Tuesday, July 23, 2019

GWPF Newsletter - Green Madness: The Lights Are Going Out In New York City

California's Descent Into Green Madness: Berkley Bans Natural Gas

In this newsletter:

1) Green Madness: The Lights Are Going Out In New York City
Robert Bryce, Crain's New York Business, 18 July 2019
2) Robert Bryce's 2017 Warning: How Cuomo Is ‘Building’ Blackouts For NYC
Editorial, New York Post, 12 August 2017

3) California's Latest Descent Into Green Madness: Berkley Bans Natural Gas
Daniel Turner, Fox News, 21 July 2019

4) Climate Extremism: Democracy And Progress Are Facing Extinction
Iain Martin, The Times, 19 July 2019

5) Dominic Lawson: We Don't Need An Ecological Pol Pot
The Sunday Times, 21 July 2019

6) And Finally: Will Solar Minimum Lead To Global Cooling?
Daily Express, 20 July 2019

Full details:

1) Green Madness: The Lights Are Going Out In New York City
Robert Bryce, Crain's New York Business, 18 July 2019

Since the five-hour blackout that hit Manhattan on Saturday night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly attacked Con Ed, the utility that provides electricity and gas to customers in the New York area. He has threatened to strip the utility of its operating license and said the city was playing “Russian roulette” with electricity reliability.

That’s pretty rich. Over the past few years, Cuomo has repeatedly made political decisions that have reduced the reliability of New York’s energy infrastructure. Cuomo telling Con Ed that it needs to improve its reliability is like an arsonist telling the fire department to buy more pumper trucks.

The most obvious example of the reliability risks facing New York City is the looming closure of the Indian Point nuclear plant, a move that Cuomo began pushing for back in 2011.

Next April, one of the two operating reactors at the facility will be shuttered. The other reactor is slated for shutdown in 2021. While the premature closure of the 2,069-megawatt facility may please Cuomo’s friends at Riverkeeper and the Natural Resources Defense Council, the New York Independent System Operator, the agency that manages the state’s electric grid, has repeatedly warned about the threat to reliability.

Indian Point provides about a quarter of the electricity consumed in the city. Further, it helps assure the stability of the grid. The electric grid runs on narrow tolerances of voltage, which is akin to water pressure in a pipeline. The grid must be continually tuned so that electricity production and electricity usage match and voltage on the grid stays at near-constant levels. If voltage fluctuates too much, blackouts can occur.

In 2011, NYISO said that “under stress conditions, the voltage performance on the system without the Indian Point plant would be degraded.”

In 2016, the agency reiterated its concerns, saying, “Retaining all existing nuclear generators is critical to the state’s carbon emission reduction requirements as well as maintaining electric system reliability.” That same year, two analysts—one from General Electric and another from consulting firm ICF—provided a presentation to the system operator that discussed a reliability standard known as “loss of load expectation,” or LOLE, an event in which electricity demand exceeds available generation.

The reliability standard for grid operators in the U.S. allows for a LOLE of one day every 10 years, or 0.1 days per year. By 2030, the GE-ICF presentation estimated that closing Indian Point will result in the doubling of LOLE in the New York City area to 0.2 days per year.

In addition to the premature closure of Indian Point, New York has been blocking new natural-gas pipelines that would help provide cleaner and cheaper energy supplies into the state and into New England. As I show in a recent report for Manhattan Institute, the governor’s appointees at the Department of Environmental Conservation have repeatedly refused to grant permits for new pipelines at the same time the grid has become more reliant on gas-fired generators.

Since 2004 gas-fired electricity production in the state has nearly doubled and it will jump again after the closure of Indian Point. In response to Cuomo’s pipeline blockade, the region’s biggest utilities, Con Ed and National Grid, have said they will quit providing new gas connections in their service areas in and around New York City. That, in turn, forces some consumers to continue relying on heating oil, which is more expensive and more polluting.

Finally, Cuomo has agreed to implement the Climate and Community Protection Act, which mandates that 70% of electricity consumed in the state come from renewables by 2030 and 100% from carbon-free sources by 2040. Forcing the electric grid to rely more heavily on intermittent sources such as solar and wind will put yet more stress on the grid, particularly during extreme weather.

