American Elephants

China’s Renewables Industry Is Collapsing. by The Elephant's Child


China has gone in for “renewable energy” in a big way.  Their solar panel industry has gone from nothing to becoming the world’s largest producer in only five years. But the industry has now crashed with with negative profit margins, idle factories and soaring levels of debt.

Suntech, a solar panel manufacturer, has been a national champion which became the world’s largest, filed for bankruptcy in March after it defaulted on payment of $541 million of bonds. The Chinese government is scrambling to clean up the mess by offering tax breaks to all solar companies who acquire or merge with their competitors.

LDK Solar, another leading Chinese producer, was forced to turn to provincial and local government for protection from its creditors. LDK was the brainchild of the local Communist Party Secretary, and received millions of dollars in state subsidies, cheap financing, land and electricity in 2005. The local government is pumping in money to keep it from sinking, but the company has already shed 20,000 of its 30,000 employees and its shares are 98% below their peak.

China’s solar panel sector remains massively overbuilt. Demand for solar panels has been shrinking as governments in the West learn that it was the subsidies that made solar energy attractive.

Wind power is little different. Sinovel — one of the world’s largest wind turbine manufactures — was earning hundreds of millions of dollars in profits in 2010, to millions of dollars of losses that grow by the day. Revenues are a fifth of what they were in 2010. In 2012, 17% of all windmills lay idle, the power they produce too expensive to connect to the grid. In some regions, 50% of all windmills remain unconnected to the grid.

China’s green sector crash is a textbook example of a command and control economy, where “experts” substitute their ideas for the complex supply and demand decisions of a free market. The Chinese state gave Chinese manufacturers near-monopoly powers and almost free money. The Bank of China, one of the largest state-owned commercial banks, says that 21% of its solar loans are in or near default. The average debt ratio is 75.8%.

To save face, China’s central planners have switched from subsidizing suppliers to subsidizing demand by demanding that power producers meet green targets in the domestic market. China can, of course force consumers to buy solar energy, but that doesn’t really solve anything. Chinese power customers would just pay the price in more expensive and less reliable power.

Goodbye, Atlantic Array. A Stark Warning —Is Anybody Listening? by The Elephant's Child


The German energy giant RWE just pulled the plug on one of the world’s largest wind parks, the £4 billion Atlantic Array in the Bristol Channel. RWE did so for the stark reason that “the economics do not stack up”. It’s a mantra that well reflects the entire chaotic, incoherent and frankly competing elements at the heart of Europe’s energy policies. 

Big renewable energy projects will always require state intervention and public cash in pursuit of the illusory aims of decarbonization. Private investment and business venture capital, are of sounder mind, and not inclined to take on the monumental risks involved, without the safety net of government guarantees and continuing public subsidies. Often better known as crony capitalism.

A democratic electorate views its key priorities with a combination of skepticism and common sense, particularly when their first priorities, like an improving economy have gone a glimmering. RWE had complained that the government was treating environmental subsidies as a “political football” which is an accurate representation of the ideological differences at the heart of the coalition.

The British Liberal Democrat energy secretariat is philosophically committed to paying for renewable energy, apparently whatever the cost to the end energy user. George Osborne’s Conservative Treasury, on the other hand, is quite aware of the political cost of the consumer’s energy bills. Britain has been dealing with “energy poverty,” for a number of years. But the whole thing goes back to Germany’s panicked knee-jerk reaction to abandon nuclear power in the wake of Fukushima. That led to the early closure of perfectly operational power stations, many owned by RWE. That short-sighted reaction now threatens Germany with a serious power shortage. RWE knew that the Atlantic Array needed more, not less government subsidies, and there is no prospect of that happening. They have embarked on a fast track divestment of their assets, divested itself of part of its UK gas and electricity sector and are outsourcing 1,400 jobs from Europe to India.

This is a stark warning to the rest of the world that renewable energy projects come with a need for constant government subsidy. These projects do not pay for themselves. Australia is drafting legislation to abolish the country’s carbon pricing mechanism to assuage the consumer anger over soaring energy prices. Green Dreams are all very well, but business is business, and the public has had enough of governmental green dreams. Somebody really needs to tell President Obama.

