Weekly Climate and Energy News Roundup #348

The Week That Was: February 16, 2019, By Ken Haapala, President, SEPP

Brought to You by www.SEPP.org, The Science and Environmental Policy Project

Quote of the Week: “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better” – attributed to Albert Einstein.

Number of the Week: $425 billion plus back-up

A Note on Outgoing Longwave Radiation (Infrared Radiation): TWTW is trying to prepare a clear explanation of the effects of greenhouse gases and how the effects can be measured. They cannot be measured from the surface. The theory involves specialized fields such as theoretical molecular physics and mathematics such as integral equations. The physicists who review TWTW requested that TWTW explanations be reviewed by specialists to ensure there are no significant errors. This is being done, but the discussion of outgoing Infrared Radiation has been delayed.


The Green New Deal: There has been a great deal written about the Green New Deal over the past week. Many criticisms are linked below to include absurd claims by the promoters. Among the more outrageous claims of the proponents not discussed are analogies to the Marshall Plan and to the mobilization for World War II. It is apparent that proponents do not understand either.

The Marshall Plan, the European Recovery Program (ERP), was a great improvement in the attitudes of the victors following World War II, over the attitude of the victors following World War I, with the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles was designed to punish the vanquished and their citizens, the Marshall Plan set out to rebuild the economies of Europe providing prosperity for the citizens. President Truman was a Democrat and Congress was controlled by the Republicans. Much to the credit of the leaders of both groups, they set aside political differences to pass legislation benefiting European recovery from the devastating war.

However, scarcely discussed, the results were very uneven in Western Europe. (The Soviet Union came out with its own plan and implemented it in Eastern Europe.) A student familiar with economic statistics traveling in Western Europe in the early 1970s could note the difference in prosperity between West Germany and the UK. West Germany was thriving, the UK was stagnating, with its citizens facing increasing costs for necessary items. Yet, the UK received more funding from the Marshall Plan than West Germany.

One can attribute part of the difference in prosperity to the way in which the governments treated the funds from the Marshall Plan. The German government distributed the funds to local leaders, with proper accounting controls, as loans, to be repaid. The localities invested the funds accordingly. The UK government used the funds to strengthen control over private industries. It appears the Green New Deal is more along the lines of establishing greater federal control of private industries than promoting prosperity.

The second analogy of mobilizing for WWII is more disturbing. Contrary to what many believe, the original New Deal did not solve unemployment. World War II did. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1939 as the draft was starting, the total labor force was 55,600,000 with 370,000 in the armed services, which was increasing. Unemployment was 9,480,000 and the civilian unemployment rate was about 17%. In 1933, at the depth of the depression, the unemployment rate was 33%. By contrast today’s unemployment rate is about 4%. Further, BLS surveys show the number of job openings exceeds the number of people unemployed by about one million. The nation does not need to mobilize for war.

If there is an analogy to war for the New Green Deal, it is in Vietnam – when the national leaders did not understand the enemy or how to confront the enemy. Many young men and women believed that the Johnson Administration and the “Whiz Kids” in the Pentagon under Robert McNamara would not send hundreds of thousands of combat troops to Southeast Asia without a well-thought-out strategic plan. They were wrong.

As the Pentagon Papers partially show, the planning for Vietnam was inept. The advice of many experienced military leaders was ignored in favor of a “can-do” attitude. That attitude can be important, but needs proper direction, which the Johnson Administration did not give. Why President Nixon tried to suppress the Pentagon Papers containing severe criticism of his political opponents remains a mystery.

The proponents of the Green New Deal do not understand the difference between natural climate change and human-caused climate change. As John Christy has frequently demonstrated, the climate models used by proponents of dire global warming / climate change, greatly overestimate atmospheric temperature trends, where the greenhouse gas effect occurs. This is similar to proponents of the commitment of ground troops into Vietnam greatly overestimating the threat to the United States, particularly since we had the naval and mining capacity to block the key port used to supply North Vietnam.

