American Elephants


Keeping the Government’s Hands Off Your Pocketbook! by The Elephant's Child

History Professor Burton Folsom of Hillsdale College explains carefully why government investments usually fail. Professor Folsom has demolished The Myth of the Robber Barons, Explained in New Deal or Raw Deal how FDR’s economic legacy has damaged America, and now with Uncle Sam Can’t Count: A History of Failed Government Investments from Beaver Pelts to Green Energy and in this short video for Prager University, he explains why Big New Ideas are better left to private entrepreneurs.

It’s a matter of incentives. When entrepreneurs invest their own hard earned money, they are careful and thrifty, I have not yet seen a bill for Obama’s investments in Big Ideas like Solyndra, Ivanpah, Solar City, and all the rest, and there’s the high-speed railroad to nowhere supposedly abuilding in California.

There are some lessons here to pay close attention to. Some presidents want to build monuments to themselves, and members of Congress are subject to the same temptations.



It’s Earth Day! Do You Care? Did You Observe It? by The Elephant's Child

key-considerations-for-growing-family-businesses-in-a-thriving-economy
Today is “Earth Day” and many communities try to observe it, because not caring would be a potential negative. Mostly they offer opportunities for volunteering for something or other, often recycling. Most people care about clean air and clean water, but except for Flint, Michigan, the air is pretty clean and the water is fine. Hillary, typically, in her speech after winning the primary in New York suggested that Flint was a common problem throughout the country and hardly anyone had safe water, which is bunk.

I write about climate a lot, but I should admit clearly that I am not only not a climate scientist, but not any kind of scientist. I did, however, grow up very rural in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains (that’s stretching it a bit) on 400 acres at around 4000′ elevation between National Forest and Bureau of Land Management land. I spent most of my time outdoors, and the protestations of coming climate disaster from a bunch of city people always seemed like bunk to me. Some winters we had not much more than 3′ of snow on the level and some winters we had five feet.  We had a couple of miles of river frontage with plentiful trout, and I once stepped on an eel to the astonishment of both of us.

President Obama sees climate change as an urgent issue of national security, but the public in general does not. They see terrorism, the economy, health care and government spending as far bigger issues. Only 29% of Democrats are worried about climate change as a voting issue, and 3% of Republicans. according to Karlyn Bowman at AEI.

Also at AEI, scholar and economist Mark J. Perry who a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan, Flint, lists for Earth Day18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, expect more today.” Paul Erlich is of course on the list. which ranges from greatest cataclysm in the history of man, through mass starvation, to urban dwellers having to wear gas masks to survive, and sunlight reduced by one half.  Spectacularly wrong.



Take an Honest Look At the Bigger Picture by The Elephant's Child

oila

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Green Energy is a Complete Flop, as the World Is Beginning to Realize by The Elephant's Child

National Climate Change Certification Scheme
We are mostly so engrossed in the political battles, that we have little time to pay attention to the rest of the world.  Or perhaps it’s just the media that is so engrossed, for they certainly are.

But a bunch of Democrat Attorneys General gather to attempt to garner mega bucks from Exxon Mobil because they are not interested in investigating the science, but in silencing dissent.

This is a very big deal, right out of Stalinist Russia. You dare to disagree with the “truth” handed down from the federal government and you must pay immense fines and/or be sent to the gulag. Glen Reynolds (Instapundit) said that conspiring to prohibit free speech is a crime in itself. Their idea is that they can sue Exxon Mobil under the RICO laws, which were devised for organized crime, as states attorney’s once did with tobacco. The cigarette companies knew that their product caused cancer, and tried to hide that knowledge, so there were immense damages.

Exxon Mobil, the AGs claim, is committing fraud in the interest of maximizing their profits by deceiving the public about the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions.

The fascinating thing is that these climate zealots have never read any of the science involved—they are just true believers. And every once in a while one of the true believers readily admits what it is all about—which is a brave new world where the world’s wealth will be redistributed by  climate policy.

Turns out that “the offices of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and those of other politically aligned AGs secretly teamed up with anti-fossil fuel activists to launch those investigations against those whose political speech challenged the global warming policy agenda.”

Beyond that, the drop in the price of energy is changing things all over the world.

