The “Blue Wave” never really reached shore, the U.S. Senate is still in Republican hands after the mid-term elections, the House of Representatives flipped to Democratic control, Trump-era deregulation and fossil fuel production efforts continue, several governorships and state houses went from red to blue – and almost all state renewable energy and carbon tax ballot initiatives went down in flames.
On the global stage, despite Herculean efforts by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and activist groups to redefine climate change and conjure up scary hobgoblins, the obsession over global warming, ‘green’ energy and the Paris climate treaty has hit the rocky shoals of reality.
What does it all mean for U.S. energy and climate policy?
This brief analysis might assist a divided Congress, governors and state legislators, an often confused or misled electorate, and people around the world in making better, more informed decisions on climate and energy pathways forward.
Despite well over US$150 million spent by billionaires Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros and multiple environmentalist groups, hard-green voter propositions were resoundingly defeated:
- A Colorado initiative would have made nearly the entire state off limits to drilling and fracking.
- A Washington measure would have imposed a heavy tax on carbon-based fuels and carbon dioxide emissions.
- An Arizona amendment would have required that half of all electricity be generated by 2050 via “renewable energy” (but not new nuclear or hydroelectric), “regardless of the cost” to consumers.
- Anti-oil-and-mining initiatives in Alaska and Montana also got massacred.
- Nevadans approved a “50 percent renewable energy by 2030” bill, but it must be re-approved in 2020 before it can take effect.
Voters also threw half of the Republican members of the House Climate Solutions Caucus out of office.
Some Democrat governors and legislatures have hinted that they may follow California’s example and simply impose the wind, solar and carbon tax laws that recalcitrant citizens just rejected, regardless of what that would do to energy prices, jobs and low income families.
That won’t go over well.
Perhaps voters understand what more ideologically motivated legislators, regulators and activists may not: that climate and renewable energy concerns lag way behind economic, employment, healthcare, immigration, national security and a host of other worries.
Fossil fuels are still 80 percent of our energy. Real-world evidence for ‘man-made climate chaos’ is sorely lacking.
And despite repeated assurances to the contrary, few countries are doing anything to reduce their oil, gas or coal use, or their greenhouse gas emissions.
Voters certainly know functioning economies, factories, hospitals, offices, Internets and families must have affordable energy when it’s needed – not energy when it’s available, at prices that kill budgets and jobs.
According to a report profiled by European media platform Euractiv, of the 197 nations that so excitedly signed onto the 2015 Paris climate treaty, “only 16 have defined national climate action plans ambitious enough to meet their pledges.”
Even that’s a stretch. Canada is still a fossil fuel superpower, and Ontario’s new premier has pledged to scrap its Green Energy Act and wind and solar projects. And Japan is building a dozen new coal-fired power plants to replace its nuclear facilities.
That leaves 14 countries with sufficient national climate action plans: Algeria, Costa Rica, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Samoa, Singapore and Tonga. Whether any of them is actually doing anything is questionable. And all signed onto Paris because they didn’t have to reduce fossil fuel use and wanted to share in trillions of dollars of climate adaptation and reparation money that industrialized wealthy nations simply won’t pay.
Moreover, in Asia, some 2,000 gigawatts of coal-fired power plants operate or under construction – and many of them burn fuel very inefficiently and emit prodigious amounts of CO2.
Australia and Japan have both rejected IPCC demands that they phase out all coal use by 2050. The United Kingdom has begun extracting shale gas. Germany is bulldozing ancient towns and forests to mine lignite for its new coal-fired power plants. Poland is burning more coal and preparing to import U.S. shale gas.
U.S. President Donald Trump exited Paris – and new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has promised to do likewise.
The United States is now the world’s biggest oil producer and a major oil exporter. In fact, oil production keeps climbing in the Permian, Eagle Ford, Bakken and other U.S. shale oil areas. Experts say total U.S. oil production will reach 15 million barrels per day by 2025 at US$55 per barrel, 18 million barrels per day at US$65 and 20 million barrels per day at US$75. America’s natural gas production is also soaring.
All that will create or sustain tens of thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in state and federal revenue. We should give all this up?
Meanwhile, Arctic and Antarctic land and sea ice are back to or above normal, while seas are rising at a barely perceptible 18 cm percentury. Tuvalu and other Pacific island nations claim they will soon be covered by rising seas – that have risen over 122 metres since the last Pleistocene glaciers melted … without inundating any of them, because corals grow as seas rise to nourish them.
The Maldives cleverly held a cabinet meeting underwater in 2009 to underscore their supposed plight. But any seawater flooding is likely due to islands sinking under the weight of their high-rise buildings.
These and other real-world facts help explain why the entire Paris house of cards could soon collapse. And that brings us back to IPCC chicanery, and claims that wind and solar can replace fossil fuels.
For the past 20-plus years, there has been no warming trend except during El Nino events, which have nothing to do with climate. Remove them from the picture and the warming trend is a minimal, undetectable, meaningless 0.02 degrees C per decade – far less than the margin of error.
So now the IPCC is shrewdly and secretively redefining global warming and climate change to mean the combination of observed (but often homogenized and manipulated) temperature data from the most recent 15 years – plus assumed, conjectural, computer-modelled temperature projections for the next 15!
And on that fraudulent 30-year basis, humanity is supposed to prevent climate armageddon by replacing all fossil fuel use with supposedly clean, green, renewable energy by 2050.
It can’t happen.
Just meeting America’s current electricity demand would require “covering a territory twice the size of California with wind turbines,” Robert Bryce estimates. That’s partly because placing turbines too closely together causes upwind turbines to rob wind speed from their downwind brethren (a phenomenon called wind shadow). That means average energy generation per turbine operating area is up to 100 times lower than what prominent energy experts, wind energy companies and promoters have been claiming.
My own calculations suggest we’d need at least twice that much land, because the more we rely on wind, the more we must place turbines in increasingly less windy areas – which exacerbates wind shadow. Even more land must be covered by backup battery complexes, ultra-long transmission lines to distant cities, and widespread land disturbance to get the massive quantities of exotic, strategic and conventional raw materials required for the turbines, transmission lines and batteries. None of this is free or green.
In the process, wind turbines also wipe out buzzards, raptors and bats. A new study of wind farms in India found that some 75 percent of raptors are exterminated in areas around turbines. That has numerous ripple effects all through the local food chains.
In view of all this, we need to ask: Why should the United States even consider getting back into the Paris agreement, adopting any carbon tax, carbon capture or carbon trading programs, turning more land into wind, solar and ethanol operations, or in any other way kowtowing to the IPCC and environmentalist pressure groups on these issues?
Why should any U.S. business, hospital, school or family be shackled by the expensive, unreliable, job-killing, environmentally destructive ‘renewable’ energy that these mandates would impose – for no climate benefits, even if humans have somehow replaced the natural forces that have always driven climate change?
Frontier Centre for Public Policy contributor Paul Driessen is policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of articles and books on natural resource issues. He has degrees in geology, ecology and environmental law.