A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Report from the Imperial Tailor

A morning newsitainment show with pretensions recently "interviewed" the Secretary of Energy over the President's decision to "withdraw" from the Paris Deal. Now, technically the US cannot withdraw because the agreement was never ratified with the advice and consent of the Senate, a requirement of that "scrap of paper" called the Constitution. (This document was once referred to as an "obstacle" to doing what was right by a constitutional law professor named Obama, who later won his way to higher office.) That's why it was called a "Deal" and not a "Treaty." The Constitution does not mention how Deals are to be handled, only how Treaties are to be handled. So, believing in Name-Magic, the handlers deemed that by calling it something else, it would become something else and the US could be committed to it by Executive Order alone. The other term for this sort of ruler is dictator, i.e., "he who dictates."

Now the pearl-clutching that commenced after the announcement of withdrawal was a wonder to behold. The NY Post ran the headline: Trump to World: Drop Dead, as if that would really, truly be the result of withdrawing from the agreement. But maybe not. Even if every jot and tittle of the agreement is carried out, even those things agreed to by China and Russia, the result might be a saving of 0.05°C by the year 2100. And that assumes that the models are correct. They haven't been yet; but who knows?
Anyway, on the TV show, the Sec Energy pointed out that the accord gives China, the world's biggest emitter of carbon (assuming CO2 to be a "pollutant") has promised to do exactly nothing while the US has pledged to reduce "greenhouse gas" emissions by 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025 -- only 8 years away.  China, whose emissions are already about double those of the US, agrees to no reductions whatsoever, and only to try to reach "peak" emissions by 2030. At this point, the interviewer interrupted to point out that China had pledged to reduce emissions by 60% after 2030. He said this with a straight face, too, as if he believed a) China would follow through on that pledge; b) his network would remember by then to hold them to it; or c) it would be technologically feasible to accomplish. Well, TV personalities are seldom taught to think quantitatively.

Thanks to fracking, the US has already reduced CO2 by 7% below the 2005 baseline, but this success (which actually exceeds the more preening Europeans) frightened the activists so much that they started an anti-fracking campaign. The EPA's Clean Power Plan was to shutter cheap coal power plants and cover the landscape with wind and solar farms.  A version of the strategy that has led Germany to residential electricity prices about triple the U.S. average. This sort of thing can result in the collapse of industries dependent on cheap power: Paper down 12 percent.  Cement down 23 percent.  Iron and steel down 38 per cent.  Coal down 86 percent.

No wonder they wanted China and India to be exempt.

Never fear. California announced they would on their own try to abide by the Paris accords. In fact, in September 2016 California's legislature passed, and Governor Brown signed, SB-32 requiring a reduction of "greenhouse" emissions in California to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.  That's about 12 1/2 years from now.

Now, California has been pushing to replace fossil fuels (boo) with "renewables" (yay) for 27 years, since 1990, covering the hillsides with wind turbines and the valleys with solar collectors.  So how much of the 40% reduction have they accomplished so far?  California's emissions for the latest year given (2014) were actually marginally above the 1990 level:

Does anyone really think California will accomplish this miracle in the next twelve years that it hasn't touched in the last 27? What will be the next strategy? Threats? Will household electricity become, as it is fast becoming in Germany, a luxury?

And will China, after doubling its emissions between now and 2030 really even try, let alone succeed in doing even more in the sixty years following?


  1. There are plenty of good reasons to try to get away from fossil fuels, where possible (I think you've mentioned the one about petrochemicals being much more useful as "feedstocks" for chemicals?), without the need for the apocalyptic alarmism. But, of course, something with a rational motive like that would likely limit its policy-effects to, at most, moderate increases of the regulations on certain industries. You need an emergency to justify a major power-grab.

  2. As someone with some roots in Utah's coal country, I know all too well how California will meet those targets. They'll burn coal here in Utah as well as in Arizona and Nevada to power their "clean" cities.

    I'm not a huge fan of coal power; it's not the disaster it's made out to be, but it's a dangerous job and I'd prefer a cleaner method. I just think it's odd for California to brag about being "green" while outsourcing their "dirty" energy to poorer neighbors.

    1. I don't doubt that's what will happen, but that's giving too much credit to California for a capacity for sustained rational thought. It's just obvious that driving a car with an internal combustion engine generates pollutants. Much better to refuel by plugging it into the wall. Obviously, no pollution going on there.

  3. Um...why are we using Lomborg's analysis as a reference?

    1. Why not? It's in line with IPCC and others. No one claims that Paris, even if everyone does what they say they'll do, will accomplish much in terms of practical effect.

    2. Why not? Because Lomborg is a Denier Denier DENIER and a doubleplusungood crimethinker. Why, he probably voted for Trump and sleeps with Palin, even though he’s not American. Everyone who disagrees with any portion of the Party Line is a Denier, and all Deniers are exactly alike.

      Pardon me, I just rolled my eyes so hard they popped out of their sockets and now I have to find them. But this really is the mental process at work when the True Believers consign people to the void.

    3. Well, he didn't vote for Trump, because the only non-Americans who get to vote in this country vote for Democrats.

  4. I also call bull poopy on California. What little 'green energy' advance they have made so far doesn't take into account that a lot of their electrical power is shipped in from out of state.

  5. I was directed to this post:

  6. Brilliant post -- and bravo (bravi, more correctly) to those who commented! Such civility is rarer than hen's teeth!

    As for the post, Mr TOF has nailed it! No one wants a stinky coal plant in their yard, and renewables have their place (as well as their consequences -- e.g., desert environments destroyed by solar farms), but there's very, very little published on *how* anyone, anywhere will meet their (absurdly outlandish) targets. This is extraordinarily odd, particularly based on the money spent, the hillsides covered, and the like.

    Peace and Good on you all!


Whoa, What's This?