Spaceship Earth Ideology Officers

The image above is from the Hunt for Red October (1990). Sean Connery played Marko Alexandrovich Ramius, a Soviet submarine captain, here in a confrontation with the on board Political Officer Ivan Putin, responsible to ensure the crew conforms to the Communist Party Line and Directives.

The real life parallel to the submarine drama is reported at New Scientist Journal criticised for study claiming sun is causing global warming. Excerpts in italics with my bolds. (H/T GWPF)

A high profile scientific journal is investigating how it came to publish a study suggesting that global warming is down to natural solar cycles. The paper was criticised by scientists for containing “very basic errors” about how Earth moves around the sun.

The study was published online on 24 June by Scientific Reports, an open access journal run by Nature Research, which also lists the prestigious Nature journal among its titles. A spokesperson told New Scientist that it is aware of concerns raised over the paper, which was authored by four academics based at Northumbria University, the University of Bradford and the University of Hull, all in the UK, plus the Nasir al-Din al-Tusi Shamakhi Astrophysical Observatory in Azerbaijan.

The authors suggest that Earth’s 1°C temperature rise over the past two centuries could largely be explained by the distance between Earth and the sun changing over time as the sun orbits around our solar system’s barycentre, its centre of mass. The phenomenon would see temperatures rise a further 3°C by 2600, they say.

Ken Rice of the University of Edinburgh, UK, criticised the paper for an “elementary” mistake about celestial mechanics. “It’s well known that the sun moves around the barycentre of the solar system due to the influence of the other solar system bodies, mainly Jupiter,” he says. “This does not mean, as the paper is claiming, that this then leads to changes in the distance between the sun and the Earth.”

“The claim that we will see warming in the coming centuries because the sun will move closer to the Earth as it moves around the solar system barycentre is very simply wrong,” adds Rice. He is urging the journal to withdraw the paper, and says it is embarrassing it was published.

Gavin Schmidt of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies says the paper contains egregious errors. “The sun-Earth distance does not vary with the motion of the sun-Earth system around the barycentre of the sun-Jupiter system, nor the sun-galactic centre system or any other purely mathematical reference point,” he says. He says the journal must retract the paper if it wants to retain any credibility.

The Dispute

Michael Brown of Monash University in Australia lamented uncritical media coverage of the paper in Australia.

Following criticism of the paper, lead author Valentina Zharkova, of Northumbria University, described Rice as a “climate alarmist” in an online discussion.

“The close links between oscillations of solar baseline magnetic field, solar irradiance and temperature are established in our paper without any involvement of solar inertial motion,” Zharkova told New Scientist.

Scientific Reports says it has begun an “established process” to investigate the paper it has published. “This process is ongoing and we cannot comment further at this stage,” a spokesperson said.

Ken Rice has form as a Climate Ideology Officer having led a successful take down of Hermann Harde’s paper showing human CO2 emissions are only 4% of atmospheric CO2, which is only 0.04% of the air. Rice declared at the outset: “Any paper concluding that humans are not causing the rise in CO2 is obviously wrong.” He and fellow ideology officers quickly cobbled together an attack paper which was immediately published in the journal. Harde wrote a paper describing the errors and misconstructions in the attack paper, but his response was denied publication, sealing the issue in favor of the party line. This saga of censorship can be read at No Tricks Zone article AGW Gatekeepers Censor The CO2-Climate Debate By Refusing To Publish Author’s Response To Criticism

Now Rice and his gang are at it again, this time targeting lead author Valentina Zharkova. The tactics are familiar, starting with outrage against findings deviating from their beliefs, in this case the notion that the sun could in any way influence the climate. The comment thread shows the intensity and venom applied to digging up any mistake, no matter how trivial or peripheral to the central argument. These are declared “egregious” and justification to ignore and censor the contrary understanding of nature.

The comment thread started 9 days ago: Oscillations of the baseline of solar magnetic field and solar irradiance on a millennial timescale

Zharkova stands her ground, though always on the defensive and surrounded by a pack of attackers. Rice, as usual, displays his mastery of the English language to demean and undermine while appearing to be reasonable. His Russian opponent is clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to putdowns.

I don’t know enough to judge the substance of the claims, or the pertinence of the details, but can observe that the intensity shows how much is at stake for the attackers. A major irony is that Zharkova forecasts significant warming in the future, which would seem to confirm the warmists’ expectations. However, since she puts the sun as the cause, the finding pulls the rug from under anti-fossil fuel activists, hence the outrage. This also shows the dispute is not about climate or temperature, but about politics.

Footnote:

Michael Mann has been the most aggressive Inquisitor against climate heretics. In his book, “The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars,” he presented an analogy to explain why he and other researchers have become the objects of such fierce public scrutiny and vilification, which he terms “the Serengeti strategy.” Likening climate scientists to zebras, he writes, “The climate change deniers isolate individual scientists just as predators on the Serengeti Plain of Africa hunt their prey: picking off vulnerable individuals from the rest of the herd.” He asserts that he and others have become targets because their findings challenge the entrenched fossil-fuel industries, which have tried to discredit them.

No one has more chutzpah than M. Mann, he and his pack applying the Serengeti strategy repeatedly against scientists finding other factors than CO2 driving climate changes, all the while claiming to be a victim rather than a predator.

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Science 101: Null Test All Claims

Francis Menton provides some essential advice for non-scientists in his recent essay at Manhattan Contrarian You Don’t Need To Be A Scientist To Know That The Global Warming Alarm “Science” Is Fake. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

When confronted with a claim that a scientific proposition has been definitively proven, ask the question: What was the null hypothesis, and on what basis has it been rejected?

As Menton explains, you don’t need the skills to perform yourself the null test, just the boldness to check how they dismissed the null hypothesis.

Consider first a simple example, the question of whether aspirin cures headaches. Make that our scientific proposition: aspirin cures headaches. How would this proposition be established? You yourself have taken aspirin many times, and your headache always went away. Doesn’t that prove that the aspirin worked? Absolutely not. The fact that you took aspirin 100 times and the headache went away 100 times proves nothing. Why? Because there is a null hypothesis that must first be rejected. Here the null hypothesis is that headaches will go away just as quickly on their own. How do you reject that? The standard method is to take some substantial number of people with headaches, say 2000, and give half of them the aspirin and the other half a placebo. Two hours later, of the 1000 who took the aspirin, 950 feel better and only 50 still have the headache; and of the 1000 who took the placebo, 500 still have the headache. Now you have very, very good proof that aspirin cured the headaches.

The point to focus on is that the most important evidence — the only evidence that really proves causation — is the evidence that requires rejection of the null hypothesis.

