Is wood the best fuel to generate electricity? Despite wood’s low energy density and high cost, utilities in the US and abroad are switching from coal to wood to produce electrical power. The switch to wood is driven by regulations from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other international organizations. These regulations are based on the false assumption that burning wood reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
Wood has never been a major fuel source for electrical power. In 1882, when Thomas Edison built the first power plant in New York at Pearl Street Station, he used coal to fire the plant. A switch to wood is not going back in time; it is adopting a fuel that was regarded as inferior at the dawn of the electrical age.
Pound for pound, wood contains less energy and is more expensive than other fuels. A 2008 study conducted at the Rapids Energy Center plant in Minnesota found that, compared to coal, more than twice the mass of wood was required to produce the same electrical output. A 2008 study by the UK House of Lords concluded that electricity from biomass was more than twice the cost of electricity from coal or natural gas. Nevertheless, an increasing number of electrical power plants are switching from coal to low-energy-density and high-cost wood fuel.
This irrational behavior is driven by the EPA, the US Department of Energy, the European Union, the California Air Resources Board, and other world organizations that assume that biomass fuel is “carbon neutral.” Biomass-fired plants receive carbon credits, tax exemptions, and subsidies from promoting governments.
When burned, biomass emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere like any other combustion. A 2012 paper by Synapse Energy Economics estimated that burning biomass emits 50 to 85 percent more CO2 than burning coal since the energy content of biomass is lower than coal relative to its carbon content.
The “carbon neutral” concept originated in a 1996 Greenhouse Gas Inventory paper from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of the United Nations. The IPCC assumed that, as biofuel plants grow, they absorb CO2 equal to the amount released when burned. If correct, substitution of wood for coal would reduce net emissions.
But a 2011 opinion by the European Environment Agency pointed to a “serious error” in greenhouse gas accounting. The carbon neutral assumption does not account for CO2 that would be absorbed by the natural vegetation that grows on land not used for biofuel production. Substitution of wood for coal in electrical power plants is actually increasing carbon dioxide emissions.
Nevertheless, governments have adopted the “carbon neutral” assumption and continue to promote biomass as a substitute for coal. As a result, nations and utilities are not required to count their CO2 emissions from biomass combustion.
In July, Dominion Virginia Power completed conversion of its Altavista Power Station to biomass fuel, the first of three planned facility conversions at a total cost of $165 million. The change was lauded as a method to “help to meet Virginia’s renewable energy goal.” Virginia citizens paid for the conversion and will pay higher electricity bills in the future.
The Altavista station and other biomass plants claim to be using “waste” fuel that would otherwise be going into landfills. But according to the DOE, 65 percent of US biomass-generated electricity comes from wood and 35 percent from waste.
Finding sources of wood to feed ravenous power plants is not easy. The small wood-fired EJ Stoneman power plant in Cassville, Wisconsin is rated at 40 megawatts. Each day it burns 1,000 tons of wood delivered by 30 different suppliers. The 100-megawatt Picway power plant in southern Ohio considered a conversion to biomass, but could not secure a good wood supply. Picway will be shut down in 2015 when tougher EPA emission regulations take effect.
Following President Obama’s direction, the EPA plans to impose CO2 emission limits on existing power plants, requiring the shuttering of US coal-fired power stations. In 2012, 37 percent of US electricity was produced from coal, with only 1.4 percent produced from biomass. Without some common sense about CO2 emissions, look for expanded efforts to cut down US forests to feed a growing number of biomass plants.
The height of eco-madness is the conversion of the Drax Power Station in the United Kingdom from coal to wood fuel. Drax is the largest power plant in Europe, generating up to 3,960 megawatts of power from 36,000 tons of coal per day, delivered by 140 trains every week. In order to “reduce emissions” at Drax, more than 70,000 tons of wood will be harvested every day from forests in the US and shipped 3,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Britain.
Conversion of the Drax facility will cost British citizens £700 million ($1.1 Billion) and the new wood-fired electricity will cost double or triple the cost from coal. Drax Group plc will receive a subsidy of over £1 billion ($1.6 billion) per year for this green miracle.
[Originally published in The Washington Times]
If you are looking for a book that will fully explain why affordable, reliable energy is absolutely crucial to our social and economic well-being, Energy Freedom by Marita Littauer Noon is the book for you. This is truly one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a very long time.
I am not alone in my assessment.
