After Paris Accord: Doesn't the Ruling Class Have Something Better to Do?

With all the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, can President Trump’s exit from Paris be anything less than the Fall and the expulsion from the Garden of Climate? Anyone would think that Steve Bannon had tempted Melania with an apple from the Tree of Science.

Elon Musk declares that he won’t serve on President Trump’s business councils anymore, because he can’t believe President Trump has begun the process of withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate accord. That accord, as I understand, involved a bunch of governments committed themselves in a non-binding sort of way to send lots of other peoples’ money to underdeveloped countries.

By the way, did you notice that the evil corporate serpents in mining and resource extraction down in the Land of Oz have issued a manifesto? Their non-negotiable demand is that if the governments there don’t get their act together and return electricity from wind and solar to low prices and high reliability, well, they take their Tree of Jobs out of there.

High electricity prices wouldn’t be a problem for the likes of Elon Musk and his pals. Musk’s business model is all about capturing government climate subsidies, and the tech guys don’t care about reliable base-load electric power because their server farms all have fossil-fueled back-up power.

I think we can better understand our times from Al Gore’s famous analysis in 1992. Everything that should be down is up, he said, and everything that should be up is down. Think up some nonsense like that and you too can be president, Hillary Clinton.

The fact is that the 1.5 to 3.0 degree warming that the climate models predict for the end of the century is gradual enough that the price system can take care of it. Yes, it will take care of things much better than crony capitalists and nerdy regulators and rich-kid climate activists.

But not before we go through another synfuels debacle.

I was talking recently to a guy involved in a synthetic gasoline startup. The idea is to make gasoline from carbon dioxide and water and renewable energy from wind and solar produced at the wrong time of day or year. He’s encouraged that states like California will soon be mandating that gasoline include synthetic gasoline in order to meet state mandated goals for renewable energy.

Let’s see if I get this. The ruling class declares a global warming crisis. It declares that the solution is to emit less carbon dioxide. It mandates covering the land with wind and solar power that is way more expensive than conventional oil and coal. Then it mandates that oil companies include in their gasoline synthetic fuel made with energy from useless and overpriced wind and solar power.

Let’s see if synthetic gasoline makes sense if we removed all the subsidies and mandates and crony capitalism from energy production.

The saddest part about this latest synfuels wheeze  is that it makes perfect sense if you are scaling up to produce synthetic fuel, or a California politician, or a climate change advocate. Of course we must force oil companies to blend synthetic fuel into the gasoline at the pump! Just like it made complete sense to force oil companies to blend corn-based ethanol into gasoline and shovels billions of dollars at corn farmers and ethanol plants and raise the price of food all over the world.

We are saving the planet here!

Here’s where government could help: with the unexpected. That refugee from the once peaceful Levant, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, has made a nice living writing about the “Black Swan” event, the unexpected disaster that could wipe you out financially or expel you from your Levantine Garden of Eden.

But how do you prepare for the Black Swan event? Perfectly simple: you make yourself Antifragile, so that the Black Swan event doesn’t wipe you out.

Where climate is concerned, I’d say that the Black Swan events that the great and the good should be worrying about and recklessly spending our billions to Antifragilize the planet would be, first, the Carrington Event -- an electromagnetic pulse from a solar flare that would blow out all our Earthly electronics -- and second, the granddaddy of them all, an asteroid strike.

With the Carrington event the great and the good could spend decades thinking up crony-capitalist regulations and protocols to Antifragilize the electric system and electronics, and and the activist left could spend a decade demanding that we Make Our Smartphones Safe. For asteroid strikes we could give Elon Musk billions to build rocket ships to Mars and send nukes to blow up dangerous asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

And the rest of us could go back to producing and consuming energy without subsidies and mandates and apocalyptic prophecies, guided by the friendly nudges of the price system.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

With all the wailing and the gnashing of teeth, can President Trump’s exit from Paris be anything less than the Fall and the expulsion from the Garden of Climate? Anyone would think that Steve Bannon had tempted Melania with an apple from the Tree of Science.

Elon Musk declares that he won’t serve on President Trump’s business councils anymore, because he can’t believe President Trump has begun the process of withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate accord. That accord, as I understand, involved a bunch of governments committed themselves in a non-binding sort of way to send lots of other peoples’ money to underdeveloped countries.

By the way, did you notice that the evil corporate serpents in mining and resource extraction down in the Land of Oz have issued a manifesto? Their non-negotiable demand is that if the governments there don’t get their act together and return electricity from wind and solar to low prices and high reliability, well, they take their Tree of Jobs out of there.

High electricity prices wouldn’t be a problem for the likes of Elon Musk and his pals. Musk’s business model is all about capturing government climate subsidies, and the tech guys don’t care about reliable base-load electric power because their server farms all have fossil-fueled back-up power.

I think we can better understand our times from Al Gore’s famous analysis in 1992. Everything that should be down is up, he said, and everything that should be up is down. Think up some nonsense like that and you too can be president, Hillary Clinton.

The fact is that the 1.5 to 3.0 degree warming that the climate models predict for the end of the century is gradual enough that the price system can take care of it. Yes, it will take care of things much better than crony capitalists and nerdy regulators and rich-kid climate activists.

But not before we go through another synfuels debacle.

I was talking recently to a guy involved in a synthetic gasoline startup. The idea is to make gasoline from carbon dioxide and water and renewable energy from wind and solar produced at the wrong time of day or year. He’s encouraged that states like California will soon be mandating that gasoline include synthetic gasoline in order to meet state mandated goals for renewable energy.

Let’s see if I get this. The ruling class declares a global warming crisis. It declares that the solution is to emit less carbon dioxide. It mandates covering the land with wind and solar power that is way more expensive than conventional oil and coal. Then it mandates that oil companies include in their gasoline synthetic fuel made with energy from useless and overpriced wind and solar power.

Let’s see if synthetic gasoline makes sense if we removed all the subsidies and mandates and crony capitalism from energy production.

The saddest part about this latest synfuels wheeze  is that it makes perfect sense if you are scaling up to produce synthetic fuel, or a California politician, or a climate change advocate. Of course we must force oil companies to blend synthetic fuel into the gasoline at the pump! Just like it made complete sense to force oil companies to blend corn-based ethanol into gasoline and shovels billions of dollars at corn farmers and ethanol plants and raise the price of food all over the world.

We are saving the planet here!

Here’s where government could help: with the unexpected. That refugee from the once peaceful Levant, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, has made a nice living writing about the “Black Swan” event, the unexpected disaster that could wipe you out financially or expel you from your Levantine Garden of Eden.

But how do you prepare for the Black Swan event? Perfectly simple: you make yourself Antifragile, so that the Black Swan event doesn’t wipe you out.

Where climate is concerned, I’d say that the Black Swan events that the great and the good should be worrying about and recklessly spending our billions to Antifragilize the planet would be, first, the Carrington Event -- an electromagnetic pulse from a solar flare that would blow out all our Earthly electronics -- and second, the granddaddy of them all, an asteroid strike.

With the Carrington event the great and the good could spend decades thinking up crony-capitalist regulations and protocols to Antifragilize the electric system and electronics, and and the activist left could spend a decade demanding that we Make Our Smartphones Safe. For asteroid strikes we could give Elon Musk billions to build rocket ships to Mars and send nukes to blow up dangerous asteroids on a collision course with Earth.

And the rest of us could go back to producing and consuming energy without subsidies and mandates and apocalyptic prophecies, guided by the friendly nudges of the price system.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.

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