Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

18 February 2020

Spending Plans of the Presidential Candidates

But don't worry.  Only the rich will be taxed to pay for all of these promises.  The socialists of the Democratic Socialist Party, who do not actually believe in democracy, have assured us that very few of us will be taxed to pay for all the goodies a much multiplied bureaucracy of swamp creatures and the special interests their handouts will spawn will provide.  We will just tax the producers of wealth in America and hand their money over to politicians and bureaucrats and we will be well taken care of.  No worries.

Reality: You will have to work mighty hard to become one of the special interest factions able to soak up the money unless you want to join the vast majority of Americans in a lower standard of life.  Forget about voluntary associations and acts of cooperation in a free society.  Forget about choosing your own values and dreams.  Forget about managing your own life in accordance with your self-chosen values.

Stop working hard -- if you do, everyone else will just take all you produce, stealing the very hours of your life.  Don't be a slave to government -- go fishing or watch endless hours of TV, or stare at your cell phone all day.  This is the good life according to the many socialists among us.  Any purpose but the pursuit of power over others is pointless.  Is it any wonder the majority of the people will turn to alcohol and opiates in their ideal society, while the ambitious will become brutal savages in the pursuit of the power to deny everyone else their voluntary associations and acts of cooperation?

Socialism only appeals to the unbelievably ignorant, the insane, and the most brutish persons of a society.

14 February 2020

Do Additional Greenhouse Gases Warm or Cool the Earth?

If the Earth’s atmosphere had no infrared-active gases, commonly and confusingly called greenhouse gases, at all, the Earth would be colder on average.  The Earth’s surface would absorb more of the sun’s insolation, since water vapor would not be present to absorb the incoming energy from the sun and there would be no clouds.  Some of the heat absorbed by the surface would still be transferred to the nitrogen, oxygen, and argon molecules or atoms striking the Earth’s surface.  The remaining energy would be radiated from the surface.  Virtually all the energy radiated from the Earth’s surface would travel at the speed of light through the atmosphere into space and be almost instantaneously lost.  The day to night temperature changes would be much more dramatic than they are now.  The greenhouse gases benefit us greatly by moderating the day to night temperature changes.  At sufficiently low concentrations, each infrared gas with a non-overlapping absorption frequency with respect to other infrared-active gases already present, will slow down the rate of cooling at the surface and in the troposphere.  This allows the surface and the troposphere to be warmer than they would be were the infrared-active gas not present.

This is how the idea of a greenhouse effect comes about.  This paper Is not disputing that infrared active gases allow the Earth’s surface to be warmer than it would be if they were not in the atmosphere.  The question being examined is whether the further addition of an infrared-active gas will warm or cool the Earth’s surface and its lower atmosphere, the troposphere, when its atmospheric concentration is increased.

How does a low concentration of an infrared-active gas significantly slow down the cooling rate of the surface and the troposphere?  Suppose this gas molecule absorbs the longwave thermal radiation emitted from the Earth’s surface in the lower troposphere and enters an excited vibrational state.  If that absorbed energy were simply immediately re-emitted and carried off the previously absorbed energy at the speed of light, the absorption event would have no significant effect on the temperature of the surface.  The key fact here is that the excited molecule has billions of collisions per second with the 2500 times as plentiful non-infrared-active molecules of nitrogen and oxygen and atoms of argon.  That absorbed infrared energy is converted into kinetic energy passed to the molecules that collided with the excited molecule long before the lifetime of the excited molecule for re-emission of the absorbed energy by radiation.  What is the overwhelmingly dominant means of energy transport through the troposphere at this point?  It is the convection transport from warmer to cooler portions of the atmosphere, which is generally upward and to the higher latitude regions of the Earth.  The speed of that transport of energy is about 8 orders of magnitude slower than the speed of light.  So that first act of longwave thermal radiation absorption from the Earth’s surface is of immense importance, but after that initial conversion of infrared radiation from the surface into kinetic energy shared by all the molecules (mostly nitrogen and oxygen) and atoms (argon mostly) of our troposphere, the role of any further radiation from infrared-active molecules is a faster means of cooling than is the convection cooling mechanism.

Let us examine why this is true.  If the mean free path for absorption of a given wavelength of the longwave thermal radiation from the surface is short enough that there is an absorption event by an infrared molecule in the lower troposphere, subsequent absorptions of any emitted thermal radiation by molecules at that wavelength at higher altitudes will prevent that radiation from escaping into space.  This does slow down the cooling of the lower atmosphere in this very limited context.  This is what the standard view of greenhouse gases focusses on.  The problem is that the alternative to that infrared-active gas emitting thermal radiation to a higher altitude is its being much, much more slowly transported to higher altitude by convection.  Adding more of that infrared-active gas to the atmosphere results in moving energy upward through the troposphere in steps at the speed of light instead of having more of it moving upward in the slow convection currents.  The implication here is that a very low concentration of an infrared gas in the atmosphere will produce a warmer Earth surface and troposphere, but subsequent additions simply speed up the transport of energy to higher altitudes.  Then the added infrared emitting gas molecules in the upper troposphere and the stratosphere radiate thermal energy at a faster rate directly into space.  For an infrared-active molecule, the initial effect of adding it to the atmosphere is likely to be warming effect, but its warming effect rapidly passes through a maximum and then further additions start bringing down the temperature at the surface and in the troposphere.

