Bret Stephens’ Climate Conversion: Utterly Unconvincing

“Learning is a process, not destination. Bret Stephens should reconsider his reconsideration to educate his readers on the benefits of CO2 enrichment and positive weather/climate trends (including global lukewarming). And do it in such a way that instead of trying to fire him, the alarmists have to answer (not duck) the hard questions about their position.”

The intellectual case against climate alarmism and forced energy transformation has always been strong. Recent events have made this case stronger with more data (contradicting climate model projections). The statistics of extreme weather events and global (luke)warming are hard to ignore. In addition, the “fat tail” of worst-case, extreme warming have been scaled back in the mainstream literature. All this is good news and an antidote for ‘climate anxiety’.

Given all this (isn’t this typical of neo-Malthusian scares?), I have been highly critical of those who claim special, new knowledge to convert from skepticism to alarmism; from let-the-consumer decide, leave-the-taxpayer-alone to Net Zero-type thinking.

Jerry Taylor (from Cato Institute to the Niskanen Center) was the worst, a story of cashing in for revenge, prestige, and big bucks itself. Much more can be said….

Jonathan Adler is a classical liberal who claimed an about-face based on improbable catastrophic events from the human influence on climate, an argument that has weakened considerably in the mainstream literature. (But no reversal of a reversal for Adler, who is doing well with his own environmental research center at his university). [1] As it stands, Adler’s new position is ably refuted by what he wrote before becoming an academic player.

There is also the look-the-other-way professed classical liberal Lynne Kiesling, who is wed to a technical field that is premised on climate alarmism, renewables integration, and central wholesale planning of electricity. [2]

The good news is that any of the above can change their minds as their case gets weaker and climate politics becomes more and more hopeless and farcical. But the incentives need to change to allow scholarship against the grain. And it must come from within, as Milton Friedman wrote in Capitalism and Freedom (1962):

The only person who can truly persuade you is yourself. You must turn the issues over in your mind at leisure, consider the many argument, let them simmer, and after a long time turn your preferences into convictions.


The latest to proclaim conversion to climate alarm is New York Times columnist Bret Stephens: see Changing My Mind on Climate (November 21, 2022).

He chalks up his conversion to 1) a trip with (alarmist) climate scientists to Greenland and 2) the nature of the Pandemic. In his words:

I went to Greenland thanks to an invitation by this marvelous guy, an oceanographer, who, by his own rueful admission, signed one of the various petitions that circulated at the time of my first column, to have me fired from my job. And then he … thought … maybe I should try to reach out to him, instead. He brings groups of influential people up to Greenland for really scientific tours with a lot of emphasis on science to the western coast of Greenland.

Actually being there was key to Stephens:

And lots of people will tell you, “Well, you could just listen to scientists to give you this data and you believe them.” It makes a big difference actually see it in person. It makes a big difference to see how there is a trim line similar to the bathtub rings in places like Lake Mead, showing just how extensive, massive the depletion of ice has been in the vast Greenland ice sheet.

Greenland and catastrophic sea level rise? This begs for a lot more investigation about causality, effects, and policy options, none of which Stephens addresses. True, a heat wave last summer triggered an extreme melt, before which little change was detected. But is this anomaly the new normal? Might a temperature reversal support the century-old sea level rise of about an inch per decade?

And outside of Greenland, what about all the other data metrics of climate change, from temperature to hurricanes? Bret Stephens has cherry-picked his alarm to embrace alarmism, skipping a host of other arguments that he might have previously held.

Stephens further explains:

The trip was itself just part of kind of an extended process on my part to think through issues of climate and what are known as high-impact, low-probability events. Which is to say that even if you think that it is unlikely that sea levels will, say, rise by eight feet in the next century, the impact of it would be so overwhelming if they did that you have to think about it much more—or I have to think about it much more—seriously than I had.

The problem here is that the low probability, high cost events have been demoted in the mainstream literature, as noted by Judith Curry and others. And what about the rest of the story? Why not take a trip with the ‘skeptics’ to other places relevant to the physical science debate (or just lose yourself in climate/weather data)? Or take a trip to energy poverty capitals to see what modern energy means compared to the status quo of wood and dung burning? And climate politics–do tell us about that in light of mitigation versus adaptation.

