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January 29th 2018 print

Peter Smith

Burn the Rich, Cool the Planet

Wind, solar and really big batteries aren't cutting it. Were that the case atmospheric CO2 would be shrinking. So lets wallop well-heeled warmists Al Gore, Malcolm Turnbulls and the like with whopping taxes. They can bear the pain better than the poor can afford their green-inflated power bills

green pass IIReportedly, 1700 private jets flew rich people into Davos. Energy guzzlers to a man and woman. Trump apart, you would be hard put to find a climate sceptic among them. I have it on reliable authority that all commercial flights served the wrong brands of caviar and champagne.

Al Gore is attending the talkfest. I don’t know his travel arrangements. However, as reported by Climate Depot in August 2017, Gore’s monthly electricity use at his mansion comes to 19,241 kWh.  Apparently, this is 21.3 times more energy than is consumed by a typical American household. And this does not include the kilowatt appetite of other houses he owns, cars, boats and planes. He’s a guzzler.

This extravagance of the rich while the hoi polloi eat crumbs forms part of my theme, which I will come back to. My theme is why, as a non-scientist, I don’t fall into line with the official consensus. It’s a self-reflective exercise which might have more general applicability. It’s good to remind ourselves about “the consensus”, which is that burning fossil fuels has caused such an increase in atmospheric CO2 since the 1970s that an unparalleled rate of warming has occurred. The consensus goes on to say that unless the use of fossil fuels is very markedly reduced warming will continue and within a relatively short space of time will become catastrophic.

That sounds serious to me. But is it?

Suppose a friend tells you that his car is on the blink and in the same breath tells you he has bound some parts together with duct tape and is setting off across the Nullarbor. He has either exaggerated the problem with his car or he is mad or extremely cavalier. Suppose a friend tells you that his doctor told him he had early stage lung cancer caused by smoking, at the exact same time as he was buying a packet of extra-filter fags as a precaution. Suppose a friend told you he was intent on repairing the relationship with his wife by buying her some roses while, at the same time, buying his girlfriend a diamond bracelet.

It doesn’t stack up. Does it? If indeed we are on the brink of catastrophe why in the world would governments tilt at windmills by subsidising the building of them. We surely know, if we have half a brain, that wind and sun are not the answer. CO2 is rising steeply as we speak.

What’s happening is ‘solutioneering’, as coined by Roger James. Installing windmills and solar panels has become the objective. The real objective of lowering CO2 levels is hardly ever in the frame. It’s all about installing comparatively useless green energyAnd batteries, don’t forget the batteries.

If CO2 levels were in the frame, governments would consider how best to bring emissions down. This might mean replacing inefficient dirty coal power stations with new efficient cleaner ones. It might mean building nuclear power plants. It might mean extracting more coal-seam gas. It might mean all three which, taken together, is likely to be effective in curbing CO2 emissions. Oh, but we don’t like any of these options, comes the cry. But I say, so you would rather fry?

Ergo, my first problem with the consensus is that actions speak louder than words. Don’t tell me CO2 will kill my children and grandchildren then apply a Band-Aid. I’ll think you’re kidding. My second problem has me back to my start.

The efforts to curb CO2 emissions are both pathetically ineffective and costly. Yes, but costly to whom? Here’s the rub.

Rich people, large swathes of whom are on the warming bandwagon, face increased power prices perhaps. But such increases represent a miniscule amount of their incomes and wealth. They don’t notice. Meanwhile back in proletariat land people do notice. Some die for the want of money to heat their lodgings. In peasant-land in, say, India, 300 million people are without power. They cook with animal dung.

Are the poor to be penalized for wanting and needing the kind of reliable and cheap power that our Western forefathers enjoyed? It is unconscionable and therefore I cannot support it. Well, you might say, the solution of efficient coal, fracking gas, and nuclear will be costly too. It might, but it will solve the problem, if the problem exists. It will not be costly for no purpose. And I have a good way to meet the cost. Impose enormous power levies on those in both developed and less-developed countries whose personal power bills exceed thrice the average of households in developed countries.

It would be like a Piketty global wealth tax – so socialists and greenies should love it – except that it would apply only to those ‘rich bastards’ who overuse precious power. Problem solved. Delicious irony an important intended consequence.