Let us pause and get a better understanding of how carbon dioxide absorbs longwave radiation from the surface of the Earth.  An infrared-active molecule has an absorption spectrum over a range of wavelengths with absorption probabilities varying with wavelength over orders of magnitude.  The absorption probability at a wavelength is usually given in terms of an effective cross section, as though the size of the molecule were different for the absorption event at each wavelength.  Here, from a figure in Prof. Howard “Cork” Hayden’s The Energy Advocate, February 2020 (Vol.24, No.7) is the absorption spectrum near the main 15 ยตm (micrometer) absorption line for CO2:

As Prof. Hayden explains, if the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere were only 40 ppm by volume (ppmv) or a bit less than one-tenth the present concentration, any radiation at the wavelengths above the red line in the figure at 1 x 10-22 m2 cross-section would be absorbed within a travel distance of 10 meters.  At that same very low concentration of CO2, the absorption distance for radiation in the weaker absorption peaks above the lowest red line is less than 100 meters.  The troposphere in the U.S. Standard Atmosphere is 11,000 meters in altitude.  All parts of the absorption spectrum above the lower red line for as low a concentration of carbon dioxide as 40 ppmv are already absorbed many times traveling through the troposphere from the surface to the upper troposphere.  At 400 ppmv, carbon dioxide will add absorption events for the first time in the lower cross-section parts of the spectrum, but the additional first time absorptions are decreasing rapidly as more CO2 is added to the atmosphere, while the rapid transport effects of carbon dioxide are moving more and more energy to space more quickly than convection would at an increasing rate as CO2 is added.

I am going to develop a simple model for how the infrared-active gases warm the Earth, according to those who believe in catastrophic or even moderate man-made global warming.  This is not a model that I believe is correct.  This is intended as an exercise in determining a very generous upper limit on the size of the greenhouse gas warming claims based on additions of such gases to the atmosphere above those of the present and then showing that those claims are false in the context I have set up above.

I will start with a two layer atmosphere in which radiation from the Earth’s surface, is absorbed entirely in the lower layer L1, which radiates half that energy upward to atmospheric layer L2 where it is absorbed and half back down to the surface where all of it is absorbed.  All of the surface absorbed half from L1 is re-emitted upward and is re-absorbed in L1.  Layer L2 emits half the energy it absorbed from L1 directly to space, where it is permanently lost, and half back to L1 where all of it is absorbed.  Each layer L1 and L2 always emits half of its absorbed radiation energy upward and half downward.  The surface always emits its absorbed energy back to L1, where it is absorbed.  I believe this isotropic emission idea is incorrect, but we are going to do this exercise because it will give us insight and because it is rather a fun task to work out.  Note also that I am entirely ignoring convection as an energy transport mechanism for the sake of this argument.

The results are that space receives a series of emission energy originating with an emission of one unit of energy from the Earth’s surface, Sp, whose sum is

So, all of the unit of energy emitted from the surface is eventually emitted into space.  In fact, the first 5 emissions to space already total 0.7627 of the total energy of 1.  In this crazy model we have assumed all the energy emitted from the surface is absorbed in L1, despite the fact that the atmospheric window actually allows about 70% of all surface radiated longwave energy to pass through the atmosphere unabsorbed and directly into space.  So Sp really equals 0.3 and the first five emissions to space really equal 0.2288.  In this simple model with no thermalization of the absorbing molecule and no significant half-life before it re-emits energy as radiation, sending more than 3/4ths of the surface emitted energy into space takes about the time it would take radiation traveling at the speed of light, 3 x 108 m/s, to travel through the troposphere about 11,000 m high five times.  That time is 3.7 x 10-5 s.  In comparison, it takes hours for the alternative heat dissipation process of convection currents to raise surface energy to the top of the troposphere where it can be directly emitted to space as radiation.

Of course, the catastrophic man-made global warming argument does not emphasize the speed with which energy is emitted to space by a radiation-centric model.  They emphasize the added time radiation energy spends near the surface because of their isotropic emission model in comparison to the time it would take to go directly from the surface to space if there were no infrared-active molecules.  So what enhancement of radiative energy dwell time are they getting?  With this two atmospheric absorption layer model it would be that the sum of radiation back to the surface from L1, Su, is

This means that the energy dwell time in the lower troposphere has been doubled by this two-layer 100% radiative energy loss model with isotropic emission.  But keeping about 76% of this energy around for about 3.7 x 10-5 s is not such a big deal.

What if we put three atmospheric absorbing layers into the model?  Then I find that the series of emissions to space from the top layer L3 is

Sp = 1/8 + 1/8 + 7/64 + 3/32 + 41/512 + 35/512 + 239/4096 + 577/16384 + ….

These first eight terms sum to 0.695129, so with eight emissions from L3 to space 69.5% of the unit of energy emitted from the surface has been lost to space.  Consequently, 69.5% of the energy is lost in about 8 (11,000 m) / 3 x 108 m/s or 2.9 x 10-4 s.

Su = ½ + 3/8 + 5/16 + 17/64 + 29/128 + 99/512 + 169/1024 + 577/4096 + 1731/16384 + …..

The first eight terms of Su sum to 2.01898.  So when Sp is a bit over 2/3 after eight terms and must sum to one, Su is a bit over 2 and seems most likely to sum to about 3.

So, let us make a leap here and assume that with an atmospheric absorption model of n layers with isotropic emission, Su will sum to about n.  [If someone has the time to work this series out to more terms or can find a way to solve it exactly, I would enjoy seeing the result.]

Alright now, let us assume that we have 100 absorption layers in our atmosphere, corresponding to an absorption distance of about 110 m.  Most of the radiation energy emitted from the surface will find its way to space in less time than 100 (11,000) / 3 x 108 = 3.7 x 10-3 s.  If you have 10,000 atmospheric absorption layers (an absorption distance of about 1.1 m), the time is then 0.37 s.  But the alternative means of removing that energy to space is convection and that takes hours to do the job.

In fact, radiation between the layers only occurs long after an absorption event during which time many, many collisions with other molecules would occur and the absorbing molecule would give up virtually all the energy it had absorbed from radiation from another layer to the 2500 times as plentiful non-greenhouse gas molecules in the air.  It is a comparatively very long time before the infrared-active molecule emits radiation again.  In the meantime, it is only 1/2500 of the molecules moving energy as part of a convection current.  Yet insofar as these infrared-active molecules do emit radiation, they are acting to speed up the emission of surface energy to space.  They are therefore acting to cool the atmosphere from top to bottom of the troposphere compared to the convection energy transport mechanism.

