in 2016) . It can be seen that to cover the energy needs of Germany for that 4-week period would have required about 200,000 wind turbines of 2mW nameplate capacity, as opposed to roughly the 25,000 currently in place. This against about 140,000 square miles of onshore area in the entire country.

    Think of your favorite vista in Germany. Imagine standing on the north shore of Worthsee on a clear spring day and looking across the lake southward 30 miles to the Alps. Now insert several hundred spinning wind turbines, 80 meters in diameter with hub heights of 90 meters or so, into that view. Visualize the grid and the support roads needed to connect them and make them useful. Consider the carbon investment to put them all in place, and another 199,700 more across the countryside. Don’t forget the noise and vibration. Also remember to multiply the existing solar installations by a factor of 8.

    Now lets suppose that German voters decide that 200,000 wind turbines crammed into a country of 140,000 square miles would be intolerable. Instead they choose to “only” increase solar and wind by a factor of 5 and build a total of 125,000 2Mw turbines. This would mean that weeks 42-45 in 2015 (and weeks 8-11 in 2016) would have required about 16 TWh of storage in order to satisfy demand with zero reserve.

    What would be the cost of 16 TWh of battery storage? A 10KWh Tesla Powerwall would be about $5,000 US installed. Multiply that by 1.6 billion to reach 16 TWH, assuming no degradation, 100% depletion, and 100% retrieval efficiency. So about 8 trillion dollars. (BTW, the cost for batteries embedded in autos would be similar.)

    There are about 80 million folks living in Germany, in about 40 million households. So the above battery storage would cost each citizen about $100,000, or $200,000 per household up front. Plus maintenance and a reasonable replacement schedule plus disposal plus the cost of money. As an aside, where would you stash twenty Powerwalls in your home?

    It becomes obvious to an engineer that battery cost will need to shrink by several orders of magnitude before it can pave the way to a wind-solar economy without a large back-up from fossil fuels or hydro. Germany produces many fine engineers. Surely they have have known this for some time.

    • Beta Blocker

      sciguy54: “Think of your favorite vista in Germany. Imagine standing on the north shore of Worthsee on a clear spring day and looking across the lake southward 30 miles to the Alps. Now insert several hundred spinning wind turbines, 80 meters in diameter with hub heights of 90 meters or so, into that view. Visualize the grid and the support roads needed to connect them and make them useful. Consider the carbon investment to put them all in place, and another 199,700 more across the countryside. Don’t forget the noise and vibration. Also remember to multiply the existing solar installations by a factor of 8.”

      Here are two views of the east slopes of the Cascades near Ellensburg, a small city in central Washington State.

      The voters in western Washington State who enacted the renewable energy mandates which put these windmills at the foot of the Cascades in central Washington State will never have to see or hear a single large windmill from their own backyards.

    • sciguy54 said:

      What would be the cost of 16 TWh of battery storage? A 10KWh Tesla Powerwall would be about $5,000 US installed. Multiply that by 1.6 billion to reach 16 TWH, assuming no degradation, 100% depletion, and 100% retrieval efficiency. So about 8 trillion dollars. (BTW, the cost for batteries embedded in autos would be similar.)

      There are about 80 million folks living in Germany, in about 40 million households. So the above battery storage would cost each citizen about $100,000, or $200,000 per household up front.

      No problem. The climatariat’s got it covered.

      With the willing use of deficitry and debtcraft, reflecting the spend-to-stimulate theories of John Maynard Keynes, the money can just be printed up or borrowed, and it will have such a stimulating effect on the economy that we’ll all get rich.


  25. Born Lomborg: The smartest ways to adapt to climate change [link]

    What a mundane article; helping the people of Bangladesh adapt to climate change by establishing resiliency to tropical cyclones, floods and drought. Increasing agriculture labor productivity and establishing low tech industry in second tier cities.

    This is extremely boring. No pizzazz. No headline grabbing, media savvy alarm, death by the thousands, world leaders hastily conferencing pledging multimillions of dollars to rescue this goat, that child.

    Frankly I am disappointed that such a bright observer like Lomborg, didn’t jazz up the story. You know, extend the truth a little bit by predicting the future of dyer straits. What’s with re-establishing mangroves, selective <3 meter dikes, storm shelters for people and their livestock?

    Without telling scary stories, how can one expect to get media attention and stir up public alarm? The model of alarmism, after all, comes from some of our finest academic institutions.

  26. Random policy moment…

    We are doing better than reported when we take into account that when the National Debt, reaches $21,000,000,000,000, we have in effect received a value of $8,400 for every one of the 2,500,000,000 +/- acres we owned and we’re still headed higher.

    • Consider that a reverse mortgage.

      Some of us may not live long enough, but eventually those remaining in residence should expect an eviction notice.

  27. That article “Fossil Capital: the rise of steam power and the roots of global warming” is one of the most impressive pieces of post-moderist drivel I’ve seen since Alan Sokal’s hoax. And it might very well be just that. Truly amazing rewriting of history. I especially loved this sentence: “Malm builds his argument gradually in quasi-detective fashion, applying Marxist critique to received wisdom.”

    If Sokal didn’t write the paper this is reporting on, he’s got some competition!

  28. This is interesting:


    The vintners in Switzerland have a novel approach to protect their harvest from the late winter weather they’ve had in April. They light fires all throughout the vineyard to ward off frost. It’s apropos of nothing, but it’s weather climate related and the photos are very pretty.

  29. The crude oil inventory is beginning to sound like a broken record … oh, wait!


  30. “The Tragedy of the Commons: Why Water is Best Left in Private Hands ”

    Pseudo logic, water owned and run by the state is not “shared and run by everyone” it is managed. Simple performance related financial incentives provide the will, it works in the “free markets” (they are not free because the currency is controlled by private bankers through the power of the state).

    The article is drivel, based on a patently bogus comparison.