— Hundreds of wind turbines in the Netherlands are operating at a loss and are in danger of being demolished. The main cause is the very low energy prices, which mean that the maintaining the turbines costs more than what the generated energy brings in, the Financieele Dagblad reports based on its own research. Subsidies for generating wind energy are in many cases no longer cost-effective. Smaller, older windmills in particular are running at a loss, but even newer mills are struggling to be profitable with insufficient subsidies. –Janene Pieters, NL Times, 15 April 2016

—Lights Go Out On Solar Power After British Government Cuts Subsidies The Guardian, 8 April 2016 (everywhere, when subsidies are cut, the green fraud dies)

—Polish Government plans to kill Wind Industry. Financial Times, 18 April 2016 (subscription)

—German Government Bill Threatens Renewable Energy Revolution, Green Lobby Warns
Solar Server News, 18 April 2016

—Norway to End Renewable Subsidy Scheme by 2021
Reuters, 15 April 2016

—Europe’s Energy Crisis Poses Warning for the U.S. Countries including Germany, Spain and England are finding that their recent “green energy” experiments are proving too costly to continue.
Breitbart, 14 April 2016

—Teslas May be making Hong Kong’s Pollution and CO2 Emissions Worse. The electric power for charging electric Tesla motors comes from coal generated power plants.
Bloomberg, 14 April 2016

The petrostates assembling in Doha to discuss a potential output freeze two days from now aren’t coming together in a show of solidarity or out of some sense of duty towards one another, but rather as an act of desperation. The American Interest, 16 April 2016

Cheap fossil fuels make the kinds of subsidies necessary to prop up renewables like solar a lot less politically justifiable. Buy into the solar hype at your own risk. SunEdison is one of the biggest players in the U.S. solar industry and was for a time the fastest growing renewables firm in America….today the company stares down more than $12 billion in debt and the looming threat of bankruptcy. The American Interest, 14 April 2016

Indian lenders are becoming increasingly reluctant to finance solar-power projects by foreign companies as bankruptcy looms for SunEdison Inc. in the U.S. live mint
21 April 2016 / E-Paper

There’s lots more. Britain is bringing in shale gas in a gusher, and Scotland looks to have success with shale. Huge fortunes have been made with governments’ subsidies for renewable energy, but if the subsidies are not forthcoming—wind and solar cannot stand on their own. The problems are in the nature of wind and solar energy. Wind is too intermittent, and there is no technology that can change the nature of the wind itself. The same goes for solar energy, but there the problem is night—when the sun sinks beneath the horizon and clouds.

Tesla has quietly discontinued its 10 kilowatt-hour home battery wall. The economics for backup power alone just aren’t that attractive.



The Crusade Of Democrat Attorneys General To Stifle Dissent by The Elephant's Child

jpmorgan-mortgage-bonds-probe
You have perhaps noticed that Democrats (Liberals, Progressives) don’t like disagreement, and increasingly, they wish to impose their right-thinking convictions on the rest of us, by force of law if necessary.

A coalition of Democratic attorneys general in 16 states announced Tuesday an unprecedented campaign to pursue companies that challenge the catastrophic climate change narrative, raising concerns over free speech and the use of state authority to punish political foes.

Standing beside former Vice President Al Gore, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the state officials are committed to “working together on key climate-related initiatives,” including queries into whether fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil have committed fraud by deceiving the public and shareholders about the impact of man-made carbon dioxide emissions. …

“The bottom line is simple: Climate change is real; it is a threat to all the people we represent,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “If there are companies, whether they’re utilities, whether they’re fossil fuel companies, committing fraud in an effort to maximize their short-term profits at the expense of the people we represent, we want to find out about it. We want to expose it and want to pursue them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Did you assume that it is merely a coincidence that the snowflakes in our colleges and universities need “safe spaces” to protect them from hearing anyone disagree with their right-thinking opinions. That’s why #Black Lives Matter, and activists from Ferguson and Baltimore are on campuses stirring up trouble. And that’s why they can’t bring themselves to tolerate speakers who do not hold correct opinions.

Climate Change is of course — real— the climate is always changing. We have hot summers and cool summers, hard winters and mild winters. We have had ice ages and warm periods like the Dark Ages from 600 to 900, followed by the Medieval Warming from 900 to 1300, which was followed by the Little Ice Age from 1300 to about 1850. From 1850 to 1940 there was a warming trend, and from 1940 till 1975 there was a cooling trend.

From 1976 to 1978 there was a warming spurt and from 1979 till the present it has been confusing because the surface thermometers indicated warming, but it was found that many were situated where concrete walls reflected heat, air-conditioner vents blew hot air, but  accurate satellite measurements have given us better datasets.

New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (pictured at top) is another right-thinking true believer who wants to use the force of law against those who hold incorrect ideas. Unfortunately Washington State’s Democrat Attorney General Bob Ferguson has signed on to the leftist crusade to use RICO laws ( meant for organized crime) to go after energy companies like Exxon Mobil for holding incorrect opinions. Embarrassing.

