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The Greying of Green?

The writing is on the wall—in increasingly large type.

by
David Solway

Bio

May 16, 2012 - 12:30 am

It has been reliably estimated by many researchers into the subject of “Global Warming” (or any of the other sobriquets by which it is known) that in fulfilling the draconian prescriptions of the Kyoto Accord or its successors, such as the United Nations IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report, millions of jobs will be lost in the developed world, the quality of life in the industrialized nations will sink to substandard levels, and the inhabitants of the Third World will be deprived of the minimal immunities, comforts, and amenities to which they aspire.

Fiona Kobusingye, coordinator of the Congress of Racial Equality Uganda, has vehemently denounced the attempt to impose energy restrictions on African nations in the name of fighting global warming. “These policies kill,” she writes. As for the combustible Al Gore, he “uses more electricity in a week than 28 million Ugandans together use in a year.” Her conclusion: “Telling Africans they can’t have electricity—except what can be produced with some wind turbines or little solar panels—is immoral. It is a crime against humanity” (Townhall.com., July 29, 2009). Her article is a must read. Graced with common sense and logical reasoning, it is one of the best puncturings of the hot air balloon in the relevant literature.

H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the nonprofit National Center for Policy Analysis, would clearly agree. He correctly argues that recommendations based on “flawed statistical analyses and procedures that violate general forecasting principles” should be taken “into account before enacting laws to counter global warming—which economists point out would have severe economic consequences.” Such consequences are already in evidence. Benny Peiser, editor of CCNet science network, speaking at the Heartland Institute’s 2009 climate conference in New York, sounded the death knell of the green movement in Europe owing to huge costs and minimal results (Climate Realists, March 11, 2009). Environmentalist Lawrence Solomon quotes Spanish economist Gabriel Calzada, whose studies show that “every green job created ploughs under 2.2 jobs elsewhere in the economy” and that green jobs are proving to be unsustainable since the creation of even one such job costs $1 million in government subsidies (National Post, March 31, 2009).

These are costs that may be suffered in other, frankly ludicrous, ways as well. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) in its 2008 Annual Report, published in 2009, jubilates over the replacement of motorized vehicles by “bicycle rickshaws”—which, it must be admitted, will certainly help to decongest metropolitan traffic. That it would reduce America and the West to Third World Status does not trouble UNEP overmuch. Perhaps that is the plan.

The much-ballyhooed T. Boone Pickens strategy of introducing large-scale windmill technology is now proving to be a similarly quixotic project, unsightly, land-consuming, bird-killing, neurosis-inducing, expensive and totally inadequate to its declared purpose of meeting even a fraction of our electricity needs. Alex Alexiev of the Hudson Institute has laid the cards on the table for all to read: green electricity bills are rising exponentially; Europe is gradually abandoning many of its green energy programs as cost-ineffective and injurious to both wildlife and human health; and, as of the end of 2008, American solar and wind-power stocks had lost 80% of their value (FrontPage Magazine, March 31, 2009). Rhode Island’s Public Utilities Commission has rejected a deal to build an offshore wind farm that would have entailed “hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs…” (The Providence Journal, March 31, 2010). New Zealand has repealed its carbon tax scheme and Australia’s opposition party is vowing to follow suit.

The writing is on the wall in majuscule. The Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX) has closed shop, putting an end to its estimated $10 trillion carbon trading scheme. In August 2011, President Obama’s pet green project, the California-based Solyndra solar plant, filed for bankruptcy, costing the U.S. $535 million in wasted stimulus funds and 1,100 jobs (NBC Bay Area, August 31, 2011). Other such futilities are impending. The Beacon Power Corp, recipient of a $43 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy, has filed for bankruptcy after being delisted by the NASDAQ (Moneynews, October 31, 2011). The solar cell company Spectrawatt, recipient of a federal stimulus boost, and Nevada Geothermal, which profited from Federal DOE and Treasury Department subsidies, are on the brink of failure (FrontPage Magazine, January 26, 2012.) Ener 1, which received a $118 million stimulus grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop lithium storage batteries for electric cars, has filed for bankruptcy protection (Bloomberg Businessweek, February 2, 2012). This is bad news for the plug-in Chevy Volt, the president’s car of choice, which is beset with problems anyway; GM had to suspend production to cut inventory owing to anemic sales (Left Lane Online, March 2, 2012). Abound Solar, which makes cadmium telluride solar modules to the tune of a $400 million federal loan guarantee, has laid off 300 workers, amounting to 70% of its workforce (New York Post, March 10, 2012). And now the electric vehicle battery company A123 Systems, beneficiary of $300 million in Obama’s Recovery Act funds and $135 million in state tax credits and subsidies, courtesy of Michigan’s former Democratic governor Jennifer Granholm, is about to go belly up—another instance, to use Michelle Malkin’s term, of a smart grid, crony-inspired “enviro-boodle” (National Review Online, March 30, 2012).