John Fund, columnist for the Wall Street Journal, said of this book, “Even people who have no idea where the electricity that lights their home or gas that cooks their meals comes from will find Energy Freedom a clear, understandable primer on why we all have to care about energy.”
“Marita Noon’s Energy Freedom documents both the role energy plays in the exercise of American freedom and the efforts by some to subvert that freedom through restricting its supply,” said Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. Senator Harrison Schmitt.
Both these men are entirely correct.
Progress Through Energy Advances
In a thorough but very readable narrative, Noon explains how and why so many people work to bring us affordable energy. She also lifts the veil on the dark side of energy politics, where anti-energy extremists pull out all the stops to restrict energy production and consumers’ energy use. Indeed, she slays the “green” monster that warps the thinking of some of the most intelligent people in politics, and she explains how government regulation and red tape have prevented access to so many of our vast natural resources
Noon details how life would be with only electric cars and limited transportation, comparing it to the pre-1920s when Americans rode on horseback. Sure, there were no direct carbon dioxide emissions from transportation (other than horses’ breathing), but each horse required five acres of hay and oats to feed it, and the horses left piles of manure on city streets which created great stench and spread disease. The unintended environmental and health impacts of conventional energy substitutes may have changed over the years, but they remain in one form or another, regardless of how environmental activists choose to frame the issue.
Noon describes an environmental dystopia where the medicines that have helped double our life spans in the past century would be drastically curtailed by reduced availability of cheap energy.
Noon understands and agrees that we all want a green earth—clean air, fresh water, and a safe food supply—but restricting energy use and blocking technological progress are not good ways to achieve it. We have made huge environmental strides since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. Despite dramatic increases in population, economic production, electricity generation, transportation miles, etc., U.S. aggregate emissions are less than half of what they were just a few decades ago.
When someone on a street corner or in front of a grocery store asks us to sign a petition to stop plans for a new power plant or some other natural resource project, we ought to remember the larger implications of the environmental utopia they seek, Noon notes.
Unmasking Environmental Extremists
She pulls no punches in linking today’s environmental zealots to the authoritarian leftists of the early and mid-twentieth century. Noon gives full documentation why many people correctly refer to today’s environmental activist groups as “watermelons”—green on the outside, red (Communist) underneath. She quotes George Will explaining, “today’s green left is the old red revised…. The left exists to enlarge the state’s supervision of life, narrowing the individual choices in the name of the collective good.”
Noon provides support for her points with detailed case studies, such as the nefarious ways of the seemingly innocuous Humane Society. Noon gives readers all the information we need to find and read the detailed case studies ourselves, which is a huge plus.
Noon also provides excellent information and data on the most dangerous environmental groups, such as their astonishing net worth. For example, the World Wildlife Fund, which is number three on the list, has a net worth of $426 million. Collectively, numbers two through 10 on the list are worth $2.6 trillion. The number one group on the list, the Nature Conservancy, is worth more than $5 trillion. Even groups ranking relatively low on the list have astonishing resources at their command. The number 7 group, the Natural Resources Defense Council, is worth $232 million. Number 8, Environmental Defense, is worth $145 million.
Topics that Stand Out
The book does an excellent job slaying misconceptions on many energy-related topics, and a few deserve special praise. Noon emphatically and persuasively documents the farce of “free” solar energy. She meticulously explains the absurdity of burning crops to make ethanol and biofuels, documenting the vast amounts of land and resources required to divert our food supply into fuel.
Providing context for energy-related environmental hoaxes, Noon succinctly conveys the deadly historical effects that followed the false DDT claims. She also documents the tragic economic toll on northwestern U.S. communities resulting from efforts to save the non-endangered spotted owl. Far greater economic costs are being imposed on the United States and western democracies in the name of fighting a nonexistent global warming problem.
Energy Freedom is both a thorough book and an easy read. It will make a great Christmas stocking stuffer.
Investigative reporter Chuck Goudie notes that what the U.S. Census Bureau began in 1790 as a straight head-count has morphed into a massive data-collection effort on the living habits of Americans. And know this: If you see a copy of the “American Community Survey” in your mailbox, the answers are not voluntary.
Answering is mandatory, and a Census Bureau employee will show up at your door and harass you into answering — at least by the account of one of subjects of this story. He called the persistent efforts of the government to learn about the daily habits of him and his family “incredibly creepy.”
ABC7 reached out to The Heartland Institute to talk about the American Community Survey (ACS) and our Steve Stanek was happy to oblige. He’s featured in the video below.
Over the years, the Census Bureau has been demanding more and more information way beyond how many people live in your house.
