A few days ago Al Gore strapped on his galoshes and waded thru an anomalous late DC snowstorm to testify before Congress on the impending doom posed by Global Warming aka Climate Change. Al had that well-known smile/smirk on his face making it difficult to judge what he was thinking. Did it mean, “You guys are idiots and I’m really smart.” Or perhaps it was something more personal such as “I’m half way thru my Slim Fast Diet Plan and I don’t think it’s going to work.”
In any case poor Al has had a tough time of it lately. Just this month he was forced to pull a slide from his presentation that purported to show that global warming had created “weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented” after the source of the graph, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), objected to its use. CRED stated “Indeed, justifying the upward trend in hydro-meteorological disaster occurrence and impacts essentially through climate change would be misleading.” Imagine, Al Gore misleading the public.
And his support of 100% clean energy to combat global warming is running into that most stubborn of opponents: facts.
First of all the so called clean energy industry in the US only exists because of taxpayer subsidies via tax credits and mandatory purchase requirements by conventional power companies. Without those two items the industry would not be viable since unit production costs, when all costs are included, are not competitive. The mandatory purchase requirements provided to wind and solar are an indirect tax on every energy user via higher energy prices.
Here’s a chart of solar energy costs:
Using taxes to subsidize “green” jobs takes private investment away from profitable ventures that create real, long term jobs. If subsidized jobs in unprofitable businesses can recharge the economy why don’t we all just go to work for the government where all jobs are taxpayer subsidized?
As for “100% clean energy” that is an impossible pipe dream unless by “clean” Gore means nuclear. If he is talking about wind then I refer him to two European studies that put the “100% clean energy” lie to rest. In Germany, a study by the grid operator Eon.Netz titled “Wind Power 2005” stated on page 9 that when Germany’s wind power goal of 25% is reached, 96% of that 25% would have to be backed up by conventional power namely gas and coal (see here). So according to Eon.Netz you get 4% clean power from wind energy not 100%. This has been further confirmed by Germany’s plan to build 26 more coal fired plants in spite of their huge build up of wind power. In Great Britain, the Royal Academy of Engineers did a similar study and came up with “at least 90%” conventional backup.
Both reports highlight the highly unpredictable and unreliable nature of wind power – wind speeds less than 10MPH produce zero electricity and wind speeds less than 20MPH very little and therefore grids must have gas/coal online at all times to provide consistent real-time backup power for the grid. In that same 2005 report Eon.Netz documented examples of a 50% drop in wind electricity output in 2 hours and 97% drop in 36 hours. As we have written before Wind Power is a boondoggle. See here.
As for combating global warming one might ask, “What global warming?” According to satellite measurements temperatures in 2008 were colder than 1980 and 1981. So in spite of 100’s of millions more cars on the road and thousands of more coal power plants being used than in 1980 the temperature is colder. If co2 causes warming how can it be colder now than 28 years ago?
Here’s a chart for satellite temps 1979-2008.
University of Alabama professor John Christy who has studied world temperatures via satellite for 30 years stated in Dec 2008: “variations in global temperatures since 1978 … cannot be attributed to carbon dioxide.” Dr. Christy was one of the UN Scientist’s that won the Nobel Prize along with Al Gore.
Last winter China recorded its coldest winter in at least 50 years. Here in Chicago, this winter is five degrees below normal, the coldest since 1981 and the 10th coldest ever recorded. Ironically on Oct 28th Great Britain’s Parliament passed a law mandating reduced co2 to combat global warming during the first snowstorm to hit London since 1934. And in the Southern hemisphere Buenos Aires had its first snow since 1919.
Finally, in December the US Senate Environment and Commerce Committee issued a 233 page Minority Report (see here) by 650 international scientists disputing the co2 warming hypothesis. Compare those numbers with the 52 scientists who contributed to the UN’s IPCC Summary Report that claimed 90% of global warming was caused by human activity. If consensus is important then it appears to be on the side of the non-believers.
So if the Obama administration really believes in “transparency” and the end of “politicized science” why did the President meet with Al Gore instead of Professor Christy and some of the 650 scientists that signed onto the Senate report? The obvious answer is: Global Warming is political ideology not scientific argument.
The argument that placing plant food (co2) into the atmosphere causes dangerous global warming is scientifically unsupportable and hostile to the future of billions of the worlds poor who desperately need the cheap energy that fossil fuels provide. China, India and other poor countries understand this.
The world will be a better place when “progressives” understand it too.
Bill Zettler is a free-lance writer and consultant specializing in public sector compensation. He can be contacted at this mail address.