How Global Warming Deniers View the Problem of Global Warming by The Elephant's Child


Uh Oh! Executive Order: Prepare the US for the Impact of Climate Change! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has just issued an executive order “to prepare the nation for the impacts of climate change by undertaking actions to enhance climate preparedness and resilience.”

“The impacts of climate change — including an increase in prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, more heavy downpours, an increase in wildfires, more severe droughts, permafrost thawing, ocean acidification, and sea-level rise — are already affecting communities, natural resources, ecosystems, economies, and public health across the Nation. These impacts are often most significant for communities that already face economic or health-related challenges, and for species and habitats that are already facing other pressures. Managing these risks requires deliberate preparation, close cooperation, and coordinated planning by the Federal Government, as well as by stakeholders, to facilitate Federal, State, local, tribal, private-sector, and nonprofit-sector efforts to improve climate preparedness and resilience; help safeguard our economy, infrastructure, environment, and natural resources; and provide for the continuity of executive department and agency (agency) operations, services, and programs,” the order states.

So we have a new interagency Council on Climate Preparedness and Resilience and a State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. In other words, massive busy work for bureaucrats at all levels of government. Just what are “climate preparedness” and “resilience” other than meaningless bureaucratese? How do you prepare for climate? Hint: Wind turbines are apt to shut down in really cold weather. Demand for electric power will be higher. Perhaps you don’t want to shut down all those coal-fired plants after all.

We have an agency called FEMA — the Federal Emergency Management Agency whose specific task is emergencies of the hurricane and flood variety and they can’t seem to manage those effectively. Each of the “impacts” of climate change mentioned already have an agency or agencies tasked with studies, works and funds devoted to those “impacts.”

“Managing these risks requires deliberate preparation, close cooperation and coordinated planning by the Federal Government.” No it doesn’t. Global Warming ended in the Twentieth Century when it was finally understood that it was just another fraudulent panic developed to enrich the select.

The new Council and related task forces will generate volumes of reports, studies, and stacks of paperwork that no one will read, that will result in no action other than busy work for more and more government employees. We have a vast history of Councils and Task Forces and Committees, and the few who produce serious, quality work are ignored, thanked for their participation, and sent on their way, while someone in the vast halls of the federal bureaucracy will dream up an idea for another Task force and the growth of government will proceed unabated.


America: the Saudi Arabia of Coal — Under EPA Attack! by The Elephant's Child

From Investors Business Daily:

Regulation: More than 3,500 coal supporters descended on Washington Tuesday to protest environmental rules requiring technology that doesn’t exist, designed to turn the Saudi Arabia of coal into the Bangladesh of energy.

Members of Congress, union members, miners and their families stormed Capitol Hill to air their grievances about President Obama’s policies that make it harder to burn or mine coal.

They were protesting the government shutdown that hasn’t ended — that of the coal industry in pursuit of environmental goals that ignore global temperatures that haven’t budged in 17 years and greenhouse-gas emission declines that have occurred as a result of energy industry technology and free market decisions.

“When coal plants shut down” said Rep. Andy Barr ( R-KY) communities have no customers, county governments have no tax revenues to invest in schools or infrastructure. “The unemployment in some counties is in double digits.”

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says global climate change caused by carbon pollution “is one of the most significant public health threats of our time” thus forcing her agency to adopt stringent measures.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” EPA zealots seek air that is pure and free from even fine particulates. Can’t happen. To show that “carbon pollution” is a significant health threat, the EPA merrily makes up statistics out of whole cloth, to add significance to their claims. They attribute numbers of “future deaths”— apparently from a departmental crystal ball.

Coal-fired electric power plants produce 42 percent of our electric power. The EPA thinks new regulations will force “carbon capture and sequestration technology” which will accomplish nothing at all, except to make your electricity bill way more expensive. Their regulations are more apt to produce brownouts and blackouts along with extreme poverty in coal mining states. A religious fervor for non-existent global warming is hard to fight. Zealots are impervious to new information, and uninfluenced by science.

The Left Coast Lefties Are Joining Forces to Fight Climate Change by The Elephant's Child

Just as the world is recognizing that “climate change” is something the climate does quite regularly, and the billion dollars a day the world has spent on “fighting climate change” has all gone for naught, the lefty governments of the left coast have joined together to take action on Climate and Energy.

