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The Sustainable End of History?

Why California’s 100% renewable energy plan is not a blueprint for our sustainable future.

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The Sustainable End of History?

Recently, I was a panelist at a forum titled “Tough Talks” which was to eliminate the cozy complacency and tiptoeing of panelists and instead talk die-hard solutions. The topic: Ecological Destruction and strategies for a sustainable future. I was hot. I was excited. I was prepared. And I ended up rather puzzled. I’ll tell you why:

Midway through the discussion — after one panelist had made an amusingly sarcastic allusion to the Beatles’ song “Let it be” by saying that we should simply let all efforts be and accept whichever faith we have brought upon ourselves — the host asked me about my views on the Californian 100% renewable energy plan. She asked whether I agree, with so many others, that the plan serves as a role model for communities around the world and a blueprint for transitioning into a sustainable future (not even energy system; no, FUTURE).

At first, I was shocked. Was this an equally sarcastic allusion as the Beatles’ song? If so, then to what? Fukuyama’s ancient End of History piece? I didn’t get it. Also, this was the host. Would she really ask a question in this sarcastic spirit? I gambled that it was a serious question which demanded a serious answer. However, I believe my face and body language were expressing my sheer disbelief to the audience, and the fact that I had to gather my thoughts for a moment amplified this effect. At last, I made my point:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

If Trudeau Suddenly Looks Green, Here’s Why

If Trudeau Suddenly Looks Green, Here’s Why

Fossil fuels flagging, the economy demands reinvention. Expect a bold gamble of a throne speech.

Justin Trudeau’s imminent green gamble, casting the dice with long odds against rolling lucky eleven, is a risky move.

On Sept. 23, Trudeau will put his government, and his legacy, on the line with a throne speech. It faces a confidence vote. If the Liberals should lose that vote, the government would fall.

Then Canadians would be plunged into their first national campaign held during a pandemic, left to scratch their heads over myriad questions.

Who would the citizenry blame for sending them to the polls with COVID-19 still very much on the prowl?

How would newly minted CPC leader Erin O’Toole, a Harper retread, have a chance of winning? It doesn’t help that the convention that crowned him on national television looked like it was run by Curly, Larry, and Moe. Then there was that disingenuous victory handshake with Peter MacKay, the leadership rival O’Toole asked the RCMP to investigate as a thief. Worst of all, O’Toole is the invisible man of politics. Most voters wouldn’t recognize the new CPC leader if he were standing beside them at the bus-stop wearing an Erin O’Toole t-shirt.

Despite denials from party stalwarts, the NDP don’t have enough chips to even sit at the high-stakes poker table of a national election. How could Jagmeet Singh be competitive if the party can’t afford to lease a plane for their national leader, as was the case in 2019?

In that election, the NDP plunged from 44 seats in 2015 to a mere 24 in 2019, making them the fourth party in parliament behind the Liberals, Conservatives, and Bloc Québécois.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire

Image: Rolling blackouts in California show how reliance on solar and wind power can backfire
(Natural News) California issued its first rolling blackouts in nearly 20 years last week as the state’s grid operator tried to keep the power system from complete collapse in the midst of a heat wave, and some are pointing out that the situation demonstrates the failures of green energy.

The rolling blackouts affected upwards of 2 million Californians. Many of the outages took place in the afternoon, when power demand peaked as people starting turning up their air conditioning at the same time that solar power supplies started slowing down as the sun set.

The state’s three biggest utilities – Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric, and San Diego Gas & Electric – cut off power to homes and businesses for roughly an hour at a time until the close of an emergency declaration, and this was followed by a second outage.

On top of that, erratic output from the state’s wind farms failed to make up the gap. Around a third of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources thanks to state law mandates, and these alternatives proved incapable of keeping up during peak power usage. In the past, utilities and grid operators in the state bought extra electricity from other states when it fell short, but the vast size of the heat wave meant that other states were also reaching their limits and had none to spare.

Governor Gavin Newsom ordered an investigation into the outages seen in the state over the weekend, vowing to uncover the cause. However, Republican Assemblyman Jim Patterson of Fresno, who serves as the Committee on Utilities and Energy’s Vice Chair, said that the problem can be traced to California’s reduced dependence on natural gas.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible

Why a Great Reset Based on Green Energy Isn’t Possible

It seems like a reset of an economy should work like a reset of your computer: Turn it off and turn it back on again; most problems should be fixed. However, it doesn’t really work that way. Let’s look at a few of the misunderstandings that lead people to believe that the world economy can move to a Green Energy future.