Personally, I think climate alarmism is a crock. I do not accept that a mere twenty-five years or so of positive correlation between warming and CO2 levels over the whole historical record is worthy of being called evidence. The null hypothesis (that CO2 has no material effect on warming) would not be confounded — as the late, great Professor Bob Carter used to repeatedly point out.

Models based on warmist theory have singularly failed to predict temperatures post 2000. As any scientist worth his or her salt would resultantly say: The evidence is in. The theory is falsified. CO2 is not the culprit. Back to the drawing board.

But for pity’s sake, if you are still terrorised by the prospect of CO2 rising inexorably, do something effective about it. And, also, make sure personal power prices ratchet up steeply for those individually using untoward amounts of power. That’s only fair.

Peter Smith, a frequent Quadrant Online contributor, is the author of Bad Economics

Comments [24]

  1. ianl says:

    > ” … a significant power pull with people having put in air-conditioners they didn’t tell us about,” Mr Armstrong [AusNet Power] said”. (The Age)

    Some 42,000 Melbourne homes abruptly lost power last night (Sunday, not much industry demand then) for hours. Some are still unconnected.

    The Armstrong quote above is given as the “reason” for this. Air-con you haven’t told authorities you have ?

    Beware “smart” meters. They are tools of imposed green rationing.

    I have some hope, not much, that this situation will become the catastrophe needed to blow this stupidity to tiny, itty-bitty pieces. Maybe … it would be nice to see the plugs pulled on the MSM centres before domestic houses as a rationing program, but I fear I am indulging in too much Pollyanna.

    • Biggles says:

      Ianl, You appear knowlegable about ‘smart’ meters. Is it true that they will allow the introduction of ‘demand’ tarrifs? Your comments on the ramifications of this please.

      • ianl says:

        Yes, it is true – very easily done, actually, the algorithms to control this are already written and in trial operations in the UK and Ireland.

        Air con generally has it’s own separate house circuit so remotely monitoring its’ use from a smart meter is trivial. Turning it off remotely is therefore easy but may cause political blowback; subtly increasing the tariff rate when the circuit is used and then smothering this increase in a busy, busy invoice is at least as likely and will have the intended effect of squashing demand while hiding the nastiness.

        Noble cause corruption is somewhat akin to wading through sewage in a leaky raincoat. It’s destroying us.

    • Macspee says:

      Rather curious, last night our power went out – partially: this meant that we lost the air con, several lights, and power to a fridge, the electrice garage door and pool pump. The power was partially off for 3 hours beyond the originally notified time. We were told it was a local fault. No suggestion that they had, could, or would turn off part of our power. Can they do this? Where does the authority come to invade our home by playing with our life? If they want to play games without telling us we should at least have some redress but our so-called government presumably lets them do what they like and we pay the price. Bring on the elections!

      • ianl says:

        Do you have a “smart” meter installed ? (whether by design or force, no matter)

      • Spot on Macspee. This so-called debate has been argued at every level except the evidence — the science, the economics, the morality, etc etc, all to no avail. That leaves only politics.

        • I meant to add DO NOT EVER VOTE FOR A POLITICIAN OR POLITICAL PARTY THAT PEDDLES CLIMATE ALARMISM. Take note Malcolm T and Josh F.

          • Christopher Saitta says:

            Frydenberg is a bit lost, attempting to find political ground. He would do well to hire some actual engineers to sit within his office to guide him. Perfect example is the electric vehicles. Any engineer whether mech or elect would know to advise him that this “EV” revolution isn’t going to happen, and for him to calm down his rhetoric, ambition and optimism. Now Frydenberg looks a bit silly within the engineering space for his recent comments.

            Perhaps China might be alright because they are building a hundred or so nuclear power-plants within the next decade or so, however we are just idiots looking at only solving general residential electrical supply, purely from renewable energy.

            Australia has a serious problem if we continue on this path as far as energy security is concerned.

            For heaven’s sake Frydenberg, employ some engineers in your office!

