Do the World’s Energy Policies Make Sense?

The world today has a myriad of energy policies. One of them seems to be to encourage renewables, especially wind and solar. Another seems to be to encourage electric cars. A third seems to be to try to move away from fossil fuels. Countries in Europe and elsewhere have been trying carbon taxes. There are also programs to buy carbon offsets for energy uses such as air travel.

Maybe it is time to step back and take a look. Where are we now? Where are we really headed? Have the policies implemented since the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 had any positive impact?

Let’s look at some of the issues involved.

[1] We have had very little success in reducing CO2 emissions.

CO2 emissions for all countries, in total, have been spiraling upward, year after year.

World CO2 Emissions

Figure 1. Carbon dioxide emissions for the world, based on BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy.

If we look at the situation by part of the world, we see an even more concerning pattern.

Figure 2. Carbon dioxide emissions by part of the world through 2018, based on BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. Soviet Empire is an approximation including Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, based on the BP report. It would not include Cuba and North Korea.

The group US+EU+Japan has been able to reduce its CO2 emissions by 5% since 2005. Emissions were slowly rising between 1981 and 2005. There was a dip at the time of the Great Recession of 2008-2009, followed by a downward trend. A person might get the impression that CO2 emissions for the EU tend to rise during periods when the economy is doing well and tend to fall when it is doing poorly.

The “star” in emissions reductions is the former Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. I refer to this group as the Soviet Empire. Emissions fell around the time of the collapse of the central government of the Soviet Union in 1991. This big decrease in emissions seems to be related to huge changes that took place at that time. Instead of one country with a single currency, the individual republics were suddenly on their own.

The high point in CO2 emissions for the Soviet Empire came in 1990, the year before the collapse of the Soviet Union central government. By 1999, emissions had fallen to a level 37% below their 1990 level. In fact, even in recent years, emissions for this group of countries has stayed low. Much industry collapsed and has never been replaced.

The group that has more than doubled its emissions is what I call the Remainder Group. The group includes many countries, including China and India, that ramped up their manufacturing and other heavy industry in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the World Trade Organization added members. The Remainder Group also includes many countries that suddenly found new export markets for their raw materials, such as oil, iron ore, and copper. The Remainder countries became richer; they became more able to pave roads and build more substantial homes for their citizens. With all of this GDP-related activity, CO2 emissions increased rapidly.

[2] Population growth has followed a pattern that is in some ways similar to CO2 growth. 

Figure 3. Population from 1965 to 2018, based on UN 2019 population estimates.

In Figure 3, we see that population has been virtually flat in the former Soviet Empire (2% growth between 1997 and 2018). With the economy not doing well, young people emigrate to countries that seem to provide better prospects.

Population in the US+EU+Japan Group grew by 11% between 1997 and 2018.

The group that is simply outstanding for population growth is the Remainder Group, with 35% growth between 1997 and 2018. A big part of this population growth comes from improved sanitation and basic medical care, such as antibiotics. With these changes, a larger percentage of the babies that are born have been able to live to maturity.

It is hard to see any bend in the trend lines, which would indicate that recent actions have actually changed the course of activity from the way it was headed previously. Of course, the trend is only “linear,” implying that the percentage growth is gradually slowing over time.

This rapidly growing population feeds into the CO2 problem as well. The many young people would all like food, homes and transportation. While it is possible to obtain some version of these desired products without fossil fuels, the version with fossil fuels tends to be vastly improved. Most people prefer homes with indoor plumbing and electricity, if given an opportunity, for example.

[3] Deforestation keeps growing as a world problem.

Figure 4. Chart showing World Bank estimates of share of world forested by economic grouping.

High Income Countries keep pushing the deforestation problem to the poorer parts of the world. Heavily Indebted Poor Countries are especially affected. Worldwide, deforestation continues to grow.

[4] With respect to fossil fuels, there is a great deal of confusion with respect to, “What do we need to be saved from?” 

Do we have a problem with too much or too little fossil fuel? We hear two different stories.

Figure 5. Author’s image of two trains speeding toward the world economy.