The Green New Deal ignores the simple fact that wind and solar do not, and cannot, produce consistent, reliable electricity. Thus, these are a completely inadequate replacement for electricity generated by fossil fuels, nuclear, and hydro – unfit for modern civilization. See links under Defending the Orthodoxy, Questioning Green Elsewhere, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/1948/article/pdf/labor-force-employment-and-unemployment-1929-39-estimating-methods.pdf, and https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm


Tale of Two States: Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Manhattan Institute senior fellow Robert Bryce brings out the dramatic difference in the political treatment of natural gas drilling between Pennsylvania and New York. Both states sit on the rich Marcellus Shale formation. Pennsylvania is exporting natural gas, via pipeline, then converted to Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) and shipped to Asia or Europe. New York State has virtually banned hydraulic fracturing, needed to extract natural gas from Marcellus Shale.

Consolidated Edison, an energy utility in New York has announced a moratorium on new natural gas connections in its area. Such moratoria were common in the 1970s when it was commonly accepted the country was about to “run-out” of natural gas.

As Bryce states, what make the moratorium even more interesting is that, due to political pressure, New York’s Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear facility, is scheduled to be shut down in 2021, taking 2,069-megawatts off line. The only current alternative are three gas-fired generators, two of which are in New York State.

The article prompted TWTW to do some further digging into natural gas production in Pennsylvania and New York. In 2006, before the shale revolution, Pennsylvania produced 175,950 mcf of natural gas, in 2017 it produced 5,463,888 mcf, an increase 0f 3100%. In 2006, New York produced 55,980 mcf, in 2017 it produced 11,395 mcf, a decline of 80%. Many New York politicians are promoters of the Green New Deal, this must be what they have in mind. See Article # 2 and https://www.eia.gov/dnav/ng/ng_prod_sum_a_EPG0_VGM_mmcf_a.htm


California Rail: Last week’s TWTW discussed the escalating costs of former Governor Brown’s high-speed rail linking San Francisco to Los Angles. The Green New Deal has visions of replacing air travel with high speed rail. This week, the new California Governor, Gavin Newsom, put the brakes on the train. He is proposing to finish the initial planned route from Merced to Bakersfield, with the goal of revitalizing the rural areas harmed by the cut-off of irrigation water. Mr. Newsom stated: “there simply isn’t a path to get from Sacramento to San Diego, let alone from San Francisco to LA.” Perhaps someone showed him a map of the populated areas. See link under California Dreaming.


Additions and Corrections: TWTW reader Christopher Game writes: “In my opinion, your argument, that the earth’s surface is heating faster than the lower atmosphere and that consequently the heating is not due to added CO2, is an important, very good, and valid argument. I think it is one of the few very simple, reliable, and decisive arguments against the IPCC and its acolytes. I would like to see it used widely.”

“I presented it to one local expert here, a man very much on our side, against the IPCC and its acolytes. He wanted not just a comparison of global average temperature rates of increase. He wanted to know that the comparison between surface and lower atmosphere temperature rates of increase is favorable for all, or at least most latitudes or localities.

“Can you offer some help to verify that the comparison between surface and lower atmosphere temperature rates of increase is favorable for all, or at least most latitudes or localities? This would make it much easier to promulgate your excellent argument more widely.”

The request is realistic, but we simply do not have the data. Atmospheric temperature trends are taken by measuring large volumes of air. The closest to any regional data are in the global maps, produced by the University of Alabama in Huntsville, which show 40-year trends covering regions, not locations. Surface measurements are basically pin-pricks.

Carbon dioxide-caused global warming proponents, such as NASA-GISS, try to generalize these pin-pricks. But these generalizations are highly questionable. For example, as mentioned in the Feb 9 TWTW under Measurement Issues – Surface, NOAA does not show surface temperatures for the polar regions where there are no thermometers, NASA-GISS does. NOAA states: “Please Note: Gray areas represent missing data.” In most of these areas NASA-GISS generally shows warming. Also, NASA-GISS shows surface cooling of the Antarctic, where satellite atmospheric trends show warming.

What is particularly disturbing about Antarctica is that the only warming shown in atmospheric data is about 0 to 80 degrees east longitude, yet NASA-GISS shows cooling there and warming over most of the continent and the surrounding seas.