Over to climate science. Here you are subject to a constant barrage of information designed to convince you of the definitive relationship between human carbon emissions and global warming. The world temperature graph is shooting up in hockey stick formation! Arctic sea ice is disappearing! The rate of sea level rise is accelerating! Hurricanes are intensifying! June was the warmest month EVER! And on and on and on. All of this is alleged to be “consistent” with the hypothesis of human-caused global warming.

But, what is the null hypothesis, and on what basis has it been rejected? Here the null hypothesis is that some other factor, or combination of factors, rather than human carbon emissions, was the dominant cause of the observed warming.

Once you pose the null hypothesis, you immediately realize that all of the scary climate information with which you are constantly barraged does not even meaningfully address the relevant question. All of that information is just the analog of your 100 headaches that went away after you took aspirin. How do you know that those headaches wouldn’t have gone away without the aspirin? You don’t know unless someone presents data that are sufficient to reject the null hypothesis. Proof of causation can only come from disproof of the null hypothesis or hypotheses, that is, disproof of other proposed alternative causes. This precept is fundamental to the scientific method, and therefore fully applies to “climate science” to the extent that that field wishes to be real science versus fake science.

Now, start applying this simple check to every piece you read about climate science. Start looking for the null hypothesis and how it was supposedly rejected. In mainstream climate literature — and I’m including here both the highbrow media like the New York Times and also the so-called “peer reviewed” scientific journals like Nature and Scienceyou won’t find that. It seems that people calling themselves “climate scientists” today have convinced themselves that their field is such “settled science” that they no longer need to bother with tacky questions like worrying about the null hypothesis.

When climate scientists start addressing the alternative hypotheses seriously, then it will be real science. In the meantime, it’s fake science.

Summary

The null test can be applied to any scientific claim.  If there is no null hypothesis considered, then you can add the report  to the file “Unproven Claims,” or “Unfounded Suppositions.”  Some researchers call them SWAGs: Scientific Wild Ass Guesses.  These are not useless, since any discovery starts with a SWAG.  But you should avoid believing that they describe the way the world works until alternative explanations have been tested and dismissed.

See Also: No “Gold Standard” Climate Science

No GHG Warming Fingerprints in the Sky

Class Zero Grad Speeches: Fail

Once upon a time at secondary school graduation ceremonies students who finished with the best grades (Valedictorians and Salutatorians) took to the podium to deliver a speech each one wrote expressing his or her personal thoughts on that life passage. Not any more. In progressive, post-modern places, these speeches are now a canned performance: Now apparently accomplished scholars choose not to express themselves, not to speak out as individuals having earned the right to heard. Instead they read out words written by others to proselytize for a cause.

This Spring We’re Taking Over Commencements Everywhere to Demand a Zero Emissions Future

According to Class of 0000: Starting in may, hundreds of Valedictorians and Salutatorians will deliver the same message in their commencement speeches.  The Speech in italics with my bolds:

Today, we celebrate our achievements from the last 4 years. But I want to focus on what we need to achieve in the next 11.

That’s how long climate scientists have given us; 11 years to avoid catastrophic climate change. It’s already damaging our homes, our health, our safety and our happiness. We won’t let it take our futures too.

Our diplomas may say Class of 2019, but marked in history, we are the Class of Zero.
Zero emissions.
Zero excuses.
Zero time to waste.

Across the country, our class stands 7.5 million strong.

And in unity, we’re giving 2020 political candidates a choice:

Have a plan to get to zero emissions, or get zero of our votes.

Together, we have the power to solve the climate crisis.

Every student. Every parent. Every teacher. Every leader.

The future is in our hands.

Local school children join Greta Thunberg's initiative on climate strike during the COP24 UN Climate Change Conference 2018 in Katowice

But it didn’t go off everywhere as planned by the movement.

As Lathan Watts reported at Town Hall, many of these performances were stopped by educators.

Kriya Naidu was the valedictorian of her Florida high school, but she was recently prohibited by school officials from giving her graduation speech because of its content.

Cait Christenson was one of six valedictorians at her Wisconsin high school, but again, school administrators found the content of her graduation speech too controversial and prohibited her from addressing her fellow graduates.

Lulabel Seitz was the valedictorian at her California high school. And, you guessed it, her graduation speech was also censored by school administrators – in fact, her mic was turned off in the midst of her address.

For Lathan Watts, this is a problem. I would agree if they were expressing something other than a call for political and social action. This is the most striking example yet of young people subsuming into an social group and losing individual identity. I don’t know whether to call this Artificial Intelligence or Artificial Stupidity; but it is certainly not genuine, not authentic. Maybe this is what we have to endure in the Age of Greta.

The graduates would have been better served if Robert Curry were at the podium:

As we all know, acquiring common sense can be a matter of life and death. I’m thinking, for example, of the teenage boy who swallowed a garden slug on a dare, became paralyzed, and died recently. Because children lack common sense, parents must do what they have always done, trying to instill common sense in their children while at the same time using their own common sense to encompass the growing child.

Becoming a person of common sense has always been a life-defining challenge, but acquiring common sense has gotten a lot more difficult for young people in our time, especially if they have spent some time in our institutions of higher learning. My witty friend Robert Godwin has this to say about that: “Say what you want about the liberal arts, but they’ve found a cure for common sense.”

When I headed off to college, my high school teacher who was my mentor offered me two commonsense rules to follow“Take care to stay well, and choose professors, not courses.” Because of my high regard for him, I took his words to heart. Later, when I saw the problems my fellow students brought on themselves by not getting enough sleep and generally being careless about their health, I understood the practical wisdom of what he had told me. And the second rule helped me more quickly understand the value of navigating my way through college by who was teaching the course rather than by the course title.

For years, I handed on the same commonsense wisdom to young folks I knew when they headed off to college. But I have not offered that advice for some years now. Here is what I tell them now: “They are going to try to knock common sense out of you; don’t let them.”

Say what you want about the liberal arts, but they’ve found a cure for common sense.

By Robert Curry writes at American Thinker Making Sense of Common Sense. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Climate Faith ≠ Climate Works

Protestors march to raise awareness of climate change and ecological issues on the second day of the Glastonbury Festival at Worthy Farm, Somerset, England, Thursday, June 27, 2019. (Photo by Grant Pollard/Invision/AP) GRANT POLLARD/INVISION/AP

Michael Lynch writes at Forbes Is The Climate Change Debate A Replay Of The Reformation? Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

During the Reformation, there was an intense debate over whether Christians could enter paradise by doing good works, or whether faith alone allowed such a benefit. (See Fatal Discord: Erasmus, Luther and the Fight for the Western Mind by Michael Massing) This reminds me of the current attitude many have towards climate change policy, where some appear to think that faith alone is sufficient to solve the problem.

