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Ranking: What does it mean to be #1 on climate

May 20th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Associated with a recent announcement about an Executive Order for the drafting of potential regulatory structure for a carbon-trading program to be put out for public comment and then consideration under Virginia’s next Governor, Governor Terry McAuliffe tweeted out that this would “keep VA #1 on climate issues”.

While that tweet generated some ridiculing from clean energy activists, McAuliffe’s tweeting assertion raising the question: What does it mean to be “#1 on climate issues”?

Smart Asset

Which States Lead on Renewable Energy Policy and Progress

How might we measure this? Here are some potential items:

  • Carbon Emissions per capita?
  • Energy use per capita?
  • Energy Efficiency? (home? business? car?)
  • ‘Climate-aware policies’?
  • Industrial pollution?
  • “Leading the charge on renewable energy”?
  • Or …

Thus, a quick search for ‘what measurements’ might exist to help illuminate the question of who is “#1 on climate issues”.  Essentially, across the board, Virginia is middle-of-the-pack (or toward the bottom) in results, , and policies to address climate change.


Table 1: Various Measures of States related to “Climate Issues”

Category Best Worst Virginia Source
Per Capita Energy Use New York Louisiana 30 EIA
CO2 Emissions Per Capita Washington, DC Texas 18 EIA
Energy Efficiency MA/CA (tied) North Dakoa 33 ACEEE
Energy Efficiency New York South Carolina 35 Wallet Hub
Home Energy Efficiency Utah Louisiana 36 Wallet Hub
Car Energy Efficiency New York North Dakota 31 Wallet Hub
Worst Industrial Pollution  Ohio 14 World Atlas
Toxic Chemical Releases Rhode Island Alaska 20 Scorecard
Renewable Energy Leaders Oregon Smart Asset
Clean Energy Momentum California Union of Concerned Scientists
Greenest States Vermont Wyoming 31 Wallet Hub
Environmental quality Vermont Montana 46 Wallet Hub
Eco-Friendly Behaviors Oregon Louisiana 39 Wallet Hub
Climate-Change Contributions Delaware Montana 15 Wallet Hub



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→ 3 CommentsTags: Energy

The Power of Refugee Camps going Clean Energy

May 19th, 2017 · Comments Off on The Power of Refugee Camps going Clean Energy

The UNHCR has announced that the Azraq refugee camp in Jordan is now 100% powered by solar energy. This is (putting aside, I guess, places that were ‘powered’ by burning wood …) “the first refugee camp powered by renewable energy.”

Azraq refugee camp’s solar farm, Adeeb al Bassar, Jordan.

The 2-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) plant will allow UNHCR to provide affordable and sustainable electricity to 20,000 Syrian refugees living in almost 5,000 shelters in Azraq camp, covering the energy needs of the two villages connected to the national grid. Each family can now connect a fridge, a TV, a fan, have light inside the shelter and charge their phones,

Prior to this installation, the Azraq camp had infrequent, unreliable, and often simply inadequate electricity from the (over)stressed Jordanian grid. This 2 mw solar far turns this equation around and could well mean a net exporting of electricity to the grid.

Paid for with an Ikea grant, the solar farm eliminates the UNHCR’s electricity costs and thus frees up resources for meeting other humanitarian needs.

And, as (okay, sadly, if …) the refugee camp is dismantled when it is no longer required, these solar panels can continue clean electrons into the Jordanian grid.

Lost, somewhat, in the celebration of this milestone (first 100% clean electricity refugee camp) is the real power of this and ability to act in the future:

  • Refugee camps are typically ‘off-grid’ or in high-stressed environments with very high cost and high-pollution electricity (such as from diesel generators).  Solar pv — which is dropping rapidly in price and increasingly cost competitive in straight out competition with fossil-fuel sources — can deliver electrons for a fraction of the cost of a diesel generator.
  • Like with the U.S. military in deployed operations, the straight dollar cost isn’t the only concern: one has to get oil to those diesel generators. Installing solar panels, by definition, reduces the amount of transportation required to support a refugee camp. And, in places with uncertain (or non-existent) security situations (think Somalia, Darfur, inside Syria, …), reducing that transportation doesn’t only save money but saves lives.
  • Solar pv is a natural with distributed grids — including those, like refugee camps, which can rapidly emerge and expand.

