Climate of unintended consequences – NYT

Posted: May 6, 2017 by oldbrew in climate, Critique, Emissions, ideology, opinion
Tags: , , ,

Bret Stephens at The New York Times delves into the erroneous ‘climate-friendly’ image of biofuels, and questions the claimed success of renewables in general. Not new criticisms, but new for the NYT at least.

A few extracts from the piece:
“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.”

These confident assurances come from “Biofuels: A Solution for Climate Change,” a paper published in 1999 by the Clinton administration’s Department of Energy. Feels a little dated in its scientific assumptions, doesn’t it?

. . .
It seemed so obvious. Flex-fuel engines, which mix gasoline and ethanol, were advertised as the motors of the future. Brazil, with one of the most developed markets for biofuel production and consumption, was touted as a country of the future.

Dramatic advances in biofuels tech, we were told, were just around the corner. And biofuels would help us gain energy independence and hence greater security from terrorism.

Wrong on pretty much every count.
. . .
Turning to renewables he writes:
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.

The author concludes:
We need to make policy choices based less on moral self-regard and more on attention to real-world results.
– – –
Full article: Climate of Unintended Consequences – The New York Times

  1. Bloke down the pub says:

    A lot of NYTs readers will be sticking their fingers in their ears and saying ‘LA LA LA, I’m not listening.’

  2. Germany’s rates are high because of taxes – not the base rate. The UK’s base rate is actually higher than Germany’s. Perhaps Brett Stephens needs to look a little deeper.

  3. oldbrew says:

    ‘Germany’s rates are high because of taxes’ – which are needed to pay for the subsidies on renewables.

    In the UK those costs are added to the bill by the energy industry, before tax. Either way, the bills have been shooting up in recent years.

  4. oldbrew says:

    Alan Carlin asks:
    What scientific hypothesis

    has been shown to be invalid? [links provided]
    leads to policies that increase the poverty of the poor the world over, discussed here?
    is being used as the basis for trying to starve green plants of one of their essential nutrients in the name of environmentalism, as discussed here?
    is being used as the justification to increase the incomes of well placed supporters?
    is being defended by arguing that its validity should be decided by majority vote of “experts” rather than the scientific method?
    is being falsely defended by claiming that 97% of climate scientists support it, as discussed here?
    is being defended by calling non-believers “deniers” in the sense of holocaust deniers for public relations purposes?
    is being defended as helping to support environmentalism when it actually makes life worse for many non-human species, particularly birds, bats, and green plants?
    leads to decreases in support for actual environmental improvements by lowering net incomes, which results in humans directing more of their income to necessities?
    is increasing the size, intrusiveness, and cost of government including the United Nations and reducing the role played by economics and market forces and thus economic efficiency, as discussed here?
    is being used to argue for lower global temperatures when humans do better with and prefer somewhat warmer temperatures than we currently have?
    is being supported by the US Democratic Party even though it has resulted in major Party losses in 2000, 2010, and 2016?

  5. tom0mason says:

    Of course part of the energy market distortion that is still alive in Germany is the industrial end of the market.
    Up until 2016 large industrial energy consumers were encouraged to generate their own electricity (and supply the local community with the ‘waste’ heat generated), and therefore were paid some of cost from the Government’s Energiewende subsidy budget(EEG allocation). After 2016 new plant were not allowed to claim for the EEG allocation but already installed in-house power production still gets a large allocation. Vehicle manufactures have long enjoyed this subsidy however —

    In 2017, the EU Commission will likely rule on the existing regulations for in-house power production in Germany. It has approved protection for existing facilities, but demands that the regulation be adapted by the end of 2017. The EU Commission thereby expressed disapproval of the exemption of in-house power from the EEG allocation. German industry demands that the burdens for industrial in-house power production not be further increased. The Federal Economics Ministry also determined in a study that burdens on in-house power production could drastically reduce Germany’s competitiveness. A detrimental change would also be legally questionable, as investments that have already been made in in-house power plants should enjoy protection as existing facilities.

    Can the Germany Automotive industry survive such a change, or are their profits so dependent on energy subsidy?

  6. manicbeancounter says:

    I have driven in Brazil. The mixture of alcohol with gasoline means that the cars are about 20% less powerful than in Europe. I have also driven a car fueled by pure alcohol. Not much different, though the pre-1990 cars needed a lot of warming up on colder mornings. That is below about 15c.

  7. dscott says:

    Well, most of the subsidized bio-fuel industry will shortly be coming to an end when the price of food starts going up substantially. If you have been following the Kansas wheat crop loss this last week, the 10,000 head of cattle lost, the surging price of beef, wheat and oats futures, the money to be made in actually producing food will cause the bio-fuel funding source to dry up.

    The end game of every enterprise is to make money at a high rate of return. The religious embrace of AGW notwithstanding, the government subsidized grifters who raked in the money on the AGW hoax will have better incomes by changing their fuel crop to food production. It was always about making lots of money, never forget that…

    I predict by 2020, the AGW scam will be largely absent from discussion as the grip of the new mini ice age bites into food prices. The next wave of profit making opportunities will be in insulation materials. Those super insulated homes that German designers have been working on with high efficiency heat exchangers on intake and exhaust air will come into full vogue. The AGW scam wasn’t a complete loss, just mostly so. Look to government and environmental types to back pedal saying climate change included earth’s natural cycles and we helped get you ready for it by insisting on energy efficiency solutions that apply to both.

    Ironically, the insane drive to put the entire/most of the US corn crop into gasoline tanks may have a silver lining, as the farm machinery needed for harvesting is in place for the re-alignment of planting different strains of edible corn and other food crops.