! FILE: consequences.html <! <! DESCRIPTION: Climategate in Review: <! * The Practical Consequences Of The Environmental Movement <! <! NOTES: * File must have .shtml extension or else have <! permissions of 755 to execute SSI directives. <! <! UPDATED: 12-16-20 <! <! AUTHOR: C. Jeffery Small (email@example.com) <! <! Copyright 2009-2020 by C. Jeffery Small <! FILE: header.html <! <! DESCRIPTION: Climategate in Review: page header <! <! NOTES: * Filename must either have .shtml extension or else have file <! permissions of 755 to allow SSI directives to be processed. <! <! UPDATED: 01-15-23 CJS <! <! AUTHOR: C. Jeffery Small (firstname.lastname@example.org) <! <! Copyright 2009-2023 by C. Jeffery Small
Climategate in Review
Setting aside for a moment the anti-life moral philosophy of many who populate the environmental movement, let's consider the immediate practical consequences of their ideas.
Life is not automatic, but requires an ongoing process of decision-making in order to sustain itself. The basic resources of time, energy and money are limited, and choices must be made as to the best investment of each in order to further one's life and maximize one's happiness. And one must consider both the long as well as short term consequences of each option when making a decision. For example, with limited funds, one might face the choice of buying a new car or taking a family vacation this year? Should you invest in braces for your child, or save that money for their college education? Is it better to purchase a home or rent? Should you take that new job that pays better, or stick with the one you enjoy more? Would it be wiser to take a fifty dollar bonus and put it in the bank, pay down credit card debt, or have some fun and buy lottery tickets? Each decision trades off one set of costs and benefits for another.
When making personal decisions, the consequences are generally limited to one's own life and to those who choose to associate with you. But when governments become involved in political actions that are imposed upon everyone by force, the consequences are magnified and affect huge numbers of individuals. And if these governments base their decisions on poor or faulty information, the consequences can become disasters. This is the real legacy of the environmental movement.
Consider the case of Australia as reported in an article by Christopher Booker. For many years, the Australian government has been a big proponent of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW). Listening to the forecasts from various environmental groups, the government shifted its focus away from historical protective measures against damaging floods, and towards drought prevention. Booker reports the consequences:
"Ever more alarming facts are emerging to show how Brisbane's floods were made infinitely worse by cockeyed decisions inspired by the obsession of the Australian authorities with global warming.
For years, Australia's warmists have been advising the authorities that the danger posed to the country by global warming is not floods but droughts: not too much rain but too little. One result, in Brisbane, was a relaxation of planning rules, to allow building on areas vulnerable to flooding in the past. [...] Instead of investing in its flood defences, Australia spent $13 billion on desalination plants. (Queensland's was recently mothballed because of the excess of rain.)
"Last week's most disturbing revelation, however, was the contribution to Brisbane's flooding by the South East Queensland Water company's massive release of water from its Wivenhoe dam upstream from the city.
Last spring, Queensland's prime minister, the drought- and warming-obsessed Anna Bligh, ordered the water company not to allow any releases from the dam because water was such a "precious resource" that none must be wasted."
Following the "logic" of the unproven claim that global warming is the direct result of human activity releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, governments around the world have tripped over themselves as they taken huge amounts of wealth from the pockets of their citizens in order to fund "green" industries and practices that do not utilize carbon-based fuels. This includes activities such as the construction of wind and solar farms. As Tom McGhie reported on January 9, 2011, concerning the UK's investment in wind generation, results align with actual scientific expectations rather than conforming to the wishful prophecies of the politicians-cum-environmentalists:
"The failure of Britain's wind farms to produce electricity in the extreme cold will cost billions of pounds, create an economic crisis and lead to blackouts, leading industrialists have warned.
Now Mr Nicholson predicts that the Government will encourage power companies to build billions of pounds worth of standby power stations in case of further prolonged wind failures.
Industry regulator Ofgem has already calculated that the cost of achieving sustainable energy targets — set by Brussels but backed by the British Government — will amount to £200 billion [$319 billion], which will mean that annual household fuel bills will double to about £2,400 [$3,830] on average within the next ten years.
So little energy was generated then that the National Grid, which is responsible for balancing supply and demand of energy in the UK, was forced to ask its biggest users — industry — to ration supplies.
Mr Nicholson said: "We can cope at the moment because there is still not that much power generated from wind. But all this will change. What happens when we are dependent on wind turbines for 30 per cent of our power and there is suddenly a period when the wind does not blow and there is high demand?"