In the early days of the global warming debate, I read an English writer praising his country’s example of recognizing climate change compared to American skepticism, although he did admit the British hadn’t actually taken steps to address the problem. Similarly, the U.S. has reduced greenhouse gas emissions more than most countries in the past few years, but incidentally, mostly due to cheap natural gas, and it remains the climate villain in the eyes of many because the president is a denier.

Additionally, a lot of energy, well, effort, goes into demonizing actors or actions that have no practical impact on climate. For example, opposing the construction of oil and gas pipelines does not reduce consumption of oil and gas, and usually increases emissions. Suing the oil or auto industries for blocking climate policies or misleading the public about climate science appeals to many, but with no measurable environmental impact. The same with demanding divestment in fossil fuel company stocks.

Some of the new proposals to address climate change put me mind of the debate between faith and works, especially when they seem more for demonstration purpose than actually reducing emissions. Numerous governments have suggested phasing out all carbon-based electricity generation or all petroleum-fueled vehicles by a point decades into the future, and these tend to be hailed by activists as representing, if not solutions, then great strides forward. New York state, for example, just proposed phasing out carbon-based electricity by 2050; France wants to ban conventional vehicles by 2040, the U.K. by 2050. But as Michael Coren notes, “So far, it’s just words.”

Which reminds me of comedian Billy West who, in the persona of a radio personality, bragged to someone about his fund-raising, adding, “…but mostly it’s just pledges.” Governments have been great at setting goals, but implementation has been seriously lacking. The setting of goals seems more an act of faith than a carrying out of works.

And we have been here before. Many other national and sub-national environmental programs were later abandoned; the 1990s saw California enact mandates for electric vehicle sales—requiring 10% of sales in 2003 be zero emission vehicles—which was adopted by a number of other states, primarily in New England. Ultimately, it was abandoned after wasting billions of dollars. Numerous locales in the U.S. signed on to requirements for oxygenated gasoline, only to back out at the last minute when the cost became apparent.

Technology mandates are a mix of demonizing the producers and demonstrations of faith: telling utilities to buy a certain portion of carbon-free electricity is calling on someone else to act, while hiding the cost of the action. Those who believe in works would do better to buy their own renewable power, either producing it directly or from an independent power producer.

Automobile efficiency standards arguably fall into this category as well, that is, making it seem as if the manufacturers are to blame for consumers’ desire to purchase large, powerful vehicles. There are very fuel-efficient vehicles for sale in the United States, and they are much cheaper than the sauropods dominating American highways, so addressing manufacturer behavior is not the issue. Mandating vehicle efficiency is rather like demanding that a portion of butchers’ sales be veggie burgers; Beyond Meat has shown that success for veggie burgers comes from satisfying consumers, not lecturing them on environmental ethics.

This is where a carbon tax comes in: it is designed to change consumer preferences, reducing carbon emissions in favor of other consumables. It would also motivate producers to meet the demand for products that require less carbon emissions, either in their production or operation. Although the impact would grow over time, it would begin immediately upon implementation, and while it could theoretically be reversed, taxes on consumption tend to be extremely persistent.

Comment:

I like the author’s comparing of the climate faithful marching in processions to the religious faithful marching on Holy Days. He is right to point out the hypocrisy of of those obsessed over CO2 demonstrating their belief, while still enjoying fossil fuel benefits. And he ridicules the symbolic but ineffectual policies proposed, noting they are merely another form of showing faith rather than taking action that works.

But he ends up accepting the warmist unproven premise: We are sinners because we burn fossil fuels. Moreover, he seems to suggest that imposing a carbon indulgence tax overcomes the moral shortcoming. In fact Reformers strongly opposed the Catholic Church practice of taking money for future promises they could not deliver. Now this scam returns with governments taking the opportunity to fill their coffers. Further, as Bill Gates explained, the tax has a faulty premise: There is presently no substitute for fossil fuels powering modern societies.

The good news is, today’s weather and climate are within ordinary bounds.  The bad news:  If they actually turn climate faith into works, it is the end of life as you know it.

Climate Models on Fire!

They are at it again: Our future will be filled with death and destruction according to climate models. The latest doomsday scenario is that every summer in the future will be hotter than the one before, brought to you by CNN: “All the Fear All the Time.”

Future summers will ‘smash’ temperature records every year says CNN. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

If you think it’s hot now, you haven’t seen anything yet. A new study predicts that parts of the world will “smash” temperature records every year in the coming century due to climate change, “pushing ecosystems and communities beyond their ability to cope.”

The scientists who authored the study, published in the journal Nature Climate Change on Monday, used 22 climate models to game out exactly how hot these summer temperatures would be. They determined that by the end of the 21st century, future temperature events “will be so extreme that they will not have been experienced previously.”

The temperature increase is directly tied to rising global greenhouse gas emissions, the authors say.

The world is already seeing record setting temperatures and while warming hasn’t been uniform, earlier studies have shown that the planet has been in a warming trend, generally.

Heat waves will be deadly. Heat stroke, breathing issues, heart attacks, asthma attacks, kidney problems are all a big concern for people when the temperatures increase, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Higher temperatures can also make air pollution worse, make water scarce and cause crops to fail, leading to malnutrition and starvation.

In 2014, the World Health Organization predicted 250,000 more people will die annually between 2030 and 2050 due to climate change. More recent studies predict that this is a “conservative estimate.”

If, however, countries meet goals of limiting global temperature rise less than 2 degrees Celsius, as set out in the Paris agreement, that scenario would be much less likely.

Footnote: A second separate heat wave alarm study was published and trumpeted in the Seattle Times. (H/T kakatoa, comment below) Cliff Mass does his usual thorough review pointing out problems both in the estimating of future temperatures and in calculating projected deaths from heat waves.

The article by Mass is The Seattle Times Story on Massive Heat Wave Deaths in Seattle: Does it Make Sense?


Trudeau’s Empty Plastic Gesture

Bjorn Lomborg writes in the Globe and Mail about Canadian PM Justin Treudeau showing off by proposing to ban single-use plastics. Sorry, banning plastic bags won’t save our planet. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Last week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a plan to reduce plastic pollution, which will include a ban on single-use plastics as early as 2021. This is laudable: plastics clog drains and cause floods, litter nature and kill animals and birds.

Of course, plastic also makes our lives better in a myriad of ways. In just four decades, plastic packaging has become ubiquitous because it keeps everything from cereals to juice fresher and reduces transportation losses, while one-use plastics in the medical sector have made syringes, pill bottles and diagnostic equipment more safe.

Going without disposable plastic entirely would leave us worse off, so we need to tackle the problems without losing all of the benefits.

The simplest action for consumers is to ensure that plastic is collected and used, so a grocery bag, for example, has a second life as a trash bag, and is then used for energy.

