Lefty fantasist nitwit gets himself a real-world schoolin’…and not only learns something, but admits his error.
I thought the solutions were pretty straightforward: solar panels on every roof, electric cars in every driveway, etc. The main obstacles, I believed, were political. And so I helped organize a coalition of America’s largest labor unions and environmental groups. Our proposal was for a $300 billion dollar investment in renewables. We would not only prevent climate change but also create millions of new jobs in a fast-growing high-tech sector.
Our efforts paid off in 2007 when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama embraced our vision. Between 2009–15, the U.S. invested $150 billion dollars in renewables and other forms of clean tech. But right away we ran into trouble.
The first was around land use. Electricity from solar roofs costs about twice as much as electricity from solar farms, but solar and wind farms require huge amounts of land. That, along with the fact that solar and wind farms require long new transmissions lines, and are opposed by local communities and conservationists trying to preserve wildlife, particularly birds.
Another challenge was the intermittent nature of solar and wind energies. When the sun stops shining and the wind stops blowing, you have to quickly be able to ramp up another source of energy.
Other problems didn’t seem like such a big deal, on closer examination. For example, after I learned that house cats kill billions of birds every year it put into perspective the nearly one million birds killed by wind turbines.
It seemed to me that most, if not all, of the problems from scaling up solar and wind energies could be solved through more technological innovation.
But, as the years went by, the problems persisted and in some cases grew worse. For example, California is a world leader when it comes to renewables but we haven’t converted our dams into batteries, partly for geographic reasons. You need the right kind of dam and reservoirs, and even then it’s an expensive retrofit.
Without large-scale ways to back-up solar energy California has had to block electricity coming from solar farms when it’s extremely sunny, or pay neighboring states to take it from us so we can avoid blowing-out our grid.
Despite what you’ve heard, there is no “battery revolution” on the way, for well-understood technical and economic reasons.
As for house cats, they don’t kill big, rare, threatened birds. What house cats kill are small, common birds, like sparrows, robins and jays. What kills big, threatened, and endangered birds—birds that could go extinct—like hawks, eagles, owls, and condors, are wind turbines.
In fact, wind turbines are the most serious new threat to important bird species to emerge in decades. The rapidly spinning turbines act like an apex predator which big birds never evolved to deal with.
Solar farms have similarly large ecological impacts. Building a solar farm is a lot like building any other kind of farm. You have to clear the whole area of wildlife.
In order to build one of the biggest solar farms in California the developers hired biologists to pull threatened desert tortoises from their burrows, put them on the back of pickup trucks, transport them, and cage them in pens where many ended up dying.
As we were learning of these impacts, it gradually dawned on me that there was no amount of technological innovation that could solve the fundamental problem with renewables.
Quillette has this one labeled a “must read” on their front page, and it damned sure is that. Read every word of it; Shellenberger really gets down into the nuts and bolts of the thing—and, most remarkable of all, packs a great deal of two qualities heretofore unknown among Progtard envirotwerps into this article: humility, and honesty. Hats off to him for it. The quote of the week, about those desert tortoises:
Another scientist who worked to build that gigantic solar farm in the California desert told High Country News, “Everybody knows that translocation of desert tortoises doesn’t work. When you’re walking in front of a bulldozer, crying, and moving animals, and cacti out of the way, it’s hard to think that the project is a good idea.”
And when you’re spending untold billions on Fantasyland projects deploying old, tired technologies left behind a century (or several) ago as more efficient ways of producing energy came along—and the only discernible impact, if any, on Climate Change (formerly Global Warming, formerly Global Cooling, formerly “the weather”) is to worsen things slightly, it’s even harder to think that the whole thing is anything more than a hoax and a scam.
Update! A little history, and…SCIENCE!!!
“Sea level is rising, but this has been gradually happening since the 1860s; we don’t yet observe any significant acceleration of this process in our time.” Here again, one must consider the possibility that the causes for rising sea levels are partly or mostly natural, which isn’t surprising, says Curry, for “climate change is a complex and poorly understood phenomenon, with so many processes involved.” To blame human-emitted carbon dioxide entirely may not be scientific, she continues, but “some find it reassuring to believe that we have mastered the subject.” She says that “nothing upsets many scientists like uncertainty.”
This brings us to why Curry left the world of the academy and government-funded research. “Climatology has become a political party with totalitarian tendencies,” she charges. “If you don’t support the UN consensus on human-caused global warming, if you express the slightest skepticism, you are a ‘climate-change denier,’ a stooge of Donald Trump, a quasi-fascist who must be banned from the scientific community.” These days, the climatology mainstream accepts only data that reinforce its hypothesis that humanity is behind global warming. Those daring to take an interest in possible natural causes of climactic variation—such as solar shifts or the earth’s oscillations—aren’t well regarded in the scientific community, to put it mildly. The rhetoric of the alarmists, it’s worth noting, has increasingly moved from “global warming” to “climate change,” which can mean anything. That shift got its start back in 1992, when the UN widened its range of environmental concern to include every change that human activities might be causing in nature, casting a net so wide that few human actions could escape it.
Scientific research should be based on skepticism, on the constant reconsideration of accepted ideas: at least, this is what I learned from my mentor, the ultimate scientific philosopher of our time, Karl Popper. What could lead climate scientists to betray the very essence of their calling? The answer, Curry contends: “politics, money, and fame.” Scientists are human beings, with human motives; nowadays, public funding, scientific awards, and academic promotions go to the environmentally correct. Among climatologists, Curry explains, “a person must not like capitalism or industrial development too much and should favor world government, rather than nations”; think differently, and you’ll find yourself ostracized. “Climatology is becoming an increasingly dubious science, serving a political project,” she complains. In other words, “the policy cart is leading the scientific horse.”
Chicken Littles gotta Chicken Little, globalists gotta globalist, Tranzis gotta Tranzi, and government-teat sucklers gotta suckle.