The Science and Environmental Policy Project puts out a weekly electronic newsletter called The Week That Was that brings together links to everything notable on the topic of climate. If you want to keep up on the global warming debate and related scientific issues, you really should subscribe to it.
This week SEPP takes note of the Democratic Party’s platform on energy:
Generally, TWTW does not comment on political issues. However, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform deserves particular mention. Westernized urban and suburban civilization requires reliable electricity to run its communication systems, medical facilities, sewer and water purification systems, refrigeration, food storage, subways, elevators, heating, cooling air handling systems, neighborhood traffic lights, etc. Without reliable electricity, modern life becomes chaotic.
Other than fossil fuels, the only proven sources of reliable electricity are nuclear and hydro. Hydroelectric power is dependent on weather (the EIA considers it as such) and is regional. Nuclear is strongly opposed by many environmental groups, as seen by the letter by Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, to the Wall Street Journal and repeated in the July 2 TWTW. There are no other reliable, affordable sources proven at this time. Countries such as the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece are littered with projects that promised reliable, affordable electricity, but failed to deliver. Any possible learning curve is largely exhausted. Industrial-scale solar may have promise, but is yet to be proven and may work only in a small area of the US.
For over one hundred years, utilities have been searching for ways to store electricity, generated when it is not needed for when it is needed. The only storage technology existing on a large scale is pumped-hydro storage. This system has a cycle cost of about 25% or more, meaning that only 75% or less of the electricity put into the system can be retrieved. As seen on El Hierro Island in the Canary Islands, the storage needs may be greatly underestimated, as well as the costs. Large, commercial scale batteries offer promise, but have yet to be proven. Construction on a 100 megawatt battery (very small by standards needed) west of Los Angles, is planned, but not yet underway, much less proven or shown to be cost-effective.
This is not to say that such technologies cannot be developed, similar to the development of the technology to extract oil and natural gas from dense shale – which are making the US largely fossil fuel independent of the petrostates. But there are no demonstrations that technologies in solar and wind along with electricity storage are reliable and affordable.
In spite of these experiences, the 2016 Democratic Party Platform calls for the effective abandonment of fossil fuels for transportation and electricity generation. The naivety is staggering. It states: “The Democrats are of the mind that human-caused climate change is one of the major problems facing the country/world today,” describing it as “an urgent threat and a defining challenge of our time.”
There is no empirical or physical evidence that demonstrates CO2 threatens humanity. The threat is largely invented by political actors such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the EPA. We do not understand the natural causes of climate change; thus it is virtually impossible to delineate the human causes. The IPCC and its US followers have failed the American public by not investigating the natural causes of climate change.
Yet, the Platform calls for getting 50% of electricity from “clean energy sources” within a decade. The sources are not identified or the costs calculated.
Further, the Platform states:
We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat on a scale not seen since World War II. In the first 100 days of the next administration, the President will convene a summit of the world’s best engineers, climate scientists, policy experts, activists, and indigenous communities to chart a course to solve the climate crisis. Our generation must lead the fight against climate change and we applaud President Obama’s leadership in forging the historic Paris climate change agreement. We will not only meet the goals we set in Paris, we will seek to exceed them and push other countries to do the same by slashing carbon pollution and rapidly driving down emissions of potent greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons.
In WW II, most of the US weapons used were already in production or theoretically understood. Even the atomic bombs were theoretically investigated by the UK, Germany and Japan. Only the US employed the necessary resources to make the fuel. …
The plan to fight climate change without theoretically understanding its causes or [having] an understanding of the resources needed to replace fossil fuels, is not a commitment similar to that made by the US in WWII, but more like the one made by President Johnson when he committed hundreds of thousands of troops into Vietnam, without a strategic plan and without understanding the opposition, thereby violating the maxim: Know your enemy!