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Expensive fantasies

Discussion in 'European Politics' started by Dr.Who, Apr 14, 2011.

  1. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Here is an article for discussion:

    It might seem strange to link global warming and the futility of wind farms with the ongoing collapse of the euro. But in several directions at the moment we can see the unfolding of one of the hidden patterns shaping human affairs, which years ago I called “the fantasy cycle”. It is a pattern that recurs in personal lives, in politics, in history – and in storytelling.

    When we embark on a course of action which is unconsciously driven by wishful thinking, all may seem to go well for a time, in what may be called the “dream stage”. But because this make-believe can never be reconciled with reality, it leads to a “frustration stage” as things start to go wrong, prompting a more determined effort to keep the fantasy in being. As reality presses in, it leads to a “nightmare stage” as everything goes wrong, culminating in an “explosion into reality”, when the fantasy finally falls apart.

    Recent events show us two huge examples of this cycle moving to its final stages. One is the belief, which took hold 20 years ago, that the world was in the grip of runaway global warming, caused by our emissions of greenhouse gases. The planet could only be saved by abandoning fossil fuels and drawing our energy from wind and sun. For a while (the dream stage), all seemed to go according to the theory. As CO2 levels rose and the Earth continued to warm, our politicians started to propose every kind of drastic measure to reduce our emissions, such as building thousands of wind turbines. But in all sorts of ways, in the past few years, this dream and the theory behind it have begun colliding with reality.

    Carbon dioxide levels continued to rise, but global temperatures failed to follow. Three times in the past 13 years – in 1998, 2006 and 2010 – they spiked upwards, thanks to periodic shifts in a major Pacific ocean current – the phenomenon known as “El Niño” – which brings warm water to the surface and boosts temperatures across the world. Each time it was trumpeted as “the hottest year ever”. But each time, as the ocean current reversed into “La Niña”, the spike was followed by an equally sharp cooling.

    In 2007, temperatures fell by 0.75C, more than the entire net rise recorded through the whole of the 20th century. After they rose again to a new El Niño peak in 2010, we were told, only three months ago, by the compilers of the two chief surface-temperature records – the UK Met Office, in association with Phil Jones of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, and James Hansen of NASA – that 2010 was the “equal warmest” or “second warmest” year ever.

    Last week, however, with a new La Niña, it was reported that global temperatures, as measured by satellites, had fallen by 0.65C since March 2010, making the world cooler now than its mean over the past 30 years. Yet again the computer models, predicting that, thanks to rising CO2, the world should have warmed in the past decade by 0.3C, have proved hopelessly wrong.

    If it hasn’t looked too hot for the theory on which our politicians base their plans to change the world, then last week it looked equally dodgy for what has been one of the most grandiose of their responses to this supposed crisis. Two sets of figures exposed more than ever the degree of delusion which surrounds the wish of our governments, in Brussels and in Westminster, that the centrepiece of our energy policy must now be to build even more windmills.

    The report that drew most media attention was that from a Scottish environmental charity which focused on the fact that last year, despite our building yet more turbines, the lack of wind meant that they operated, on average, at only 21 per cent of their capacity – the lowest percentage ever. Several times, when demand was at record levels, the contribution of wind to our electricity supply was virtually zero.

    Less attention was given, however, to figures put out by the Department for Energy and Climate Change, showing that the 3,168 turbines we have built, at a cost of billions of pounds, contributed on average, if very irregularly, only 1,141 megawatts to the national grid last year – less than the output of a single large coal-fired power station. From the DECC figures it is possible to work out that, for this derisory contribution, we paid through our electricity bills a subsidy of nearly £1.2 billion, on top of the price of the electricity itself.

    Thus, in return for less than 3 per cent of our electricity, nearly 7 per cent of our billls were made up of hidden subsidies to the wind developers, a percentage due to treble and quadruple in coming years as the Government strives to meet EU “renewables” target by building up to 10,000 more turbines, at a cost of £100 billion. The dream of using the wind to keep our lights on is being shown by reality to be one of the most absurd fantasies of our time.