Climate modelers keep telling us about what could happen, if indeed we use too much fossil fuel. In fact, the climate currently is changing, bolstering this point of view.

It seems to me that there is an equally great danger of collapse, accompanied by low energy prices. For example, we know that energy production in the European Union has been declining for many years, without the countries being able to do anything about it.

We also know historically that many civilizations have collapsed. The Soviet Empire collapsed in 1991, illustrating one type of collapse. The Soviet Union was an oil exporter. Its collapse came after oil prices were too low to allow adequate investment in new oil fields for an extended period of time. The Great Recession of 2008-2009 offers a much smaller, temporary version of what collapse might look like.

Another example of low prices accompanying collapse comes from Revelation 18: 11-13, warning of possible collapse like that of ancient Babylon. The problem was inadequate demand and low prices; even the energy product of the day (human beings sold as slaves) had little value.

11 The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes anymore— 12 cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13 cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and human beings sold as slaves.

What we have been seeing recently is falling prices and prices that are too low for producers. Such a result can lead to collapse if too many energy producers go bankrupt and quit.

Figure 6. Inflation adjusted weekly average Brent Oil price, based on EIA oil spot prices and US CPI-urban inflation.

If we are in danger of collapse from low prices, renewables would not seem to be of much assistance unless they (a) are significantly less expensive than fossil fuels and (b) can be scaled up sufficiently rapidly to more than replace fossil fuels. Neither of these seems to be a possibility.

[5] Early studies overestimated how much help renewables might provide, especially if our problem comes from too little energy supply rather than too much.

Renewables look like they would be great from many points of view, but when it comes down to the real world situation, they don’t live up to the hype.

One issue is that while wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and other devices for capturing energy are called “renewables,” they are really only available through the use of the fossil fuel system. They are made using fossil fuels. If a part breaks, or if insects eat away the insulation on wires, replacements need to be made using the fossil fuel system and transported using the fossil fuel system. At best, renewables should be considered fossil fuel extenders, using less fossil fuels than conventional electricity generation. They are also dependent on other resources, which may eventually deplete, but which are not a problem at this time.

A second issue is that it is extremely difficult to do a proper cost-benefit analysis on renewables because they can only be used as part of a larger system. They tend to look inexpensive, when viewed in isolation. But when total system costs are viewed, they often are quite expensive.

One difficulty in a proper cost-benefit analysis is the fact that renewables are often sited at quite a distance from where electricity is to be used, leading to the need for a significant number of long distance transmission lines. Furthermore, if renewables provide intermittent power, they need to be sized for the maximum output, not their average output. All of these long distance lines need to be properly maintained, or they tend to cause fires. In some instances, burying the lines underground at significant cost is the only solution. Somehow, these higher costs need to be recognized as part of the cost of the system, but this is rarely done.

Another difficulty in a proper cost-benefit analysis is the fact that renewables’  intermittency must be overcome, if the electricity is to be of benefit to a modern economy that requires electricity 24/7/365. In theory, we could greatly overbuild the renewables system and the transmission. This might work, but we would end up with a large percentage of the system that is not used most of the time, greatly adding to costs.

Batteries can be added, but the cost tends to be high. One commenter on my site recently observed:

EIA reports the average cost for utility scale battery systems to be about $1500 per kWh. At that rate the batteries needed for backing up a solar or wind facility for three days cost around 30 times as much as the RE facility. But wind is often unpowered for more like seven days, during huge stagnant high pressure episodes. Thus the backup battery cost is more like 100 times the wind farm cost. Batteries are not feasible.

The major intermittency problem is season-to-season, especially saving up enough for winter. We do not have a way, today, of storing energy from one season to another, short of making it into a liquid (such as ammonia), and storing the liquid from season to season. This would be another way of driving up costs of the overall system. It has not been included in anyone’s cost calculations.

For the time being, we are forcing nuclear and fossil fuel to provide backup electrical services to intermittent renewables without adequately compensating them for their services. This tends to drive them out of business. This is not an adequate solution either.