In short, Cuomo is pushing for the biggest changes in New York’s electric grid since Thomas Edison launched the Electric Age on Pearl Street in 1882, and he’s doing so without any understanding of how those changes may affect reliability.

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2) Robert Bryce's 2017 Warning: How Cuomo Is ‘Building’ Blackouts For NYC
Editorial, New York Post, 12 August 2017

Better stock up on candles: In just three years, New York may face a wave of blackouts following the closure of the Indian Point nuclear-power plant.

That’s the bottom line of a new report by the Manhattan Institute’s Robert Bryce: The early shutdown of the reactors in 2020 and 2021 “threatens the reliability of New York City’s electric grid.” And the risk is even greater because Team Cuomo is nixing pipelines needed to bring natural gas to plants that could replace IP’s juice.

He urges New York policymakers to “begin a serious analysis of the implications” of taking IP offline. Now.

Wise advice. Bryce’s report echoes numerous warnings — from the New York State Independent System Operator (which oversees the state’s grid), a team of General Electric experts, the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance and others — about the folly of pulling IP’s plug....

Trouble is, Indian Point pumps out up to 30 percent of the region’s juice; without it, demand may soon outpace supply. In particular, peak demand will become increasingly hard to meet — making power fluctuations that can stress the grid to the breaking point more common.

Plus, Cuomo has blocked expansion of pipelines needed to fuel gas-fired plants that could help make up for lost IP power. In April, he nixed a permit for the Northern Access Pipeline and for more than a year refused to grant one to the Millennium Pipeline Co. A third pipeline, to fuel the planned Cricket Valley gas-fired plant, is also in limbo.

What’s the gov’s Plan B? Well, renewable energy (solar and wind) is at the heart of his fantasies. Yet unless the weather cooperates 100 percent of the time, renewables just aren’t reliable. Even Cuomo admits they won’t meet the state’s needs anytime soon.

He also calls for hydropower from Canada. But, as Bryce notes, a transmission line to carry the juice can’t be built in time to help replace what’s lost when Indian Point closes.

The clock’s ticking. Pray answers arrive — before the lights go out.

3) California's Latest Descent Into Green Madness: Berkley Bans Natural Gas
Daniel Turner, Fox News, 21 July 2019

The eco-left has sunk its teeth into state and local government in California, and it will be struggling families who pay the price.

From sanctuary cities to brutally high taxes, California is the undisputed center of gravity for today’s far-left. If you want to see how liberal policies would look on a national level, you don’t have to imagine it. You can just look at the thousands fleeing the once-great state.

In the latest chapter of California’s descent into liberal madness, the city of Berkeley – a hotbed of radical liberalism – became the first city in America to ban natural gas from new homes and businesses, including restaurants that use natural gas for stoves.

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Environmentalists are reportedly hailing this development as a major victory, and it might not be an isolated incident. More than 50 other cities in California are considering following Berkeley’s lead.

While it’s unsurprising that Berkeley – a city that’s already banned plastic straws – would ban natural gas, that’s little consolation to the citizens who have not yet fled.

Natural gas is a critical fuel used by homes, both for cooking on gas ranges and for heating. Berkeley’s new law hurts homeowners both by depriving them of freedom and by forcing them to use more expensive alternatives, notably electric stoves and heating.

There are major advantages to gas cooking. Those include finer temperature control, quicker temperature response times, easy cleaning, and reliability when the power goes out. Ask anyone who watches the Food Network or who works at a restaurant whether they’d like to use a gas range or an electric range.

Natural gas is typically half the price of electric heating. It’s even more efficient and heats up homes faster on average.

The logic behind the Berkeley ban seems to be this: we can help the planet and reduce carbon emissions by eliminating natural gas and switching to electric heating and cooking. This is completely warped: the electric grid is powered predominantly by fossil fuels. The state prides itself on having very little coal, but it imports electricity from neighboring states like Utah and Arizona where it is generated by coal. Somehow displacing the emissions from California to another state, and charging the taxpayers more, fulfills the criteria for being “green.”

Natural gas is incredibly clean, producing very low emissions. In recent years, thanks to the fracking revolution, American natural gas production has exploded – and it’s just the beginning. Experts estimate that Alaska is sitting on 200 trillion cubic feet of untapped natural gas, and the state is working on building a new pipeline to help bring it to market.