The lesson here is that the very first absorption event of thermal radiation from the surface in the atmosphere is very important because it puts the transfer of that energy into the hands of a much slower convection cooling process than is that of radiation.  However, whatever further thermal radiation events occur in the atmosphere simply speed up the loss rate of energy to space compared to the rate due to convection.  The addition of further infrared-active gases to the atmosphere causes there to be more absorption layers in the model.  If the atmospheric load of infrared absorption gases was so high that the mean free path length for absorption of their emissions was as short as 1 meter, then the time to dissipate most of the energy to space would still be less than a second, while the time it takes for the alternative energy transport by convection is still hours.

Do additional greenhouse gases warm or cool the Earth?  The addition of a gas in just enough concentration that there is absorption by that gas in the lower troposphere once which would not otherwise have occurred at a given wavelength slows the rate of radiative heat loss and may be regarded as effectively warming the Earth.  It does this by converting the cooling mechanism from rapid radiative cooling to that of slow convection cooling.  However, once that threshold concentration is exceeded for a given wavelength, additions of that gas simply cool the atmosphere more quickly than would the alternative of convection currents.  At such an above threshold concentration, that gas can be regarded as cooling the Earth faster compared to the rate it would cool without its addition.

The lapse rate is the temperature gradient with altitude in the troposphere.  At normal levels of humidity, the adiabatic lapse rate is less than the dry lapse rate is.  This tells us that at normal water vapor concentrations, the water vapor concentration is already high enough to produce a cooling effect on the surface and lower troposphere temperatures.  Water vapor does this with the cooling effect at the surface as liquid water becomes water vapor and then the water vapor rises with convection until it reaches an altitude at which it condenses and releases energy.  At the warm surface it cools with evaporation and at the cooler altitudes it warms by condensing.  The evaporation process increases the water molecule’s kinetic energy, including its vibrational modes, and the molecule carries that energy upward by convection and then releases the kinetic energy of evaporation as it condenses to liquid or solid form.   Each water molecule carries more energy per molecule at a given temperature than can a nitrogen or oxygen molecule.  Thus, as they rise with convection, they are transporting more energy upward per molecule than are the dry air molecules in the same convection current.  In addition, the water molecule is radiating energy to the layer of air above it, which is usually cooler and able to absorb that radiated energy if it also has water vapor molecules in it or sometimes if it has carbon dioxide in it. 

Unlike water vapor molecules, a carbon dioxide molecule carries less energy at a given temperature than do the nitrogen and oxygen molecules with which it shares a convection current.  This means an added CO2 molecule causes a convection current to become a less effective cooling mechanism.  However, it retains the ability to warm the air layer above it throughout the troposphere as it cools its local surroundings by radiation to the layer above it.  In addition, more CO2 in the upper troposphere and in the stratosphere means more molecules radiating energy directly to space.  There is good evidence that the addition of more hot molecules of CO2 in the stratosphere has resulted in a measured  cooling of the stratosphere, as would be expected because these hot molecules are effective radiators.  I believe the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is already high enough that additions of CO2 are cooling the troposphere as well or at least counterbalancing the mild warming effect of additional carbon dioxide molecules to a great degree.

Whether I am right or not about this, the claim that a very small warming effect by additional CO2 will be amplified by a greater warming effect by increased water vapor (a positive feedback) is surely false.  The fact that the wet adiabatic lapse rate is less than the dry adiabatic lapse rate makes it clear that the claim of a positive feedback is wrong.  The IPCC and other alarmists depend upon this false claim of a positive feedback by water vapor to make it appear possible that additional carbon dioxide will cause significant harm.  The reality is that additional carbon dioxide has no net significant effect on temperatures at the Earth’s surface or in the lower troposphere.

Meanwhile, additional carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provides plants with the means for easier growth.  With a growing human population, this is very helpful in producing the additional food we need to produce.  This should be a factor in reducing human anxiety for the future.  Of course, I understand that some people just have to have something to worry about.  I suggest you worry, if you must, about another ice age which additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere cannot prevent.  Or, you might worry about an asteroid  striking the Earth.  But it is even more foolish to worry about problems created by more CO2 in the atmosphere.

20 January 2020

U.S. Crop Yields Have Continued Trending Higher Over the Last Five Years Despite Claims of Climate Catastrophe

Politico has recently been making claims that bad weather that has slightly depressed this last years farm yields is due to man-made global warming.  This is complete and utter baloney.  Actually, it is less than baloney -- it is completely dishonest.  But what else is new with the alarmist community advocating catastrophic man-made global warming?

James Taylor, of the Heartland Institute, has written an article called Record Farm Yields Contradict Climate Doomsayers' Claims which solidly refutes the claims of Politico, which were highly promulgated by Google News.

One of his key sections notes:
Presenting crop data collected by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the Global Economy website documents that U.S. crop yields are enjoying excellent short-term, mid-term, and long-term growth, with new records being set almost every year. According to the USDA publication, “Crop Production Historical Track Records,” the past three years produced the three highest U.S. wheat yields per acre in history. The past five years produced the five highest U.S. corn yields and the five highest soybean yields per acre in history. U.S. and global crop production are a story of steady growth and almost yearly new records as the Earth modestly warms.
Even with the “catastrophic weather this year,” the USDA projects this year’s corn, soybean, and wheat yields to each be among the top six years all-time. Also, much of the problematic “catastrophic weather” occurred as part of early-spring snowstorms and late-fall snowstorms, which will continue to become less frequent and severe with ongoing modest warming.
There is no limit to the dishonesty of the catastrophic man-made global warming movement.  The facts simply do not matter to them.  The Big Lie told often enough will get them the power they want over our lives and that is all that matters to them.