A third issue is that renewables really need to be “economic” to work. In other words, they need to generate a profit for their owners, when comparing the unsubsidized costs with the benefits of the system. In fact, their owners need to be able to pay fairly substantial taxes to governments, to cover their share of governmental costs as well. If renewables truly were providing substantial benefit to the system, their use would tend to “take off” on their own, because they would be providing “net energy” to the system. Instead, renewables tend to act like “energy sinks.” They need endless subsidies. They can never substitute for fossil fuels. In fact, they can’t even pay their own way.

A related issue is that, because of the high total costs (as well as their lack of true net energy benefits), it is almost impossible to ramp up the quantity of renewables such as wind and solar very high. The EU has been a big supporter of renewables other than hydroelectric. Figure 7 shows a chart of the EU’s own energy production, together with its energy imports.

EU Energy by Type and Whether Imported

Figure 7. EU energy by type and whether imported, based on data of BP’s 2019 Statistical Review of World Energy. Renewables are non-hydroelectric renewables such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

After at least 20 years of subsidies, the EU has been able to increase renewables (other than hydroelectric) to about 10% of its total energy supply. The EU’s oil imports are roughly level, and its natural gas imports have been increasing. Even with rapid growth in non-hydro renewables, the EU has been experiencing a decrease in total energy consumption.

[6] Looking at the actual outcomes, a person might ask, “What in the world were policymakers really thinking about?”

We are told that the reason policymakers made the decisions they did was because they thought that they could reduce CO2 emissions in this way. Really? If a person really wants to reduce CO2 emissions, it is easy to see how to do it. A person simply has to take steps in the direction of reducing global co-operation. One step would be to reduce international trade. Another would be to get rid of umbrella organizations such as the World Trade Organization, the United Nations and the European Union. In fact, within individual countries, the top level of government could be removed, leaving (for example) the provinces of Canada and the states of the United States. In other words, policymakers could push economies in the direction of collapse.

Another way collapse could be encouraged would be by rapidly raising interest rates or cutting off credit. With less purchasing power, the world would be pushed into recession.

At the time of the Kyoto Protocol, policymakers moved in precisely the opposite direction of pushing the economy toward collapse. They moved in the direction of adding international trade and more debt to enable the growth. The countries with greater trade had huge coal resources that had not been used. With the help of this coal, the world economy was able to continue to grow. This approach only made sense if the real problem at the time of the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 was too little energy resources, not too much. The economy needed the stimulation that more low-cost energy and more debt could provide.

It is now more than twenty years later. The coal resources of China are starting to deplete. Coal is also causing serious ground-level pollution problems, both in China and India. Without growing coal production, world GDP growth starts slowing. We are again facing low oil prices and other commodity prices–a problem similar to the one present when the government of the Soviet Union collapsed. The world economy seems again to be headed toward having some of its governmental organizations collapse from inadequate energy. Political parties are becoming more extreme; countries are enacting new tariffs. If we go back to Figure 5, the concern should again be collapse, on the left side of the figure.

[7] The scenarios considered by the IPCC climate model need to be revisited.

A climate model looks to the past and tries to forecast what would happen in alternative “scenarios.” The concern I have is that the scenarios evaluated are not realistic. To get to the level of CO2 that would produce the most extreme scenarios, coal production would need to continue at a high level for many, many years. This seems unrealistic because world coal production has been fairly flat for several years, and prices tend to be lower than producers require if they are to stay in business. The likely direction for coal production seems to be down, rather than up.

Figure 8. World Energy Consumption by Fuel, based on data of 2019 BP Statistical Review of World Energy.

In order for coal production to grow as much as the higher emission scenarios assume, there needs to be a major turnaround in the situation. World coal prices would need to rise substantially. In fact, coal in very difficult locations for extraction, such as under the North Sea, need to become profitable to extract. This situation seems very unlikely.

It seems to me that climate modelers should be considering more realistic scenarios regarding CO2 emissions from fossil fuels. One scenario which should be considered is the possible near term collapse of several governmental organizations, such as the European Union, World Trade Organization, and the governments of several oil exporting countries.

[8] The push toward renewables makes little sense without a firmer foundation than currently exists.