Now, one needs to be careful in calling this ‘green’, as it a truly ‘green’ refugee camp would be highly resource (energy and water) efficient, provide clean (including for example, low-VOC) housing that can be transitioned into long-term housing, have agricultural activities (from container gardening to developing permaculture in areas around the camp) to employ & feed the refugees, etc, etc …

The Azraq deployment is a good step forward and should be lauded as such.  However, solar pv should be standard kit, not press release material, for the UNHCR.

Comments Off on The Power of Refugee Camps going Clean EnergyTags: solar · UN

When it comes to boxed vs bottled water, choose the tap …

May 19th, 2017 · Comments Off on When it comes to boxed vs bottled water, choose the tap …

Internet advertising … any who goes into those internet tubes encounters (far too much of) it.  Most of the time, it just slips past us though there are those items that jump to the attention. Yes, I — like 100s of millions of others — have bought things due to such advertising. (Wow, advertising works … ) But, that advertising is far from always welcome and, at times, is just counter-productive.

Here is a short post on just one of those ‘counter-productive’ moments. A banner ad on a site promoting how ‘Boxed Water is Better’ caught my attention.


Simple truth

Go with tap water.

Filter if you wish/must, but GO TAP!

That ad sent me to Boxed Water is Better with the promises for planting trees in exchange for online purchases and social media discussions/references. (Wonder whether this post will get two trees planted.) WOW! Isn’t that great, rather than those plastic bottles you can had ‘natural’ containers for your water. Wonder the web and isn’t hard to find stenographic-like posts touting the benefits of ‘boxed water’.

Let’s be more accurate in the description:

  • Boxed water is not nearly as bad as glass-bottled water and, in many (perhaps even most) circumstances, won’t be as bad as plastic-bottled water.
  • In extremely few circumstances (exceptions are horrid situations like Flint … with exceptions even to that) is real analysis likely to find that ‘boxed water is better than (decently filtered) tap water.

However, “Boxed Water is Not Nearly As Bad” isn’t that powerful an advertising slogan, able to carve into the >$100B/year bottled water market.

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Comments Off on When it comes to boxed vs bottled water, choose the tap …Tags: advertising · water

Energy BOOKSHELF: Powerful CliFi from a leading American national security expert

May 18th, 2017 · 1 Comment

Richard Clarke served the United States in multiple roles, gaining his greatest fame due to his harsh criticism of the Bush White House for ignoring/down-playing his urgent calls for attention to Al Qaeda in the months leading to the 9/11 attacks.  Clarke has served the nation in other ways, including a series of thoughtful, illuminating and (extremely well-written) books on terrorism, intelligence, cyber-warfare and, the latest to be released in a few weeks, on learning how to bring to the fore Warnings from experts before catastrophe hits.

Millions of lives lost to catastrophes – natural and man-made – could have been saved by the advance warnings of experts. Can we find those prescient people before the next catastrophe strikes? …

In Greek mythology Cassandra foresaw calamities, but was cursed by the gods to be ignored. Modern-day Cassandras clearly predicted the disasters of Katrina, Fukushima, the Great Recession, the rise of ISIS, and many others. Like her, they were ignored. There are others right now warning of impending disasters, but how do we know which warnings are true?

This is the story of the future of national security, threatening technologies, the US economy, and possibly the fate of civilization.

Certainly, there are many Cassandras when it comes to climate change’s realities and threats. Cassandras routinely ignored by the American mass media (to a greater rather than lesser extent) and ridiculed by Trump and his GOP supporting cast.

