Global warming anti-conservative solution redux

Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. On day one she introduced a global warming committee scheme in the House.
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Four months of waiting have finally borne fruit. User potholer54 on YouTube at last released his “Part Two” follow-up to his “conservative solution” to global warming. Sadly, more than half of it consists of the same pitch as in Part One. The rest consists of weak defenses of capitalism and a too-little, too-late expansion of his list of alternatives. Worse yet, he ignores clear evidence that one solution he touts, failed spectacularly to deliver.

The two videos

Before you begin, fire up the cooktop and pop a batch of popcorn. You will need fifty minutes, give or take three, to watch the two videos in sequence:

The global warming thesis

Potholer54 spends a brief moment to cite his foremost conservative authority: Margaret Thatcher. Your editor will not question the authenticity of the video clips he includes in both parts. Instead CNAV questions the sources, and the soundness, of the advice Baroness Thatcher got and might still be getting. Indeed, to paraphrase the late Spencer Tracy, CNAV finds that the arguments people advance for anthropogenic global warming are sound. Mere sound.1 And a cacophony at that. To hear Margaret Thatcher sounding like Ned Ludd2 should jar anyone out of his uncritical idolatry.

Three decades after the future Baroness made that “series of international speeches,” Phil Jones had to own up to bragging about falsification of data. “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick…to hide the decline.” Your editor, as Essex County Conservative Examiner, had, hours before, published his remarks. Two years later came fresh evidence that Phil Jones and company knew they were lying all along.

Remarkably, one can still download the Climategate Archive. CNAV hopes you saved some of that popcorn. The download will take twelve minutes at about 90 KBps. That’s ninety thousand characters a second.3

Potholer54 gives this no mention. He uncritically accepts the public releases from the global warming players as true and correct. Furthermore, he gets “political correctness” backwards. Today, denying global warming is politically incorrect. NBC’s Chuck Todd (Meet the (De)Press(ed)) showed this recently.

The true goals of the global warming movement

One day after Potholer54 released his Part Two, Doña Alejandria (that’s now-Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.) released her latest threat. She will introduce in the now-friendly House of Representatives, a resolution to create a new Select Committee. She calls it the “Green New Deal.” Her legislation will task this committee with ending American use of fossil fuels. “This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil rights movement of our generation,” she says.

Read her bill, resolution, or whatever she pleases to call it, for yourselves. The Committee’s charter will task the new Committee to draft new laws to:

  1. Make the American economy “greenhouse gas emissions neutral.” (Does that include water vapor?)
  2. “Significantly draw down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere”
  3. “Promote economic and environmental justice and equality.”

To that end, among other things, the Committee will have “investigative jurisdiction” and the power to hold hearings. Hearings? Kangaroo courts would be a more apt term!

CNAV just had a wicked idea, a propos of Jack Nicholson’s famous observation that

there is nothing on God’s earth sexier than a woman you have to salute in the morning.4

Doña Alejandria could headline a Millennial Pin-up Calendar. Have her dress in a tight-fitting white uniform with baby-blue trim and white jack boots. The tunic should have the designation UNCLIFOR stitched above her left breast. Have her take combat stance, cradle an AR-18, and point it at the camera.

Dynamite!

The Australian example

Potholer54 probably won’t care to testify before the Green New Deal Committee. (That’s assuming Doña Alejandria would even favor him with a Request for Comment.) But he makes an invalidating mistake anyway with his description of carbon tax policy in Australia. He cites one example of one of Australia’s largest employers managing to reduce its “carbon footprint” and stay profitable. A. J. Bush and Sons is a special case. The company had methane out-gassing from its own waste-water ponds. When they collected this methane and burned it to heat their furnaces, they bought less coal. So they saved money on purchases as well as on taxes.

Against that comes a story potholer54 failed to mention. South Australia lost power for a full day after a bout of load-shedding. A commentator soon warned that this could happen elsewhere in Australia.

Why did South Australia lose power? Because it shut down its coal plants and now has little or no backup. So when lightning and high winds struck and blew down several transmission towers, South Australia went dark.

Elon Musk proposed to install batteries able to hold 100 megawatts (sic) of power to meet peak demand. Fortune magazine, commenting on this, probably meant 100 megawatt-hours. In any case, even they said it wouldn’t solve the basic problem. Batteries can mitigate intermittency but not insufficiency of power.

