Making the case for Nucelear Energy – Part 2: Going Green, a Pie in the Sky Dream

June 6, 2012

For all practical purposes Going Green, under the guise of Global Warming, is a fool’s mission if mass production of energy from wind and solar is its goal.

Targeting CO2 as the cause of Global Warming, which gave rise to the EPA formally declaring carbon dioxide a pollutant that endanger public health and welfare on April l7, 2009, is like blaming obesity on a hangnail or eating peanut butter.

As human beings we exhale CO2. Man must breath for life to exist, while plant life need to absorb CO2 to survive and thrive without which it would die.

A modest amount of global warming, should it occur as a result of the earth’s natural cycle, would be beneficial to Mother Earth. During the Medieval Warm Period — roughly 800 to 1200 AD when temperatures were 7 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than today — mankind enjoyed great prosperity.  Greenland was so named because it was green!

According to Jay H. Lehr, Ph.D, science director of The Heartland Institute,“. . . it is an unarguable fact that the portion of the Earth’s greenhouse gas envelope contributed by man is barely one tenth of one per cent of the total.  CO2 is no more that 4% of the total (with water vapor being over 90% followed by methane and sulpher and nitrous oxides).   Of that 4% man contributes only a little over 3%.  Elementary school arithmetic says that 3% of 4% is .12% and for that we are sentencing the planet to a wealth of damaging economic impacts.” 

If man is responsible for so little of the CO2 in the atmosphere, why then are fossil fuels being maligned with the urgent message that alternate forms of energy must be substituted as a way to curtail CO2 emissions which, according to Al Gore, will cause the earth to heat up with catastrophic consequences unless checked?   

Certainly the use of fossil fuels for energy for manufacturing goods, for industry, for transportation, and for heating only came about in a meaningful way at the beginning of the last century as the ingenuity of man led to inventions that changed this nation from an agrarian society to one where industry became central and city life flourished.

If this is so, why then have there have been periods of warming and cooling with spacings averaging 27 years for the past 500 years, with an extremely warm period during the Medieval Age, when an extensive usage of oil and gas is much more recent in history?  It is obvious that oil and coal as fossil fuels emitting CO2 have been energy scapegoats!

During Heartland’s CCC7 time and again the foolishness of man in believing that wind, solar and other forms of alternative energy could replace what by “consensus” and absent true scientific facts man has determined needs to be done to Save the Planet – – sever this nation’s dependence on oil and coal as energy sources.  

Ken Haapala, M.S., trained as a quantitative economist, cited in a ICCC7 panel discussion about “Limits of Renewable Energy” that money by the federal government in the form of subsidies is the driving thrust for alternative energy.  

In regard to those in Washington, D.C. — and in state governments including here in Illinois — who say they are concerned about the environment and insist on building wind mills and solar energy generation facilities, Haapala indicated how these environmental die-hards completely ignore that an equal amount of backup resources must be built for when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, making solar and wind totally unreliable and expensive.

According to Ken Haapala, citing figures attributed to the General Accounting Office, the federal government is vested in promoting alternative energy through the establishment of 23 agencies, 139 sub-agencies, and nearly 500 programs. And the cost of the nearly 700 programs?  $70 billion spent from fiscal year 2008 to September of this year.  Of the $70 billion, $51 billion, $824 million was distributed by the DOE in the same time period.  

Of all the ICCC7 featured speakers, Physicist and Environmental Advocate, John Droz, offered what seemed to be the most enlightening information about the properties and failings of wind power when he spoke on the topic, “Wind Energy:  Based on Real Science?”  
 
John Droz chose a three-prong approach expounding upon the technical, environmental and economic side of wind power.  To hear more of Mr. Droz’s excellent wind power comments you will need to watch his ICCC7 video, as space constrains me from recounting in detail John’s excellent presentation.    
 
It would be derelict of me, however, not to recount facts shared by John Droz about the manufacturing of wind turbines which were shocking to me. 

Although wind energy is dubbed as “green”, one key component of each turbine is many 1000’s of pounds of rare earth elements which are used in such things as generator magnets.   Refining these rare earth elements is a long, messy process that usually involves dozens of steps, each one resulting in serious air, water and land pollution.  The processing of the REE’s to construct a modest 300 MW wind project would result in the following: 

1.  Destroying 60 thousands square meters of vegetation,
2.  generating 18 million cubic meters of highly toxic air pollution,
3.  polluting 87 million gallons of wastewater (making it poisonous),
4.  producing 1 point, 8 billion pounds of contaminated tailing sands, and
5.  resulting in 300 thousand pounds of radioactive waste.