This Energy BOOKSHELF moment, however, is not about the power of Clarke’s recounting of the realities of what he faced (and learned from) government service nor the insights in his non-fiction analytical works but another aspect of his work: his fiction.  Clarke is, again, an eloquent writer who knows how to communicate. He has turned his attention, at times, to fictional works which, occasionally, I’ve taken the time to read.  At the library, the other day, I bumped into Pinnacle Event and grabbed it for a week-end ‘escapism’ read.  Little did I know, when leaving the library, that I was carrying what might be the most powerful and insightful CliFi (Climate Fiction) book that I have read to date.


SPOILER ALERT: after the fold details that reveal key plot elements.

Pinnacle Event is an excellent ‘thriller’ … reading ‘after the fold’ will lessen the book’s dramatic impact.

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→ 1 CommentTags: energy bookshelf · Fiction · Sea Level Rise

Hands from the sea …

May 16th, 2017 · 4 Comments

A watched pot never boils is a truism that speaks to a reality: Humans have a difficult mentally registering slow change (how do you register your child’s growth day to day) even as the change impacts our lives in tangible manner (buying clothing to replace that they grew out of).

Sea-level rise is one of the most predictable of climate change impacts.  We know the seas are rising and we know that there will be more sea-level rise.  Yet too many seem oblivious to the obvious. Around the world, too many in the private sector, government, and the public are failing to plan for sea-level rise’s foreseeable consequences. We need to leverage communication tools, of all sorts, to change this equation: to motivate action to mitigate climate change (to slow/reduce the future sea-level rise in the decades/centuries to come) while sparking investment to adapt to the inevitable rise in the years and decades ahead.  And, art has a role to play — from the subtle to the in-your-face signal.  This Venice sculpture is just that sort of messaging:

According to Halcyon Gallery, “The hands symbolise tools that can both destroy the world, but also have the capacity to save it. At once, the sculpture has both a noble air as well as an alarming one – the gesture being both gallant in appearing to hold up the building whilst also creating a sense of fear in highlighting the fragility of the building surrounded by water and the ebbing tide.”

Venice is a floating art city that has inspired cultures for centuries, but to continue to do so it needs the support of our generation and future ones, because it is threatened by climate change and time decay,’

Lorenzo Quinn, sculpter

Yes!…so happy to say mission accomplished. SUPPORT in Venice to support this wonder of city that is threatened by climate change. I hope my art brings a new focus of attention to a global calamity that we are faced with. A big thank you to the city of Venice and to his Mayor Luigi Brugnaro for believing in this installation from the beginning, to Ca' Sagredo hotel represented by Lorenza Lain (the force of Nature) to C and C architectural Studio, Fulvio Caputo, Marco Zanon, Ufficine delle Zattere, Luisa Flora, Tecmolde, Julio and Irene Luzan and the entire team, She Digital, Grupoo Orseolo with Rein srl and the Gondolieri of Venice. To my super team in Spain at Quinn Creations To my family, my wife and especially my son Anthony for letting me use his hands, and of course to @halcyongallery , representanted by Paul Green, Udi Sheleg and assisted by Shani, Helga and all in the gallery, because without their continued organizational, moral, artistic and financial 'support' none of this could have happened. #biennale2017venezia #biennale2017 #lorenzoquinn #lorenzoquinnartist #venezia #halcyongallery #support #supportart #climatechange

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A big thank you to all for your comments and likes. It's been overwhelming. I wish I could thank each and everyone of you individually. This sculpture 'Support' placed in Venice at Ca' Sagredo, coinciding with the opening of the Venice Biennale, wants to speak to the people in a clear, simple and direct way through the innocent hands of a child and it evokes a powerful message which is that united we can make a stand to curb the climate change that affects us all. We must all collectively think of how we can protect our planet and by doing that we can protect our national heritage sites… Support our planet support our heritage! A warm hug, Lorenzo THE INSTALLATION WILL BE AT CA' SAGREDO UNTIL NOVEMBER 26th a #halcyongallery #casagredohotelvenice #lorenzoquinn #lorenzoquinnartist #biennale2017 #LorenzoQuinnVenice #support #supportart #worldheritage #worldheritagesite

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Where’s the beef, Terry?