Berkeley’s natural gas ban adds to the ever-increasing cost of homeownership in California, which has already been stressed by eco-demands. The state is mandating that, beginning next year, every new home must be fitted with solar panels, raising the cost of a new home by $10,000. Higher home prices, higher electric bills, fewer choices – that’s the future Californians are being promised by their government. It’s no wonder families are fleeing the state, and that California is led only by New York in out-migration.

Just look to our friends in Europe to see how damaging eco-policies can be. Citizens of Germany and Denmark, for instance, face electric rates around three times that of America.

Is this the future we want for our country? I, for one, think the answer is clear, but it seems those running city government in Berkeley have a different idea. That American citizens should be deprived of access to natural gas makes very little sense from an economic, environmental, or even logical sense. But that didn’t prevent Berkeley from pursuing it anyway.

During the high of California’s drought, it was the rich who didn’t conserve water and who continued lawn and pool upkeep. It was the poor who were fined. Similarly, under this silly plan, Berkeley’s wealthy will find a way to bypass the law and get the gas stoves and gas heating they want. It’s always the regular, average citizens who suffer when elites decide to be “green.”

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4) Climate Extremism: Democracy And Progress Are Facing Extinction
Iain Martin, The Times, 19 July 2019

Climate activists are bossy extremists who feel they have the right to wreck the economy without even consulting voters

Extinction Rebellion was busy blockading traffic in Bristol this week as part of its plan to save the planet. It turns out, though, that traffic jams caused by hippies and radicalised youngsters don’t go down well with everyone.

A caller to BBC Bristol claimed that he had been told by doctors to rush to his dying father’s bedside before it was too late. The tailback caused by the protest meant he did not get there, he said.

The Bristol incident is another indicator that the argument over climate change is fast becoming a defining dividing line in Britain’s dreaded culture war. Along with the national grudge match that is the fight over Brexit, the battle over the environment is entrenching divisions over class, political attitudes and tribal affiliation.

Younger voters tend to be deeply concerned about global warming. They blame climate change on the alleged self-absorption of a consumerist older generation greedy for more GDP growth than the poor old planet can handle. The radicals want immediate action against cars, planes and gas boilers. And they are convinced they are unimpeachably right.

There is a snag. The evidence of recent years is that bossy middle-class people lecturing their supposed inferiors (educationally and economically) is not going well. Resentment and a desire to kick back against sanctimonious, hectoring elites played a notable part in the Brexit referendum result.

Will most voters like what comes next on the green front? To deliver on the government’s pledge to take Britain carbon neutral by 2050, consumers must be told soon by their betters about the expensive replacement of millions of gas boilers, about compulsory and ineffective induction hobs in the kitchen and potentially punitive taxation on petrol and flying.

Extinction Rebellion says that even the 2050 target is woefully insufficient. Britain must go carbon neutral by 2025; growth must effectively end; and the mass disruption on the streets will intensify until they get what they want.

Already overstretched police forces are deeply worried by Extinction Rebellion’s protest plans. Bristol this week is just a midsummer rehearsal for much bigger pre-Brexit protests planned for October, senior police officers warned yesterday. The Times reports that the police are seeking much tougher sentences for repeat offenders.

The concerns of senior police officers reflect the warnings in a report, Extremism Rebellion, published this week by the think tank Policy Exchange. The authors, one of whom, Richard Walton, is a former Metropolitan Police head of counterterrorism, have been criticised for branding the protesters as radical and extremist anarchists hellbent on ending democracy. But they are dead right. Democracy is at risk. Extinction Rebellion doesn’t accept basic democratic tenets and wants to replace the British parliamentary system.

This became clear listening to the superficially reasonable-sounding Rupert Read, the philosopher turned official spokesman for ER, who was on air defending the protests this week. Read has failed several times in his attempts to get into parliament. Might there be a connection between this and his seeking to alter the political system under which he has failed?

Extinction Rebellion isn’t remotely anti-democracy, it simply wants a new kind of democracy, Read told the BBC. This could sound appealing, given the way that the Brexit farce has undermined faith in our institutions. ER proposes a citizens’ assembly — a soothing term — to tell ministers and MPs (the MPs we elect) what to do. “A citizens’ assembly on climate and ecological justice will break this deadlock,” says the organisation, “by giving politicians access to public judgments that have been reached in a fair and informed way.”