Early studies looked only at the cost of renewables themselves, without the cost of extra long-distance grid transportation and battery storage. Such an estimate makes renewables look far more valuable than they really are.

We now have enough experience that we can see what goes wrong. A hydroelectric plant that operates during the wet season in a tropical country may be of little practical use, for example, if there is no fossil fuel energy available to provide backup electricity production during the dry season. The total cost of the overlapping systems needs to be taken into consideration, including the need to hire staff year around for both the fossil fuel and hydroelectric facilities. Electricity transmission will likely be needed for both types of generation.

There are many other real-world examples that can be examined, before blanket “use renewables” recommendations should be issued. If renewables are not truly very inexpensive (around 2 cents per kWh or less), without subsidies, they are likely not to be long-lasting. Subsidies become more and more difficult to maintain, as a system scales up.

About Gail Tverberg

My name is Gail Tverberg. I am an actuary interested in finite world issues - oil depletion, natural gas depletion, water shortages, and climate change. Oil limits look very different from what most expect, with high prices leading to recession, and low prices leading to financial problems for oil producers and for oil exporting countries. We are really dealing with a physics problem that affects many parts of the economy at once, including wages and the financial system. I try to look at the overall problem.
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1,380 Responses to Do the World’s Energy Policies Make Sense?

  1. Mike Roberts says:

    The EU parliament declares a climate emergency. The increasing number of such declarations perhaps indicates that there is little to counter the climate science. However, declarations are not the same as actions and I have no expectation that any such declaration will be followed quickly by actions.

    • The issue isn’t “quickly.” The issue is that there really aren’t actions that can be taken to fix the problem, other than mitigation techniques. It may be necessary to use seeds that mature more quickly, for example, if we are faced with shorter growing seasons.

      If people are really concerned about rising sea levels, they can build on higher ground, elsewhere.

      • Mike Roberts says:

        Actions don’t need to be quick but there are no actions of any significance whatsoever. The problem can’t be fixed (it’s a predicament) but the effects can be mitigated, as you mentioned.

        Regarding sea levels, your comment seems rather superficial. Of course “people” “can” build on higher ground but “people” would need to purchase said ground first, appropriate infrastructure would be needed on that higher ground, and so on. Some towns are planning wholesale moves (and I think there are towns where this is underway) but telling individuals to do it is completely missing the point when millions live within the range of where sea level will get to by the end of the century (and, of course, the seal level isn’t going to suddenly flip at the end of the century; it’s a gradual process which is already having an impact in some places).

        • Dennis L. says:

          20,000 years ago one supposedly could walk from Asia to N. America. Things change, we adapt, this has been going on for a while.

          Dennis L.

          • Xabier says:

            Movement has always = survival.

            Our problem is that, unlike those primitive people, our ancestors, we have a tremendous burden to carry on our move: civilisation…..

        • Kowalainen says:

          What?

          Of course things can be done, starting with you stopping reproducing and moving away from IC into a life as a subsistence farmer, or why not as a hunter-gatherer? Yes when will you reduce your carbon footprint to zero? Yes indeed:

          WHEN?

          The first thing that has to be done for IC to survive this century is to dismantle the government corporate complex. What is needed is a distributed direct democracy where no one and everyone is equally important. And furthermore where true market forces can exist forming a replica of the competitive collaborative forces of Gaia.

          All else is certain doom. Now will the government corporate drones which roam this site take home the information to Big Brother? Because ultimately you have no choice. Fight it and doom is certain, don’t fight it and your impeding irrelevance awaits. Now which is it?

    • Tim Groves says:

      The increasing number of such declarations perhaps indicates that there is little to counter the climate science.

      A more reasonable interpretation is that the increasing number of such declarations perhaps indicates that most politicians would rather be riding the gravy train than standing on the tracks trying to stop it.

      Still, there IS a solution!

      https://co2islife.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/lindzent1.png?w=537&h=714

      • Actually, that is not a bad solution. If we pour a lot of money into attempting to “prove” something, there is a high probability that so called proofs will be found, even if what is to be proved is false. We have seen this with “Renewables can save us,” for example.