But we need to be honest about how much consumers can achieve. As with other environmental issues, instead of tackling the big-picture problems to actually reduce the plastic load going into oceans, we focus on relatively minor changes involving consumers, meaning we only ever tinker at the margins.

More than 20 countries have taken the showy action of banning plastic bags, including even an al-Qaeda-backed terrorist group which said plastic bags pose “a serious threat to the well-being of humans and animals alike.”

But even if every country banned plastic bags it would not make much of a difference, since plastic bags make up less than 0.8 per cent of the mass of plastic currently afloat on the world’s oceans.

Rather than trying to save the oceans with such bans in rich countries, we need to focus on tackling the inferior waste management and poor environmental policies in developing regions.

Research from 2015 shows that less than 5 per cent of land-based plastic waste going into the ocean comes from OECD countries, with half coming from just four countries: China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam. While China already in 2008 banned thin plastic bags and put a tax on thicker ones, it is estimated to contribute more than 27 per cent of all marine plastic pollution originating from land.

Moreover, banning plastic bags can have unexpected, inconvenient results. A new study shows California’s ban eliminates 40 million pounds of plastic annually. However, many banned bags would have been reused for trash, so consumption of trash bags went up by 12 million pounds, reducing the benefit. It also increased consumption of paper bags by twice the saved amount of plastic – 83 million pounds. This will lead to much larger emissions of CO₂.

When Kenya banned plastic bags, people predictably shifted to thicker bags made of synthetic fabric – which now may be banned. But Kenya had to relent and exempt plastics used to wrap fresh foods such as meat and other products.

We also need to consider the wider environmental impact of our bag choices. A 2018 study by the Danish Ministry of Environment and Food looked not just at plastic waste, but also at climate-change damage, ozone depletion, human toxicity and other indicators. It found you must reuse an organic cotton shopping bag 20,000 times before it will have less climate damage than a plastic bag.

If we use the same shopping bag every single time we go to the store, twice every week, it will still take 191 years before the overall environmental effect of using the cotton bag is less than if we had just used plastic.

Even a simple paper bag requires 43 reuses to be better for the environment – far beyond the point at which the bag will be fit for the purpose.

The study clearly shows that a simple plastic bag, reused as a trash bag, has the smallest environmental impact of any of the choices.

If we want to reduce the impact of plastic bags while still allowing for their efficient use, a tax seems like a much better idea. A 2002 levy in Ireland reduced plastic bag use from 328 bags a person per year to just 21 bags.

And if we really want to make a meaningful impact on ocean plastics coming from land, we should focus on the biggest polluters such as China, Indonesia, Philippines and Vietnam, and emphasize the most effective ways to cut the plastic load, namely better waste management in the developing world.

We should also recognize that more than 70 per cent of all plastics floating on oceans today – about 190,000 tonnes – come from fisheries, with buoys and lines making up the majority. That tells us clearly that concerted action is needed to clean up the fishing industry.

If our goal is to get a cleaner ocean, we should by all means think about actions we can take as consumers in rich countries to reduce our use of unnecessary plastic bags. But we need to keep a sense of proportion and, if we’re serious, focus on change where it’s really needed.

Bjorn Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.

See Also Plastic Trash Talking

Waste Management Saves the Ocean

Kerry’s Blarney and Murphy’s Law

Recently former unsuccessful Presidential candidate and US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke at the Our Ocean Wealth Summit in Cork, Ireland. He missed seeing the boomerang on the accusation of his own lying, unless of course he no longer considers himself a world leader.  As we shall see, Kerry would have been better served by using the cork to shut up with his fear-mongering. The article is in Irish Examiner. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

World leaders are lying to the public about the climate crisis and dismissing scientific evidence.

That was the stark warning from former US Secretary of State John Kerry who said the truth is not just being ignored but altered.

“Today we have public leaders who not only try to avoid the truth, but who try to alter it, through thousands of lies,” he said.

Mr Kerry was speaking after addressing a global oceans summit in Cork where he said the world and its climate do not have the time or space to deal with “presidents and prime ministers” who deny the truth about climate change.

However, he told delegates at the Our Ocean Wealth summit that the tide can be turned if governments face up to the truth and act faster.

Mr Kerry is leading a global effort to deliver more Marine Protected Areas but warned that humans are changing the chemistry of that oceans faster than it has been changed in the last 50m years.

“We can’t protect oceans without solving the problem of climate change and we can’t solve that without protecting the oceans — they go hand in hand,” he said.

“I believe we can do this. My frustration is that we are not doing what we know we can do. And time is not on our side.

“We know the enemy — the enemy is man-made. If it’s man-made it can be ‘man-solved’.

While Kerry was talking Blarney in Ireland, Robert Murphy was laying down the Law in Connecticut.  Zero Hedge reported his remarks in an article What Universities Won’t Teach College Students About The Economics Of Climate Change. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

[Authored by Robert Murphy via The Institute for Energy Research]

I recently gave a talk to a student group at Connecticut College on the economics of climate change. (The video is broken up into three parts on my YouTube channel: one, two, and three.) In this post I’ll summarize three of my main points:

(1) There is a huge disconnect between what the published economics research actually says about government policies to limit global warming, and how the media is reporting it.

(2) President Trump taking the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement doesn’t really affect anything on the margin, even if we stipulate the alarmist position on climate change. And

(3) If I’m wrong, and human-caused climate change really does pose a dire threat to humanity in the next few decades, then scientists are currently working on several lines of research of practical ways to actually deal with the problem.

The “Consensus Research” Does Not Justify Radical Political Intervention

To demonstrate just how wide the chasm is between the actual economics research and the media treatment of these issues, I described to the students the spectacle I observed back in the fall of 2018, when on the same weekend news came out that William Nordhaus had won the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work on the economics of climate change and that the UN released a “Special Report” advising governments to try to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

The media treatment (sometimes in the same story) presented these events with no sense of conflict or irony, leading regular citizens to assume that Nordhaus’ Nobel-winning work supported the UN’s goals for policymakers.

But that is not true at all. Here’s a graph from a 2017 Nordhaus publication that I included in my presentation:
As the figure shows, Nordhaus’ model—and again, this isn’t cooked up by the Heritage Foundation, but instead was one selected by the Obama Administration’s EPA and was the reason he won the Nobel Prize—projects that if governments “did nothing,” total global warming would reach about 4.1 degrees Celsius. In contrast, if governments implemented the “optimal carbon tax,” as Nordhaus would recommend in a perfect world, then total warming would be about 3.5 degrees Celsius.

Anyone remotely familiar with the climate change policy debate knows that such an amount of warming would terrify the prominent activists and groups advocating for a political solution. They would quite confidently tell the public that warming of this amount would spell absolute catastrophe for future generations.