Or consider the 2001 findings of Cornell scientist Roger Segelkern concerning the suitability of corn-based ethanol production which is being subsidized in the United States:
"Abusing our precious croplands to grow corn for an energy-inefficient process that yields low-grade automobile fuel amounts to unsustainable, subsidized food burning."
Adding up the energy costs of corn production and its conversion to ethanol, 131,000 Btu are needed to make 1 gallon of ethanol. One gallon of ethanol has an energy value of only 77,000 Btu. "Put another way," Pimentel said, "about 70 percent more energy is required to produce ethanol than the energy that actually is in ethanol. Every time you make 1 gallon of ethanol, there is a net energy loss of 54,000 Btu."
Ethanol from corn costs about $1.74 per gallon to produce, compared with about 95 cents to produce a gallon of gasoline. "That helps explain why fossil fuels — not ethanol — are used to produce ethanol," Pimentel said. "The growers and processors can't afford to burn ethanol to make ethanol. U.S. drivers couldn't afford it either, if it weren't for government subsidies to artificially lower the price."
Most economic analyses of corn-to-ethanol production overlook the costs of environmental damages, which Pimentel says should add another 23 cents per gallon. "Corn production in the U.S. erodes soil about 12 times faster than the soil can be reformed, and irrigating corn mines groundwater 25 percent faster than the natural recharge rate of ground water."
The approximately $1 billion a year in current federal and state subsidies (mainly to large corporations) for ethanol production are not the only costs to consumers, the Cornell scientist observes. Subsidized corn results in higher prices for meat, milk and eggs because about 70 percent of corn grain is fed to livestock and poultry in the United States.
The average U.S. automobile, traveling 10,000 miles a year on pure ethanol (not a gasoline-ethanol mix), would need about 852 gallons of the corn-based fuel. This would take 11 acres to grow, based on net ethanol production. This is the same amount of cropland required to feed seven Americans.
If all the automobiles in the United States were fueled with 100 percent ethanol, a total of about 97 percent of U.S. land area would be needed to grow the corn feedstock. Corn would cover nearly the total land area of the United States."
And that $1 billion subsidy back in 2001 had risen to somewhere between $5.5 and 7.3 billion by 2006, carrying on annually at least through 2010. Each of those dollars being spent on a boondoggle like this, if left in the hands of the individuals or businesses that originally earned them, is a dollar that might have fed, clothed or brought delight to someone's life, rather then being flushed away in pursuit of someone else's false dream.
Then there is the case of DDT, which was banned from use in the United States by the EPA in 1972, and later by the World Health Organization (WHO), as a result of environmentalist junk science, starting with Rachael Carson's book Silent Spring. During the original EPA hearings, considerable evidence both for and against DDT was presented, and yet, at its conclusion, Hearing Examiner Edmund M. Sweeney issued the following statements as a part of his findings:
So what? The EPA and WHO banned it, despite the lack of sound scientific evidence of harm. However, in 2006, nearly 30 years later, without relying on any studies that were not available back in the 1960s, the WHO reversed its ban.
"DDT has been banned globally for every use except fighting disease because of its environmental impacts and fears for human health.
WHO says there is no health risk, and DDT should rank with bednets and drugs as a tool for combating malaria, which kills more than one million each year."
No harm, no foul? As Steven Milloy reported:
"Overlooked in all the hoopla over the announcement, however, is the terrible toll in human lives (tens of millions dead — mostly pregnant women and children under the age of 5), illness (billions sickened) and poverty (more than $1 trillion dollars in lost GDP in sub-Saharan Africa alone) caused by the tragic, decades-long ban.
Much of this human catastrophe was preventable, so why did it happen? Who is responsible? Should the individuals and activist groups who caused the DDT ban be held accountable in some way?"
Ideas do have consequences, and bad ideas can lead to tragic results. These four examples just scratch the surface when it comes to evaluating the true costs associated with the implementation of an environmentalism based upon political agendas rather than solid scientific research — costs measured not just in dollars, but in untold levels of misery and uncountable human deaths. Environmentalism, just like any other authoritarian program imposed on others by force, is a crime against humanity and must be denounced and treated as such.
A review of just the economic track record of the environmental movement reveals a decades-long disaster. Government redistribution of private tax dollars to subsidize one failed enterprise after another means that these funds were not available for investment in productive ventures. Globally, annual renewable energy investment has been in the range of $214 to $270 billion, with proposals to raise this to between $550 billion and $1 trillion!
