More rational policies in our future?

Trump’s Paris decision challenges bad science, economics, and energy politics behind treaty

In the wake of President Trump’s exit from the Paris climate treaty, reactions from other quarters were predictably swift, nasty, sanctimonious, and hypocritical.

Al Gore paused near one of the private jets he takes to hector lesser mortals to say the action will bring “a global weather apocalypse.” Billionaire Tom Steyer got rich selling coal but called the President’s action “a traitorous act of war.” Actor-activist Mark Ruffalo railed that Trump has “the death of whole nations on his hands.” Michael Moore said the action was “a crime against humanity.” Former President Obama said it threatened “the one planet we’ve got” (to say nothing of what’s left of his executive orders legacy).

In truth, President Trump’s bold decision underscores the ill-informed science, economics, ethics, and energy politics that have driven climate cataclysm caterwauling for decades. His exit decision, his insistence that NATO members pay their agreed dues for defending Europe, the impacts of widespread green energy poverty, and the hard economic and environmental realities of wind, solar, and biofuels “alternatives” to fossil fuels will likely awaken other leaders – and persuade other nations to Exit Paris.

Of the 28 NATO members, only the US, the UK, Poland, Estonia, and Greece have met their defense spending commitments, leaving a shortfall of $134 billion a year and compelling the United States to shoulder over 65% of the alliance’s total defense spending. Germany and some other members have now grudgingly agreed to increase their payments, in response to President Trump’s request, Russia’s actions in Crimea, Georgia, and elsewhere – and growing threats of Islamist terrorism.

In the wake of London, Manchester, Brussels, Paris, Orlando, San Bernardino, Fort Hood, Twin Towers, and countless other attacks, it is ludicrous to claim supposedly manmade, allegedly dangerous climate change is the world’s biggest worry. It’s totally unrealistic to imagine that NATO members can pay their fair share for defending Europe and then pay what the Paris Treaty expects for the Green Climate Fund, while shackling their economies with job-killing renewable energy policies, and spending billions on welfare for unemployed workers and migrant families from the Middle East.

The Paris climate formula provides that GCF payments are to start at $100 billion per year, of which the U.S. share would have been $23.5 billion. Former UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Christiana Figueres has suggested that $450 billion a year by 2030 would be appropriate, Competitive Enterprise Institute energy and climate director Myron Ebell points out.

Ms. Figueres has also said the UN has “given itself” the task of replacing the free enterprise capitalism economic model with a global governance system. Her colleague Ottmar Edenhofer bluntly stated that the real goal of UN climate policies is redistributing the world’s wealth – in $450-billion-a-year increments.

Developing Countries (DCs) and kleptocratic leaders demanded this windfall to join Paris. Their enthusiasm over staying in Paris is likely to reflect now-rich nation declining excitement about paying into the Fund, even though the treaty does not obligate DCs to reduce fossil fuel use or emissions until at least 2030.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel gamely said she will now work “more than ever” to “save our planet.” A number of U.S. cities and states pledged to remain committed to treaty obligations. How exactly will they do that? Will they pay billions into the Fund – and blanket their lands with enough wind, solar, and biofuels installations to be completely renewable in three decades? Build more of the only CO2-free electricity sources that are reliable and affordable: nuclear and hydroelectric facilities?

Most of these national, state, and local leaders oppose nuclear and hydroelectric as strongly as they detest fossil fuels – and the states and cities are already burdened by soaring electricity prices and government debt. Virtually none have considered the gargantuan costs of this “energy transition” – or the fact that total global adherence to the Paris Treaty would prevent an undetectable 0.2º C (0.3º F) of warming by 2100. Their own self-aggrandizing efforts would prevent perhaps 0.01º C. (And that assumes carbon dioxide is the primary factor in climate change, instead of changes in solar energy output, cosmic rays, ocean circulation, and numerous other natural forces that actually control Earth’s climate.)