My point here isn’t to endorse Nordhaus’ model. My point is simply that Americans never heard anything about this when the media simultaneously covered Nordhaus’ award and the UN’s document calling for a 1.5°C limit. And yet, Nordhaus’ own work—not shown in the figure above, but I spell it out here—clearly concludes that such an aggressive target would cause far more damage to humans in the form of reduced economic output, that it would be better for governments to “do nothing” about climate change at all.

With or Without the United States, the Paris Agreement Was Going to “Fail”

To continue with the theme of how they’ve been misinformed, I reminded the students of the media’s apoplexy when Trump announced his intention to remove the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement (or treaty, in lay terms). I showed them a headline in which famed physicist Stephen Hawking said Trump was pushing the planet “over the brink.”

I then asked the students rhetorically, “You would think that the Paris Agreement was going to ‘work’ to contain the threat of climate change, except for Trump pulling out and wrecking it, right?

And yet, the pro-intervention group ClimateActionTracker.org nicely illustrates that even if all countries met their pledges (including the U.S.), it wouldn’t come close to limiting warming to the weaker benchmark of 2°C, let alone the newer, more chic target of 1.5°C. Things were even worse if we evaluated the actual policies of governments (as opposed to what they stated they intended to do, about limiting their emissions).

Technological Solutions

After spending so much time showing that the political “solutions” were failing even on their own terms, I summarized a few avenues of research (see this article for details) where scientists are exploring techniques to either remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere or reflect some incoming sunlight. Although I personally do not think human-caused climate change is a crisis, and do think that adaptation coming from normal economic growth will be more than sufficient to deal with any problems along the way, nonetheless scientists do have these other techniques in their back pocket, should they become necessary to “buy humanity a few decades of breathing room” while technology advances in the transportation and energy sectors.

Conclusion

Americans, especially students, are being whipped into a panic over the allegedly existential threat of climate change. Yet the actual research, summarized in the UN’s own periodic reports and in the research of a Nobel laureate in the field, shows that at best only a modest “leaning against the wind” could be justified according to standard economic science.

By their own criteria, the alarmist activists are admitting that political measures are nowhere near achieving their goals. Their own rhetoric says that these activists are wasting everyone’s time pushing solutions that will end in catastrophe. Occasionally they slip up, as for example when Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez admits that her “we have 12 years left” was not to be taken literally.

In order to bring light to the climate change debate, at this point one just needs to actually screenshot and explain the evidence from the establishment sources. The rhetorical framing of the issue is so far removed from the underlying research that this alone is heretical.

See Also:  Economists as “Useful Idiots” for Green Socialists

Al Gore Serial Science Denier

Everett Piper writes in the Washington Post Times The party of science deniers. Excerpts In italics with my bolds.

This past Wednesday, May 29, former Vice President Al Gore spoke to the graduating seniors at Harvard University. A summary of his talk? There is an “assault on science” that threatens “the capacity of the human species to endure” on planet Earth.

Mr. Gore proceeded to warn both students and faculty at Wednesday’s annual Class Day convocation, stressing that “reason” and “rational debate” were under threat from what he called “ideology of authoritarianism” by those who disagree with him and his political agenda.

Science “is now being slandered as a conspiracy based on a hoax,” Mr. Gore said. “The subordination of the best scientific evidence is yet another strategy for controlling policy by distorting and suppressing the best available information.”

This is the man who told us in 2006 that we had “ten years to save the planet” and that the Arctic would be ice-free by summer of 2014. In case you haven’t checked lately, that has not happened, nor are we even close.

This is the man who, at the same time, said the gulf stream would slow down and cause untold climate devastation as the result. News flash: Current scientific data actually shows the gulf stream has had zero decrease and may actually be speeding up.

This is the man who warned polar bears would become extinct in just a handful of years because of their loss of habitat. Update: The facts show polar bear numbers are now at an all-time high.

This is the same man who told all of us “sea levels could rise by as much as 20 feet in the near future” when, in fact, current data shows that for decades the pace has been about 3mm per year and has not changed. That’s about the height of two dimes.

This is the same guy who prophesied the rise of CO2 levels would devastate the planet and cause untold human suffering, when in reality, the modest rise in CO2 we actually have experienced has resulted in a global greening that has relieved human poverty around the world.

This is a man who predicted the devastation of low-lying Pacific Island nations such as Tuvalu because of rising sea-levels when in fact Tuvalu and some other island nations have actually grown in landmass since Mr. Gore’s doom and gloom pronouncements.

Al Gore is the man who has not only ignored the scientific facts of all the above, but who also is aligned with the party that now has the temerity to deny the biological fact of a female, and thereby pretend that any male can become a female just because he “feels” like it.

This is the same guy who, for decades, has turned a blind eye to the CDC data on sexually transmitted diseases and who promotes a political agenda that has resulted in over 25 percent of our nation’s millennial-aged women now carrying an STD.

This is the same guy who pretends to be pro-woman while denying the fact that women are real and not merely the imagination of dysphoric men who want to pretend and play make-believe.

This is a man who apparently doesn’t understand that it is logically and scientifically impossible to be a feminist if you persist in denying the empirical fact of the feminine.

Mr. Gore’s pseudo-science doesn’t stop with his ignorance of climatology, physiology, sexuality and biology. He demonstrates his ignorance in matters of economics as well. By ignoring the empirical proof that socialism has never, ever, resulted in anything other than the loss of human freedom and human flourishing, he seems oblivious to the fact that if there ever was a political and economic model that smacks of the “ideological authoritarianism” of which he now warns, it is his own.

In testimony before Congress this past year, Judith Curry, former chairman of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, said this of Mr. Gore’s political agenda and that of his blind followers: “This behavior risks destroying science’s reputation for honesty. It is this objectivity and honesty which gives science a privileged seat at the table. Without this objectivity and honesty, scientists become regarded as another lobbyist group.”

Ms. Curry’s comment is spot on. Science dies at the hands of its supposed champions when they prove themselves more interested in political power than simply telling the truth.

If Aesop taught us anything, it is this: Crying “wolf” over and over again always proves one simple fact in the end — Truth “is being slandered as a conspiracy based on a hoax.”

• Everett Piper, the former president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, is a columnist for The Washington Times and author of “Not A Day Care: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery 2017).

 

From Climate Change, Holy Government Deliver us!

The nearly religious appeal to government to fix the “climate problem” is childlike, even in the mouths of progressive politicians.  James L. Payne writes at the The Foundation for Economic Education How to Talk to Children about Climate Change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

If in coming years we hope to curb the naive governmental interventions that bring so much ruin to the world, we need to address this belief in the efficacy of government.

We smile at seeing those young faces waving placards out in the rain, urging action on the problem of climate change. But our smile is tinged with frustration, with the feeling that the youngsters live in another dimension and that we don’t know how to reach them intellectually.