Number of the Week: $425 billion plus back-up: Wall Street Journal reader wrote a letter estimating that to replace the approximately 850 gigawatts of uranium and fossil-fuel installed electricity capacity in the U.S. as of 2016 would require about $425 billion, without back-up. His calculations assume significant reductions in costs ranging from one-third to one-sixth of current costs. (Highly unlikely in a mature industry.)

Using rough calculations by the late Roger Andrews for California, alone; the cost of battery back-up would be about 20 times that number bringing the total cost to the country to about $9 Trillion. According to the White House Budget Office, the total federal government outlays in 2019 will be $4.4 Trillion with a deficit of $984 Billion. New Deals are not cheap. Perhaps we will have a technological break-through in extracting sun-beams from cucumbers as described by Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels.



1. Green New Deal Encounters Red Sea of Debt

To replace 850 gigawatts (850,000,000 kilowatts) of installed fossil fuel and nuclear capacity would cost around $425 billion.

Letters, WSJ, Feb 13, 2019


“Regarding Kimberley Strassel’s “The Socialist That Could” (Potomac Watch, Feb. 8): There are two primary concerns I have with the Green New Deal. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), there was approximately 850 gigawatts of uranium and fossil-fuel installed electricity capacity in the U.S. as of 2016. Also, according to the EIA, as of January 2019, total capital costs per kilowatt for onshore wind range from $1,455 a kilowatt to $2,773 a kilowatt. Solar is $1,759-$3,212 a kilowatt. Let’s assume there is amazing innovation and costs decline to $500 a kilowatt for both of them. To replace 850 gigawatts (850,000,000 kilowatts) of capacity would cost $425 billion, give or take a few dozen billion. That’s my first concern. My second concern is what happens to my frequent-flier miles if there are no more airplanes?”

Darin Milmeister

New York


2. Gas Shortages Give New York an Early Taste of the Green New Deal

The state is dependent on imports even though it sits atop the abundant Marcellus Shale.

By Robert Bryce, WSJ, Feb 15, 2019


SUMMARY: The Manhattan Institute senior fellow writers:

“The combination of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling—sometimes known as the ‘shale revolution’—has enabled Texas, Pennsylvania and other states to produce record quantities of natural gas, some of which is being frozen [sic, liquified], loaded onto giant ships, and transported to customers in places like Chile, China and India. Thanks to the environmental policies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York has missed out on this windfall.


“Now, in a preview of what life might be like under the Democrats’ proposed Green New Deal, some New Yorkers are about to face a natural-gas shortage. Consolidated Edison , an energy utility that provides gas and power to the New York City area, announced last month that beginning in mid-March it would ‘no longer be accepting applications for natural gas connections from new customers in most of our Westchester County service area.’ The reason for the shortage is obvious: The Cuomo administration has repeatedly blocked or delayed new pipeline projects. As a Con Ed spokesman put it, there is a ‘lot of natural gas around the country, but getting it to New York has been the strain.’


“New York policy makers have also killed the state’s natural-gas-drilling business. In 2008 New York drillers produced about 150 million cubic feet of natural gas a day—not enough to meet all the state’s needs, but still a substantial amount. That same year legislators in Albany passed a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, the process used to wring oil and gas out of underground rock formations. In 2015 the Cuomo administration made the moratorium permanent. By 2018 New York’s gas production had declined so much that the Energy Information Administration quit publishing numbers on it.


“New York now imports nearly all of its gas even though part of the Marcellus Shale, one of the biggest and most prolific sources of natural gas in the country, extends into the state’s Southern Tier region. To get an idea of how much gas the state might have been able to produce from the Marcellus, New Yorkers can look across the state line to Pennsylvania, which now supplies about two-thirds of the gas consumed in New York. At the end of 2018, Pennsylvania drillers were producing about 18 billion cubic feet of gas a day. That’s more gas than Canada now produces.


“By keeping its natural gas in the ground, New York has lost out on jobs and tax revenue. By 2015, some 106,000 people were directly employed by Pennsylvania’s oil and gas industry, making it a bigger employer than the state’s famous steel sector. This year Pennsylvania’s state government is expected to take in some $247 million in gas-related fees.”