There has been no warming at all for 18 years and 10 months. None. The sun has gone quiet. If the Paris Climate Pact was fully implemented by all—it would reduce the temperature by 0.05º by the end of the century. We’ve survived the difference in temperature from a chilly rainy spring day till the next, when the sun breaks out. I suspect our descendants can handle it.



Actual Climate Change Pronouncements by The Elephant's Child

Climate-Change-Resized

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As The Sun Sinks Slowly in the West, So Does the Solar Industry by The Elephant's Child

sun_and_sky_02
Back in 2010, President Obama hailed a Spanish Company, Abengoa, saying its new solar technology would supply tens of thousands of American homes with renewable power, and create local employment.

Since then the Spanish company has built two American plants, one in Arizona and one in California, which supply electricity to more than 160,000 homes based on the capacity of the solar thermal plants. Remember that “capacity” is what the plants would provide on perfectly sunny days, and ignoring clouds or rain.

It appears that Abengoa got overambitious, and saddled with debt from its expansion, is scrambling to avoid what would be the biggest bankruptcy in Spanish corporate history. Abengoa’s American projects in Gila Bend, Arizona, and Barstow, California, still have around $2 billion in outstanding loans guaranteed by the United States government. The plants were partly financed by $605 million in federal grants and tax credits, besides the federal loan guarantees. The New York Times adds:

“The whole reason Abengoa Solar had to get the guarantee from the government is that no private lender thought the risk was worth it,” the Institute of Energy Research, a prominent renewables critic that has received financing from the oil industry, said in 2011.

Do note the NYT phrasing, and the “oil industry” link doesn’t seem to lead anywhere at all. Abengoa has legal problems as well from shareholders and creditors, with claims of misleading investors, and against individual executives. The company lost $1.3 billion last year and paid employees late.

They’ve also done projects in Central and South America. In 2007 they established the world’s first commercial solar thermal power plant on the outskirts of Seville. That year their stock hit a record high of €7.39 a share. In November, the share price had fallen below 40 euro cents. It’s now hovering around 71 euro cents.

Meanwhile up north in Maine: from Bloomberg:

Despite long winters, a famously foggy coastline and relatively few solar panels in operation, Maine is emerging as a pivotal U.S. state for determining how consumers will pay for power generated by the sun.

U.S. solar installations have boomed more than 10-fold in the past five years, driven in part by a policy known as net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That’s lowered consumers’ monthly bills, and also cuts into revenue for utilities that still must contend with their own fixed costs — spurring conflict between traditional power companies and solar providers.

The permanent problem with the sun is that sunlight is diffuse. The major greenhouse gas is water vapor, which we recognize as clouds. especially here on the Northwest coast where there is not a speck of blue sky today. Note the lovely photograph of the sun at the top of this post, and — the extensive clouds.

US solar installations have increased by 10-fold in the past five years driven by a federal policy  called net metering that requires utilities to pay their customers for extra solar energy from rooftop panels. That has lowered customers’ monthly bills, but the utilities still have their own fixed costs, and it cuts into their revenue.

Maine has proposed replacing net metering with a system that lets utilities sign 20-year contracts with residential solar customers. And instead of paying the retail price, as called for under current policies, utilities would pay rates set by regulators.

Because this is the Twenty First Century, as we are so frequently reminded, the greens are sure there is a technological fix just around the corner, and energy storage will cease to be a problem. But every known rare earth has been tried and found wanting.

Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerwall is meant to be a daily use battery. Tesla has announced prices of $3,000 and $3,500, but that does not include the inverter, and with installation it comes to $7,340. It requires about 7.5 kilowatt hours to charge the Powerwall, providing about  5.4 kilowatt hours of power once charged. The Institute for Energy Research found that it would require a payback period of 38 years which is almost 4 times the warranty period of 10 years for the Powerwall. Even if solar power were used to charge the Powerwall the payback period would be 31 years. The obvious problem is that for home use, we require electricity most when the sun has gone down.

The government’s idea was that by stimulating greater consumer demand with subsidies, production would increase and costs would go down, but in the meantime the industry believes that solar is a complete non-starter unless utilities are forced to pay extremely unrealistic prices for solar energy produced by households with solar panels. It’s not just Maine, even in sunny Nevada solar requires huge subsidies.

Progressives are sure that the government can just order utilities to charge less for their services, much like ObamaCare just assumes that hospitals and doctors can be forced to accept less payment for their services and all will be well. Most of the problems with our frighteningly large national debt and yearly deficits are due to the fact that Progressives just don’t understand the free market at all. They only understand the pursuit of power and an ever-larger government.




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