    Another, in its own way even greater fantasy has been the colossal project taking shape over the past 50 years to take away the power of the nations of Europe to govern themselves and to hand it over to a weirdly dysfunctional new system of government centred in Brussels. No single element in that project was more ambitious or seen as symbolically more crucial than the wish to integrate Europe’s economies around a single currency.

    Back in the 1970s, when this was first talked of, Sir Donald McDougall, a senior Treasury official, was commissioned by Brussels to produce a report on “The Role of Public Finance in European Integration”. He warned that economic and monetary union could only work if Europe was in effect given an economic government, with the power to dispose of between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of Europe’s GDP. This was because, as he foresaw, one of the core problems would be that if weaker countries were deprived of the power to set their own interest rates or to devalue, they would require a massive injection of resources from richer countries. Which, of course, is just what we now see being acted out in the desperate efforts to bail out Portugal, following in the wake of Greece and Ireland – with Spain, bigger than all three put together, possibly to follow.

    As McDougall and many after him warned, the single currency could only work on conditions which the builders of a united Europe blithely chose to ignore, in pursuit of their make-believe. As a result, its collision with reality is now coming about, threatening a disintegration of the eurozone that could tug much of the European dream after it.

    A third great fantasy of our time has been the belief that we can sort out the world’s trouble spots by reckless military interventions which fail to anticipate the bloody chaos they will unleash.

    Another little instance has been the tragedy unfolding in the past few days in Camp Ashraf in Iraq, where Iraqi and Iranian terror squads have finally moved in to crush the 3,400 defenceless Iranian exiles who in 2003 gave up their arms in return for written personal guarantees of their safety by the US government.

    Since Thursday night, more than 30 Ashraf residents have reportedly been killed and hundreds injured. This may be only a small example of the price so many others have had to pay for that act of folly when Bush and Blair sailed into Iraq like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza charging windmills.

    But our adventures in Afghanistan and Libya still have to unfold to the point where we are forced to recognise that yet another vainglorious act of make-believe has collided with reality.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/...r-or-European-Union-collide-with-reality.html
  2. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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  3. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Most global warming debates revolve between four issues:

    1. Global warming is/is not real. Is the average temperature of the Earth increasing or not?

    2. Global warming is/is not being accelerated by human activities. Is CO2 to blame, or is there a correlation with no causation? Have human activities increased the concentration of CO2 enough to have made a difference?

    3. The solutions proposed by politicians are (a) practical and necessary, or (b) impractical and unworkable.

    4. Global warming is/is not an impending disaster that must be addressed.

    Now, it is entirely possible that windmills are not going to generate enough power to make a difference. It is plausible that there are more problems caused than solved by windmills. That of course, addresses issue #3, and has nothing to do with #1, #2, or #4.

    The link between windmills and global warming is somewhat tenuous, it seems to me.
  4. Rick

    Rick New Member

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    It underlines the reality disconnect of global warmists to hear them talk about windmills as a significant 21st century power source. Actually, it's kind of scary. Or has it all been an attempt at humor and I didn't get the joke?
  5. clarkatticus

    clarkatticus New Member

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    two thoughts on this, one-saying we know what will happen with global warming is bad science-it's like putting together a 10,000 piece puzzle, you got 100 together and your telling me what the final picture will look like. Nobody did the math.
    two-what if they're right? what if honest scientists actually have a case-in fact-I wouyld be shocked if all the crap we are pumping into the sky didn't have some effect, and in a world where a few degrees difference will destroy the infrastructure of our society in this or that region, I think it would be prudent to take steps we should be doing anyway to alter our energy policies
  6. BigRob

    BigRob Moderator Staff Member

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    To sell a fundamental realignment of the American economy, you are going to need more than the argument of "what if they are right".

    Whatever your belief on the issue, whoever makes the best scientific case will ultimately carry the debate...currently the global warming argument is not fully carrying that argument.
  7. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    I would say thats pretty naive to think. the Scientific case is made its basically done . The problem is the majority of the Right wing base will never listen no matter how much proof they put out...because they don't want to hear it. They don't want to deal with the fact that yes it would cost money to fix. When the G W Bush White house asks for a study and even theres comes back saying yes its real, yes man is playing a major role...I think the debate is ready to move to what to do , not keep pretending like there is real debate on the issue.