  2. Good article, thank you, Peter. This section from your article – “Personally, I think climate alarmism is a crock. I do not accept that a mere twenty-five years or so of positive correlation between warming and CO2 levels over the whole historical record is worthy of being called evidence. The null hypothesis (that CO2 has no material effect on warming) would not be confounded — as the late, great Professor Bob Carter used to repeatedly point out. ‘ – is the critical part.
    I would only add, that to date, in terms of provable ‘harm’, there has been NO ‘positive correlation between CO2 levels and warming’, EVER, and not only for the mere ‘last 25 years’ [when this hoax began]. CO2 is a ‘greenhouse gas’, a minor greenhouse gas. CO2 represents about 3% of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and is responsible for about 5% of the observed ‘greenhouse’ warming effect. 50% of the greenhouse warming effect of atmospheric CO2 occurs in the first 20ppm. There is only a 1 to 1.2 degree C rise in temperature for each DOUBLING of CO2 in the atmosphere.
    Water vapour is THE major greenhouse gas. It represents about 97% of the greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and is responsible for about 95% of the ‘greenhouse effect’. It is water vapour that maintains the earth’s atmosphere at a temperature where life [and humans] can thrive. There has NOT been even ONE scientific paper proving that the extra CO2 put into the atmosphere by humans increases the ‘sensitivity’ of the temperature effects of water vapour in the atmosphere, as proposed by the true believers.
    The only OBSERVABLE/OBSERVED effects of the extra CO2 in the atmosphere is, according to satellite data, that the world has got a lot greener, and agricultural production/output has risen greatly over the past two decades or so due to that slight rise in CO2. We could burn most of the world’s known fossil fuel reserves, that is oil, gas and coal, and raise the world’s temperature only slightly, certainly far less than the models have predicted. OBSERVED results suggest that the models have all exaggerated predicted temperature rises by a factor of 1.3 to 3.7 times.
    Lastly, the use of coal for the energy production necessary for the development of civilisation [taking humans out of trees and caves] has been the greatest tree saving event in the history of mankind, so the GREENS and their acolytes should be promoting coal, not demonising it.

  3. Bill Martin says:

    The YouTube video at the following link is most informative as well as heartening.

    https://youtu.be/UaNzLvArGsk

    • Len says:

      Peter,

      At its core, your proposal deals with hypocrisy but only the hypocrisy of rich people who are global warming believers.

      However, the problem is far more widespread than that. The hypocrisy is practised by every politician (believer or not), by the so-called climate scientists, by a supporting cast of organisations such as the academies, the Bureau of Meteorology, departments of State and from the MSM organisations as well as individual employees (particularly the high profile ones) of those organisations.
      The hypocrisy lies in their promotion or acceptance of global warming and their consequent remedies, the costs of which are imposed on the ordinary people. At the same time they spend their working lives (at least) in air conditioned comfort with the power paid for by someone else. In the case of most of the culprits the costs are met directly or indirectly by the taxpayer. Their hypocrisy should be sheeted home to them. The politicians, for example, should be asked what right they have to expect the taxpayer to accept high power prices and reduced demand to achieve reliability of supply while not meeting such expectations themselves.

      Such questions could be addressed to individual politicians and to political parties at all levels of government. Why for example is each parliament house air conditioned? Why should the air-conditioning not be shut down at times of peak demand? Why should not each beneficiary of the taxpayers’ largesse make a financial contribution to the costs in their work environment. The same questions could be posed in relation to departments of State and other administrative/operational organisations. Individual politicians, regardless of whether they are global warmers, need to be asked what actions they are taking to remove the hypocrisy and if they are not – why not?

      If these sorts of questions were asked by sufficient numbers of people it might be possible to embarrass some of those responsible into some personal realisation of the effects of their actions.

      • Christopher Saitta says:

        I think it is the universities that push the agenda the most; not the well-off individuals. I will repost a quick back-of-the-envelope assessment of electric vehicles below, as the moderators here have held up my original post.

        What I find interesting is the lack of forward planning and research by the government and the various institutions who receive taxpayer funds to assess the practical implementation of electric vehicles on a mass commercial scale. As a rough example, if we look at replacing all internal combustion vehicles with electric vehicles in the USA:

        The USA consumes ~375,000,000 gallons of gasoline everyday for transport, which is ~136,875,000,000 gallons of gasoline every year. A rough ballpark conversion is equivalent to ~5,009,625 gigawatt hours of electricity. So we would be looking at ~570 GW of additional power-plant capacity required to support all the electric vehicles. The capital cost for such infrastructure would run into the trillions of dollars. Say we go nuclear: we would need ~570 nuclear power plants with a 1GW nameplate capacity. Assuming that each plant costs $10 billion to build with associated infrastructure, we would be looking at ~$5.7 trillion dollars in required power-plant infrastructure to support electric vehicles.