The United States and world still depend on oil, natural gas, and coal for 80% of their total energy needs. More than 53,000 U.S. wind turbines still supply only 2% of the nation’s total energy; thousands of acres of photovoltaic solar panels supply barely 0.3% of U.S. energy; corn ethanol from 40 million acres (equal to Iowa or to Austria and the Czech Republic combined) supplies just 5% of its transportation fuels.

Land and raw material requirements for wind turbines underscore the true impacts of renewable energy.

Between 2010 and 2015, global electricity consumption grew by more than 2 billion megawatt-hours (2,000 terawatt-hours). Meeting just this demand growth of 400 million mWh per year (not total global electricity demand) solely with wind energy would require installing some 100,000 new turbines every year (generating electricity 25% of the time), as nations continue to electrify their far-flung communities.

Thankfully, African and Asian countries are actually doing so by building “mere” hundreds of new coal- and natural gas-fueled power plants, to generate abundant, reliable, affordable electricity for their people. Converting the entire planet to constantly fluctuating, unreliable, expensive, subsidized wind power would require trillions of dollars, hundreds of millions of acres, and incalculable raw materials.

Industry and other data suggest that generating just 20% of U.S. electricity with wind power would require some 185,000 1.5-MW turbines, 19,000 miles of new transmission lines, up to 18 million acres, and 245 million tons of concrete, steel, copper, fiberglass, and rare-earths – plus fossil-fuel backup generators for the 75% of the year that the wind is barely blowing and the turbines are not producing electricity.

Now consider where all these raw materials must come from, how they must be extracted from the Earth and turned into finished products, and how much (mostly fossil fuel) energy that requires. Concrete is made from limestone, silica, alumina, iron, clay, fly ash, gypsum, and gravel. Steel requires iron, nickel, chromium, manganese, carbon, and molybdenum. Fiberglass is composed of silica, other minerals, and petroleum. These materials and copper are mined in countries all across the planet.

Nearly all rare-earth metals come from Mongolia, and most of the  lithium for batteries (to store the turbines’ electrical output) comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, under horrid to nonexistent environmental, health, and child labor standards. Their toxic and radioactive wastes are turning vast areas into desolate wastelands.

Those are enormous impacts – and wind turbines require some 100-200 times more raw materials per megawatt of electricity actually generated than modern hypercritical coal or combined cycle gas turbine generators. Total energy inputs to manufacture, transport, and install wind turbine components are also lopsided. Just imagine the land and resource needs if all electricity were wind-generated and all cars were electric. To call this “clean” energy, “sustainable” power or “environmental justice” is simply perverse.

Think back on the incredible energy technology advances since 1917 – from wood and coal in primitive stoves, furnaces, and factories a century ago … to the coal and gas turbine generators, hydroelectric and nuclear power plants, and high-tech transmission grids of today. Ponder the amazing advancements in medical, computer, communications, and other technologies during the past century.

Imagine what wonders our Ultimate Resource – our creative intellects – could invent over next century, if we have the freedom and capital to do so. If misguided climate change, wealth redistribution, renewable energy, and global governance demands do not shackle those opportunities. If we’d stop giving decision-making authority to people who have never been in factories or on farms (much less worked there), and think food comes from grocery stores, electricity from wall sockets, “clean energy” from magic.

President Trump has been vilified for challenging “accepted wisdom” on NATO, terrorism, climate change, and the ability of wind and solar to power job creation and economic rejuvenation in the U.S. and other industrialized nations – and to enable poor families worldwide to take their rightful places among Earth’s healthy and prosperous people. History will prove him right.

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About the Author: Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for CFACT and author of Cracking Big Green and Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

  • WalterHorsting
  • rhetorical1

    So refreshing to read such a concise paper on the realities of the climate debacle. The truth has/will win out. Thank you, Sir for this information.

  • Frederick Colbourne

    Agreed, apart from your reference to the Crimea, part of Russia for centuries until Nikita Khrushchev decided to transfer the oblast to the Ukraine in 1954. The legality of the transfer has always been in dispute.