The model has been used in several countries to unlock difficult moral subjects. But no country has applied it — for good reason — to the task of completely remodelling its economy and society and ending economic growth.

The inherent inconsistencies of the citizens’ assembly wheeze when applied to economics are glaring. What happens if the citizens chosen for the assembly don’t propose precisely what Extinction Rebellion wants? ER has said that this climate emergency is an existential crisis, hence the blockades, so it seems unlikely to back off, even if voters at a subsequent election discover the size of the bill and throw out the foolish MPs who handed control to a citizens’ assembly, presumably established under a watching committee headed by Rupert Read.

There is a fundamental democratic objection. Anyone seeking to do to the economy what Extinction Rebellion plans to do should surely put it in a party manifesto, be scrutinised by the media and voters, stand sufficient candidates, win by beating the other parties, form a government if they have the seats and, via legislation and/or referendum, implement the end of the economy as we know it.

No wonder Extinction Rebellion eschews the conventional approach. It will never be a winner. While the public is receptive to generalised ideas of protecting the planet there will be nothing like a majority of voters for a slate of policies to ban flying and economic growth when British emissions have fallen sharply and new economies are pumping out so much more.

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5) Dominic Lawson: We Don't Need An Ecological Pol Pot
The Sunday Times, 21 July 2019

Politicians and the police must stop indulging Extinction Rebellion

My hero of the week is Brian Salt. This 73-year-old Bristolian had become increasingly enraged by the roadblock set up by Extinction Rebellion on a street he used to drive his camper van to pick up a fellow pensioner, Lynne Mattin, and drop her off at a nearby firm where she had an evening shift.

Over the first two days of last week’s Extinction Rebellion demonstrations in Bristol, Mr Salt had in vain appealed to the activists to let him through to pick up Ms Mattin: “She was in tears from the pain. She has a false knee and can’t walk long distances. I tried to tell them this, but they didn’t listen.”

So on Wednesday he tore down the Extinction Rebellion roadblock, later telling the Bristol Post: “They were shouting, ‘Call the police, call the police.’” He laughed as he said this, doubtless appreciating the irony of the Extinction Rebellion lot calling for support from a force that many of them consider — in the words of a post on an associated website — “a fascist organisation who are enforcing a racist, patriarchal neoliberal system”.

Yet it’s not so funny that the police have offered such little support to those who merely want the highways to be kept clear to go about their lawful daily work — or for even more pressing requirements. I am thinking of the man who called BBC Radio Bristol to say that as a result of being held up in a four-mile queue on the M32, caused by another Extinction Rebellion blockade, he had been prevented from talking to his dying father for the last time: Bristol Royal Infirmary had urged him to arrive as soon he could, but by the time he finally did, his father was dead.

BBC Bristol played a recording of the distraught son to one of the demonstrators, Zoe Jones. In a they-made-me-do-it fashion, she blamed “the politicians”: “I hope politicians listen to what we are saying . . . allow people to get to their hospital appointments and allow them to get on with their lives.”

And what is it that Extinction Rebellion is saying? That unless parliament ensures that the country’s carbon emissions are net zero by 2025, there will be a mass extinction of all life forms on the planet within the lifetimes of the demonstrators themselves. This is why so many of them — such as their spiritual leader, 16-year-old Greta Thunberg — say they will not be able to have children themselves unless this is done, now. The same message is promulgated in America by the 29-year-old New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who, to the acclaim of her supporters, if not the American people, declares: “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change.”

Such claims are having the desired effect of terrifying children into supporting the aims of Extinction Rebellion: Thunberg is one of those children, albeit an exceptionally articulate one. But assertions that we are already seeing a mass extinction from climate change, and the prophecies of imminent apocalypse, are a form of mass hysteria.

Although their propagators like to assert that “this is the science”, the latest assessments of the International Panel on Climate Change say nothing of the sort. Its fifth report pronounces: “Overall, there is very low confidence that observed species extinctions can be attributed to recent climate warming, owing to the very low fraction of global extinctions that have been ascribed to climate change and tenuous nature of most attributions.”