Among the questions your government insists some quarter of a million Americans answer each month:
- What time do you leave for work?
- How many bedrooms are in your house?
- Do you have a flush toilet?
- Does a mental condition impact your ability to shop?
The fine for not answering the government’s questions is $5,000. One wonders how, in a free society, merely wanting to be left alone subjects a middle-class family to forfieting a month’s pay. Oh, yeah. I remember now. The steady march of leftism.
BTW: The government assured ABC7 that all the data they collect is “encrypted and could never get into the wrong hands.” Sure. Just ask some Tea Party groups around the country what they think of that promise. Also check back in a few weeks with the poor saps who entered their personal information into the federal government’s Obamacare site.
Goudie’s report mentions that all this prying Census information is available for free to any American who would like to look at it — including businesses trying to craft better marketing plans. That’s supposed to make us feel better about it? Didn’t work on Heartland’s Steve Stanek, who said:
If it’s useful for business, business ought to pay for that. They should not use the American taxpayer to get information from them.
Goudie closes by noting that scammers are out there knocking on doors pretending to be from the Census Bureau and following up on this mandatory survey — and stealing personal financial information in the process. Of course. Criminals want a Merry Christmas, too.
This story makes me think of that quip from Ronald Reagan:
The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m here from the government, and I’m here to help.”
Watch below a report on what your friendly, neighborhood Bureaucrat-Man is up to these days:
During a symposium held recently at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yale historian Tim Snyder told the attendees: “Climate change acts as a “multiplier of other resource crises leading to “the ecological panic that I’m afraid will lead to mass killings in the decades come.”
In his attempt to predict the future, he is relying on historic resource crises that have led to mass killings, revolts, invasions, and famines. However, almost all of those resource crises came during the earth’s “little ice ages,” not during our planet’s warm cycles. (Neither Hitler nor Mao Tse Tung was driven by resource crises; Japan may have thought it was, but its invasion of China cost a terrible price.)
On the whole, the warmings have been the good times. The long summers, sunny skies, and moderate rainfall in the Medieval Warming tripled human numbers around the globe, according to respected Medieval population scholar Josiah Russell. The long Roman Warming delivered similar benefits, with ample food and a massive increase in economic growth, trade, and prosperity.
The key resource crises have always been about food. It’s hard to grow much food if your farmers are beset by short, cold, cloudy summers, century-long droughts and violent, flooding storms. The six cultural collapses in Egypt’s famously fertile NileValley were all caused by centuries of too little rainfall in the Sudanese and Ethiopian highlands during the “little ice ages.” Half the Egyptians may have died in the resulting famines, and records say that parents literally ate their own children. That was truly a resource crisis!
The famed Bronze Age collapse occurred at 1200 BC because of a global stab of cold and storms. Roads turned to mud, and sea-storms sank ships. Making bronze required tin, and the ships could no longer safely reach the major tin mines in southern England, Turkey, and the Malay Peninsula. The Greeks, the Hittites in Turkey, the Egyptians, the Akkadian Empire in the Tigris-Euphrates valley, the Harappans in northwestern India, the steppe nomads on the grasslands across Eurasia, and several cultures in China all collapsed. For several centuries, famine ruled most of the populated world.
Dian Zhang calculates that 80% of China’s wars, rebellions, and failed dynasties have come during the floods, droughts, and famines of its “little ice ages.” What comparable “resource crises” does Dr. Snyder see in our globally warmed future?
The global computer models’ predictions have already failed. We have no reason to expect their predictions of sudden catastrophic warming to come true. Nor has the UN’s climate panel told its computers about the long, natural 1,500-year climate cycle. The Dansgaard-Oeschger cycle has afflicted humanity with eight “little ice ages” since the last Ice Age. However, it has also given us an equal number of warm, stable centuries-long warmings.
Humanity only began to rise above the “little ice age” famines as we began to develop high-yield farming, out of desperation, toward the end of the last Little Ice Age (AD 1200–1850). The new gang plow permitted cropping the heaviest, richest bottomlands for the first time. The mechanical seeder allowed planting in rows, so the crops could be weeded. The potato and tomato came from the New World. Turnips from China permitted a livestock feed crop after the grains were harvested.
History tells us that if we have food, the other resource crises can be handled. In the current Corn Belt drought, our grain and yields will still be about six times as high as during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. We have developed no-till farming during the intervening 80-plus years to protect the land from erosion when drought events happen. Our biggest recent mistake has been to put a sizeable percentage of our food crops into corn ethanol—so the U.S. drought will now drive up the costs of both food and fuel to excruciating levels.