Pandemic to Climate Alarm?

Stephens turns to another, bizarre reason for his conversion.

I’ll say that the biggest single factor that changed my thinking about climate was the experience of the pandemic—the experience of a natural occurrence simply overwhelming the ability of a modern technological civilization to handle the problem without huge loss of life and disruption to our economies and our way of living.

Really? Did climate change induce the pandemic? Hearing ‘no’, then how did government activism and ‘consensus science’ worsen the event? New and more information about the Pandemic is coming out, but the lessons for global government climate activism are humbling.

Stephens concludes:

So those factors combined to kind of prompt some fresh thinking. And I always said to myself, that I should never be afraid to change my mind in public, even on subjects where I’ve taken, you know, I’ve really put a stake in the ground. So that was, that was how that long 6,000-word giant piece came to life. . . .

Well, it is all there to change your mind again. But the incentives must be there at the New York Times and given the “in” crowd in New York City.

Stephens ends with a moment of clarity, a hint of skepticism where it is all leading–and his conversion.

One of the things that I thought very carefully about … was my conviction that even now the sorts of solutions that are offered for addressing climate change are really inadequate for a variety of reasons, either because the technology is unripe, or because they rely too heavily on state intervention, or because they are based on some kind of grand plan that tends to sound great in principle and then often fail for either political reasons, or technological reasons, or actually scientific reasons in practice….

It’s gonna be very difficult to transition swiftly away from a fossil-fuel-based economy to an energy economy based on other sources. But there are a lot of things that we can do that are really smart, that you wouldn’t think of as being important parts of a climate solution, like putting triple-paned windows into new-home construction to make homes much more energy efficient, because lots of homes are going to stand for 50, 80, even 100 years. And over time, energy-efficient homes are a really smart answer to the problems of energy usage. Most important point is that we need to make sure that economic growth and technological innovation are not treated as enemies of climate, but as essential parts of an ultimate solution to the challenges of a changing and warming planet.

Energy efficiency as a panacea? Amory Lovins promised this back in the 1970s. W. S. Jevons in 1865 explained how improving efficiency per usage led to more usage overall, negating some or all of the overall effect.

Call the Bluff

The fix was in, and Mr. Stephens is now politically correct on climate change. Now, it is time to play fair, Mr. Stephens. Host climate debates between optimists and alarmists. Participate in a discussion with, say, Alex Epstein or Robert Bryce, on the overall picture of climate and energy. Review the litany of (false) alarms for the last half-century.

Learning is not a destination but a process. Learning is a process, not destination. Bret Stephens should reconsider his reconsideration to educate his readers on the benefits of CO2 enrichment and positive weather/climate trends (including global lukewarming). And do it in such a way that instead of trying to fire you, the alarmists have to answer (not duck) the hard questions about their position.


[1] A profile on Adler at Case Western, a Left bastion, shows how the climate alarmism and activism is necessary to play ball:

Despite his prominence as a right-leaning thinker and media pundit, however, Adler has earned a reputation among colleagues across the political spectrum for pursuing principle above politics; refusing to bow to pressure or conventional thinking from any direction; and eagerly pursuing dialogue, debate and, if possible, common ground with those who disagree with him…. He’s a libertarian who supports government intervention on climate change…. “an example of intellectual integrity,” said Daniel Farber, JD, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law who represents the liberal opposite to Adler’s libertarian stance on environmental policy. “We need models like that in the academy—and elsewhere.”

A libertarian on climate policy. I would like to know how a libertarian or classical liberal can support global governmental CO2 taxation and “border adjustments” (tariffs) between nations and regions. I would like to debate Adler on that at his environmental center at Case Western…. Please invite me John.

[2] I have repeatedly challenged Kiesling on her views on climate, renewables, and government-centralized wholesale electricity markets from a classical liberal perspective only to hear crickets. Let me just say that she cannot answer them in detail without exposing her lack of understanding of or belief in market process economics, Public Choice, and classical liberalism writ large.