  2. “WHY GREEN ENERGY IS A TERRIBLE IDEA
    “There are lots of reasons, actually, but Charles Rotter of the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) does a good job of explaining some of them:”
    https://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2019/11/why-green-energy-is-a-terrible-idea.php

    “No Plan B for Planet A
    “Replacing fossil fuels with “renewable” energy would devastate the only planet we’ve got”
    https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/11/25/no-plan-b-for-planet-a/

    • A quote from the first linked site:

      I have never seen a coherent explanation of how batteries can be produced and deployed so as to store the vast quantities of electricity needed in the U.S. alone. It would cost a prohibitive $133 billion to buy batteries sufficient to store one state’s electricity–Minnesota’s–for 24 hours. Minnesota is an average sized state, so that corresponds to around $6.6 trillion for 24 hours storage for the U.S. That is much more than the entire budget of the U.S. government. This assumes that such batteries exist, which they don’t.

      I know the costs for batteries are absurdly high, but I haven’t specifically worked out the particular numbers shown. They probably are right.

      The second article is by the same author. It attempts to line up similar points with arguments that the climate change story is false. Whether or not the climate change story is true or 100% false, I don’t think it makes sense to argue for both of them in the same story. The people who are emotionally attached to the “climate change is our biggest problem” seem to fall for the absurd idea that we can seamlessly transition to renewables. But I don’t think it is necessary to convince people that the climate change story is false to see that scaling up wind and solar is not reasonable, even in a timeframe of 30 years.

  3. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Food prices are climbing fast in the world’s biggest emerging markets, posing a possible inflation threat after months of dormant pressures.

    “Asia’s two largest developing economies face a price surge for staple products – pork in China and onions in India – that are central to consumers’ diets. In Turkey and Nigeria, supply problems are driving up costs, while United Nations data show global food prices rose at the fastest pace in October in more than two years.

    “…the threat of a price shock is real. Nomura Holdings Inc economists recently warned of three potential triggers of higher food costs – weather-related shocks, higher oil prices and a sharp depreciation in the dollar – saying emerging and frontier markets are most at risk since food costs make up a larger portion of their consumers’ income.”

    https://www.livemint.com/news/world/from-india-to-china-food-is-getting-more-expensive-11574965242582.html

  4. Harry McGibbs says:

    “South Korea’s central bank today cut its growth forecast for this year to two per cent, which would be the weakest rate in a decade as the economy is battered by trade disputes.

    “The world’s 11th-largest economy is highly dependent on international commerce but is grappling with the fallout of a prolonged China-US trade dispute and embroiled in a spat of its own with neighbouring Japan.”

    https://www.malaymail.com/news/money/2019/11/29/south-korea-cuts-growth-forecast-to-lowest-in-decade/1814443

  5. Harry McGibbs says:

    “Chile’s peso plummeted to a new low for the second day in a row at market close on Thursday following more than a month of protests over inequality that turned increasingly violent again this week.”

    https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/chiles-peso-hits-new-historic-low-again-amid-festering-violence-2019-11-28

    • Rodster says:

      Dane Wigington of http://geoengineeringwatch.org has a website that deals with this very subject.

    • Rodster says:

      The term “contrails” when searched leads to conspiracy theories. The “correct scientific terminology is:

      Stratospheric Aerosol Injection
      Stratospheric Aerosol Geoengineering
      Solar Radiation Mgmt
      Global Dimming

      These are programs that the US Govt has admitted to and has been engaged in for many decades. There are hundreds of US Patents pertaining to Geoengineering and most of them belong to US Defense Contractors. Thanks for the video !

    • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

      Maybe JT and post a newer video circa 1990

      • Tim Groves says:

        I watched this for 1 minute 14 seconds until Mann appeared, at which point I vomited all over the keyboard. But after I’d cleaned that up, still I persisted right to the end.

        In my opinion, it’s complete and utter BS throughout. Nothing to be alarmed about apart from the consistent lying and distortions of these professional alarmists.

        • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

          I didn’t expect any other reaction from you!

        • Mike Roberts says:

          What lies have these scientist made?

          • Tim Groves says:

            Who said anything about scientists?

            Those guys are activists, alarmists and prophets of AGW doom!

            As Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass, said in 2008, “Dr. Hansen was right. Twenty years later, we recognize him as a climate prophet.”

            But if you are interested in Hansen’s record of not telling the truth (of course we all know you aren’t), here’s an excellent primer.

          • Tim Groves says:

            James Hansen in June 2008 (that’s 11 and a half years ago for those who are arithmetically challenged:

            “We see a tipping point occurring right before our eyes,” Hansen told the AP before the luncheon. “The Arctic is the first tipping point and it’s occurring exactly the way we said it would.”

            Hansen, echoing work by other scientists, said that in five to 10 years, the Arctic will be free of sea ice in the summer.

            —By Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer

            http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/tech/science/2008-06-23-1642922053_x.htm

            • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

              Ah, he with little faith….
              https://skepticalscience.com/icefreearctic.html

              It’s all in the details🙄

            • Mike Roberts says:

              That’s not a quote by Hansen, it’s a statement by the journalist. However, if anyone was predicting something that could happen in 10 years, that wouldn’t be a lie. It would be a prediction.

              Is that it for the “the consistent lying” of what you term professional alarmists?

            • Tim Groves says:

              Fair enough, a prediction isn’t necessarily the same thing as a lie. But a prediction or a series of predictions that turn out to be false made with confidence, certainty and authority, and with no mea culpa issued after the predictions fail to pan out seems like lying in my book. And Jim Hansen has made predictions about the end of arctic ice

              As does systematically altering past temperature data for weather stations around the globe and trying to pass it off as valid data in order to pretend that the past was cooler than it actually was and thereby make the present look warmer by comparison. NASA and GISS under Hansen’s stewardship did this.

              https://principia-scientific.org/how-noaa-nasa-doctored-temperature-data-to-get-record-warm-years/

              As a reasonably honest soul, I don’t know how you or anybody can defend this kind of data corruption unless somebody is making them offers they can’t refuse. But apparently, no breach of ethics is too much when the goal is to save the planet.

              By the way, have you watched Hansen’s 1988 testimony to Congress?

            • Mike Roberts says:

              As a reasonably honest soul, I don’t know how you or anybody can defend this kind of data corruption unless somebody is making them offers they can’t refuse. But apparently, no breach of ethics is too much when the goal is to save the planet.

              No need to breach ethics. As time goes on, our understandings change and this new understanding must modify the raw data differently to how it was done with previous understandings. Modifying raw data to take account of various aspects of the measuring devices is perfectly sound practice. I believe even the raw data show warming so perhaps the 1999 modifications weren’t quite right. I haven’t looked into this in detail but Tamino has posted on how to make US temperature history look very different from the reality.

            • Tim Groves says:

              Is that it for the “the consistent lying” of what you term professional alarmists?

              Anyone who consistently claims we are facing runaway warming is consistently not telling the truth, although I have no idea of knowing whether Hansen or the others are aware of the untruths they are promoting, so all things considered I won’t call them liars. On reflection I’ll amend that to, “the consistent telling of untruths that looks like lying in my book but may be perfectly innocuous.”

              While James would probably dispute that characterization, he wouldn’t quibble about being described as an alarmist, surely. Raising alarm is his vocation, his higher calling.

              And it is reported that in the five years up to 2011 while working for NASA, and on top of his handsome salary from the public purse, he received US$1.5 million (that’s about what you would clear before taxes after 15 years work on the US mean per capita income) in outside, direct cash income for work related to — and, according to his benefactors, often expressly for — his public service as a global warming activist within NASA.

              This does not include six-figure income over that period in travel expenses to fly around the world to receive money from outside interests. As specifically detailed below, Hansen failed to report tens of thousands of dollars in global travel provided to him by outside parties — including to London, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Tokyo, the Austrian Alps, Bilbao, California, Australia and elsewhere, often business or first-class and also often paying for his wife as well — to receive honoraria to speak about the topic of his taxpayer-funded employment, or get cash awards for his activism and even for his past testimony and other work for NASA.