According to John Droz, Independent studies have concluded that wind projects have an adverse local meteorological impact for up to 15 miles away, with financial consequences like reduced crop yields.  

Cited also was a New Jersey study about a proposed small NJ offshore wind project which would have increased electricity rate and led to a reduction of employment in NJ of 864 to 2000 jobs per year. 

Argosy Wind Power is the largest wind turbine manufacturer in the U.S.  Another large wind turbine company is Siemens.  

Carolyn K. Gerwin in her Illinoiswindwatch.com blog post, explains how each Illinois wind job costs Illinois taxpayers $8 million, due to Wind Farm developers receiving enterprise zone status and a wide variety of subsidies and incentives here in Illinois.  Under the Renewable Portfolio Standard Illinois utilities are forced to buy a certain amount of wind energy.  Wind developers also receive special tax breaks called Production Tax Credits

Like wind, Solar Power is an unreliable, intermittent, location-dependent form of energy which is influenced by daily and seasonal weather and sky conditions.  Solar power is also the most costly power source of all, currently providing only about 0.01% of U.S. electricity.  It was back in 2008 that Scientific American reported that by 2050 solar power could end U.S. dependence on oil and slash greenhouse gas emission.    
 
Retired GE Company executive Donn Dears, featured in the same ICCC7 panel discussion about the “Limits of Renewable Energy” as already mentioned speakers ICCC7 speakers Ken Haapala and John Droz, through a hand out, “Power for USA,” defined the time it would take to reap a return on an investment of $20,000 for VA panels if homeowners in various cities throughout the U.S. invested the same amount in rooftop installation installed by entrepreneurs who leases rooftop installation to homeowners for a fixed monthly rate. 

Pay back time would be nearly 14 years for homeowners in Phoenix, Arizona; 26 years in Atlanta, GA; and over 42 years in Albany, NY, based of 11 cents per kwh with a saving of $6.88 realized for every day the sun shines.  As in many instances PV panels might only last for 20 to 25 years, some homeowners may never see a return from their investment.      

In tandem with wind power, solar power investors likewise enjoy huge subsidies.  Remember Solyndra where $500 million of tax payers money was wasted on a solar company that was destined to fail even before our government attempted to prop up the company?  And Solyndra is not the only solar company where government invested money was lost as the companies went under.   

A somewhat ominous development for the U.S. solar industry was reported by Bloomberg News on May 24.  A trade war is looming as China rebukes U.S. renewable energy subsidies for solar in five U.S. states:  Washington state, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Ohio and California.  According to Chicago, the U.S. state subsidies violate World Trade Organization policies and trade treaties.   

The Obama administration seems to have a death wish.  Not only does the administration perceive the European social welfare program desirable and appropriate for this nation to adopt, but it has likewise embraced green energy as capable of supplying this nation’s future and ever expanding energy needs through misguided and what would amount to disastrous economic consequences in its Don Qiote-like quest to achieve oil independence.  In matter not that both  European programs are failing and have placed emotional and financial burdens on EU nations and their citizens.

Spain, Italy and Germany are finding it difficult to continue to subsidize wind and solar power at existing levels.  Even in Denmark, which Obama praised for its aggressive wind-power program, there are reports that cheating took place when solar power producers ran diesel-burning generators and sold the output as solar power. 

In the same article the myth that green energy produces jobs was exposed.  A 2009 study at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Spain found that   2.2 jobs were destroyed for every green job created.  

What makes U.S. legislators and planners believe they can realize success out of European failure?  It is both arrogant, unwise and down right stupid!

The following remarks ring true as found in the Conclusions section to “Eighteen Facts to Fight Global Warming Alarmists” by Heartland’s science director, Jay Lehr, Ph.D:  

“Global warming is a major industry today.  Between 1992 and 2008 the US Government spent $30 billion on climate change research and now contributes $6 billion a year.  This finances jobs, grants, conferences, international travel and academic journals.  It not only keeps a huge army of people in comfortable employment, but also fills them with self righteousness and moral superiority regardless of the fact that real science did not support it.” 

The Heartland Institute message must be gotten out.  It is up to all of us to spread Heartland’s message that the “consensus theory” of catastrophic anthropogenic (man-made) global warming is just theory, not scientific truth that must be based on hard evidence.  

The present consensus policy, if allowed to continue, will impose substantial costs on consumers and will destroy hundreds of thousands of jobs in an already dismal job market, as remedies for Global Warming are already nibbling away at our freedoms and affecting our way of life.

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