May 16th, 2017 · 1 Comment

For Virginians aware of the Commonwealth’s tremendous risks from climate change and (potentially even more) tremendous opportunities for prosperity through climate action, the past few days had some real buzz. Governor Terry McAuliffe was going to make a climate-related announcement at Alexandria ReNew?.  That event has come and past.

We now have some really wonderful tweets from Governor McAuliffe (above and below the fold), a press release, and the issuance of Executive Directive 11.

Okay, I’ve read … and reread … and reread Executive Directive 11 and return to Wendy’s question: Where’s the beef?

A year ago, well into his third year, Governor McAuliffe issued Executive Order 57 which, well, kicked the can down the pike on climate change directing a year-long study to figure out what Viriginia should do to address climate change. The study count rises even as sea level increases.  Yes, worthwhile to have study but substantive action is urgently required. At the end of that year process, what did McAuliffe order: some more study and (potential) regulation development.  Here is the substantive directive material:

1. Develop a proposed regulation for the State Air Pollution Control Board’s consideration to abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions from electric power facilities that:

a. Includes provisions to ensure that Virginia’s regulation is “trading-ready” to allow for the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program; and

b. Establishes abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits.

2. By no later than December 31, 2017, present the proposed regulation to the State Air Pollution Control Board for consideration for approval for public comment in accordance with the Board’s authority pursuant to Virginia Code § 10.1-1308.

Okay, yes, it is worthwhile for Virginia government officials to develop draft regulations that would enable Virginia to participate in carbon trading that can be put forward for public comment.

Hmmm … read that previous sentence … are you asking “where’s the beef”, too?  This legitimately merited ‘buzz’ and a special signing announcement?

No, this isn’t Governor McAuliffe announcing

  • A deal with Dominion Virginia Power for constructing a 500 megawatt offshore wind farm along with the infrastructure in the Tidewater area to support the construction and operations of projects not just off Virginia but along the Atlantic coast — that would create economic activity, jobs, reduce electricity costs, improve energy resiliency, and, by the way, reduce (climate and other) pollution.
  • A green schools program that would boost Virginia educational achievement, improve the health of Virginians, create jobs, save money, and, by the way, reduce (climate and other) pollution.
  • The leveraging of the Volkswagen settlement money for sparking a transition to plug-hybrid electric and electric school and transportation buses throughout the Commonwealth that would dramatically reduce health-risks to students, improve educational performance, save money, and, by the way, reduce (climate and other) pollution.
  • Something … well … something tangible.

With all due respect, Governor McAuliffe, Virginia is far from “#1 on climate issues” and, although I hoped your announcement this morning would move the ball forward in a tangible manner toward #1, Executive Order 11 won’t do much to move it in that direction.

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Courtesy of Omics Online’s “Environment Pollution & Climate Change”: a ‘refutation’ of centuries of science & emergent requirement for massive sprinkers?

May 16th, 2017 · 3 Comments

Sometimes the jaw dropping moments break through the floor. For U.S. national security professionals (and, well, anyone associated with intelligence in the United States or any allies), Donald Trump’s blustering blabbering of extremely sensitive material to the Russians is causing lots of jaws to break lots of flooring.  (Perhaps a good time to be in the floor repair business??)  But, while he is really good at it, it is isn’t only Trump who causes jaws to drop.

Shared with me this morning was a paper ‘published’ by Omics Online (for a perspective re Omics and here) by its newly created (Dec 2016 first issue) “Environment Pollution and Climate Change” ‘journal’.  This paper, “The Refutation of the Climate Greenhouse Theory and a Proposal for a Hopeful Alternative,” led to multiple jaw breaking floor events in just a few moments. (Anyone know a good floor repair team?)  With this item in a (claimed to be) ‘peer-reviewed’ journal, we have  an excellent example of the proliferation of nonsense and the very sad reality of the need for thoughtful people to take the time and energy to refute that nonsense.  To provide a perspective, someone just sent me this note:

Truth is at a disadvantage

Ok, I just looked at the paper. It is a joke right?