How They See It

The natural impulse is to want to explain how crushingly complicated is this issue. First, we point out, there is the uncertainty about the connection between human-released CO2 and storms, floods and fires, and all the other bad things that might happen. Then we want to explain that cutting down on CO2 is not easy, that everyone will have to make great sacrifices.

One has to weigh the different possible benefits that might come from stopping (or slowing) global warming against the costs of trying to counter it. This cost-benefit analysis involves a bundle of economic and moral questions. (For a good overview of the complexities of the climate change issue, read former NASA scientist Roy W. Spencer’s 2008 book Climate Confusion.) For example, would saving butterfly X from extinction (assuming we could guarantee it) counterbalance the harm done to the working poor by taking $1,000 a year from each of them in a carbon tax? And so on.

However, I think this impulse to debate the complexities of the issue is misguided. The activists do not base their position on reasoning and calculations. The Climate Kids don’t come to their demonstrations pushing wheelbarrows full of cost-benefit analyses. Most of them don’t even know what cost-benefit analysis is. More importantly, they don’t think they need to know about it.

This is because, in their way of looking at the world, it is not their responsibility to fix society’s problems. That task belongs to a higher power, to government. Their mission is simply to beseech this higher power to act. Once it decides to act, they believe, government has all the expertise needed to make the correct calculations and the ability to craft policies that solve the problem without significantly hurting anybody—well, anybody except the very rich.

We should not be all that surprised by their deep, instinctive trust of government. It is a social predisposition, one that affects all of us to some degree. The belief in government’s wisdom and power is imparted to children very early in life as an article of faith, like the belief in Santa Claus. As children grow up, they begin to notice that government has flaws and that political leaders are not as wise as originally supposed. As a result, their faith in government declines somewhat, so that by age 30, as traditional wisdom has it, most people grow somewhat skeptical about government’s ability to cure the world’s problems.

But not everyone, and especially not today’s climate activists. Faced with a staggeringly complex cost-benefit analysis that has most of us (older) folks scratching our heads, they are brimming with certainty that catastrophe is coming, and government can fix whatever is wrong.

Government Can’t Save the Planet

We were given a telling illustration of this simplistic faith earlier this year when 29-year-old US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez presented her “Green New Deal” proposal. This House resolution mentions dozens of dangers and problems that she believes to be connected with climate change, from mass migrations, wildfires, and the loss of coral reefs to declining life expectancy, wage stagnation, and the racial wealth divide.

How are these all problems to be solved? Ms. Ocasio-Cortez does not propose any specific law or regulation. She does not advocate, let’s say, a 16 percent carbon tax and assure us that, according to her calculations, this measure will save 61 percent of the coral reefs, and prevent 53 percent of wildfires while reducing the income of the poor by only 8.2 percent.

Like the schoolchildren demonstrating in the street, she leaves the task of figuring out the specific answers to a higher power. Indeed, her resolution begins with this appeal to the higher power: “It is the duty of the Federal Government to create a Green New Deal.” Thus runs the thoughtless faith in government, a faith so deep that even an activist who literally is the government herself looks to “government” to solve problems she can’t begin to analyze.

If in coming years we hope to curb the naive governmental interventions that bring so much ruin to the world, we need to address this belief in the efficacy of government. We need to urge our young idealists to remember that government is not a god with magical powers to fix any problem we notice but an imperfect agency composed of fallible human beings. One way to begin this conversation is to pose this question: “Given what you know about the people who have been in charge of government, is it reasonable to expect, in the future, a high level of rationality and responsibility from government?”

Dr. James L. Payne is a research fellow at the Independent Institute and author. He earned his PhD in political science from the University of California at Berkeley, and he has taught political science at a number of universities including Yale University.

Summary

As the stool above shows, the climate change package sits on three premises. The first is the science bit, consisting of an unproven claim that observed warming is caused by humans burning fossil fuels. The second part rests on impact studies from billions of research dollars spent uncovering any and all possible negatives from warming. And the third leg is climate policies showing how governments can “fight climate change.”

It has warmed since the Little Ice Age with many factors involved, most of which are orders of magnitude more powerful than CO2.  Secondly, the last 1.5C of warming was a boon to humans and nature, and the next 1.5C will likely also benefit the world.  Finally it is naive to believe in government fixing the climate to prevent further warming.  Expensive, intermittent wind and solar power is the proposed solution, which accounts for just 2% of global energy consumed, and has proven disastrous anywhere it has been tried.  In the meantime the children are appeased by declaring a “climate emergency.”  Wake up and get real.

Greens Killing Electricity, Nuclear In Decline

Green energy initiatives are steadily undermining the electrical grid essential to modern society. Coal-fired power is often termed “Climate Enemy #1”, but the War on Nuclear Energy started much earlier and has been more successful. This century is seeing many NPP closures, and almost none constructed.

The problem is that Nuclear plants produce neither dispatchable nor nondispatachable power. Capital costs are high while variable costs of nuclear electricity are very low, and plants have long 30 to 40 year lifetimes. Nuclear is economic as a base load producer of reliable electricity 24/7. It is not intermittent like wind and solar, and not very flexible like coal, gas or hydro to ramp up or down to meet changing demand. As we shall see, public policies as well as markets are now skewed in favor of wind and solar. The deck is stacked against Nuclear, and base load supply to electrical grids is threatened, not to mention dreams of zero carbon power production.

Update June 5, 2019 Ohio House passes bill to save nuclear power plants with Democrats Support Reuters

Update May 31, 2019 at bottom Democrats’ Curious Disdain for Nuclear Power

Background: War on Nuclear Power

From Environmental Progress, excerpts in italics with my bolds.

Nuclear has declined as a share of global electricity since 1995, and in absolute terms since 2006.

Nuclear’s underlying problem has to do with the well-funded and well-organized war against it that began in the 1960s.

Anti-nuclear groups opposed nuclear for being abundant and cheap and sought to make it expensive and scarce.

Anti-nuclear groups and individuals have consistently advocated coal and natural gas instead of nuclear for 40 years, and often accept contributions from fossil and other energy companies.

Even though nuclear is the safest way to make reliable electricity, it is regulated as though it is the most dangerous.

Opponents of nuclear have won large federal subsidies for wind and solar that have been in place for a quarter-century, and state clean energy mandates that explicitly exclude nuclear.

While it is tempting to blame low natural gas prices and misplaced post-Fukushima jitters, nuclear’s troubles are rooted in regulatory capture — a capture that finds its genesis in the origins of the U.S. environmental movement. This capture is now threatening to bring this climate-friendly energy source to the brink.