24 December 2019

The Party of Income Inequality Is?

The Democratic Party!  For all of its huffing and puffing that it is the party of income equality, the Democratic Party has political control of by far the most areas of the US with high income inequality.  That party likes to claim that the middle class and low wage industry workers have been left behind in income growth over the years.  Let us look at a very interesting graph of the income growth in high wage, middle wage, and low wage industries since 2007:

The high wage industries wage growth over the years from 2007 into 2019 has been relatively steady.  The middle wage industries pay growth had some significant dips in 2010 and 2014 under Obama's administration.  The low wage industry wage growth rate hit lower rates of increase in 2010 and 2012 under Obama.  The Democrats will point out that after that low in 2012, the low wage industry wage growth began to get better until it was about the same rate of growth as that of the high wage industry wage growth rate in 2014.  By 2015, the wage growth rates were pretty close for all three industry groups.  However, in early 2018 wage growth for the low wage industries took off, achieving far faster rates of growth compared to the middle and high wage industry wage growth rates.  Apparently, the economic policies of the Trump administration are quite favorable to wage growth on the part of the low wage industries.

So, just as those areas of the country represented by Republicans in Congress tend to have less income inequality, Republican economic policies under Trump are enabling low wage earners to catch up with higher wage earners while in many of the years under Obama they were falling behind more and more.

Michael Strain of AEI notes that the median wages of all workers increased by 25% over the past 30 years corrected for inflation.  The wages of the poorest paid 20% of workers grew by more than one-third.  The poorest paid workers have actually been catching up in wage income therefore.  Income inequality has decreased.  Applying a broader income measure that takes into account income from fringe benefits, capital gains and dividends, Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare benefits, unemployment insurance, food stamps, and federal tax payments, this reduction of total income inequality remains substantial.  The median household income by this measure increased by 43% from 1990 to 2015.  In comparison, the households in the bottom 20% had an increase in income of 62%.  As the American economy has grown since 1990, the bottom 20% of households on the total income scale have benefited even more than the median household has.

The common claim of the Democrat Party that the poor and the middle class are falling behind and somehow suffering does not hold up.  It is true that they could have benefited more had government policies been different.  The economy overall could have grown more rapidly with policies more friendly to the free, voluntary private sector.  Had that extra growth path been chosen, median and poorer households would have had greater increases in income.  We see evidence of how that would have been the case in the recent surge in income of the low wage industries under the Trump administration with its decreased cost of regulations, its signalling of fewer arbitrary and expensive future regulations, and its tax cuts favoring business investments to increase business productivity.  The Obama regulatory chaos and extreme uncertainty with a will to wipe out entire industries extended the Great Recession period of slow economic growth, much like Franklin D. Roosevelt's capricious federal management of the economy that greatly prolonged the Great Depression and the later uncertainty caused by LBJ, Nixon, and Carter offer lessons in how to slow economic growth and with it to deny most of us the benefits of an improved standard of living relative to what the Democrats will generally allow us.

The free markets of a Capitalist society unleashed would benefit most Americans greatly and that would most definitely include most low wage Americans!

15 December 2019

No end in sight for the biofuel wars by Paul Driessen

Biofuels are unsustainable in every way, but still demand – and get – preferential treatment

The Big Oil-Big Biofuel wars rage on. From my perch, ethanol, biodiesel and “advanced biofuels” make about zero energy, economic or environmental sense. They make little political sense either, until you recognize that politics is largely driven by crony-capitalism, campaign contributions and vote hustling.

Even now, once again, as you read this, White House, EPA, Energy, Agriculture and corporate factions are battling it out, trying to get President Trump to sign off on their preferred “compromise” – over how much ethanol must be blended into gasoline, how many small refiners should be exempted, et cetera.

This all got started in the 1970s, when publicly spirited citizens persuaded Congress that “growing our own energy” would safeguard the USA against oil embargoes and price gouging by OPEC and other unfriendly nations, especially as our own petroleum reserves rapidly dwindled into oblivion. Congress then instituted the Renewable Fuels Standard in 2005, when the Iraq War triggered renewed fears of global oil supply disruptions. The RFS requires that almost all gasoline sold in the USA must contain 10% ethanol – which gets a third fewer miles per gallon than gasoline and damages small engines.

But, we were told, these fuels are renewable, sustainable, a way to prevent “dangerous climate change.”

It’s all bunk. In recent years, the horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) revolution has given America and the world at least a century of new oil and natural gas reserves. America has become the world’s largest oil and gas producer and within five years could be producing far more oil and gas than any other country in the world. Terminals built years ago to import fuel from distant lands are being reconfigured to export abundant US oil, liquefied natural gas and refined products to distant lands.