[1] The economy isn’t really like a computer that can be switched on and off; it is more comparable to a human body that is dead, once it is switched off.

A computer is something that is made by humans. There is a beginning and an end to the process of making it. The computer works because energy in the form of electrical current flows through it. We can turn the electricity off and back on again. Somehow, almost like magic, software issues are resolved, and the system works better after the reset than before.

Even though the economy looks like something made by humans, it really is extremely different. In physics terms, it is a “dissipative structure.” It is able to “grow” only because of energy consumption, such as oil to power trucks and electricity to power machines.

The system is self-organizing in the sense that new businesses are formed based on the resources available and the apparent market for products made using these resources. Old businesses disappear when their products are no longer needed. Customers make decisions regarding what to buy based on their incomes, the amount of debt available to them, and the choice of goods available in the marketplace.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

THE GREEN ELECTRIC CAR MYTH: 772 Pounds Of Petro-Chemical Plastics In Each Vehicle

THE GREEN ELECTRIC CAR MYTH: 772 Pounds Of Petro-Chemical Plastics In Each Vehicle

How can an electric car be called “Green” when it contains more than 700 pounds of plastic??  Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers are using more plastic to lower the weight of the car due to the massive battery used, weighing more than 1,000 pounds.  Unfortunately, plastic is still made from petrochemicals, the so-called “Dirty Fossil-fuel Industry.”

So, without petrochemicals, the manufacture of electric cars would be extremely difficult without plastic.  And the primary feedstock for plastic is natural gas liquids (NGLs).  Due to the rapid rise in NGLs production, especially in the United States, plastic production has surged.  We can see in the chart below, that the United States accounted for nearly 90% of global NGLs production growth since 2007.

So, with all this extra NGLs production, the United States has a monopoly on the Global NGLs Feedstock for going GREEN.  Of the 3.8 million barrels per day (mbd) of NGLs global production growth since 2007, the United States added 3.4 mbd of that total.

In tearing apart the “Green Electric Vehicle Myth,” I will focus this article only on the plastic component.

There seems to be this notion that cars manufactured 50 years ago were much heavier than vehicles today due to a higher percentage of metals used.  This turns out to be false when we look at the data.  According to an Autoweek article by Murliee Martin titled, 50 years of car weight gain: from the Chevelle to the Sonic, the Fairlane to the Focus, a 1967 mid-sized Chevy Chevelle weighed in at 2,915 pounds versus a 2,955 pounds for a 2017 Chevy Sonic subcompact car:

(image courtesy of Autoweek.com, General Motors & Pinterest)

Looks are deceiving… eh?  If you read the article linked above, the 1967 Chevy Chevelle with all that metal and very little plastic actually weighed 40 pounds less than the subcompact 2017 Chevy Sonic.  Go figure…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Green Energy Delusion – We Can Never Get to Zero CO2

Green Energy Delusion – We Can Never Get to Zero CO2

This interesting documentary exposes the falsehood about green energy and the outright lies we are told that somehow this will save the planet. They call it BioMass energy which is cutting down forests and burning trees that consume CO2. The carbon dioxide released when burning wood (about 1900g CO2 for each 1000g of wood burnt) they then claim is balanced by the fact that this carbon was taken up by the tree from the air when it grew. So this part of the emissions is carbon-neutral. What they are saying is that they are releasing the CO2 the trees took out of the system rather than adding to the present level.

Coal is an important source of energy in the United States, and the nation’s reliance on this fossil fuel for generating electricity is growing. The combustion of coal, however, adds a significant amount of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per unit of heat energy, more so than the combustion of other fossil fuels. Coal is formed when dead plant matter decays into peat and is converted into coal by the heat and pressure after being deeply buried over millions of years. In other words, coal is also carbon-neutral under this same BioMass theory that coal represents plants that simply consume CO2, and it is not being released back into the atmosphere. Burning coal does not create CO2, it is also just releasing it as they burn trees.

Destroying forests to burn trees under the claim that BioMass energy is renewable because they can just grow more trees is pretty absurd. The only REAL energy that does not produce direct Co2 is nuclear. Nuclear power reactors do not produce direct carbon dioxide emissions. Unlike fossil fuel-fired power plants, nuclear reactors do not produce air pollution or carbon dioxide while operating.