And, the ‘refutation’ challenge doesn’t only eat up time and energy … but creates the chasing the lie challenge. (Churchill’s adage, “a lie gets halfway around the world before the the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”) The lie remains there, to be counted in ‘peer-reviewed’ material, to be used/abused by unknowing knaves and deceivers alike, with the truth missed by the knave and knowlingly ignored by the deceiver.

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→ 3 CommentsTags: #AlternativeFacts · anti-science syndrome · climate change · science

Townhalls getting hot for @GOP Politicians

May 11th, 2017 · Comments Off on Townhalls getting hot for @GOP Politicians

Around the country, GOP politicians are facing a dilemma when it comes to dealing with constituents:

  • Do they have the courage to face the music from well-informed, articulate, and angry constituents?
  • Or, like Barbara Comstock in Virginia’s 10th district, do they duck and cover — avoiding any open town hall meeting where ‘uncomfortable’ questions might be asked?

The ‘duck and cover’ is rather popular, as the citizenry is enraged.  Whether Trump’s corruption, the despicable approach to refugees and immigrants, Trump Care, #TrumpRussia, and/or … issue after issue is motivating ever more Americans toward outrage at the GOP’s outrageous malfeasance as exemplified by Donald Trump.  Trump’s firing of FBI Director Comey is likely to lower further Trump and the GOP’s approval rating and make town halls even more toxic for Republican politicians.

After close to no mention of (and no moderator of presidential debate questions about) climate change, it might surprise some that one of the most heated issue areas across the country, when town halls occur, relates to science and climate change.

Arizona’s Randy Biggs just suffered the Chaffetz treatment.  When Biggs doubled down on his climate-science denial, his constituents made it clear their disdain for a Congressman showing less understanding of science than what might be expected from a middle-school student.

The following video provides a snapshot of how climate change discussions are playing out in Republican townhalls across the country, with a very eloquent articulation of the issue at hand by the videographer, Peter Sinclair, as its conclusion.


Comments Off on Townhalls getting hot for @GOP PoliticiansTags: Energy

Three @GOP Senators put taxpayers, citizens, common sense, nation before Party: #Methane vote

May 10th, 2017 · Comments Off on Three @GOP Senators put taxpayers, citizens, common sense, nation before Party: #Methane vote

Amid these very tense and troubled times — with the Arctic potentially passing a climate tipping point and U.S. Democracy at (hopefully not past) a tipping point — it is valuable to recognize and even celebrate hopeful signs.

Today, in something that surprised many, three GOP Senators (Collins, McCain, and Graham) voted with Senate Democrats to turn back a Republican Party priority to rip off the taxpayers and worsen our pollution situation.

Whoa. Senate Rs failed to repeal Obama’s BLM rule for methane leaks from oil/gas. McCain and Graham defected: 

Photo published for Effort to overturn Obama’s methane rule fails in senate

Effort to overturn Obama’s methane rule fails in senate

WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans were dealt a blow Wednesday in their bid to overturn a controversial Obama-era regulation limiting the amount of methane that can be vented and flared from oil and g…

The Congressional Review Act (CRA) is a rather dastardly piece of law which has been rarely used prior to the Trump-ista Kakistocracy*.  The CRA, in essence, is that Congress can reject an Administration regulation … and, in doing so, makes it essentially impossible for future regulation to be imposed in that arena. The Republicans have been going hog wild with the CRA, primarily on Obama Administration environmental-related regulations, in ways that will worsen our ability to tackle energy, environmental, health, fiscal, and climate challenges.

The Methane rule that this vote relates to, in short, tackles the reality that oil and natural gas exploiters have been allowing significant releases of methane in their projects on Federal land.

On federal and tribal lands alone, oil and gas companies waste more than $330 million of natural gas annually that could heat homes, power vehicles or generate electricity.