“British Columbia, California, Oregon & Washington Join
Forces to Combat Climate Change.”

The leaders of British Columbia, California, Oregon and Washington signed the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy yesterday, committing their governments, and a region that represents the world’s fifth largest economy, to a comprehensive and far-reaching strategic alignment to combat climate change and promote clean energy.

Through the Action Plan, the leaders agreed that all four jurisdictions will account for the costs of carbon pollution and that , where appropriate and feasible, link programs to create consistency and predictability across the region of 53 million people. The leaders also committed to adopting and maintaining low-carbon fuel standards in each jurisdiction.

That’s what you get when politicians don’t keep up with the news. Global warming alarmism is over. The IPCC computer programs were wrong. There is no such thing as “carbon pollution.” We are a carbon life form, we exhale CO², Carbon dioxide is a natural plant fertilizer and is greening the planet, helping the world to feed increasing numbers of people.

Adding ethanol to gasoline makes the exhaust dirtier and does not contain as much energy as plain old gasoline. Oddly enough, the only really “clean” energy is nuclear energy, and I didn’t hear any of this bunch advocating more nuclear plants. They’re still bent on a carbon pricing program and “harmonizing their 2050 greenhouse gas emission targets. Sigh.

“California isn’t waiting for the rest of the world before it takes action on climate change,” said Governor Moonbeam. “Today, California, Oregon. Washington and British Columbia are all joining together to reduce green house gases.”

They’re pledging to cooperate with governments and sub-national governments around the world to press for a global agreement on climate change in 2015. Al Gore will be so pleased.

The West Coast is home to many biofuel plants, a large number of very large radical environmental groups, and a lot of wind farms and solar arrays. Lots of blather about clean energy, joining together, our obligation to future generations and the usual sustainable words. As I said in the post below, the world has “invested $1 billion a day to fight global warming — in a world where there has been no warming in this century — none at all for 16 years even while CO² increased benignly, happily greening the planet. And all that money accomplished nothing, nothing at all.

Governors don’t make time to actually get informed on matters environmental. It was an enormous fraudulent fad, and everybody recycled and packaged their goods in recycled packaging. Businesses jumped on the bandwagon in a big way, donating to environmental causes, and planting trees. Governors’ offices across the country were signed up by the Center for Climate Strategies, who approached with an impressive dog-and-pony show, an “offered governors a terrific bargain: You ration energy use and otherwise coerce the public into major lifestyle modifications and we’ll help you inflate your reputation with media attention and praise as a pragmatist.” This was in 2008, when everyone was attempting to burnish their green credentials.

Already too late — warming peaked in 1998.

Klimamysteriet : The Cloud Mystery by The Elephant's Child

When the word ecosystem is mentioned, we are apt to think of the land on our side of the hill and the stream, if any, than runs down toward the river — that sort of thing. But in another way of looking at it we can think of the planet earth as our ecosystem. Now Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark has shown that our ecosystem extends to the galaxy, for what happens in our galaxy influences what happens here on earth.

In 1996, Henrik Svensmark hypothesized a radical theory that the sun — rather than trace amounts of CO² — was the primary driver of our climate.  Met by cries of “How interesting”, “let us publish your paper.” Not exactly. This fascinating video tells the story of Svensmark’s work, and the struggle to simply get his work published so other scientists can try to reproduce his conclusions. Insults. Outrage. How dare you offer something that is contrary to accepted science, it’s absurd. This is not only a story of a struggle, it explains how science is done, the quest for funding, figuring out how to do the necessary experiments, show proof, convince others. It’s a long video, so plan time to watch for it is very worth your time.

This article from Anthony Watts from April 2012, explains the publication and what it means:

In Svensmark’s new paper an equally concise theory, that cosmic rays from exploded stars cool the world by increasing the cloud cover, leads to amazing explanations, not least for why evolution sometimes was rampant and sometimes faltered. In both senses of the word, this is a stellar revision of the story of life.