Between 1973 and 2012, the US Department of Energy alone has spent $154.7 billion (2012$) taxpayer dollars. Other sources estimates that the American taxpayer is on the hook for annual subsidies for solar of $39 billion and wind of at least $12 billion. This does not take into account the millions in additional subsidies for biofuels, energy conservation, tax rebates for specific purchases, etc.
Here is a short list of just a few examples of bankrupt or near bankrupt green energy companies from around the world which have received millions and billions of taxpayer subsidies, loan guarantees and tax credits, all of which have been squandered.
|Mountain Plaza||$ 424,000||The Blaze|
|Lake Land College||$ 2,500,000||Illinois Leaks|
|Beamreach (Solexel)||$ 3,000,000||The Daily Caller|
|SpectraWatt||$ 20,500,000||The Daily Signal|
|Aquion Energy||$ 21,800,000||Fox News|
|Suniva Inc.||$ 25,500,000||The Daily Caller|
|Evergreen Solar||$ 58,600,000||Mass Live|
|Nevada Geothermal||$ 98,500,000||The Washington Times|
|Energy Conversion Devices||$ 110,300,000||The Daily Signal|
|ECOtality||$ 115,000,000||Huffington Post|
|Azure Dynamics||$ 119,100,000||The Daily Signal|
|Range Fuel||$ 162,300,000||The Daily Signal|
|Ener1||$ 182,800,000||The Daily Signal|
|SolarWorld||$ 206.000,000||The Libertarian Republic|
|A123 Systems||$ 377,100,000||The Daily Signal|
|SunEdison||$ 649,600,000||Daily Caller|
|Abound Solar||$ 790,300,000||The Daily Signal|
|Solyndra||$ 849,000,000||Washington Examiner|
|Ivanpah Solar||$ 2,200,000,000||American Thinker|
|Abengoa||$ 2,700,000,000||Americans For Tax Reform|
In addition to the large-scale corporate welfare malinvestments seen in the examples above, governments also redirect taxpayer dollars to one poorly thought out project after another. An example is the French government's spending €5 million in 2016 to construct one kilometer (0.6 miles) of solar roadway that was never properly engineered. According to Popular Mechanics:
Another postmortem of the failure is given here.
This is just one of hundreds or thousands of ill-conceived project around the world where government uses other peoples' money to pursue a political agenda that flies in the face of simple scientific and economic facts as well as technological advancements which can reasonably be anticipated.
All the while the failures continue to stack up long after the examples given above. For example, consider the case of SolarReserve and its 2011, 1 billion dollar, Crescent Dunes solar power plant built in Nevada with the political pull of Senator Harry Reid. As reported in Bloomberg on January 6, 2020, the plant has never operated reliably and consequently lost its only customer, NV Energy Inc. The US Department of Energy (DOE) has now taken over operations while SolarReserve faces numerous suits and has said that it may file for bankruptcy. Thanks to the DOE's financial backing, we taxpayers are now left to cover the $735 Million in loan guarantees.
But direct government loans, guaranties and subsidies are not the only way that the energy market is distorted. The indirect offer of government tax credits and rebates to investors and customers causes both to misperceive the risks involved, often leading to poor decisions. For example, as reported in Crain's and by the California DOJ, the promise of tax credits causes normally diligent investors including Berkshire Hathaway and Progressive Insurance, among others, to stake upwards of $800 million in DC Solar, a now bankrupt Ponzi scheme run by Jeff and Paulette Carpoff. As Crain's put it:
"The Carpoffs, authorities contend, had managed to parlay a do-good incentive to encourage solar investments into an $800 million fraud scheme. Promising big federal tax credits and profits, their pitch enticed sophisticated investors, even though it came from an enterprise little-known outside of California and the car-racing world."
"DC Solar's precipitous fall is now forcing many of the investors to take charges on tax breaks that they thought were worth millions of dollars. It's also putting the spotlight on the federal tax credit, which since 2006 has helped fuel solar's surge from an alternative electrical resource to the U.S. mainstream. Dozens of the country's biggest companies, from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Bank of America Corp. to even paint maker Sherwin-Williams Co., now invest in renewable energy to benefit from the tax credits. (Sherwin-Williams was among DC Solar's investors.)"
Clearly, the incentives were anything but "do-good," having enticed smart investors into massive losses for their companies and shareholders. When central planners get it wrong (and they always do!), everyone eventually suffers.
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