THE RENEWABLE GREEN ENERGY MYTH: 50,000 Tons Of Non-Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades Dumped In The Landfill

THE RENEWABLE GREEN ENERGY MYTH: 50,000 Tons Of Non-Recyclable Wind Turbine Blades Dumped In The Landfill

Funny, no one seemed to consider what to do with the massive amount of wind turbine blades once they reached the end of their lifespan.  Thus, the irony of the present-day Green Energy Movement is the dumping of thousands of tons of “non-recyclable” supposedly renewable wind turbine blades in the country’s landfills.

Who would have thought? What’s even worse, is that the amount of wind turbine blades slated for waste disposal is forecasted to quadruple over the next fifteen years as a great deal more blades reach their 15-20 year lifespan.  Furthermore, the size and length of the newly installed wind turbine blades are now twice as large as they were 20-30 years ago.

(graphic courtesy of Ahlstrom-Munksjo.com)

Honestly, I hadn’t considered the tremendous amount of waste generated by the so-called “Renewable” wind power industry until a long-term reader sent me the link to the following article, Landfill begins burying non-recyclable Wind Turbine Blades:

Hundreds of giant windmill blades are being shipped to a landfill in Wyoming to be buried because they simply can’t be recycled.  Local media reports several wind farms in the state are sending over 900 un-reusable blades to the Casper Regional Landfill to be buried. While nearly 90 percent of old or decommissioned wind turbines, like the motor housing, can be refurbished or at least crushed, fiberglass windmill blades present a problem due to their size and strength.

“Our crushing equipment is not big enough to crush them,” a landfill representative told NPR.

Prior to burying the cumbersome, sometimes nearly 300-foot long blades, the landfill has to cut them up into smaller pieces onsite and stack them in order to save space during transportation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

Getting Real About Green Energy: An honest analysis of what it CAN’T promise

I want to be optimistic about the future. I really do.

But there’s virtually no chance of the world transitioning gently to an alternative energy-powered future.

These Are The ‘Good Old Days’

I’m often asked where I stand on wind, solar and other alternative energy sources.

My answer is: I love them. But they’re incapable of enabling our society to smoothly slip over to powering itself by other means.

They’re not going to “save us”.

Some people are convinced otherwise. If we can just fight off the evil oil companies, get our act together, and install a national alternative energy system infrastructure, we’ll be just fine.  Meaning that we”ll be able to continue to live as we do today, but powered fully by clean renewable energy.

That’s just not going to happen. At least, not without a lot of painful disruption and sacrifice.

The top three reasons why are:

  1. Math
  2. Human behavior
  3. Time, scale, & cost

I walk through the detail below. I’m doing so to debunk the magical thinking behind the current “Green Revolution” because I fear it offers a false promise.

Look, I’m a huge fan of renewable energy. And I’m 1,000% in favor of weaning the world off of its toxic addiction to fossil fuels.

But we have to be eyes wide open about our future prospects. Deluding ourselves with “feel good” but unrealistic expectations about green energy will result in the same sort of poor decisions, malinvestment, and crushed dreams as fossil-based system has.

As we constantly repeat here at Peak Prosperity: Energy is everything.  

Without as much available, the future is going to be exceptionally difficult compared to the present. Which is why I call the time we’re living in now The Good Old Days.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

March 28, 2019 Book review of Bryce’s “Power hungry: the myths of green energy and the real fuels of the future”

March 28, 2019 Book review of Bryce’s “Power hungry: the myths of green energy and the real fuels of the future”

Preface.  This is a book review of: Robert Bryce. 2009. Power Hungry: The Myths of “Green” Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future.

This is a brilliant book, very funny at times, a great way to sharpen your critical thinking skills, and complex ideas and principles expressed so enough anyone can understand them.

I have two main quibbles with his book.  I’ve written quite a bit about energy and resources in “When trucks stop running” and this website about why nuclear power and natural gas cannot get us out of the peak oil crisis (after all, natural gas and uranium are finite also).

This book came out in 2009. As far as his liking for nuclear power, perhaps Bryce would have been less enthusiastic if he’d read the 2013 “Too Hot to Touch: The Problem of High-Level Nuclear Waste” by W. A. Alley et al., Cambridge University Press.  And also the 2016 National Research Council “Lessons Learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Accident for Improving Safety and Security of U.S. Nuclear Plants: Phase 2”.  As a result of this study, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Science Magazine concluded that a nuclear spent fuel fire at Peach Bottom in Pennsylvania could force up to 18 million people to evacuate. This is because the spent fuel is not stored under the containment vessel where the reactor is, which would keep the radioactivity from escaping, so if electric power were out for 12 to 31 days (depending on how hot the stored fuel was), the fuel from the reactor core cooling down in a nearby nuclear spent fuel pool could catch on fire and cause millions of flee from thousands of square miles of contaminated land.