Take the food out of our gas tanks and put it back on the table. Reinvigorate high-yield farming research. Our ancestors coped with the “resource crises” as long as they could eat.[Article originally on cfact.org]
The marketplace long ago provided what some in Congress now want to mandate.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller just introduced legislation, the “Consumer Choice in Online Video Act.”
It “aims to enable the ultimate a la carte – to give consumers the ability to watch the programming they want to watch, when they want to watch it, how they want to watch it, and pay for only what they actually watch.”
Mandating that video programming be bought and sold in one government proscribed manner is not consumer choice; it is old-fashioned rate regulation of video content and service.
The legislation incorrectly assumes that the hundred million American households who freely choose pay TV have no choice.
That the choice to view video free or for pay from either over-the-air broadcast, coax cable, DBS, fiber cable, copper cable, or over-the-top online video is somehow not choice.
That the choice of basic packages, premium packages, a la carte premium and sports channels, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or YouTube are not choices.
Consumer video choice already abounds in the marketplace!
Moreover, the video nirvana the legislation seeks already is a consumer choice in the market. The “ultimate a la carte” is exactly what Google-YouTube’s no-pay-TV business model is. Consumers don’t need a government mandate on everyone to get what they already can choose for themselves. No legislation needed.
Think about it. According to Google, YouTube has over a billion viewers viewing six billion hours of video each month. It claims to reach more 18-34 adult Americans than any U.S. cable network. And it boasts it has thousands of channels making six figures a year.
Relative to their nearest Internet video competitor, YouTube commands 21 times more U.S. videos viewed and 17 times more U.S. unique video viewers, per comScore.
Anyone immediately can upload most anything to YouTube without any review or authorization by anyone. They then can immediately offer it to the world and potentially earn advertising on who views it, unless users choose to skip their ads, which 75% of users do.
Also Google reports it has taken down 200 million pirated videos from YouTube in 2013 alone.
The other key attribute to YouTube being the “ultimate a la carte” video offering is that their “open” no curation policy. With no supervision or accountability, YouTube conducts business in ways that quality content producers cannot, and do not want to broadly associate with.
YouTube’s lowest video curation standards in the industry mean YouTube will host and advertise: age inappropriate, improper, indecent and illegal videos until someone other than Google objects.
Most quality brands need and want the choice to not affiliate with potential video choices of actual beheadings, sex trafficking of teenagers, or illegal drugs for sale.
What the recently announced legislation fails to recognize, is that in a competitive marketplace that produces the most demanded video content in the world, consumers are not the only ones with choice.
Content suppliers have distribution choices too. That’s how markets work. Supply meets demand where it is economic and good business to do so.
U.S. content creators can choose to sell their content to those who are most effective in protecting it, and to those who enable them to make a return on investment on their copyrighted property.
They can choose to not do business with those who do not provide an economic return; those who turn a blind-eye to piracy; or those who generally devalue their product in the marketplace. That’s choice-driven competition. And it’s made the American video programming market the envy of the world.
And America’s unmatched $1.2 trillion in private investment in competitive broadband facilities over the last fifteen years is also the envy of the world.
America’s competitive broadband marketplace allows for different companies to offer the choice of using different technologies in different ways to meet the varied needs, wants and means of America’s broadband consumers. That’s successful consumer-choice-driven competition.
So what about Chairman Rockefeller’s online video legislation? However well intentioned it may be, it is not pro-competition, but actually heavy-handed, unwarranted, implicit price regulation. It would profoundly distort the marketplace in several destructively uneconomic ways.
It would not promote competition based on economics and property; it would simply favor one type of business model over all others. That would foster competition for government favors, not competition for Americans’ business.
The legislation should repeal the obsolete 1992 Cable Act, because it incorrectly assumes that cable is a monopoly when nearly half of America’s video households, 46 million, get service from a cable competitor.
Specifically, it seeks to treat online video distributors, the way Congress treated DBS companies in 1992, with mandated program access. In 1992, DBS providers were completely new entrants facing a then effective cable monopoly.
Those market facts warranted government intervention to jumpstart competition. Today those market facts no longer exist.
Consider the primary beneficiaries of this legislation. They aren’t new entrants and they aren’t facing an effective monopoly.