And insufficiency is the problem. Ground-based solar and wind power cannot carry the base load. Potholer54 thinks they can. He thinks wrong.

Where does the money go?

Potholer54 does follow the revenues from the carbon tax. The government used those revenues to:

  1. Relieve income taxes, at least in part,
  2. Remit cash to offset higher electric bills, and even
  3. Help buy “energy saving devices” to reduce aggregate demand.

That’s all very well. But it still amounts to a redistribution of wealth. Which is to say, a fine. Again, the problem of an absence of evidence of basic wrongdoing remains. All the primary witnesses who testified to that, turned out to be lying deliberately.

False dichotomies

Potholer54 presents a ridiculous false dichotomy. To sell the alternative to carbon taxes, which is cap-and-trade, he describes a hypothetical neighborhood where neighbors sell empty space in their garbage bins before collection. The alternative? “Unless you think the government has no business collecting garbage anyway, and you ought to be free to dump it wherever you like.” Nonsense. Merely saying the government has no business collecting garbage, would still leave you responsible for disposing of it properly. Private contractors routinely collected garbage in one unincorporated neighborhood near Memphis, Tennessee, before the city annexed it. That happened in 1969. Your editor, a resident of that neighborhood at the time, can bear direct witness.

The user also does not carry the analogy through completely. So to continue the thought experiment, let’s assume the garbage authority lowers the size of each garbage bin by ten gallons a year. Eventually you would see some signs of panic. The neighborhood would hit rock bottom on reduction of disposable waste. Yet the government would refuse to collect an ounce more. Furthermore, it would not allow anyone else to collect the excess. The directive would come down from on high: Live with it!

Questionable testimonials

Potholer54 does not limit his “conservative” testimonials to Baroness Thatcher. He mentions former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). He even shows him sitting down with Nancy Pelosi to agree with her on global warming. Conflict of interest alert! Though those two politicians hail from different Parties, they are both members of the Council on Foreign Relations. That Council does more than subscribe to a glossy magazine. It is the largest globalist organization, plumping for one-world government.

This illustrates the secondary problem with argumentum ab auctoritate, the primary problem being unreliability. Sometimes one’s “authorities” have less qualification than one supposes.

Dilute sources of energy

Ground-based solar and wind power are notoriously dilute sources. You need a lot of land over which to capture significant rays and breezes. But Potholer54 treats the wrong problem: raw materials. He asserts that making solar panels merely needs a different mix of minerals than does building a coal-fired steam turbine. True enough, but that turbine has a lower footprint than acres of solar panels and orchards of wind turbines. One measures the concentration of energy per unit land area, not only per unit mass of fuel and structural stuffs.

The videographer also asserts that solar panels and wind turbines require low maintenance. True enough, they don’t require refueling. But solar panels do require regular cleaning. (One picture in the video shows an African woman hosing down a solar panel. How does that play in lands where drinking water is like liquid gold?) Wind turbines, with their moving parts, wear out. They need regular lubrication and replacement of rotor blades, rotor shafts, and elements of the dynamos, among other things.

Current state of the art

To be sure, roofing companies like GAF and CertainTeed already offer products for anyone wanting to collect the sun’s rays that fall on his roof. Tesla competes directly with them with the new solar shingle they have under development. But most homeowners won’t collect enough of the sun’s rays to satisfy the full needs of the home. (They might in places like Mexico, the American Southwest, and Australia, but even that is a knife-edge balance.) That’s even assuming one does not buy an electric car! CNAV called for an estimate for solar enhancement of the roof of its South Central Virginia “headquarters.” That estimate promised only a seventy percent reduction in outside electricity buys. Seventy percent is not a hundred.

In fact, potholer54 came a cropper by picturing a car driving on a “solar road.” He meant only to show that solar panels could support the weight of a car. In reply to persistent comments later, he condemns solar roads as “horrendously expensive and totally unworkable.”

What other solutions does he advocate?

At t = 19 minutes 35 seconds, potholer54 finally mentions technologies other than ground-based solar and wind power. Geothermal energy bears mention. So does nuclear power. In mentioning that, potholer54 definitely risks losing some of his viewership. Recall: most of the members of the “Leave it in the ground” crew also cry, “No nukes!” (He won’t lose all his viewers, though. James Hansen at NASA has already advocated nuclear power to replace coal.)