Average global temperatures – as actually measured by satellites and weather balloons – are now almost a full degree Fahrenheit lower than predicted by climate models (the average of 102 IPCC computer model forecasts) that also foretell the daily litany of climate and weather cataclysms. However, hurricanes are less frequent and intense than a half-century ago, and Harvey was the first Category 3-5 hurricane to make US landfall in a record 12 years. Violent F4-5 tornadoes have also been less frequent over the past 34 years than during the 35 years before that, and not one F4-5 tornado hit the USA in 2018.
Over their full life cycle (from planting, growing and harvesting crops, to converting them to fuel, to transporting them by truck or rail car, to blending and burning them), biofuels emit just as much (plant-fertilizing) carbon dioxide as oil-based gasoline and diesel. Those biofuels also require enormous amounts of land, water, fertilizer, insecticides and energy. None of this is renewable or sustainable.
In fact, corn turned into E85 fuel (85% ethanol/15% gasoline) and grown where rainfall is insufficient requires irrigation – and up to 28 gallons of water from rivers or groundwater supplies per mile traveled!
US ethanol production utilizes 38% of America’s corn and 27% of its sorghum – grown on cropland the size of Iowa: 36 million acres, much of which would otherwise be wildlife habitat. And the fertilizers used to grow those crops, especially the corn, result in nutrient-rich runoff that increases nitrogen levels in the Gulf of Mexico, causing deadly algal blooms. When the algae die and decompose, they create low and no-oxygen zones the size of Delaware – killing marine life that can’t swim away quickly enough.
In short, biofuels have huge downsides and do nothing to address the scary scenarios that have either shriveled amid the winds of history – or were wildly exaggerated or imaginary to begin with.
But once these biofuel programs were launched, they became permanent. They created a biofuel industry that wants to get bigger every year, and supports politicians who want to get reelected year after year. That brings us back to the Executive Branch biofuel battles – and to issues that I myself struggle to comprehend, amid the morass of acronyms and conflicting policies and mandates.
Congress and the Environmental Protection Agency require that refiners blend “conventional biofuel” (mostly ethanol) into gasoline – and also meet various “advanced biofuel” and biomass-based diesel requirements. However, too much ethanol in gasoline damages engines in older cars, generators, garden equipment and boats; that puts a limit on how much ethanol can actually go in the fuel supply (the “blend wall”). As a result, while ethanol blending continues to increase gradually, American motorists have never been able to consume enough ethanol to satisfy applicable Renewable Fuel Standards.

However, biofuel interests want the government to keep mandating even more ethanol – a desire that faces multiple problems. Gasoline demand is decreasing, as people drive less, in more fuel-efficient cars, and in electric and hybrid vehicles (that are heavily subsidized under other laws).

Tariff wars with China and other countries have hurt corn and sorghum farmers, who want to be “compensated” via more biofuel mandates under the Renewable Fuels Standard – even though beef, pork and poultry farmers get hurt by higher grain prices resulting from so much corn devoted to ethanol.

Declining fuel demand and the blend wall mean refiners cannot mix all the mandated 15 billion annual gallons of ethanol into gasoline. They are thus forced to over-comply with the “advanced biofuel” part of the RFS mandate by buying expensive foreign biodiesel and “renewable” diesel. Refiners that do not control the point where biofuel can be blended into gasoline (eg, large distribution terminals or local gas stations) must buy “credits” called Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs) that show (or pretend to show)  the required (foreign) biofuels were mixed with the gasoline they make domestically.

This all gets really expensive, really fast, which is why the law allows exemptions to small refiners that  face “disproportionate economic hardship” from costs that have gotten so high that courts have ordered the EPA to grant more “small refinery exemptions” (SREs) – waivers from the RFS mandates.

However, biofuel has been blended into the fuel small refiners make anyway. This situation resulted in ample supplies of RFS compliance credits, and RIN prices have dropped from over 90 cents apiece to 12 or 20 cents over the past two years or even lower at times. Of course, this all angered the biofuel lobby, which has attacked the Administration for issuing SREs, falsely claiming the exemptions are   “destroying demand” for biofuel and “hurting American farmers.” 

They levied these attacks on EPA, despite the fact that the Trump Administration granted the biofuel industry its biggest request in 20 years: an air quality waiver that allows E15 to be sold year round. So some in the Administration have proposed to “reallocate lost biofuel gallons” the biofuel industry says were caused by SREs. But there’s nothing to reallocate, since ethanol is being blended despite the SREs.

The reallocation proposal thus has the practical effect of increasing the biofuel mandate by over 700 million gallons above the 15-billion-gallon statutory ceiling on ethanol. That brings us back to the fact that America is not producing enough advanced biofuels, biodiesel or renewable diesel. That means refiners have to buy more foreign supplies of these fuels, from Argentina, Brazil, Indonesia, et cetera.

Of course, that does nothing to help American farmers. It just turns the Renewable Fuel Standard into a big foreign biofuel mandate. It also means President Trump is caught between trying to placate two of his core constituencies: farmers, primarily in the Midwest, and the oil and refining industry with all its jobs.

This is mind-numbingly complicated. But the bottom line is pretty simple: Every time Congress gets involved in trying to fix complex energy and economic problems – instead of letting free market industries and innovators sort things out – it creates a legislative, regulatory, legal and lobbying mess. Every attempted additional fix makes things worse. And trying to justify all the meddling, by claiming we’re running out of oil or face manmade climate cataclysms, just makes things worse.

We should end this crazy-quilt biofuel program. But anyone who thinks that will happen in Washington, DC or Des Moines, Iowa is smoking that stuff that’s now legal and widespread in Boulder, Colorado. But President Trump and his EPA should at least reduce – and certainly not increase – any biofuel quotas.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of books and articles on energy and environmental policy.

Charles' Comments:

Crony-capitalism is a self-contradiction.  The correct term is mercantilism, the common practice of kings and the aristocracy who granted special business privileges and monopolies to friends and supporters since ancient times.  We still are governed by an aristocracy, though their titles have changed from king, baron, earl, and count to President, Senator, Representative, and about a million bureaucrat titles.  The aristocracy still believes that force makes right and they know the needs and what the aspirations should be of the serfs / deplorables better than they do.

Washington, DC is a swamp predominantly controlled by predatory special interests who feed on the vast majority of Americans.  When anyone threatens their control, a vast coalition of usually disparate groups arises to oppose that threat, though in normal times these groups behave more like hyenas fighting over a carcass -- the stolen fruits of production of the American people.  We see a great example of that in the effort to remove Trump from office by many denizens in the bowels of our thieving government even before he took the oath of office.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Minnesota, says that the production of a gallon of ethanol from corn takes anywhere from 5 to 2,138 gallons of water, depending on the irrigation needs of the area in the United States where the corn is grown.  As the amount of corn dedicated to ethanol production has grown, the amount of land dedicated to corn planting has increased.  That increase has required that land less and less suitable to corn production be used.  When ethanol production was doubled between 2005 and 2008, the amount of water used in ethanol from corn production more than tripled.  The proposal to make 15% ethanol in gasoline the requirement will cause a further increase in corn production for ethanol and still more water use.  In many areas of the U.S. water aquifers have been depleted at alarming rates as it is.  The huge Ogallala aquifer stretching from South Dakota to Texas is a particularly important and very stressed aquifer.