The reason for many of these failures in green energy-production companies is simple. As noted environmental consultant and author Rich Trzupek explains, the energy density of convertible wind and solar is risibly low and dispersed, which renders electricity-generating power plants, whether large or small, “the most inefficient, least reliable, and expensive form of power we have” (FrontPage Magazine, March 23, 2012). As happened in Spain, Europe’s bellwether country for climatophrenic ruination, Obama’s “solar alchemy,” which demonizes traditional forms of energy extraction and application, has become a recipe for an American economic debacle.

Finnish professor Jarl Ahlbeck, a former Greenpeace member and author of over 200 scientific publications, points out that “real measurements give no ground for concern about a catastrophic future warming.” Contrary to common belief, he continues, “there has been no or little global warming since 1995” (Facts and Arts, November 25, 2008). His findings have been supported by many other studies. To adduce just a few instances: geophysicist Phil Chapman, basing his results on careful analyses from major weather-tracking agencies, reports that global temperature is “falling precipitously” (The Australian, April 23, 2008); geologist Don Easterbrook, associate editor of the Geological Society of America Bulletin, Professor Emeritus at Western Washington University and former U.S. representative to UNESCO, is also convinced that recent solar changes suggest the advent of a new cooling cycle which could be “fairly severe” (GlobalResearch, November 2, 2008); and a new study conducted by three Norwegian scientists, Jan-Erik Solheim, Kjell Stordahl and Ole Humlum, indicates that the next solar cycle, which is imminent, will see a “significant temperature decrease” over and above the current decline (Climate Depot, March 7, 2012).

Moreover, as Robert Zubrin has decisively shown in his recent Merchants of Despair, there exists robust scientific proof derived from ice core data and isotopic ratios in marine organism remains that Earth’s climate is a stable system, that CO2 emissions create surplus plant growth that in turn absorbs atmospheric carbon dioxide, thus restoring climate equilibrium over the long haul, and that under cyclical conditions of global warming agricultural productivity naturally increases and human life immensely improves.

In a brilliant article for the Financial Post (April 21, 2012) analyzing the eleven logical fallacies on which the argument for man-made climate change rests, Lord Christopher Monckton, known for tracking and exposing scientific hoaxes, has effectively proven that the anthropogenic thesis has absolutely no basis, neither in fact nor in theory. So-called climate skeptics need nerves of steel to oppose the reigning ideology. It takes no less courage and perhaps even more for a climate “Warmist” to buck the trend, as culture-hero James Lovelock has recently done. Lovelock, who in his 2006 The Revenge of Gaia prophesied the charring of the planet, now admits he had been “extrapolating too far.” Despite predictably hedging his bets and deferring catastrophe into the indefinite future, he avers that “we don’t know what the climate is doing” and disparages his previous work, including Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth and Tim Flannery’s The Weather Makers, as “alarmist” (MSNBC.com, April 30, 2012).

Nevertheless, the Global Warming meme continues to circulate in defiance of the accumulating evidence, which leads one to wonder who the real “deniers” are. In my own country of Canada, “Warmist” foundations are determined to continue issuing environmental fatwas, in particular to tie up state-of-the-art, economically productive oil pipelines in endless litigation. That such a move would impact national revenues and cost thousands of potential jobs is a matter of no concern.

But the problem does not extend only to adversarial institutions and fellow-traveling NGOs. In other respects, Canadian governing parties, on both the federal and provincial levels, have not yet caught on to the perilous, impractical and pixilated nature of the Green crusade. Unsightly, government approved wind farms, for example, are literally driving people crazy and adding steeply to electricity bills. Despite being hyped by the left-leaning CBC News (May 22, 2008), solar energy installations and SpongeBob-looking photovoltaic panels disfiguring the landscape do not seem like a reasonable proposition in a country already burdened by a dark, six month winter, as the Ontario Power Authority will shortly discover. Government and industry supporters, to cite the enthusiastic CBC report, base their projections on the presumed success of the German model. But there is a slight hitch, namely, the German solar experiment is a possible “government boondoggle,” is “cost-inefficient,” will soon be obsolete, and has become “debatable” (MIT Technology Review, July/August, 2010). Indeed, it is now being phased out (Slate, February 18, 2010).

And then we have the soon-to-be-mandated mercury-laden CFLs, an undoubted domestic hazard, that are replacing standard light bulbs. Like many of my fellow citizens, I am assiduously hoarding incandescents in my basement, enough to see me through at least five years of environmental madness. Perhaps by that time, Green may have greyed sufficiently to be put out to pasture. One can hope.

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, was released by Mantua Books. His latest book is The Boxthorn Tree, published in December 2012.
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