The major problem with nuclear power goes beyond safety. One cannot ramp up and ramp down a nuclear power plant nearly as quickly as one can a coal-fired plant. New reactor designs like Pebble Bed Modular Reactors would solve that problem. Elon Musk’s utility-sized batteries could also play a role. Charge them at night; discharge them during peak hours. Such an enhancement might make the grid much safer. (How curious that the videographer didn’t mention this. It would enhance his case.)

A new twist on biofuels

He then mentions biofuels, and here he makes the best improvement so far in that argument. Mention biofuels to most, and they think corn and sugar cane. But potholer54 proposes using stubble that farmers already must discard as a by-product of growing food crops! He also proposes capturing CO2 (say, from making cement) and using it to feed a vast algal culture. That process, another way of collecting solar energy, might also produce a usable fuel. It’s still a carbon fuel, but the technique removes CO2 that would have gone into the atmosphere in any event.

The process also produces a new dietary supplement called astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants available and could probably stop a lot of cancers. Many alternative-medical advisers swear by it. Current prices for it make it almost worth building the project just for that.

Acknowledgment of reality

Here potholer54 acknowledges a real concern the global warming crowd gives short shrift.

Ask the public to sacrifice their lifestyle, or dig into their wallets, for the sake of their fellow human beings, and maybe a noble five percent of the population might do that. Make it profitable, and everyone but the most dimwitted will be on board!

Actually that five percent mightn’t include the most strident global warming alarmists. Consider the travel logistics of the Fifteenth Conference of Parties in Copenhagen in December of 2009. 140 business jets! 1200 chauffeured limousines, meaning every available limousine on the continent! Nor did the profligacy stop at that level. Successive Conferences of Parties have had even more extravagant aggregate travel budgets for their conferees.

But potholer54 deserves credit even for mentioning the second part. A project must offer value beyond the dubious “value” of global warming “mitigation.” Even by saying it, he acknowledges that most people won’t buy the notion. But they will buy something they can use, or that will save them money, right away.

The hydrogen problem

At about t=22 minutes, he turns his attention to hydrogen as a fuel. Clearly he understands the problem. Hydrogen is a secondary fuel, not a primary. One must use energy to extract it from water, nor can one transport it easily. Again, he mainly wants to use ground-based solar and wind power to make it. (Suddenly he doesn’t mention his other alternatives any longer.)

So he proposes to transport hydrogen as ammonia, which one can transport far more easily. One can also convert this ammonia back to hydrogen and nitrogen at the point of use.

So where does one get the power? He cites this article from Forbes calculating that 43,000 square miles of solar panels could generate up to 17.4 terawatts. That is (thus far) the total energy budget of the world. That area, says Forbes, would take up no more than 1.2 percent of the Sahara Desert. But it would occupy nearly all the Mojave Desert in the US. Happily, the US has more than the Mojave. It shares the Sonoran Desert (100,000 square miles) with Mexico, for example.

But one problem remains. Even the deserts of North America are rich ecologies. They would suffer badly if humans effectively blotted out the sunlight from them. (To say nothing of some humans who actually live there!) The Sahara’s problem is, and will remain, geopolitical. Desert Power will replace Oil Power. Frank Herbert (Dune, etc.) predicted this.

What the videographer did not mention

One source of energy remains which potholer54 never mentions: outer space. In space, and especially in geostationary orbital space, the sun never stops shining. Build a very large solar battery in space, tow it into the proper orbit, and beam the energy to Earth as a “maser,” a coherent microwave beam. One could aim that beam at a receiving station taking up no more room than a conventional nuclear power plant. Then one can make all the ammonia one needs. Or one can feed energy into the grid to charge electric vehicle batteries, run trains, or power homes and businesses.

So why doesn’t that bear mention? That could become available far more quickly than most of the techniques that do appear.

Fusion power would be the ultimate “almost-renewable.” Development of fusion seems to have stalled. But several laboratories are still working on it. Who can tell what progress they will make in forty years?

Reaction to Part Two

Reaction, favorable and unfavorable, has poured in since the video released. The most salient reaction comes from this YouTube user. The part most worth repeating, follows:

Thomas Edison from the 1880s for 10 years tried to improve battery technology, which almost bankrupted him and only made minute gains. Battery technology has improved somewhat but still no game changer since then. What makes you think that batteries will get any better? Even Elon Mask doesn’t believe battery technology hasn’t got much further to go. Yet you and your audience think it’s our (sic) what going to save us. Just by making it cheaper. With no consideration how much carbon was spent making these devices.