25 November 2019

No Plan B for Planet A by Paul Driessen

Replacing fossil fuels with “renewable” energy would devastate the only planet we’ve got

Environmentalists and Green New Deal [GND] proponents like to say we must take care of the Earth, because “There is no Planet B.” Above all, they insist, we must eliminate fossil fuels, which they say are causing climate change worse than the all-natural ice ages, Medieval Warm Period or anything else in history.

Their Plan A is simple: No fossil fuels. Keep them in the ground. More than a few Democrat presidential aspirants have said they would begin implementing that diktat their very first day in the White House.

Their Plan B is more complex: Replace fossil fuels with wind, solar, biofuel and battery power – their supposedly renewable, sustainable alternatives to oil, gas and coal. Apparently by waving a magic wand.

We don’t have a Planet B. And they don’t really have a Plan B. They just assume and expect that this monumental transformation will simply happen. Wind, solar, battery and biofuel technologies represent the natural evolution toward previously unimaginable energy sources – and they will become more efficient over time. Trust us, they say.

Ask them for details, and their responses range from evasive to delusional, disingenuous – and outrage that you would dare ask. The truth is, they don’t have a clue. They’ve never really thought about it. It’s never occurred to them that these technologies require raw materials that have to be dug out of the ground, which means mining, which they vigorously oppose (except by dictators in faraway countries).

They’re lawyers, lawmakers, enforcers. But most have never been in a mine, oilfield or factory, probably not even on a farm. They think dinner comes from a grocery store, electricity from a wall socket, and they can just pass laws requiring that the new energy materialize as needed. And it will happen Presto!

It’s similar to the way they handle climate change. Their models, reports and headlines bear little or no resemblance to the real world outside our windows – on temperatureshurricanestornadoes, sea levels, crops or polar bears. But the crisis is real, the science is settled, and anyone who disagrees is a denier.
So for the moment, Let’s not challenge their climate or fossil fuel ideologies. Let’s just ask: How exactly are you going to make this happen? How will you ensure that your Plan A won’t destroy our economy, jobs and living standards? And your Plan B won’t devastate the only planet we’ve got? I’ll say it again:

(1) Abundant, reliable, affordable, mostly fossil fuel energy is the lifeblood of our modern, prosperous, functioning, safe, healthy, fully employed America. Upend that, and you upend people’s lives, destroy their jobs, send their living standards on a downward spiral.

(2) Wind and sunshine may be renewable, sustainable and eco-friendly. But the lands, habitats, wildlife, wind turbines, solar panels, batteries, transmission lines, raw materials, mines and laborers required or impacted to harness this intermittent, weather-dependent energy to benefit humanity absolutely are not.

(3) The supposed cure they say we must adopt is far worse than the climate disease they claim we have.
Using wind power to replace the 3.9 billion megawatt-hours that Americans consumed in 2018, coal and gas-fired backup power plants, natural gas for home heating, coal and gas for factories, and gasoline for vehicles – while generating enough extra electricity every windy day to charge batteries for just seven straight windless days – would require some 14 million 1.8-MW wind turbines.

Those turbines would sprawl across three-fourths of the Lower 48 US states – and require 15 billion tons of steel, concrete and other raw materials. They would wipe out eagles, hawks, bats and other species.

Go offshore instead, and we’d need a couple million truly monstrous 10-MW turbines, standing in water 20-100 feet deep or on huge platforms in deeper water, up and down our Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Not as many of the beasts, but each one a lot bigger – requiring vastly more materials per turbine.

A Category 4 hurricane going up the Atlantic seaboard would wipe out a lot of them – leaving much of the country without power for months or years, until wrecks got removed and new turbines installed.

Using solar to generate just the 3.9 billion MWh would require completely blanketing an area the size of New Jersey with sunbeam-tracking Nellis Air Force Base panels – if the Sun were shining at high-noon summertime Arizona intensity 24/7/365. (That doesn’t include the extra power demands listed for wind.)

Solar uses toxic chemicals during manufacturing and in the panels: lead, cadmium telluride, copper indium selenide, cadmium gallium (di)selenide and many others. They could leach out into soils and waters during thunderstorms, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and when panels are dismantled and hauled off to landfills or recycling centers. Recycling panels and wind turbines presents major challenges.

Using batteries to back up sufficient power to supply U.S. electricity needs for just seven straight windless days would require more than 1 billion half-ton Tesla-style batteries. That means still more raw materials, hazardous chemicals and toxic metals.

Bringing electricity from those facilities, and connecting a nationwide GND grid, would require thousands of miles of new transmission lines – onshore and underwater – and even more raw materials.

Providing those materials would result in the biggest expansion in mining the United States and world have ever seen: removing hundreds of billions of tons of overburden, and processing tens of billions of tons of ore – mostly using fossil fuels. Where we get those materials is also a major problem.

If we continue to ban mining under modern laws and regulations here in America, those materials will continue to be extracted in places like Inner Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, largely under Chinese control – under labor, wage, health, safety, environmental and reclamation standards that no Western nation tolerates today. There’ll be serious pollution, toxics, habitat losses and dead wildlife.

Even worse, just to mine cobalt for today’s cell phone, computer, Tesla and other battery requirements, over 40,000 Congolese children and their parents work at slave wages, risk cave-ins, and get covered constantly in toxic and radioactive mud , dust, water and air. Many die. The mine sites in Congo and Mongolia have become vast toxic wastelands. The ore processing facilities are just as horrific.