    About 90% of the population of the Crimea were at one time citizens of Russia, or children of Russian citizens, or grandchildren of Russian citizens.

    All post-referendum polls carried out in the Ukraine by foreign pollsters confirm 80%+ support for separation from the Ukraine and return to Russia exactly what one would expect if possessed of any knowledge of Russian and Soviet history.

  • MarcJ

    Hoodwinking Americans is the
    essential part of the environmentalist agenda. Environmental activist Stephen
    Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989: “We have to offer up scary scenarios,
    make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we
    might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being
    effective and being honest.”

    In 1988, then-Sen. Timothy
    Wirth, D-Colo., said: “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue.
    Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right
    thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.”

    To resume this-comedy in 3
    acts performed by the US-taxpayer-paid ($25 billion per year) drones supervised
    by the UN socialist panel:

    1) New Ice Age panic in the 1970’s; remedy = our unilateral disarmament plus
    nationalize everything and establish a United Nations-supervised world
    socialist government “to spread the wealth around”, as proclaimed in 2009 by
    our Marxist Muslim ex-President from Kenya B. Hussein Obama; when that ice
    failed to show up the same criminals invented

    2) Global Warming scam in the 1990’s; remedy still the same. After 21 consecutive years of global COOLING as dictated by the 30-year solar cycle the same bunch of criminals declared

    3) Climate Change hoax; remedy – see above.

    Our former (thank God!)
    Marxist Muslim President B. Hussein Obama from Kenya bestowed $50 million of
    our money to the United Nations Climate Change fund organized by that criminal
    Paris Conference comedy. Mr. Trump – PLEASE – nullify this waste of our money
    and stop that socialist conspiracy! Yes – he did it!

  • MarcJ

    Ukraine means “borderland” in Russian; that is the area where the Christian Ukrainians finally stopped the Asian Muslim hordes from advancing into Europe. Those hordes settled there until their resistance to Stalin’s communist policies resulted in Stalin’s forced removal of those resisters into Siberia; the emptied land was then filled up with Russian imports.

  • batfarts

    Excellent article. That someone has finally put this issue in an all-encompassing context is long overdue.

    I was particularly pleased to see cited the dollar and energy costs associated with even establishing the infrastructure for green energy.

    Well done!

  • Bruce Atchison

    What worries me is all the deluded millennials who believe the lie about global warming. Even after being shown how the IPCC fudged the figures and how NASA and NOAA rigged the data, they still feel duty-bound to “do our part.” My hope is that these people get mugged by reality. Even Arnie Coro on Radio Havana Cuba says that we’re in for cooler weather because of the lack of solar activity these days. If he, in a country where speech is regulated heavily, can say that openly on the air and not disappear the next day, there must be something to the fact that we haven’t had significant heating since 1998. It’s clear to any thinking person that climate change always happens and our part in emitting heat is about the same as a Bic lighter burning in winter.

    • Jack Reacher

      Yes…We have been due for global cooling because of the sun since at least 2003.
      Still waiting.

  • John Swallow

    Aims of Donor Are Shadowed by Past in Coal JULY 4, 2014
    To environmentalists across Australia, it is a baffling anachronism in an era of climate change: the construction of a 4,000-acre mine in New South Wales that will churn out carbon-laden coal for the next 30 years.
    The mine’s groundbreaking, in a state forest this year, inspired a veteran to stand in front of a bulldozer and a music teacher to chain himself to a piece of excavation equipment.
    But the project had an unlikely financial backer in the United States, whose infusion of cash helped set it in motion: Tom Steyer, the most influential environmentalist in American politics, who has vowed to spend $100 million this year to defeat candidates who oppose policies to combat climate change.
    Mr. Steyer, a billionaire former hedge fund manager, emerged this election season as the green-minded answer to Charles G. and David H. Koch, the patrons of conservative Republican politics, after vowing that he would sell off his investments in companies that generate fossil fuels like coal.
    But an examination of those investments shows that even after his highly public divestment, the coal-related projects his firm bankrolled will generate tens of millions of tons of carbon pollution for years, if not decades, to come.