As Methane is, in the near (20-year time frame), about 80 times worse than carbon dioxide for global warming, that leakage is pretty bad from a climate change perspective. It also is a bad deal for the taxpayer: the rules around the leasing didn’t count that leakage for royalty purposes. By addressing that gap, the Obama methane rule created a serious financial and legal incentive for those operating on Federal lands to reduce their methane leakage and flaring.  This will lead to increased payments into the Federal treasury and reduced climate impacts from these projects. All in all, a reasonably good deal for American citizens.

Of course, what oil company wants to pay more in royalty payments? And, of course, that put killing the Obama methane rule on the top of the agenda for Pruitt, Zienke, and other GOP eminences.

But after some key defections from Republicans ranks, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., [and Susan Collins, R-ME] the vote was 51-49 to block the repeal from moving ahead.

In these troubled times, we should recognize and celebrate good news items … and, well, make the effort to recognize and thank GOP politicians when they do act in the public interest.


UPDATE:  Kalee Kreider’s tweet brings a smile to my face …

And, look at Pence’s face:

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Each day, @BretStephensNYT & @NYTimes lowering ‘bar for intellectual honesty’

May 4th, 2017 · 5 Comments

Facing criticism for the hiring of Bret Stephens (who, during his time at the Wall Street Journal, established a long track record of attacking climate science and scientists along with other rather egregious statements/writings on other issues), The New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet of the NYT  said: “I have no doubt he crosses our bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.”

Stephens chose, out-of-the-box, to write his first column on ‘uncertainty’ related to climate science and solutions. Knowledgeable people — including numerous experts … including top scientists — found error and distortion and misdirection after error and distortion and misdirection in that column.  As one dissection concluded,

This bloke was touted by the NYT as a recipient of a Pulitzer, which was meant to justify their purchase. His first NYT article showed no sign of that. His article looked to have been dashed off in about five minutes with no thought, no research, no facts, and logical fallacy from woe to go. Is this really and truly why the NYT pays him the big bucks?

As to that bar …

Today’s article shows that NYT editorial page editor James Bennet of the NYT was wrong when he said: “I have no doubt he crosses our bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.” The only way Bret Stephens can cross the bar is if the NYT lowers the bar.

So many surprising things with what is morphing into The Stephens Affair.  Like many established institutions, insiders rally to defend the (pretty much) indefensible and their spines go up in the face of further criticism. They will attack those questioning them, question motives, avoid dealing with the substance of challenge, and — all too often — dig the hole deeper and deeper. In the process, they can wreak ever more havoc than if there had been swift and serious action up front.

While many critics (okay, including me) might have wanted to see Gray Lady decide not to bring in Stephens, I had a seemingly reasonable expectation: that the New York Times editors would recognize the criticism as having some substance and spend serious effort in the editing process to avoid having Stephens spew distortions and nonsense related to climate change from the pretty huge soap box that a NY Times OPED position provides. As the first column showed, they utterly failed to do this.  As Dave Roberts put it a few days ago:

It’s time for the opinion page to take climate change as seriously as the paper’s reporters do.

In the face of substantive, fact-based, expert criticism of Stephens’ ‘work’, the Times editors aren’t showing any signs — when it comes to Stephens ‘ that they plan “to take climate change as seriously as the paper’s reporters do.”

Today, Stephens published Climate of Unintended Consequences.  This piece attacks corn ethanol as not achieving its objectives and hurting climate efforts. Okay, many of us never were too enthused about claims that this pork barrel system enriching the farm belt was a climate measure of merit. (There is some basis to lay down that it helped in ‘energy independence’, but that is a different subject than Stephens really focuses on.)

As one interlocuter put it to me,

You mean a pork-barrel policy turned out to not be so great after all?


No seriously NYT, stop it.

With this OPED attacking corn ethanol, Stephens target isn’t corn ethanol but to (pretty explicitly) attack and undermine climate science as a basis for policy making. He opens this piece with a quote from a 1990s National Renewable Energy Laboratory pamphlet.