Meeting GND demands would multiply these horrors many times over. Will Green New Dealers require that all these metals and minerals be responsibly and sustainably sourced, at fair wages, with no child labor – as they do for T-shirts and coffee? Will they now permit exploration and mining in the USA?

Meeting basic ecological and human rights standards would send GND energy prices soaring. It would multiply cell phone, laptop, Tesla and GND costs five times over. But how long can Green New Dealers remain clueless and indifferent about these abuses?

Up to now, this has all been out of sight, out of mind, in someone else’s backyard, in some squalid far-off country, with other people and their kids doing the dirty, dangerous work of providing essential raw materials. That lets AOC, Senator Warren, Al Gore, Michael Mann, Greenpeace and other “climate crisis-renewable energy” profiteers preen about climate justice, sustainability and saving Planet Earth.

They refuse to discuss the bogus hockey stick temperature graph; the ways Mann & Co. manipulated and hid data, and deleted incriminating emails; their inability to separate human influences from the powerful natural forces that have caused climate changes throughout history; or the absurd notion that the 0.01% of Earth’s atmosphere that is carbon dioxide from fossil fuel use over the past 50 years is somehow responsible for every extreme weather event today. But they won’t be able to ignore this fraud forever.

Meanwhile, we sure are going to be discussing the massive resource demands, ecological harm and human rights abuses that the climate alarm industry would impose in the name of protecting the Earth and stabilizing its perpetually unstable climate. We won’t let them dodge those issues in 2020.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of books and articles on energy, climate, environmental and human rights issues.

My Comments:

I cannot fathom the degree to which the proponents of catastrophic man-made global warming are willing to ignore the many and colossal failures of the predictions of their hypothesis and its clear violations of basic physics.  Ignoring reality is itself immoral, but in the name of their failed theory, they are overtly prepared to cause irreparable damage to the welfare of mankind and the welfare of the Earth's many other animals.

They want the power to pursue the GND or similar harmful policies so badly they are willing to absolutely contradict the motives they have often claimed make their environmental and economic policies moral.  The harm to humans will fall most heavily on those who have lower incomes.  They will be most likely to lose their jobs in the extraction, transportation, power, manufacturing, and construction industries.  The harm of the GND will cause an increase in economic inequality.

I do not believe that income equality is a moral goal, but I do believe that it is immoral for government to pursue policies that are particularly harmful to any of its citizens, most certainly including those with lower incomes.  Everyone deserves the exercise of their right to pursue the earning of a living.  Governments should not be constantly erecting barriers to the efforts of the people to be productive.

Those who are willing to ignore the reality of physics and the scientific method are also willing to ignore every rational moral principle.  We see that very clearly in the policies of those who insist upon using force justified by a demonstrated false hypothesis to do horrible damage to the people and other animals of this Earth.

16 November 2019

A Couple of Climate Change Nuggets

Mark Mills, Real Clear Energy, 8 November 2019:
...since 2007, American fracking technology has added 500 percent more energy to markets than have all of the planet’s wind and solar farms combined.
I cannot help but wonder why Americans have invested so much in fracking when so many are claiming that wind and solar generate power more inexpensively.  If consumers are buying those more expensive fracking industry energy products, are they doing it because they believe wind and solar power are immoral?  Are they being repelled by the socialism behind wind and solar power?  Or is it simply that wind and solar are really more expensive than fracking energy products and a great big socialist lie is being revealed?

Roger Pielke, Jr., Forbes, 31 October 2019:  
The data show that direct economic losses from weather and climate-related disasters have declined (based on a linear trend) over the past 30 years from slightly under 0.3% of global GDP to slightly under 0.2% of global GDP.
The catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis is in desperate need of showing an increase of weather and climate-related disasters of at least a few percent of worldwide GDP to even come close to justifying the draconian decreases in the many other aspects of our well-being that hydrocarbon fuels buttress.  Yet they cannot even demonstrate a couple tenths of a percent hit to global GDP over the last 30 years.  Just how gullible do these alarmist socialists think we are?  

Well they do call us the Deplorables and Denialists and many another nasty name, so it is pretty clear they do not respect us much.  I well remember, when I was but a child, realizing that those who do not respect me, are not worthy of my respect.

15 November 2019

Subsidies for Electric Vehicles and Wind and Solar Power

In today's Cooler Heads Digest from Myron Ebel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comes this from the lead article by Ben Lieberman:

On electric vehicles (EVs), Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) of the House Ways and Means Committee is pushing to change the provisions that capped the $7,500 per vehicle tax credit once a manufacturer sold 200,000 such cars. H.R. 2256 proposes raising the cap to 600,000 vehicles but only slightly reducing the credit to $7,000. For Tesla, which has exceeded the 200,000 vehicle limit, and General Motors, which is nearing it, the extra 400,000 qualifying vehicles could generate $2.8 billion each for their EV purchasers, nearly half of which are wealthy Californians. Given that other automakers would have eventually reached and exceeded 200,000 in EV sales, the revised cap could be worth tens of billions of dollars in the years ahead. EVs are way past the point of the “infant industry” rationale for these tax credits, but that does not seem to matter. 
Also under discussion for eventual inclusion in a big energy tax package are additional years for solar and wind production tax credits promised by Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal (D-MA). These tax credits had been made more generous by the 2015 bill in exchange for ending them once and for all. It is not yet known how many post-sunset years the latest extension will provide. 
One fringe benefit of the debate is that it provides a brief respite from the drumbeat of claims that wind and solar have plummeted in cost and are now cheaper than conventional electricity. If true, there would be no need for yet another extension of favored tax treatment for them.