The post Bret Stephens’ Climate Conversion: Utterly Unconvincing appeared first on Master Resource.

via Master Resource

December 8, 2022 at 01:10AM

DOE’s Graham: Lower Oil Prices as a Social Benefit

“The cost of gas is falling so fast that it is beginning to put real money back in the pockets of drivers,” ” stated DOE head Jennifer Graham, “defying earlier projections and offering an unexpected gift for the holidays. Filling up is now as cheap as… before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine”

Okay. so this joins your earlier plea to “

The post DOE’s Graham: Lower Oil Prices as a Social Benefit appeared first on Master Resource.

via Master Resource

December 8, 2022 at 01:10AM

Submission To The Senate Inquiry Into Australia’s Transition To A Green Energy Superpower

David Archibald

Life in Australia has become a theatre of the absurd. One of the more absurd notions is that Australia will become a ‘green energy superpower’, even to the extent of holding a Senate inquiry into it. In my submission to the inquiry I try to point out as gently as possible that the laws of physics and economics won’t allow that to happen:

“Senators should be aware that energy from solar panels and wind turbines is only as cheap as it is because the solar panels and wind turbines are made using energy from fossil fuels, predominantly coal. Solar panels are made in China using electric power costing US$0.04/kWh.  Under ideal conditions in the West Australian desert those same panels produce power at a price equivalent to power produced from diesel generators at $0.21/kWh.

If you used power from solar panels to make more solar panels, the cost of power from the second generation of solar panels would be of the order of $1.00/kWh.  The same is true of wind turbines. If you tried to carry on the process of replacing solar panels and wind turbines as they wore out with solar panels and wind turbines made from power produced from the ones being replaced, the cost would become infinite and the economy would collapse. The situation is that simple, and that obvious.

As such solar panels and wind turbines are neither renewaable or sustainable. The solar panels and wind turbines we have installed in Australia at the moment are an artefact of cheap coal power.

One day the coal will run out and it would be wise to prepare for that day. The only energy source that can replace coal and maintain civilisation at a high level is nuclear. The sooner we prepare for that day, the safer we will be as a nation and as a civilisation.

In going to that nuclear future, Austalia should avoid the trap of adopting the current predominant nuclear technology which is light water reactors burning U235.  That technology is inherently wasteful, dangerous and leaves an enormous waste legacy.

It is wasteful because it burns only a small fraction of the total uranium endowment. It is dangerous because it combines water, zirconium and decay heat in the reactor vessel. The waste legacy is due to the fact that, by the time the rods are pulled in each fuelling cycle, half the energy is coming from the fission of plutonim and higher actinides. These will remain radioactive for millions of years unless recycled.

Making light water reactors larger to achieve scale economies increases the decay heat flux per unit area of the reactor core surface and makes the reactor less safe. Going the other way to small modular reactors is not a solution because they increase the capital expenditure per MW produced and still have the waste problem.

The only solution to Australia’s long term problem of the coal running out is plutonium breeder reactor technology. This technology is inherently safe as it doesn’t use water in the reactor vessel, would utilise our full uranium endowment and doesn’t have a waste legacy. The plutonium produced will have a Pu240 content too high to be used in weapons. As such this technology is not a proliferation threat.

There is a plutonium breeder reactor technology from GE-Hitachi called Prism that is ready to be commercialised. Australia should start installing Prism reactors as soon as possible.

Power from those reactors would be utilised to make hydrogen which in turn will be used to hydrogenate biomass in the Bergius process. Power at $0.05/kWh produces hydrogen at $7.00/kg. Synthetic diesel so produced would provide an energy-dense power source for transport, mining and agriculture. The latter two industries are particularly problematic with respect to electrification and synthetic diesel, made possible by nuclear power, is the solution.

Senators should also be aware that however Australia produces its power, this has nothing to do with climate. The world has not warmed in the last 44 years and there is no physical sign of it warming from this point. Various models of the atmosphere that have predicted appreciable warming have failed and are thus discredited.

In summary, pursuing a ‘green energy’ future is physically and economically impossible. Spending Australia’s capital in pursuing that chimera will only end in tears. It is a latter day version of the Children’s Crusade, bringing death and destruction to those who pursue it.