    Of course you will always be able to site some scientist that will say no...and the Oil industry will always make sure that happens...Just like there where scientist for years testifying that Cigs where not bad for you, or addictive.
  8. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the idea of the ...how could you pump that much pollution and CO2 into the air and think..Gosh I am pretty sure this will never effect anything...Just like Who would guess if you keep dumping crap in even a really big lake...it starts to build up and have a effect.
  9. clarkatticus

    clarkatticus New Member

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    the fundamental realignment of the nations economy was done in 2007-8 by the banks themselves, nearly destroyed capitalism. Changing our infrastructure and weaning ourselves off foreign oil is not just environmentally good, it is necessary for the strategic safety of our nation and it's economy. Yes we have more oil available here in North America, but alternative fuels are our future, the sooner we start, the sooner we control our destiny.
  10. Pidgey

    Pidgey Active Member

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    Without a total cost comparison, this isn't really worth that much. The Devil is ALWAYS in the details.

    In theory, if wind turbines were that good, it would work this way: you put a few windmills in service, make some profits, use the profits to build more windmills, more profits, more windmills... and so on until the cost of generating power any other way would be too expensive. Hmm... that's not really working out too well, huh? Wonder why that is... ?

    Kinda' like ethanol, really... takes more energy to bring the stuff to market than is actually represented by the chemical potential energy of the stuff itself. That is, it's a net loss. Windmills come pretty close.

    Moral of the story: If you cannot win the thermodynamic equation... it's a loss.

    Bigger moral of the story: If you're in a position of authority and you CAN obfuscate the truth, you can skim quite a substantial amount of money from the (rather more prevalent) stupid suckers while thumbing your nose at the (sadly fewer) smart folks.
  11. pocketfullofshells

    pocketfullofshells Well-Known Member

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    yes, it call comes down to is it economically profitable to stop the earth from major climate change and destruction ..
  12. Pidgey

    Pidgey Active Member

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    Yeah, that's how they're suckering you in. The data says otherwise. Sorry, Pocket, there's too much evidence of past times that were warmer, including funny stuff like whaling maps up in the Arctic back in the 1400's and such... yeah, it was melted off back then quite a bit. Leftovers from the Medieval Warm Period, when it was warmer than now. It's solar, sorry.

    And, you keep forgetting... not of that cr@p even matters due to Peak Oil, Peak Coal and what will turn out to be Peak Gas. All of the disaster-scenarios-from-H*ll were predicated on the idea that fossil and carbon fuels could be exponentially increased ad infinitum. They can't and they won't and we're already beginning to see 'er nosing over if you simply hook up to the right data sources.

    For the record, I'd LOVE to make nuclear fusion work (the only true Holy Grail of energy). I don't hate hydrocarbon fuel but at least I understand it.
  13. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    Pencil pushers and politicians can never know the future and cannot predict if the change to wind will be advantageous or not. They just can't.

    Which is why your model of building based on profits is the only one that works. If the mills make a profit then we can build more if they do not then we have not wasted billions of dollars that could have been used to, oh say, feed the poor, provide medical care, build our infrastructure, maintain our freeedoms.
  14. Dr.Who

    Dr.Who Well-Known Member

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    I like the lake analogy.

    If one dumps half a million tons of sludge into a one million gallon lake one would expect problems. 50% would cause big problems.

    Now we just need to figure out what percent of the atmosphere the carbon we have produced represents.


    Roughly .03 percent of the atmosphere is co2. The manmade contributon is a tiny fraction of that.

    Anyone want to post more accurate numbers representing he percen of the atmosphere that is c02 and the percent of that tiny number that is man made?
  15. PLC1

    PLC1 Moderator Staff Member

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    Your first figure is about right.

    As for your second, it's a quarter or so. It would be higher, but the oceans have absorbed a lot of it.


    link

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