So even after all these years, electric vehicles are not ready for prime-time consumers and even wealthy Californians have to be bribed by the government to buy them.  Seems to me, I have heard Democrats complaining a lot about their conjurings of a bribe in one context, yet they are constantly bribing Americans to do their bidding.  A bribe to the advantage of socialism is no bribe, just as a lie to the advantage of socialism is the truth.  You just have to understand their reality-free context.

That last quoted paragraph is a humdinger.  Apparently, the propaganda breaks down a bit when it comes time to claim a subsidy for investments that make no sense in the free market.

10 November 2019

Comments on Random Subjects

Iran spends about $1 billion a year to fund terrorism, making it the number 1 funding source for terrorists.

In October, there were only 3% of Americans who did not have a job and wanted a job.  This is the lowest percentage since this statistic has been determined starting in 1994.

PG&E has cut off power in large areas of California due to high winds and claims that the damage of falling trees and limbs to their power lines and equipment can start fires.  A good part of this problem is because PG&E has put so much money into other tasks dictated by the socialist government of California instead of removing trees from the vicinity of their power lines and updating their essential distribution equipment.

Wind and solar power account for about 17.9% of all electric power generation in California now. Wind generators, which operate in the wind speed range from 6 or 7 mph to about 55 mph.  A wind speed of about 30 mph is usually the optimum power generation wind speed.  The high winds that are driving the California wildfires are also causing shut-downs of wind generators or causing them to operate at higher than optimum power generation speeds.  This may well be causing the wind generator portion of the California electricity supply to be under-performing.  To be sure, under-performing wind generation is a common problem with this intermittent, unreliable power source.

Comments on Medicare-for-All

Elizabeth Warren's plan to nationalize the health care system in the USA has a price tag of $52 trillion according to her no-doubt reliable cost accounting.  She has claimed repeatedly that billionaires will pay all the taxes to pay for it.  The middle class will pay nothing, so she says.

The total wealth of American billionaires is estimated to be about $2.4 trillion.  If every last penny of that wealth were confiscated by Warren's socialist government, the tax on the billionaires would cover about 4.6% of cost of the first 10 years of her Medicare-for-All program.  Now, mind you, who is then going to pay that same 4.6% of more of the next 10 year period of her Medicare-for-All?  When those American billionaires sell off all their assets to pay their confiscatory taxes, will those who buy up the assets manage them as well and generate as many jobs and as much GDP growth?

Other portions of the costs are to be paid by having the states transfer their Medicaid payments to the federal government.  Companies will have to turn over what they are paying into employee health plans to the federal government.  Companies will lose the ability to tune their health insurance costs to their industry, location, and profitability.  Many more companies will fail without this flexibility, causing a loss of jobs and a loss of GDP growth.  Still, these sums will fall far short of providing the $52 trillion costs of Warren's plan.  Who do you think is going to make up the huge difference?

Both Warren and Sanders plans will shut down the private health insurance markets.  This means they will put 2 million Americans in that industry out of work.  Do either of their plans cost estimates include putting these 2 million Americans on unemployment insurance payouts and other welfare programs?  When 2 million Americans lose their jobs, how many will become alcoholics or other drug users?  How many will commit suicide in their despair and depression?  Have we learned nothing from the human disaster that occurred in part as Obama acted to destroy the coal mining industry and the jobs of those who transported coal, burned coal in power plants, and ran the retail and services industries of the towns that depended upon coal production?

Medicare-for-all will result in lower quality medical care for everyone.  Innovation, medical care giver training and intelligence, equipment, and facilities will all deteriorate more and more over time.  Bureaucrats will be in charge of deciding who will live and who will die.  And every American will lose the sole ownership of their minds and bodies.  When someone else gets to dictate how you will act to maintain your own mind and body, then you have lost your most critical property right.  You are no longer sovereign.  You are a slave.

What Do Americans Know about Science and Technology?

The National Science Foundation makes a semi-annual survey of what Americans know about science and technology.  The 2018 assessment gives the results of surveys made in 2016 and shows that when given statements to be answered true or false:

  • 52% agreed that humans evolved from other species of animals, though 72% agreed that the altered statement that the theory of evolution held that humans evolved from other species of animals was true.  Apparently, 20% preferred their religious beliefs.
  • 39% agreed that the universe began with a big explosion.  When that statement was altered to say that astronomers believe the universe began with a big explosion, 60% agreed that astronomers did believe that.  The 21% difference here is again mostly a preference for a religious belief.
  • 48% agreed that electrons are smaller than atoms.
  • 45% disagreed that lasers work by focusing sound waves.
  • 51% disagreed that antibiotics kill viruses as well as bacteria.
So about one out of five Americans disagrees with science when it comes in conflict with their religious belief on the questions of the origins of human life and of the universe.

If you randomly guess on a true or false question, you should be right 50% of the time.  Now consider the statement "Electrons are smaller than atoms."  Surely a few percent of Americans actually know the answer to that true/false question.  If only 48% of Americans answered the question correctly, then those who did not know the answer had an actual preference for the belief that atoms are smaller than electrons.  Where did they get that preference?  One is driven to make similar observations about how lasers work and what antibiotics kill.

Given that Americans know so little about science and some choose to disregard it, is it any wonder at all that they are easily frightened into believing that government must act as their savior because of myriad scary alarms that the media, injury lawyers, environmentalists, so-called green energy enthusiasts, and catastrophic man-made global fryers special interest groups conjure up?

Because governments are always seeking more powers and more control over their populace, is it any wonder that government schools do such a poor job in educating Americans in science and technology?  To be sure, government schools do an awful job in educating Americans in history and economics also.  Mathematics and writing skills are also poorly taught.

About the only issue that government schools are thorough in teaching is that the people are incapable of choosing their own values and managing their own lives and must turn to government to care for them.  That is such a self-defeating and depressing claim that it causes no end of harm to the American people.