              Ethics laws require that such payments or gifts be reported on an SF278 public financial disclosure form. As detailed, below, Hansen nonetheless regularly refused to report this income.

              Also, he seems to have inappropriately taken between $10,000 and $26,000 for speeches unlawfully promoting him as a NASA employee. This is despite NASA ordering him to return at least some of the money, with the rest apparently unnoticed by NASA. This raises troubling issues about Hansen’s, and NASA’s, compliance with ethics rules, the general prohibition on not privately benefitting from public service, and even the criminal code prohibition on not having one’s public employment income supplemented. All of this lucrative activity followed Hansen ratcheting up his global warming alarmism and activism to be more political which, now to his possible detriment, he has insisted is part of his job. As he cannot receive outside income for doing his job, he has placed himself in peril, assuming the Department of Justice can find a way to be interested in these revelations.

              https://wattsupwiththat.com/2011/11/18/dr-james-hansens-growing-financial-scandal-now-over-a-million-dollars-of-outside-income/

              I was quite shocked to dig this link up. Apparently he even took money from Shell Oil!

            • Mike Roberts says:

              Anyone who consistently claims we are facing runaway warming is consistently not telling the truth

              Hansen had stated an opinion that burning all fossil fuel resources could trigger runaway warming. He has since discussed the issue in a newsletter (PDF). So I don’t think your characterisation is fair.

              As for the alleged scandal, well, a Net search found no corroborating articles (though their were many hits that merely pointed to or repeated the wattsupwiththat post. $300,000 per year seems like a lot, but there are millions of people earning more than that. Not that that justifies such a salary but it does put the alleged figure in proportion. I must admit that I don’t go to that site for honest insights into climate related stuff.

              Regarding failed predictions, all predictions will probably be wrong, and I wouldn’t regard them as “not telling the truth”, since the truth, in this case, is unknowable. Hansen did remarkably well in 1988, considering the resources available then.

              Despite all of these things, there is nothing here that could show Hansen is an inveterate liar. You talked about a bunch of so called alarmists who are liars but there seems to be nothing in it. As for alarmism, if you were a scientist and your work indicated an existential threat that could play out within a few centuries (with extreme effects well before that), wouldn’t you try to raise the alarm? Especially if you had children and grandchildren?

            • There is no way we can burn all fossil fuel resources; the prices do not rise high enough to enable their extraction. Hansen was way off base in this assumption.

            • Mike Roberts says:

              There is no way we can burn all fossil fuel resources; the prices do not rise high enough to enable their extraction. Hansen was way off base in this assumption.

              Not sure why you think Hansen assumed that all fossil fuel resources will be burned. You have to remember that most people think (perhaps subconsciously) that fossil fuels will continue being burned and that fossil fuel companies continue to look for new resources and reserves. In that light, Hansen is trying to get the message across that such a path would be disastrous. Most people have no idea that your analysis on fossil fuel production is probably spot on. Don’t single Hansen out for not realising that.

            • You said,

              “Hansen had stated an opinion that burning all fossil fuel resources could trigger runaway warming.”

              This is an absolutely wrong way to approach the problem. We cannot burn all fossil fuel resources. You yourself implied that Hansen led people down the wrong path by his wrong assumption.

            • Herbie R Ficklestein says:

              From what I can see its called a trend….which a projection can be constructed…or something like that…..

  6. JT Roberts says:

    Add fake peer review to an already cognitively skewed process and the 48% repeatability issue. Science is in trouble.

    https://vdare.com/articles/some-countries-are-just-prone-to-scientific-fraud-so-are-their-immigrants-to-the-west

    • Agreed. There is so much pressure to publish that a high percentage of articles are worthless. Even when they seem to be correct, they can be models based on prior wrong thinking. We waste a huge amount of human energy on papers of questionable value.