Converting biomass feedstocks to biofuels is an environmentally friendly process. So is using biofuels for transportation. When we use bioethanol instead of gasoline, we help reduce atmospheric CO2.

Stephens then — in a few short words of an OPED — takes us on a voyage from Brazil’s sugar cane ethanol to the upper Midwest’s corn ethanol to demonstrate the (seeming) fallacy of these words and that summary pamphlet.

Why ‘seeming’ … Stephens’ focus is on crops grown for biofuel production while that pamphlet, really, focuses on the potential from leveraging agricultural waste for fuel production. As per

Our nation’s biomass resource base is extensive (about 200 million dry tons of various waste feedstocks are available annually). Using a fraction of this resource could probably supply the equivalent of 350,000 barrels of oil in 2010, or 3.6% of the projected light-duty vehicle energy demand.

and …

working to improve government/industry cooperation with efforts to facilitate industry access to the Biofuels Program’s technologies, resources, and facilities. For example, it is working with BC International to construct a biomass-to-ethanol plant in Jennings, Louisiana. The primary feedstock will be bagasse, the waste product of sugar production from sugarcane. Also, OFD is working with Arkenol, which plans to produce ethanol by converting rice straw in California’s Sacramento Valley, and with Masada Resources Group, which is planning a municipal solid waste-to-ethanol plant in New York state.

and … well, you get the drift.

Stephens highlights in his OPED one study (of the many studies) that concluded that CORN ethanol actually leads to increased greenhouse gas emissions.  Corn appeared once in the DOE report:

A CORNerstone of the program …

At best, charitably, this was a sloppy linkage — to peg an overview report focused on biomass waste conversion into fuel as the strawman for attacking sugar cane and corn ethanol to undermine climate science — that serious editing, concerned to assure honest engagement with its readership, would have caught and stopped.  That it didn’t is yet another indication that The New York Times opinion editors are comfortable “lowering the bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.”

Of course, to be clear, that one OPED is filled with deceptive playing with ‘facts’ that are true but not truthful.  Take a look at this paragraph:

There’s also been some acknowledgment that Germany’s Energiewende — the uber-ambitious “energy turn” embarked upon by Angela Merkel in 2010 — has been less than a model for others. The country is producing record levels of energy from wind and solar power, but emissions are almost exactly what they were in 2009. Meanwhile, German households pay nearly the highest electricity bills in Europe, all for what amounts to an illusion of ecological virtue.

So much packed in there, but lets point out several items:

  • Choosing 2009 for German emissions is like choosing 1998 for temperature comparisons. A ‘fact’ that is not truthful in use.  2009 was a low year in emissions (almost 8% lower than 2008, perhaps due to the 2008 financial crisis/economic crash, and 4% less than 2010) and there hasn’t been huge progress since … due, primarily, to one pesky little word: Fukushima.  Fukushima drove a German decision to accelerate nuclear

    Stephens carefully selected 1998 …

    power plant retirements.  Impressive that Germany, with retiring half its nuclear fleet in a short period, actually managed to continue to reduce emissions (even if at a slower pace).  Yes, sort of flat fall since 2009 … because 2009 was low.  Just like the cherry picking from climate science deniers focus on 1998, which is one of the hottest years in history, to falsely assert a ‘pause’ when 1998 was an outlier year by far.

  • Yes, Germans do pay somewhat high electricity bills. However, these are (a) right in line with average US bills, (b) roughly 1/4th of the bill is general taxes having nothing to do — per se — with energy nor with the Energiewende, (c) with subsidization for clean energy and energy efficiency, the bills somewhat cover real costs (externalities like cancer-causing pollution from coal plants) that are ignored in the United States and by ‘thinkers’ like Stephens, (d) etc …..

Monographs could be written on the direct and implicit of that one Stephens’ paragraph. And, well, for pretty much every other one he has published as a New York Times employee.

Not sure how The New York Times‘ judges its ‘bar for intellectual honesty and fairness’ but, when it comes to Bret Stephens, it sure seems pretty close to the ground.






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→ 5 CommentsTags: Energy