        In other words; this isn’t going to happen for a very long time.

  4. Ian Mackenzie says:

    Setting fines and taxes to reflect income is nothing new. In Finland even speeding fines are means tested, resulting in a 54,024 euro (about $58,000) fine for Reima Kuisla, a Finnish businessman, caught doing 64 miles per hour in a 50 m.p.h. zone in 2015. Bring it on for excessive personal electricity use, as long as it isn’t also applied to businesses which need power to produce.

    • Christopher Saitta says:

      It looks like the Finnish businessman would be better off to just hire a driver, under the condition that the driver pays the fines for any infringements.

    • ianl says:

      > ” … Bring it on for excessive personal electricity use”

      Define excessive, exactly – no B/S allowed, use real numbers.

      Envy everywhere … no wonder the greenies win all the time.

      As for the Finnish speeding fine – one law for the imputed rich, another for others. Putrid. Roll on Brexit.

      • Ian Mackenzie says:

        What Smith suggested, flat rate to triple average consumption then a steep sliding scale. Not radical – less so than the tax scale for instance, which has a tax-free threshold.

        With only 10% support, the Greenies don’t win, unless we fail to elect a government. In a democracy, the result is always our fault.

        Finnish speed limits are the same law for all. Its the penalties which vary. Those laws have no impact on the UK, except for UK citizens driving in Finland. Brexit will make no difference to that.

        • Christopher Saitta says:

          I am not too concerned about the little Finnish businessman with his little speeding ticket to be honest. Personally I find it laughable that a businessman, that is so wealthy, would although himself to be fined such a ridiculous amount money.

          Anyway, I am more interested in the required infrastructure that needs to built for Elon Musk’s dreams?

          • Christopher Saitta says:

            Correction: Personally I find it laughable that a businessman, that is so wealthy would, although under the unknown circumstances, find himself to be fined such a ridiculous amount money.

          • Ian Mackenzie says:

            I’m not qualified to comment on the cost of Musk’s dreams. I would prefer not to have to contribute to paying for them, but I’m not optimistic.

            As to Finnish businessmen, I don’t think the circumstances were unknown – the law is clear, as is the potential penalty. The principle is merely the same Pavlovian behavior modification we apply ourselves. We try to change behavior by applying a penalty. The question just revolves around where to draw the line. Apparently the Finns draw it a lot higher than we do. I imagine that it is quite effective.

  5. Christopher Saitta says:

    Well I suppose coming from a engineering trade background in Aircraft maintenance (likely more advanced than any standard university degree) that my opinion can be questioned, however feel free to ask engineers that specialize in electrical grid networks. I am confident that I am close enough on this.

    Also I have studied finance day and night for around 8 years (close to 16 years for the average joe) at university and within multinational banks.

    HAHA, I laugh because I can envisage what Trump would say if he was asked to build this infrastructure that isn’t required.

    • Christopher Saitta says:

      I suppose that I should disclose that I was told that our class would be the best of best on the planet, as far as commercial aircraft engineering is concerned. I could walk into a Lufthansa engineering facility tomorrow and I would make them all feel like 1st year apprentices on certain aircraft.

      • Christopher Saitta says:

        Perhaps asking a question to Aircraft engineers around the world might verify my experience and knowledge:

        So a what rough level of altitude does the BCC exchange with the TCC on a CF6-80C2?

        I think you would need to work in aviation engineering for like 20 or 30 years to answer such a question, if you can afford the subscription.

        • Christopher Saitta says:

          Perhaps my experience and knowledge is lacking in finance and banking though:

          Can anybody tell me what the Beta is for the stock BKP on the ASX?

  6. whitelaughter says:

    Good article. The contemptible ‘solutions’ offered should unite all against them, no matter what your thoughts on climate change.
    And consider the joy of unintended consequences!
    Rather than use air con, I’ve just being hosing my flat down – and the waste of water must be far worse that the piddling amount of power required to cool my small unit. In winter, those unable to rely on electricity for heat, light and cooking will be wise to consider simply burning their rubbish: producing far more gases than any other power source. These are obvious responses, but not considered by the control freaks making policy.