Here are the main results:

  • The long-term diversity of life in the sea depends on the sea-level set by plate tectonics and the local supernova rate set by the astrophysics, and on virtually nothing else.
  • The long-term primary productivity of life in the sea – the net growth of photosynthetic microbes – depends on the supernova rate, and on virtually nothing else.
  • Exceptionally close supernovae account for short-lived falls in sea-level during the past 500 million years, long-known to geophysicists but never convincingly explained..
  • As the geological and astronomical records converge, the match between climate and supernova rates gets better and better, with high rates bringing icy times.

An amusing point is that Svensmark stands the currently popular carbon dioxide story on its head. Some geoscientists want to blame the drastic alternations of hot and icy conditions during the past 500 million years on increases and decreases in carbon dioxide, which they explain in intricate ways. For Svensmark, the changes driven by the stars govern the amount of carbon dioxide in the air. Climate and life control CO2, not the other way around.

Well so much for CO² and the tailpipes of your SUV. It may take a long time, years, decades, but in the end the story will come out right. This one has. Anthony reminds us of this lovely quotation:

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff. – Carl Sagan


They Held a Big Rally for Climate Change and Nobody Came! by The Elephant's Child


The polls have been quite clear. People are concerned about jobs, unemployment, the economy, and a long list of things, Right at the bottom is always climate. In the midst of nationwide concern about administration scandals, the IRS, the NSA surveillance, Obama was out asking the people to care about the climate and saving mother earth.

While the Obamas were enjoying a holiday at Martha’s Vineyard, Organizing for Action, the former Obama campaign group morphed into a nonprofit advocacy group planned a “Climate Change Day of Action Rally“in Washington DC, but  it rained in Georgetown and nobody came. Wit an embarrassing zero turnout, the event page disappeared.

There is something particularly amusing when people whose deepest concern is supposedly the climate of the earth, refuse to turn out in a little rain. Perhaps they can fix the climate so all days are equal and we don’t have to worry about going out in the rain, except on government preferred days.

Worse Than Solyndra: The Shepherds Flat Wind Project! by The Elephant's Child


Back in 2011, Robert Bryce wrote about America’s Worst Wind-Energy Project.

The more people know about the wind-energy business, the less they like it. And when it comes to lousy wind deals, General Electric’s Shepherds Flat project in northern Oregon is a real stinker….

The majority of the funding for the $1.9 billion, 845-megawatt Shepherds Flat wind project in Oregon is coming courtesy of federal taxpayers. And that largesse will provide a windfall for General Electric and its partners on the deal who include Google, Sumitomo, and Caithness Energy. Not only is the Energy Department giving  GE and its partners a $1.06 billion loan guarantee, but as soon as GE’s 338 turbines start turning at Shepherds Flat, the Treasury Department will send the project developers a cash grant of $490 million.

The deal was so lucrative for the project developers that last October, some of Obama’s top advisers…wrote a memo saying that the project’s backers had “little skin in the game” while the government would be providing “a significant subsidy (65+ percent).” The memo goes on to say that, while the project backers would only provide equity equal to about 11 percent of the total cost of the wind project, they would receive an “estimated return on equity of 30 percent.” (emphasis added)

Bryce also quoted the CEO of Duke Energy as saying that wind capacity is growing because energy companies can goose their profits by putting up turbines so they can collect subsidies from taxpayers. One of GE’s partners in the deal said they were pleased about bringing “green energy jobs to our economy.” If you count only the $490 million cash grant for GE when the project is finished the cost of the “green energy” jobs will be about $16.3 million each.

Shepherds Flat is the world’s largest wind farm, about halfway between The Dalles and Pendleton in Oregon, south of the Columbia River. Interestingly, what energy is produced goes not to Oregon, but to Southern California which is always hungry for Northwest power. The Obama administration’s loan guarantee for Solyndra got lots of attention, but Shepherds Flat is an even better example of corporate welfare, and a huge drain on taxpayer funds when the economy is in the tank. The Oregonian newspaper has launched an investigation about the federal Energy Department’s loan-guarantee program and the state of Oregon’s decision to award a total of $30 million to the project — “frosting on a multilayered cake of federal, state and local subsidies.”  Reporter Ted Sickinger said “Its developers gorged themselves on hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers, and government officials were well aware it was over-subsidized.”