Everywhere the underlying reason is the same: anti-nuclear forces, in tandem with rent-seeking economic interests, have captured government policies. On one extreme lies Germany, which decided to speed up the closure of its nuclear plants following Fukushima. In Sweden the government imposed a special tax on nuclear. In the U.S., solar and wind are far more heavily subsidized than nuclear. And states across the nation have enacted Renewable Portfolio Standards, RPS, that mandate rising wind and solar, and that exclude nuclear.

In flat contradiction of their stated views that climate change represents an imminent catastrophic threat, anti-nuclear environmentalists from Germany to Illinois to California bless the burning of fossil fuels if it means they can force the closure of a nuclear power plant.

“We don’t need nuclear power,” environmental activist Bill McKibben told an audience at Middlebury in 2014, after a showing of the pro-nuclear documentary “Pandora’s Promise.” The world, he has repeatedly insisted, can be powered entirely on wind, water and solar energies. At the same time, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whom McKibben endorsed early in the Democratic presidential nomination process, and national environmental groups, were quietly blessing the replacement of Vermont Yankee with natural gas.

The problem with nuclear is that it is unpopular, a victim of a 50 year-long concerted effort by fossil fuel, renewable energy, anti-nuclear weapons campaigners, and misanthropic environmentalists to ban the technology.

The Current Battle to Save Ohio’s Electrical Grid

Jessie Balmert writes in the Cincinnati Enquirer with an obvious bias against nuclear energy and in favor of wind and solar. Energy overhaul: ‘Clean Air Program’ just for nuclear plants, not wind or solar. Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

FirstEnergy Solutions, owner and operator of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, has cleared a hurdle in its bankruptcy proceedings after U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Alan Koschik on Monday approved FES’ amended reorganization plan. It was the fifth revised plan filed in bankruptcy court by FES. (Photo: File)

COLUMBUS – Ohio Republicans’ energy overhaul started as a thinly veiled attempt to rescue two northern Ohio nuclear plants with new fees on everyone’s electric bills.

Now, the veil is off.

Changes made to House Bill 6 last week would direct most of the $197.6 million collected from new fees on Ohioans’ electric bills to Akron-based FirstEnergy Solutions, which operates two nuclear plants outside Toledo and Cleveland.

Renewable energy companies from wind to solar would not get a cut of this “Ohio Clean Air Program.”

In a double blow, lawmakers also axed current programs that encourage electricity providers to purchase renewable energy and help customers become more energy efficient.

And lawmakers ensured utilities could charge customers a fee for two coal plants operated by Piketon-based Ohio Valley Electric Corporation through 2030. The plants are located in Gallipolis and Madison, Indiana.

The cost of a bailout

The latest version of House Bill 6 would charge Ohioans a $1 fee each month starting in 2021 for nuclear energy. The fee is higher for businesses ($15) and industrial customers ($250 to $2,500). Those fees end after 2026.

The proposal also allows electric companies to charge residents up to $2.50 each month for the two coal plants. This isn’t a new charge for many electricity customers, who are billed between $0.51 and $1.64 a month for these plants thanks to an Ohio Supreme Court decision. (An average Duke Energy Ohio residential customer pays $0.97 a month.)

But the proposed changes would lock that fee in until 2030.

At the same time, the bill eliminates current green energy and energy efficiency requirements, which cost the average customer about $4.39 each month.

Republican lawmakers argued the state shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in the energy market. Meanwhile, the bill has clear winners: nuclear and coal.

“My goal would be we should eventually get rid of all of this stuff and just let everybody compete as best as we can,” said Rep. Nino Vitale, R-Urbana, who leads the committee where the energy bill is being debated.

But the federal government already offers tax credits and benefits to renewable energy, creating an uneven playing field, Vitale said.

“Part of this bill is to correct the distortion – not bail someone out,” Vitale said.

At the heart of the debate is whether Ohio taxpayers should save FirstEnergy Solutions.

The company, which was spun off from parent FirstEnergy Corp., filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 with more than $2.8 billion in debt.

Without help from taxpayers, FirstEnergy Solutions says the company will close its two nuclear plants in Ohio: Davis-Besse, east of Toledo, in May 2020 and Perry, east of Cleveland, in May 2021.

The two plants employ more than 1,300 skilled workers who pay taxes and raise children in northern Ohio.

“We like to produce power in Ohio and use Ohio power,” said Larry Tscherne, business manager for International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 245, which represents Davis-Besse workers.

But opponents of the bailout say FirstEnergy made poor business decisions by investing in coal and nuclear plants rather than diversifying its energy portfolio. The company’s financial situation is not Ohio ratepayers’ problem.

Nuclear energy is costly compared to natural gas, coal and some renewable energy. Nuclear plants require security, disaster plans and maintenance that other plants do not. That has made nuclear energy dependent on subsidies to survive nationwide.

“Clean air is obviously good,” testified Michael Haugh with the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel. “But having state government choose outcomes in the competitive marketplace is not good.”

The Case for Nuclear Power from Steffen Henne, head of research for the Center for Industrial Progress.

Q: The Ohio General Assembly is debating a new bill that would subsidize our two nuclear plants to keep them open. Apparently, the plants produce 14 percent of the state’s power. Would shutting them down (as seems likely if the bill fails) almost certainly raise carbon emissions, at least in the short term?

HENNE: This depends on many factors, including how much electricity from other states will be imported and how much new natural gas capacity will replace Ohio’s coal fleet in the coming years to fill the gap. Ohio’s power generation is dominated by natural gas (34 percent) and coal (47 percent) right now. Taking out 14-15 percent of zero-CO2 generation immediately would definitely lead to higher CO2 emissions compared to keeping these power plants alive, even if the absolute emissions might decline over time.

It’s noteworthy that the problems of nuclear and coal power plants to turn a profit are in some significant way rooted in the presence of unreliable solar and wind. Both technologies are able to produce very cheap baseload electricity but in an environment where solar and wind can just produce when the weather is right and every other generator has to adapt to the gluts and shortfalls, the cost this creates are high for nuclear and coal plants, which have been built to run at high capacity constantly. The current nuclear reactors are usually inefficient at what’s called load following because they were not designed to do that. Although solar and wind create the problem, they don’t have to pay for the cost in the current regulatory framework.

To the extent natural gas outcompetes nuclear on fair terms, that’s a different story, but it rarely makes sense to build a new natural gas power plant if the existing nuclear capacity could still do the job. And natural gas still emits more CO2 than existing nuclear power plants in any assessment I have ever seen.

Q: Does nuclear power offer the best hope as a power source that produces energy without carbon emissions and is available 24-7? Are the Generation IV nuclear power plants as promising as their proponents claim?