Bryce on why the green economy won’t work:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Megadams Not Clean or Green, Says Expert

Megadams Not Clean or Green, Says Expert

Forty years of research show hydro dams create environmental damage, says David Schindler.

Politicians who describe dams as “clean energy projects” are talking “nonsense” and rejecting decades of science, says David Schindler, a leading water ecologist.

Former premier Christy Clark often touted the Site C dam as a “clean energy project” and Premier John Horgan has adopted the same term.

But that’s not the story told by science, Schindler told The Tyee in a wide-ranging interview.

In fact studies done by federal scientists identified dams as technological giants with lasting ecological footprints almost 40 years ago, he said.

Dam construction and the resulting flooding produces significant volumes of greenhouse gas emissions. Canadian dams have strangled river systems, flooded forests, blocked fish movement, increased methylmercury pollution, unsettled entire communities and repeatedly violated treaty rights.

Schindler, a professor emeritus at the University of Alberta and an internationally honoured expert on lakes and rivers, pointed to the increased mercury levels as a health and environmental risk. “All reservoirs that have been studied have had mercury in fish increase several-fold after a river is dammed,” he said.

“How can any of those impacts be regarded as green or clean?”

The Site C dam is no exception. A report by the University of British Columbia’s Program on Water Governance found the Site C project, which faced a federal-provincial Joint Review Panel in 2014, “has more significant negative environmental effects than any other project ever reviewed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (including oilsands projects).”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

BP solar chief forecasts global clean energy renaissance

BP solar chief forecasts global clean energy renaissance

A new paradigm of ‘planetary ecology’ might emerge after 2050

Published as part of the launch of the new beta platform for INSURGE intelligence, a crowdfunded journalism platform for people and planet

A new book put together by the Chairman of the philanthropic arm of Europe’s largest solar company, Lightsource BP, throws light on how the world will be permanently transformed by an energy revolution in coming decades.

The study’s key finding is that the widespread adoption of renewable energy technologies could usher in a new electricity paradigm associated with a more advanced clean, industrial economy. The core ingredients for this paradigm will take off rapidly after 2050, it says.

On the other hand, the study warns that renewable energy, if implemented within the same ‘old’ geopolitical paradigm of the fossil fuel era, might not avoid a further deterioration of environmental stability and international security.

The new book is edited by Vicente Lopez Ibor Mayor, former Chairman of Lightsource Renewable Energy, which merged with the leading British oil firm, BP, at the end of last year.

BP invested $200m in the merger, equivalent to a 43 percent stake in what is now Lightsource BP. Under the deal, Mayor became Chairman of the Lightsource Foundation, Lightsource BP’s charitable division.

Ibor Mayor’s book, Clean Energy Law and Regulation: Climate Change, Energy Union and International Governance, also published at the end of last year, brings together expert contributions from senior EU officials, energy analysts, diplomats, legal scholars and technology experts. Their contributions scope how energy regulation is rapidly changing to keep up with the emergence of a new electricity and energy paradigm driven by the rise of renewables.

This new renewables-driven paradigm, Mayor concludes, will emerge inevitably in the latter half of the twenty-first century — but its nature, positive or negative, is not set in stone.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The UK’s Clean Energy Strategy – and the greens are back

The UK’s Clean Energy Strategy – and the greens are back

The UK government’s just-published Clean Energy Strategysupposedly leads the way to the low-carbon future that the 2008 Climate Change Act calls for. But all it actually does is dust off all the old, shop-worn green remedies (smart meters, smart grids, EVs, hydrogen, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage etc.) and present them as new solutions. The plan is to bring these solutions to reality by throwing money at them – by my reckoning at least £20 billion over the next few years – in the expectation that “investment” and “innovation” will deliver the desired outcomes, although the odds are strongly against it. In short, the greens are back in the saddle, and as a result the UK still lacks a workable energy plan.