After a discussion of the closing of Indian Point power plant and no viable back-up other than natural gas, Bryce continues:

“The gas shortage means more bad news for Westchester County, which is already wobbling at the prospect of losing about 1,000 jobs when Indian Point closes. Last month Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Democrat from Scarsdale, told a local newspaper that the moratorium on new gas connections would ‘devastate’ development in her district. She said the gas shortage would pose a particular problem for the development of affordable housing units.


“‘This probably represents a billion dollars of development that will just stop,’ said Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano in an interview with the local CBS affiliate. ‘These big-pocketed developers are just going to move their developments to other communities.’



“Less than two weeks after Con Ed announced the moratorium on new gas connections, the utility announced it would seek an 11% hike in residential natural-gas rates and a nearly 6% increase in residential electricity rates.


“Policies have consequences. The moratorium on gas connections in Westchester is one of the knock-on effects of the anti-hydrocarbon policies of the Cuomo administration, and consumers will be forced to pay the bill.”


3. All You Need Is a Congress and a Dream

Green New Dealer Edward Markey vows: ‘We will save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation.’

By Barton Swaim, WSJ, Feb 10, 2019


SUMMARY: The reviewer of political books for the Wall Street Journal writes:

“It’s hard to know what to make of the ‘Green New Deal’ put forward last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) and Sen. Edward Markey (D., Mass.). The pair’s nonbinding resolution calls for, among many other things, a 10-year plan to meet ‘100 percent of the power demand of the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources,’ and to upgrade ‘all existing buildings in the United States . . . to achieve maximum energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability.’ It also aims to ‘promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities and youth.’


“Good thing it’s nonbinding.


“Is President Trump’s attack on socialism a preview of his 2020 campaign strategy? And how did the Democratic Party, which has just unveiled outlines for a Green New Deal, move so far to the left so quickly?


“Maybe the resolution is a starting point in a negotiation, but its sponsors don’t seem in a mood to bargain. Their aims are total. They seem to believe that the Trump presidency’s illegitimacy and all-around awfulness (as they see it) have radicalized the public and made possible the fulfillment of progressive longings.


“The Green New Deal is an expression of dreams, but that doesn’t make it pointless or merely comical. Take it seriously, not literally. Much of it reads like a leftist manifesto from half a century ago—I thought of the Port Huron Statement, issued by the founders of Students for a Democratic Society in 1962, which crammed scores of hopelessly vague and muddled objectives into a single document for the purpose of movement cohesion: ‘The economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject to democratic social regulation,’ and so on.

After a brief discussion of the cap-and-trade bill, on which Nancy Pelosi spent significant political capital, the journalist continues:


“The imperturbable Ms. Ocasio-Cortez wasn’t offended by the word ‘dream.’ ‘I don’t consider that to be a dismissive term,’ she said. ‘I think it’s a great term.’ It’s certainly an apt one, and makes sense of the resolution’s weirdly vatic language. Mr. Markey, sounding a little like the prophet Isaiah, said: ‘We will save all of creation by engaging in massive job creation.’


“The word ‘dream’ almost always has a happy connotation in American politics. To dream is to desire worthy and noble ends. Sometimes the ends really are worthy and noble, as in the most famous dream in American politics, Martin Luther King’s. But mostly they are not. Communism was always a dream, always a future state toward which its adherents had to struggle. Recall the haunting line of the political philosopher Michael Oakeshott: ‘The conjunction of dreaming and ruling generates tyranny.’


“The political dream, Oakeshott wrote, ‘is a vision of a condition of human circumstance from which the occasion of conflict has been removed, a vision of human activity coordinated and set going in a single direction and of every resource being used to the full.’ That is just about a perfect description of the progressive outlook. What else could inspire two members of Congress, one a neophyte and one with more than 40 years’ experience, to write a bill mandating—all at once, as if they could bring about paradise through legislation—clean water and air, affordable housing, access to healthy food, and ‘millions of high-wage jobs’?


“American progressives are fond of the word ‘democracy,’ but it is not democracy they want, because democracy is messy. What they want—and it is Mr. Trump’s strange genius to make them say it—is the noumenal perfection of a dream.”



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