HENNE: There are really only two major countries that have created affordable, abundant power with low CO2 emissions, France and Sweden, and both have done it by using nuclear technology. You can use wind and solar to some extent and at a high cost, as Denmark has done, but this is not really scalable. Denmark now has the highest electricity prices in Europe together with Germany, in large part because of their focus on wind, and they are dependent on the constant imports and exports of power to stabilize their power grid. Without the availability of large conventional power fleets in their neighborhood, the wind experiment would already be over and Danes would sit in the dark. Germany doesn’t even meet its short-term goals in CO2 emission reductions because their costly scaling of solar and wind is completely insufficient.

Yes, nuclear energy right now is the only way to reduce CO2 by significant margins without ruining the economy, grid reliability, and energy security. That is because of the inherent properties in nuclear technology, which turns an abundantly available raw material into a concentrated energy source that does not emit CO2 from a chemical combustion process.

Generation IV is an umbrella term that applies to a variety of different technologies. It is difficult to judge at this stage which of these technologies will be successful or most successful at delivering the most abundant, affordable, and reliable energy. But some of the concepts are really promising. There are, for example, fast spectrum reactors, which promise to be able to use the “waste” of other nuclear fission reactors as fuel and overall increase efficiency of the fuel. Today’s typical reactors only use a tiny fraction of the energy content in the uranium or other fuels, which means there is huge potential for efficiency increase with innovation. Other innovative approaches seek to circumvent the cost escalations in the current American regulatory and anti-nuclear social framework, which for the industry means large reactors will be delayed for years or even decades, increasing the upfront cost. Small modular reactors, which can be built in a factory instead of requiring extensive on-site work, might be a good option to reduce cost.

All that innovation potential should be exciting news for everyone concerned about CO2 emissions and the availability of affordable energy to advance human flourishing.

Q: What do you make of the fact that green organizations generally oppose nuclear power, and also insist that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately?

HENNE: I think we have to recognize that for organizations like Greenpeace it doesn’t make sense to actually solve a problem. The more abstract and diffuse the doomsday narrative, the better for their business model. Both climate change catastrophism and nuclear catastrophism are really great for them.

There is also an esoteric religious component to it. The reason why wind and solar are the preferred green “solution” is that they are supposedly natural versus the “artificial” splitting of the atom. Facts don’t matter in that narrative. Although nuclear is the safest technology to generate power it is still vilified as poisonous and dangerous.

Solar and wind are not proposed because they are real solutions but because they fit into that religious thinking.

The most immoral part of it is the absolute disregard for human flourishing. If you cannot afford energy, you have no energy. If you don’t have reliable energy, you have no energy. But affordable and reliable energy is probably the most central aspect of our survival and safety, including safety from climate. Over the last 100 years, climate-related deaths plummeted. Not because the climate suddenly became so much better for us, although the mild warming and increasing CO2 over recent decades was certainly beneficial to us, but because we were able to use technology to protect us from a naturally dangerous environment. And that required the caliber of energy that so far only fossil fuels, nuclear technology, and to some extent large-scale hydropower were able to deliver on a scale of billions.

Summation from Michael Schellenberger at Quillette Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet

The problem with nuclear is that it is unpopular, a victim of a 50 year-long concerted effort by fossil fuel, renewable energy, anti-nuclear weapons campaigners, and misanthropic environmentalists to ban the technology.

In response, the nuclear industry suffers battered wife syndrome, and constantly apologizes for its best attributes, from its waste to its safety.

Lately, the nuclear industry has promoted the idea that, in order to deal with climate change, “we need a mix of clean energy sources,” including solar, wind and nuclear. It was something I used to believe, and say, in part because it’s what people want to hear. The problem is that it’s not true.

France shows that moving from mostly nuclear electricity to a mix of nuclear and renewables results in more carbon emissions, due to using more natural gas, and higher prices, to the unreliability of solar and wind.

Oil and gas investors know this, which is why they made a political alliance with renewables companies, and why oil and gas companies have been spending millions of dollars on advertisements promoting solar, and funneling millions of dollars to said environmental groups to provide public relations cover.

What is to be done? The most important thing is for scientists and conservationists to start telling the truth about renewables and nuclear, and the relationship between energy density and environmental impact.

“Nuclear power is one of the chief long-term hopes for conservation … Cheap energy in unlimited quantities is one of the chief factors in allowing a large rapidly growing population to preserve wildlands, open space, and lands of high scenic value … With energy we can afford the luxury of setting aside lands from productive uses.”

Fifty years of empirical research show that Siri was right and the anti-growth anti-people extremists who started the anti- nuclear movement were wrong. More energy is good for people, and it’s good for nature.

Energy allows cities and agricultural intensification, which frees the countryside for return of forests and wildlife. Moving to nuclear frees us from air pollution, including carbon emissions.

Update May 31, 2019 Democrats’ Curious Disdain for Nuclear Power

Just published at National Review:  Until they embrace nuclear energy as a key to reducing emissions, the party’s many presidential candidates will be hard to take seriously on climate change.  Excerpts in italics with my bolds.

The Democrats’ disdain for nuclear energy deserves attention, because there is no credible pathway toward large-scale decarbonization that doesn’t include lots of it. That fact was reinforced Tuesday, when the International Energy Agency published a report declaring that without more nuclear energy, global carbon dioxide emissions will surge and “efforts to transition to a cleaner energy system will become drastically harder and more costly.”

At the same time that an increasing number of rural communities are fighting the encroachment of large-scale renewable projects, the U.S. is facing a wave of nuclear-reactor retirements. Nine reactors in the U.S. are slated to be retired over the next three years, and the IEA estimates that domestic nuclear capacity could shrink by more than half in the next 20 years. The agency points to the many challenges facing the nuclear sector, including increased regulations, low-cost natural gas, and competition from subsidized renewables.

This is, frankly, one of the biggest and longest-running disconnects in American politics: The leaders of the Democratic party insist that the U.S. must make big cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions because of the threat posed by climate change, but for nearly five decades, they have either ignored or professed outright opposition to nuclear energy. The last time the party’s platform contained a positive statement about nuclear power was way back in 1972.

America’s top Democrats repeatedly tout the need for “clean” energy and massive deployments of wind and solar power, but by denying the role that nuclear energy must play in any successful decarbonization efforts, they are ignoring the scientific consensus. If they truly care about the dangers posed by climate change, they should stand up and tell the truth about the need for nuclear energy. Until that happens, their various plans to address the issue will be impossible to take seriously.

Footnote:

Many do not realize how intermittent power from wind and solar farms cannibalize the electricity supply.  Since wind and solar capacity is subsidized, any actual power they produce gets top priority for consumption, since it has little or no marginal cost to the grid.  So on days when solar power is abundant in the afternoon, it absorbs the high price demand, while base load and dispatchable plants are denied that revenue.  That pattern will drive those plants into bankruptcy, leaving the grid without backup power, unless more subsidies are added to keep them open.