A fuel cell might have greater range than a battery pack. Fuel cells, not lithium-ion batteries, took NASA to the moon and back, six times. (Seven if you count Apollo XIII, though the crew couldn’t land and nearly died after an oxygen tank blew up.)

The Global Warming Policy Forum and Foundation

Another commenter mentioned the Global Warming Policy Forum and Foundation. The Foundation has existed since 23 November 2009: four days after this reviewer broke the Climategate Archive story. Lord Lawson, one of the co-founders, said this at the time:

Last year I brought out a book on global warming which (rather to my surprise) generated an enormous feedback, almost all of it positive. A number of those who wrote to me, who included scientists, engineers and others with an experienced background, urged me not to leave the matter there but to follow it up in some way. It was this that led me to found the think-tank we are launching today, which can achieve far more than I could on my own.

So obviously the GWPF was under development before someone leaked the Climategate Archive to this reviewer. Logical minds think alike.

To anticipate an obvious and common objection, the Foundation offers this disclaimer:

In order to make clear its complete independence, it does not accept gifts from either energy companies or anyone with a significant interest in an energy company.

That would presumably shut out Tesla as well as BP, Exxon-Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, et al.

A rapier thrust against computer models

The Global Warming Policy Forum and Foundation seems to be the only honest broker in this debate. They exist primarily to examine policy prescriptions and how well (or ill) they work. This disclaimer from them speaks the loudest:

We regard observational evidence and understanding the present as more important and more reliable than computer modelling or predicting the distant future.

Observation: on 15 December 2018, a snowstorm dumped nearly a foot of snow on south central Virginia. A local estimator for the solar-panel company SolarTyme said it was the heaviest snowfall he could remember seeing. Schools closed for two straight days and opened late on the third.

Not one of the current computer models would ever have allowed for such a snowfall. To hear the media hype, one would expect the next generation never to know any such thing as “snow” existed.

Observation: whenever former Vice President Albert A. Gore (D) makes a speech, the weather somewhere in the United States turns unseasonably cold. This happens especially in the wintertime.

Observation: not one of the politicians and UN bureaucrats screaming the loudest about global warming, will lead by example. Let’s see one Conference of Parties to which the delegates travel commercially. Or at least let them travel using a handful of chartered twin-engine wide-body airliners. Not two hundred private jets!

Summing up

As before, potholer54 starts from a weak spot. He accepts uncritically the global warming alarmist position and refuses to hear any dissent from it. (At least he doesn’t delete dissenting comments from his discussion; maybe he regards these as evidence.) The solutions he advocates all rely on using the sun and wind in some form—and only on earth. True, he cites his sources (in the video description). But he cites only one side of the argument.

Let’s assume everything he says is true. We can even include deriving 17.4 TW of power from 43,000 square miles of solar batteries). Does he really expect the world to grant to the Arab League the near-exclusive license to generate liquid ammonia to furnish all its electric power? Citing Newt Gingrich gives the same away, because Newt Gingrich is a globalist and has been throughout his political career.

And once again: observation, observation, observation. This reviewer still has fresh memories of shoveling away nearly a foot of snow in south central Virginia. Yet the videographer insists global warming is real, humans are to blame, and humans must pay. In so doing he plays into the hands of UN bureaucrats and the new Bronx (or is it Yorktown?) firecracker in the US House of Representatives.

Endnotes

1Source: Adam’s Rib, dir. George Cukor; with Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Judy Holliday, Tom Ewell, and David Wayne. MGM Pictures, 1949.

2Ned Ludd led the first cadre of British saboteurs, who threw their shoes into the industrial looms in the early days of the Industrial Revolution. “Luddite” became a hosehold name ever after for opponents of technological progress and innovation.

3One might logically object that the impeachment of a witness does not automatically negate the message. But it does require corroboration from witnesses who have not fallen to impeachment, nor linked themselves to any impeached witness. Therein lies the problem. Not one primary witness advancing the global warming thesis can claim total independence from the Phil Jones/Michael Mann/Kevin Trenberth axis. CNAV will gladly review the claim of any such witness who cares to step forward to assert such independence.

4Source: A Few Good Men, dir. Rob Reiner, with Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, and Jack Nicholson; Columbia Pictures, 1992.

Editor-in-chief at | + posts

Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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