Understanding of the physics and chemistry of what is possible in producing the energy that would maintain civilisation at a high level means that we don’t have a choice – it is sodium-cooled plutonium breeder reactors or nothing. Our only choice is in how much pain we want to endure before we decide to take the correct path.”

David Archibald is the author of The Anticancer Garden in Australia.

GE-Hitachi Prism reactor

via Watts Up With That?

December 8, 2022 at 01:01AM

Renewables Roadblock: Wind & Solar Transition Meets Real Community Opposition

When ideology is all, reality has a nasty habit of undoing the grandest of plans. So it is with the great wind and solar ‘reset’. The economic storage of intermittent wind and solar is a fantastic pipe dream; the colossal expense attached to mythical mega-batteries means that it will remain so.

The minerals required for any kind of wind and solar transition will outstrip the world’s resources 10 times over; hence rocketing prices for base metals, like copper and the rare earths that go into every turbine and solar panel. And the demand for land is already seeing renewable energy rent seekers forced to rub up against real community opposition, which will only increase in its hostility.

Gone are the days when wind power outfits could throw $10,000 a year to spear a turbine into the back paddock of some gullible farmer. These days, they’re aware that the owner of that turbine gets annual REC subsidies in the order of $800,000-1,000,000 (for a single turbine) in addition to the electricity they sell and tend to bargain harder, if at all.

One way of avoiding hostile reactions from closely settled farming communities is to head further afield. To that end wind and solar outfits are looking at Australia’s sparsely populated pastoral rangelands, a fair proportion of which are subject to Aboriginal land or native title rights.

Credit to their leadership, they don’t appear all that keen on being treated in the same way that Australian farming communities have been by wind and solar outfits, to date.

Eric Worrall reports on some real community opposition to the great wind and solar scam.

Australia’s Green Energy Dream Sinking Under Royalty Demands, Tradie Shortages
Watts Up With That?
Eric Worrall
21 November 2022

Was this in the budget? Australian Aboriginals have joined farmers in demanding cash payouts or royalties for renewable energy installations which impact their land.

‘Don’t make the same mistake’: Traditional Owners’ warning over renewable projects on Aboriginal land
Tom Canetti
20 November 2022

First Nations experts and Traditional Owners say the federal government must properly consult and share benefits with Aboriginal people in the development of the new green economy.

Published 20 November 2022 at 6:45am
By Tom Canetti


    • Indigenous climate activists have protested at COP27.
    • First Nations people in Australia say they aren’t consulted on fossil fuel mining projects on their land.
    • They say this is a mistake Australia can’t make in the renewables transition.

Traditional Owners and Aboriginal sustainability experts have warned the Australian government against making the same “mistake” it did with fossil fuel mining, and to properly consult First Nations leaders before developing renewable energy projects on their land.

It came as Indigenous activists from across the planet called on governments to respect First Nations’ land rights during COP27 – the United Nation’s annual climate conference.

Experts say coal and gas projects, which have received bipartisan support from Australian governments, have gone ahead on Aboriginal land without their approval and without equal sharing of benefits.

With the transition to green energy and and an influx of investment into renewable projects, Dr Heidi Norman, convener of the Indigenous Land and Justice Research Hub, told SBS News that now is the “best opportunity for Australia to rethink its relationship with Aboriginal people”.

A few weeks ago farmers reached an agreement to be paid $200,000 per km ($320,000 / mile) for green energy grid lines which cross their land, on the grounds that the new lines are a fire hazard – fire fighting helicopters refuse to approach power lines, for obvious reasons.

Australia is facing a severe skills shortage – there aren’t enough electricians to implement the green revolution AND service Australia’s ongoing mining projects.

On top of this, greens have started demanding energy storage targets, to address obvious problems with their green energy revolution.

In every direction people are demanding cash payouts, with substantial justification – Aboriginals, because they don’t want to be exploited without compensation, farmers, to cover loss of land use and increased fire risk, and greens, to address the obvious need for energy storage to back the unreliables.

Something tells me Prime Minister Albanese’s green revolution is either going to suffer a gigantic cost blowout, or die a death of a thousand cuts.
Watts Up With That?


December 8, 2022 at 12:32AM