As regards the long-term future of species, based on computer-generated modelling of the effect of predicted global increases in CO2emissions, it declares: “Models project that the risk of species extinctions will increase in future due to climate change, but there is low agreement concerning the fraction of species at increased risk . . . and the timeframe over which extinctions could occur.” I think this is scientist-speak for “we really don’t know”.

The Extinction Rebellion panic seems more reliant on skunk than science for its inspiration. Indeed, Gail Bradbrook, the founder of Compassionate Revolution, which set up Extinction Rebellion last year, declared that her insight into the imminent end of life on Earth was the result of taking huge doses of psychedelic drugs, which “rewired” her brain and gave her the “codes of social change”.

There is a hippie-ish aspect to this, but that movement never sought to impose its way of life on everyone else. This lot aim to do exactly that. A report on the politics of Extinction Rebellion, published last week by the think tank Policy Exchange, quotes its strategist and co-founder, Roger Hallam: “We are going to force the governments to act. And if they don’t, we will bring them down and create a democracy fit for purpose. And yes, some may die in the process.”

Hallam is not a climatologist, nor indeed a scientist of any sort: his PhD is on “digitally enhanced political resistance and empowerment strategies”. And what is the Britain that Hallam and his supporters want to “force” on governments?

As a (supportive) article in the New Internationalist explained about “zero-carbon by 2025”: “Energy would be strictly rationed, dedicated to survival and essential activities . . . expect massive disruption in the way food is grown, processed and distributed . . . there would be . . . virtually no aviation, haulage or shipping.” The piece warned: “But how to enact change on this scale? To avoid a totalitarian, ‘eco-fascist’ dystopia . . . would need to be contingent on total buy-in.”

Agreed: the UK would best avoid an ecological version of Pol Pot’s Year Zero. But how would that “total buy-in” for a policy of self-inflicted mass immiseration be brought about? Don’t worry — Extinction Rebellion has the solution: citizens’ assemblies, rather than parliament. These, it says, “would be a game changer for the climate”. Really? If such assemblies were as representative of the people as Extinction Rebellion claims, they would be more likely to include people like Brian Salt and Lynne Mattin than Gail Bradbrook and Roger Hallam.

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6) And Finally: Will Solar Minimum Lead To Global Cooling?
Daily Express, 20 July 2019

Cosmic rays are continuously getting stronger and that could mean Earth should brace itself for a deep solar minimum, scientists have warned.

A decade ago, scientists noticed an all-time high in cosmic rays – rays which originate from deep space, not to be confused with solar rays which come from the Sun. Now, scientists have noticed cosmic rays are back on the up as the Sun goes deeper into a solar minimum.

The Sun follows 11 year cycles where it reaches a solar maximum and then a solar minimum. During a solar maximum, the Sun gives off more heat and is littered with sunspots. Less heat in a solar minimum is due to a decrease in magnetic waves.

The Sun entered the current solar minimum roughly a year or so ago when magnetic waves from our host star began to lessen.

With less magnetic waves coming from the Sun, cosmic rays find it easier to penetrate Earth’s atmosphere and are more noticeable to scientists.

While cosmic rays have little effect on our planet, one of the reasons scientists monitor them is to see when the Sun has entered a solar minimum.

Now, with cosmic rays almost reaching that all time high again, scientists know the Sun is about to enter a prolonged cooling period.

The last time a prolonged solar minimum was in effect was the Maunder minimum, which saw seven decades of freezing weather, began in 1645 and lasted through to 1715, and happened when sunspots were exceedingly rare.

During this period, temperatures dropped globally by 1.3 degrees celsius leading to shorter seasons and ultimately food shortages in what was called a “mini Ice Age”.

Cosmic forecasting site Space Weather said that the solar minimum gets deeper as the year progresses.

It reads: “As 2019 unfolds, Solar Minimum appears to still be deepening. Cosmic rays haven’t quite broken the Space Age record set in 2009-2010, but they’re getting close.”

Nathan Schwadron, a space physicist at the University of New Hampshire, said: “No one can predict what will happen next.

“However, the situation speaks for itself: We are experiencing a period of unusually weak solar cycles.”

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The London-based Global Warming Policy Forum is a world leading think tank on global warming policy issues. The GWPF newsletter is prepared by Director Dr Benny Peiser - for more information, please visit the website at

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