November 5, 2010
The Green Bubble Is about to Burst
There is a revolution coming that is likely to burst the green global warming bubble: the temperature trend used by the IPCC (the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) to support their conclusion about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is likely to turn out to be fake. The situation will become clear once Virginia's attorney general, Kenneth Cuccinelli, obtains information now buried in e-mails at the University of Virginia. Or Hearings on Climategate by the U.S. Congress may uncover the "smoking gun" that demonstrates that the warming trend used by the IPCC does not really exist.
It has become increasingly clear that any observed warming during the past century is of natural origin and that the human contribution is insignificant. It is doubtful that any significant warming is attributable to greenhouse gases at all.
Once the public accepts these scientific conclusions, it should have immense consequences for policy. It will mean that the impact of rising CO2 levels is negligibly small, as has already been concluded by the NIPCC (Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change), a group of scientists skeptical of the U.N.-supported IPCC. It would also mean that wind energy, solar energy, and other "non-carbon" energy sources are not needed and are in fact counterproductive. It would remove the need for alternative fuels such as ethanol (which might please many true environmentalists). It would also mean that carbon trading, cap and trade, and fanciful schemes for carbon capture and sequestration would all end up in the dustbin of history.
One may expect a huge outcry and serious and protracted opposition from those who have built their careers on global warming hype and who have made investments in alternative energy or are looking for immense profits from carbon trading. Yet the scientific facts must win out in the long run -- even against the financial interests of favored groups, wind farm profiteers, ethanol refiners, carbon traders, and the investment firms and banks that have placed hundreds of billions of dollars of their clients' money into green projects.
Nothing has been learned from European disastrous experiences, it seems. As Bjorn Lomborg (a firm believer in AGW) reports, Germany led the world in putting up solar panels, funded by €47 billion in subsidies. The lasting legacy is a massive debt and lots of inefficient solar technology sitting on rooftops throughout a fairly cloudy country, delivering a trivial 0.1% of its total energy supply. Denmark's wind industry is almost completely dependent on taxpayer subsidies, and Danes pay the highest electricity rates of any industrialized nation. Spain has finally discontinued its solar subsidies as too costly; as Prof. Gabriel Calzada reports, the program actually caused a net loss of jobs.
Having successfully exploited domestic subsidies, Europeans are now looking at the United States as the new "land of opportunity." A recent example (described in the Wall Street Journal of Oct. 26, 2010) is the world's largest solar-thermal power plant, on 7,000 acres of Federal land in the desert of southern California. The $6-billion project is a venture by two German companies, and it may be eligible for a cash subsidy of nearly one billion dollars in taxpayer money. Even after these subsidies, the cost of the electricity generated will be 30 to 70 percent more expensive than electricity generated by natural gas, the dominant electricity-generating fuel in California.
In addition to direct subsidies, the companies are seeking federal loan guarantees and, no doubt, an array of benefits from the State of California. Solar Trust of America, a joint venture between Germany's Solar Millennium AG and privately held (mostly by Arab oil money) Ferrostaal AG, is awaiting approval from the Energy Department for a federal loan guarantee for the first two of its four planned units. Deutsche Bank AG and Citigroup Inc. are working with Solar Trust to obtain project-equity and tax-equity investment.
The White House claims that the federal cash subsidy will create three hundred permanent jobs (at about $3 million per job!). The nature of the jobs is not specified, but one may assume that there will be much need for sweepers to remove dust and dirt from about 7,000 acres of solar mirrors. Not exactly "high-tech," is it?