Living on a farm in Canada in the winter, I used to cozy up to the cow when I milked her because she would warm up the barn. Humans just living produce heat. Let’s look at what we know to be real science and then decide what we should and can do to conserve the planet. When I grew up in California, the sky was gray. Now it is blue. We have made great strides in improving the air quality and we should continue to do so. Urban sprawl continues to claim native California but this sprawl comes with increased trees and landscape. Water is always a problem here, but nature has come to the rescue this year. Cars are more prolific than houses, but they are and should continue to get better gas mileage. My 94 Honda Del Sol is rescued from landfill (at least temporarily) and gets 35 MPG. My bike, kayak, and windsurfer use no energy, but I have to admit that I bought them new, which took a lot of plastic and aluminum to make. Should I do more? Yes.
No one disputes climate change, not even President Trump, so let’s get rid of that talking point. “97% of climate scientists agree that there is climate change” (it is commonly called summer and winter) but don’t agree that man’s activities affect it. This survey was sent to only 10,000 scientists, 3,000 came back and only 77 peer-reviewed climate scientists participated! Since 1998, more than 31,000 scientists, have announced that “…there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.” Three times more scientists think that here is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere, so let’s get rid of that talking point.
Climate models showing global warming have been wrong 95% of the time. The warming is up a whopping 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, a warming that has tapered off to essentially nothing in the last decade and a half, despite continuing increased industrialization. American taxpayers are being charged $4.7 billion a year in taxes that are being used to fund organizations that carry out meaningless studies based on bad science. Basically, the American people are paying fake scientists to lie to them, so let’s get rid of the climate models.
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The presence of carbon dioxide in the air is essential to life on earth. We have been led to believe that the most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide. It is not. Water vapor and clouds are actually responsible for about 80 to 90 percent of the total greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect attributable to CO2 is believed to be as low as 4 percent. CO2 that is man-made is only about 4 percent of total CO2. That amounts to .02 percent or .002 of the total warming effect. Mount Saint Helen affected the atmosphere more and dropped the temperature almost 3 degrees. It is generally recognized that the climate of the earth is governed by plate tectonics, volcano eruptions, sun variability and the earth’s orbit. There is no correlation between the CO2 concentration and global temperature. The 310,000,000 cubic milesof water on the earth’s surface are able to hold a tremendous amount of heat and provide great temperature stability to the earth. The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere causes an increase in plant growth which tends to warm the atmosphere, so let’s get rid of the concern about greenhouse gases.
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The Paris Accord has nothing to do with effecting the environment. The Paris Accord is highly costly and would do close to nil to address climate change. Participants called for a Green Climate Fund that would collect $100 billion per year. The Obama administration ended up shipping $1 billion in taxpayer dollars to this fund without authorization from Congress. There is nothing about leaving the Accord prevents Americans from continuing to invest in new energy technologies. The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have $7,000 less income, and in many cases much worse than that. That money should be spent in our country encouraging energy sources and improvements in the environment. We do not need 190 other nations and meaningless targets for the year 2100 to tell us when to pursue our own clean air policies. So, let’s get rid of The Paris (not Agreement but) Accord.
So where are we at? The Economist published an article concluding: “governments should target emissions reductions from any source, rather than focus on boosting certain kinds of renewable energy.” Our energy grid is primarily supplied by Hydroelectric at $.08/kW-hr, natural gas at $.07/kW-hr with little effect on the environment. Coal at $.09/kW-hr, and Nuclear at $.09/kW-hr, both have their own environmental concerns. To a lesser extent power is supplied by Solar at $.12/kW-hr, wind at $.20/kW-hr, Biomass at $.10/kW-hr, Solar thermal at $.24/kW-hr, and Geothermal at an incredibly low of $.05/kW-hr. With the exception of Geothermal, these sources have many other problems aside from high cost /kW-hr.
In Germany, where some 32% of installed energy capacity is from wind and solar, electricity in 2016, cost Germans $.39 per kilowatt-hour, versus $.27 for the rest of Europe and about $.11 cents for Americans. Onshore windmill farms produce less than 2 W/m2 of land, this means to make any significant contribution to our power grid an enormous amount of land must be taken up. For comparison, corn-based ethanol produces 0.315 W/m2 of land, which is even worse. A modern oil field, on average, produces 90 W/m2 of land. In 2012, Germany had an installed a solar power electricity generation capacity of 254 TWh, but it only produced 19.3 TWh of electricity, 8% of rated capacity. In other parts of the world, the usable electricity from solar is higher, but it almost never exceeds 30%. German usable wind power is about 17% of capacity. By way of comparison, most fossil fuel power plants achieve capacity factors of over 80% and nuclear 94%.
Further, although the stated goal of using renewables is to lower carbon dioxide emissions, the fact is Germany’s CO2emissions have gone up. The US mandate to use biofuels, mainly corn or cellulosic ethanol, has been a disaster. Further, ethanol, whether from corn, sugarcane or cellulose requires so much energy to produce it either barely breaks even on EROI or is negative, in that it may take more energy to make ethanol than it delivers. Using corn to make fuel raises food prices around the world, which hurts the poor. And because corn requires fertilizer, growing more corn can be an environmental hazard. More than 70% of the increase in food prices around the world are due to making biofuels since 2007, The military has spent $68 million on 1.35 million gallons of biofuel, over $50 a gallon. This does not include the cost of federal and state biofuel subsidies. Conventional fuel would have cost the military $8 million. Renewables are simply a parasite on conventional power and as renewable use goes up, fossil fuel and nuclear will go up, just like in Germany and Denmark today. Yes, we should continue to develop these resources but only as it is cost effective without mass subsidies.
Geothermal energy is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Geothermal power plants have average availabilities of 90% or higher, compared to about 75% for coal plants. Lardarello field in Italy has been in operation since 1913, and the Wairakei field in New Zealand since 1958, and at The Geysers field in California since 1960. At The Geysers, power is sold at $0.03 to $0.035 per kWh. A power plant built today would probably require about $0.05 per kWh. Geothermal energy acts as a price stabilizer that offsets U.S. dependence upon highly volatile fossil fuel power markets. From the great divide westward, we have abundant sources of virtually free untapped energy. California Energy Commission (CEC) study places geothermal energy at a lower cost ($/MWh) than many other types power plants including Natural Gas, Wind, Biomass Combustion, Nuclear, Solar Thermal, and Photovoltaic. A home geothermal energy pump can cut energy bills by 30 to 40 percent and will pay for itself within 5 to 10 years.
For the present, Hydroelectric and Natural Gas seem to be the most cost effective and most environmentally friendly sources of energy and should be further developed. Fracking has made natural gas abundantly available and with the amount of water that goes flooding into the oceans, hydroelectric energy should be further harnessed. Think about how much water goes under the Golden Gate Bridge and other places along the west coast. What about the Mississippi River and the Saint Laurence Seaway.
So let’s refocus our attention on developing real unfettered and cost effective solutions to providing the energy we need today and in the future. If we can produce abundant energy that is sensitive to the environment, global warming concerns will become irrelevant and be one less issue we can fight over.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.