Oregon is oversupplied with green activists, so the Shepherds Flat project added luster to Oregon’s green ambitions. Sickinger added “Though its renewable energy credits flow to California, it generates lots of clean power. Politicians can point to property taxes and community service fees for rural counties, big lease payments for a handful of landowners and 45 permanent jobs.”

The Oregon Department of Energy ignored its own rules, legislators’ intent and taxpayers’ interest in reaffirming its decision to define Shepherds Flat wind farm as three separate facilities and provide its owners three separate $10 million tax credits.

So there you go. They brag about the wonders of clean, green energy, yet when you peel back the covers, it’s pretty slimy underneath.

The Deeply Secret Science of the EPA by The Elephant's Child

epa gina McCarthy

The newly confirmed chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy wasted no time in taking on the opponents of the administration plan to “crack down of global warming pollution.” She chose the friendly venue of an audience at Harvard Law School, and told them that “curbing climate-altering pollution will spark business innovation, grow jobs and strengthen the economy.” That’s a pretty batch of ridiculously unprovable claims, which she followed up by saying “Can we stop talking about environmental regulations killing jobs? Please, at least for today?”

Lets talk about this as an opportunity of a lifetime, because there are too many lifetimes at stake.” Oh please. 

The EPA bolsters their case with drastic claims of all the people who will die if we don’t eliminate the particular kind of pollution Ms. McCarthy is pushing on any particular day. The EPA has gotten away with improbable claims about future deaths from whatever pollutant the EPA wants to ban. Their unfounded regulations have been one of the most effective job killers of the past five years.

Carbon is not a pollutant, but one of the building blocks of life. We are carbon life forms. If we were to eliminate carbon from out atmosphere, we would eliminate all life.

Those seeking to strangle the world economy by denying it access to carbon, have invented a concept called “the social cost of carbon.” According to this notion, the use of carbon imposes a cost on society through global warming, and therefore regulations to restrict the use of carbon create benefits that can be measured in dollar terms. Pursuant to this strategy, the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010 hired a crowd of consultants to generate estimates that would be useful for the cause. This they dutifully did, producing a set of very precise computer calculations of the cost of carbon — ranging from $11 to $221 per ton of carbon dioxide — which were assembled into an interagency report sent to the White House in May 2013.

No doubt gratified by the freedom of choice thus provided, the Obama administration’s Office of Management and Budget picked a number, and proceeded to set the social cost at $38 per ton of carbon dioxide, or $139.33 per ton of carbon, so that henceforth federal regulators could use that figure to demonstrate the economic value of their restrictions.

At this point these charlatans should be laughed out of the Beltway. The calculations are completely fake, produced with computer models (GIGO), imaginary data, and arbitrary assumptions. There is real data that refutes their political power grab.

Just in the past 55 years — well within living memory —in line with a fourfold increase in carbon use, the average global GDP per capita has quadrupled. That is an economic miracle that has lifted billions of people out of hopeless poverty.

To claim that this came at a comparable “social cost,” one would have to show that there has been a climatic catastrophe. Has there? How much better was the weather in the 1950s than it is today?… Not at all. There was no climatic social cost to the carbon-driven miracle of the 20th century.

Oddly enough, as the EPA moves forward with some of the most costly regulations in history, they have been unwilling to reveal to the American people the data they use to justify their multibillion dollar regulatory agenda. Their new regulation would cost upwards of $90 billion a year, but you are supposed to take their science on faith. They care about the planet, they wouldn’t lie, would they?

The House Committee on Science and Technology has voted to subpoena the EPA for data from key studies used to justify air pollution regulations. They lost me when they claimed a quite specific number of asthmatic children who would die from carbon pollution in the air. First, you cannot predict the future, you can only guess. Second, the medical profession does not know what causes asthma.

The House of Representatives voted in favor of an amendment that would make it more difficult for the EPA to regulate without congressional approval. The bill passed on Thursday with bipartisan support. The EPA continues to propose rules, that by their own estimates are the most costly in history, yet the benefits of these rules seem to depend on “secret science.”

The Planet Will Boil Over if Young Africans Are Allowed Cars by The Elephant's Child

President Obama speaking to young Africans, on his vacation trip to Africa.

A Little Quiz About Science: Do You Know Anything? by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Maggie’s Farm)


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