  • John Swallow

    Since the Sierra Club is against coal and for wind power , the “greenies” need to consider this:
    “18 NOV 2013: A Scarcity of Rare Metals Is Hindering Green Technologies
    A shortage of “rare earth” metals, used in everything from electric car batteries to solar panels to wind turbines, is hampering the growth of renewable energy technologies. Researchers are now working to find alternatives to these critical elements or better ways to recycle them.
    […] “Platinum, needed as a catalyst in fuel cells that turn hydrogen into energy, comes almost exclusively from South Africa.” (It appears the author of this does not care to recognize Stillwater Mine. Remember when Obama allowed Government Motors to break the standing contract with SM & buy the platinum from South Africa?)
    […]
    The problem was that China, which controlled 97 percent of global rare earth production, had clamped down on trade. A solution was brokered and the price shock faded, but the threat of future supply problems for rare earths and other so-called “critical elements” still looms.”

  • John Swallow

    “Economic competition and environmental concerns are increasingly constraining the mining and processing of rare earths from the Mountain Pass mine in California. For many years, the deposit at Mountain Pass was the world’s dominant source of rare earth elements and the United States was essentially self-sufficient. Starting approximately 10 years ago, the U.S. has become increasingly dependent (> 90 percent of separated rare earths) upon imports from China, now the dominant source of rare earths. A knowledge of the known economic and noneconomic sources of rare earths is basic to evaluating the outlook for rare earth supply and associated issues.”

    “That’s important, because in China, which produces more than 90 percent of the world’s supply of rare-earth minerals, environmental laws have historically been scant and enforcement lax. The center of rare-earth mining there is Baotou, a city in Inner Mongolia with 2.3 million residents that’s become something of a poster child for mining’s ecological wreckage.”
    […]
    “There’s little doubt the environmental cost of creating an iPhone, as well as those wind turbines, hybrid engines, and the bevy of other technical wonders that use rare-earth minerals, has been immense.”

  • John Swallow

    The Sierra Club, that did everything they could to close down the only domestic rare earth producer, Molycorp Inc because “The project potentially will have direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the State- and Federally threatened Mojave desert tortoise. Specifically, the project will adversely impact the Northeastern Mojave (NEMO) Desert Tortoise Recovery Unit.” No wonder Sierra Club President Aaron Mair sounded so ignorant while being questioned by Sen. Cruz.

    Stupid is as stupid does and that explains the Sierra Club and anyone who believes them.

  • jreb57

    It is amazing how many educated people think that CO2 warms the earth by acting like a “blanket” trapping solar energy. If you wrapped the earth with a “blanket” the energy would have to come from within the blanket (the earth) in order for heat to be trapped. But it doesn’t. The energy comes from the Sun so the “blanket” would be likely to prevent more energy from reaching the earth’s surface than it prevents from escaping and that by a large margin. There is however, no blanket effect because the atmosphere is composed of gasses which are free to move about the planet.

  • jreb57

    In order to have more rational policies for our future we are going to need more rational people in our government.

  • jreb57

    I have this thought about nuclear energy. The radioactive materials used in a reactor are mined from the earth, refined and used in the reactor where radiation is released to generate power. If not used in the reactor to generate power, they will simply decompose in the ground releasing radiation and no energy will be gained from it. I don’t believe we can afford to neglect this source of energy.

  • Jack Reacher

    Amazing that you can think of all the advancements that we have come up with over the past 100 years in one line. And in the very next line talk about all the problems with wind and solar and battery technology in the next. Without ever thinking about all the advancements to come in those technologies.
    Do you really not think that there is more upside potential with Solar and battery technology then there is with Coal? LOL Really?