  7. JT Roberts says:

    My point with the high level water vapor is not that it’s some conspiracy by the government to geo engineer the plant. No doubt there is evidence of planning of that kind as there is evidence of using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes. The reality is with modern aircraft flying in the upper atmosphere spewing approximately 7lbs of water vapor and 20lbs of CO2 per gallon of fuel burn one needs to examine both to get the true picture. The determination to focus only CO2 is a bias.

    The more immediate issue is conventional oil peaked in 2005. So likely the problem will be self limiting. Last to come first to go. The airline industry is in recession already.

    https://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2019-06-02-01.aspx

    How an industry even runs on $6.50 per passenger profits is hard to understand. My local gas station is about the same as long as you buy a coffee and donuts. When profit margins are so thin any fuel cost increase will take them out.

    • The issue, to me, seems to be Peak Coal. There has been too much worry about peak oil. What the world needs is inexpensive fuel. Coal production stopped rising several years ago.

      Also, fossil fuel, nuclear, and other commodity prices don’t stay high enough for producers.

      The problem is collapse, not peak oil.

      Margins are low in every industry, including the airline industry.

  8. Herbie R Ficklestein says:

    I couldn’t make this Stuff up…..too much…
    Watch out Greta, Young Sheldon is upstaging you….thank Hanoi Jane!
    Young Sheldon star protests with Jane Fonda, Paul Scheer arrested at D.C. event
    Entertainment Weekly
    Maureen Lee Lenker
    Entertainment WeeklyNovember 29, 2019
    In case you’re already having buyer’s remorse about your Black Friday purchases, here’s some more fuel to the fire.

    While you were shopping, Iain Armitage, star of CBS’ Young Sheldon and HBO’s Big Little Lies, was out protesting for climate change. The young actor joined Jane Fonda in her now weekly marches in Washington D.C. calling for Congress to act

    Fonda avoided being taken into custody for the fourth week in a row. Despite being told that the Attorney General’s office won’t prosecute her case (she’s already been arrested four times for acts of civil disobedience), Fonda has chosen not to get arrested again until Dec. 20 in order to avoid jail time that would prevent her from continuing to lead the demonstrations.

    In October, Fonda, 81, announced that she’d moved to Washington, D.C., to lead weekly protests at the U.S. Capitol, inspired by the work of indigenous people and young climate activists. The star has gathered scientists, economists, and people from communities impacted by climate change, as well as celebrity friends and colleagues to speak out about environmental issues

    Doesn’t Hanoi Jane realize she is a lightening rod as a symbol to represent the so-called Left!
    The other side relishes in maintaining the issue is just “political” and this helps maintain that illusion.
    Way to go Jane! Boy, betcha Al Gore is relieved he no longer is their posted boy!
    Of well, at least it’s kind of entertaining…
    The show must go on….

    You hit right on Ethel!

  9. Kowalainen says:

    Richard Grannon gives his thoughts on our narcissistic, aggressive and sociopathic culture.

    • Chrome Mags says:

      That’s why Trump is Prez, because he demands the attention via narcissistic, aggressive and sociopathic behavior. It’s a spectacle but that’s what people demand regardless of the failure to produce positive results. The tax cuts didn’t benefit most people, the deficits ballooned, no deal was with NK, the deal with Iran was flamed and now they’re enriching uranium on a much bigger scale, the deal with Paris Accord tossed, many farmers have gone into default/bankruptcy due to the trade war, GDP is down, it’s ok to dump used fracking fluid into the Gulf, got rid of regulations protecting dolphins and turtles, but people are entertained, and apparently that’s much more important. That’s the sad truth about our culture in the US now.

      • DJ says:

        But Trump made US energy independent (great?) this month.

      • Kowalainen says:

        Just give up the anti Trump narrative. Nobody cares about your own personal biases against him. It is just so fscking boring and predictable.

        Do me a favor, if this is ever to change, start thinking about how much of a problem you are, your own self indulgent, pretentious, sociopathic, narcissistic ways of life before starting the obvious finger of blame pointing at other people. Yes repeat after me.

        I AM THE PROBLEM!

        👍

      • Tim Groves says:

        Then you’ll be voting for Hillary again next year, I take it?

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