The Clean Energy Strategy document (hereafter the CES) runs to 163 pages and often goes into considerable detail, which makes it difficult to synthesize in a single post. A simple way of gauging where the emphasis is placed, however, is to do word counts using key words and phrases. The results of my word/phrase counts are shown in the Table below:

Efficiency gets the most mentions, and improved energy efficiency is indeed worth pursuing, particularly when at least some of the recent reductions in UK emissions have come from more fuel-efficient vehicles, better-insulated buildings and the replacement of incandescent lights with LEDs (and also from people turning their thermostats down to lower their skyrocketing energy bills – an outcome of the same energy policies that the government now advocates more of. But I don’t propose to get into that here).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

100 Percent Wishful Thinking: the Green-Energy Cornucopia

100 Percent Wishful Thinking: the Green-Energy Cornucopia

At the People’s Climate March back last spring, all along that vast river of people, the atmosphere was electric. But electricity was also the focus of too many of the signs and banners. Yes, here and there were solid “System Change, Not Climate Change” – themed signs and banners. But the bulk of slogans on display asserted or implied that ending the climate emergency and avoiding climatic catastrophes like those that would occur a few months later—hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the mega-wildfires in the U.S. West—will be a simple matter of getting Donald Trump out of office and converting to 100-percent renewable energy.

The sunshiny placards and cheery banners promising an energy cornucopia were inspired by academic studies published in the past few years purporting to show how America and the world could meet 100 percent of future energy demand with solar, wind, and other “green” generation. The biggest attention-getters have been a pair of reports published in 2015 by a team led by Mark Jacobson of Stanford University, but there have been many others.

A growing body of research has debunked overblown claims of a green-energy bonanza. Nevertheless,  Al Gore, Bill McKibben (who recently expressed hope that Harvey’s attack on the petroleum industry in Texas will send a “wakeup call” for a 100-percent renewable energy surge), and other luminaries in the mainstream climate movement have been invigorated by reports like Jacobson’s and have embraced the 100-percent dream.

And that vision is merging with a broader, even more spurious claim that has become especially popular in the Trump era: the private sector, we are told, has now taken the lead on climate, and market forces will inevitably achieve the 100-percent renewable dream and solve the climate crisis on their own. In this dream, anything’s possible; Jacobson even believes that tens of thousands of wind turbines installed offshore could tame hurricanes like Katrina, Harvey, and Irma.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Magical mathematics

Magical mathematics

I know that some readers of this blog get bored by my engagements with the ecomodernists, whereas others find them interesting. So I’m going to try to keep everyone happy. I feel the need to recoup the wasted weekend I spent reading Phillips’ book by writing a few things about it, but I’m mostly going to do that elsewhere. The interesting task that Phillips sets himself, but makes a dreadful fist of tackling, is a socialist critique of left-green ‘small-is-beautiful’ relocalisation thinking. So I’m hoping to have an article about that on resilience.org soon. He also makes quite a mess of trying to critique the local food movement, a subject dear to this blog’s heart, and to be honest he’s not the only one to get in a tangle over this so I plan to write a little post about that on here soon. I’ve written a wider critique of some of the magical mathematics associated with ecomodernist thinking, including Phillips’s, which has just been published on the Statistics Views website. This post is essentially a brief summary of parts of that article, plus a foray into Mr Phillips’ enchanted world of geophagy, which I hope might be of wider interest even to people who don’t much care to follow all the twists and turns of ecomodernist tomfoolery. It falls into three parts.

Part 1: The future’s orange

…or at least it is if you believe this graph:

Energy capacity graph



…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Difficult to invest in green energy in Canada without Big Oil

Difficult to invest in green energy in Canada without Big Oil

Divestiture movement continues as organizations clean carbon holdings from portfolios

If you thought the divestiture movement was losing steam, Norway’s recent announcement shows there still is momentum around the world to stop investing in fossil fuels.

The country has confirmed that its hefty $900-billion government pension fund, considered the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, will purge some of its fossil fuel stocks.

Many other organizations have made similar moves in past years.

Concordia University in Montreal launched a $5-million fund dedicated to divestment, social and ethical investing. Stanford University in California pledged not to make direct investments in companies whose principal business is coal for energy. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund pledged to reduce investments in coal and the oilsands projects to less than one per cent of its portfolio.

But in Canada, divestiture may not be the best method of promoting renewable energy development.

Syncrude oil sands site near Fort McMurray

Traditional oil, gas and coal companies are creating the majority of renewable energy in Alberta. (Kyle Bakx/CBC)

The reason is that, outside of government, it is the traditional oil and gas companies that are constructing much of the green energy projects in the country, such as wind, hydro and solar.

For instance, the largest wind and hydro projects in Alberta are owned in whole or in part by traditional oil, gas and coal companies.

Capital Power is an example of a private sector company with a mixed bag of energy projects. It’s a leader in renewable energy development and uses fossil fuels too. The Edmonton-based company has more than 20 wind and solar power plants in North America. It also operates a coal mine as well as several coal- and natural gas-fired plants.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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