First, Google-YouTube already has a billion viewers, is the third most valuable company, and generates $30b in gross annual profit. The other is Netflix, which is the largest video distributor by subscribers in the U.S., and which enjoys a stratospheric market valuation and a billion dollars in annual gross profit.
The legislation would effectively grant these two online video juggernauts, who consume half of the nation’s peak downstream bandwidth, with implicit, multi-billion dollar, bandwidth and content subsidies. That’s not competition. That’s corporate welfare for billionaires.
In sum, American consumers already enjoy the most unfettered video choice in the world.
This legislation perversely would destroy consumer video choice because it would destroy the sound and sustainable economics of the current vibrantly competitive video marketplace.
It nonsensically would force content producers and bandwidth providers to offer their products at prices and on terms where they could not earn any return on their investment.
Simply, government mandates naturally limit consumer choices. In contrast, market-based competition naturally promotes consumer choice.
Scott Cleland is Chairman of NetCompetition, a pro-competition e-forum supported by broadband interests and President of Precursor LLC, a research consultancy for Fortune 500 companies. Cleland served as Deputy U.S. Coordinator for International Communications & Information Policy in the George H. W. Bush Administration.
[Article originally posted on dailycaller.com]
When you consider that a bunch of global warming propagandists, the 19th Conference of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, to reduce “greenhouse gas” emissions has been meeting in Warsaw this month are still claiming that we are in the midst of global warming, you have a demonstration of how great a hoax has been perpetrated on the peoples of the world.
These people and the scientists who supplied the falsified and inaccurate climate models to support the global warming claims have committed a criminal fraud.
Bit by bit, the truth in the form of increasingly cold weather is causing people to wonder whether they are being duped. The media has either buried the stories of extraordinary cold events or continues to tip-toe around the truth.
An example is a recent Wall Street Journal article by Robert Lee Hotz,“Strange Doings on the Sun”, Hotz reported that “Researchers are puzzled. They can’t tell if the lull is temporary or the onset of a decades-long decline, which might ease global warming a bit by altering the sun’s brightness or the wavelengths of its light.”
After describing the fact that the Sun has entered a period of reduced sunspot activity, always a precursor to a cooling cycle and even an ice age, Dr. David Hathaway, head of the solar physics group at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, is quoted as saying “It may give us a brief respite from global warming, but it is not going to stop it.”
Plainly said, you cannot trust what government scientists have to say about global warming. The government’s policy since the late 1980s has been that global warming is real and poses a great threat to the Earth. What Dr. Hathaway and other “warmists” are desperately trying to ignore is the fact that the Earth entered a natural and predictable cooling cycle around 1997 or 1998. It has been cooling ever since!
In 1997 Robert W. Felix authored the definitive book on the coming ice age in his book, “Not by Fire, but by Ice.” It is still widely available. His website,IceAgeNow.info provides updated information on the many weather events around the world that demonstrate an ice age—whether it is a mini-ice age or a full-scale one—is occurring. Felix says that a major Ice Age, when it begins, will come on very swiftly.
One post on Felix’s website is about Victor Emanuel Velasco Herrera, a geophysicist at the University of Mexico, who predicts that the “Earth will enter a ‘Little Ice Age’ which will last from 60 to 80 years and may be caused by the decrease in solar activity.” You don’t have to be a geophysicist to figure out that less solar activity adds up to a colder Earth.
2014 is the year many scientists believe an ice age, “mini” or full-scale will begin. Herrera hedged his prediction saying that “with the mass production of current carbon dioxide (CO2) it is unlikely that we will see a major ice age like the one experienced 12,000 years ago.” Carbon Dioxide plays no role in warming the Earth. It is a very minor element of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The implications of an ice age, no matter how long or short, is its impact on the growing of crops to feed everyone. Dr. Tim Patterson of Canada’s Carleton University’s Department of Earth Sciences, in a May 18, 2007 article in the Calgary Times, wrote that satellite data “shows that by the year 2020 the next solar cycle is going to be solar cycle 25—the weakest one since the Little Ice Age (that started in the 13th century and ended around 1860)…should be a great strategic concern in Canada because nobody is farming north of us. In other words, Canada—the great breadbasket of the world—might not be able to grow grains in much of the prairies.” This prediction applies as well, of course, to the U.S. production of grains.
Other scientists have been sounding the alarm, predicting dramatic cooling to begin in the current decade. Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin, a Fellow of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, has noted that “Earth has passed the peak of its warmer period and a fairly cold spell will set in quite soon, by 2012, real cold will come when solar activity reaches its minimum, by 2041, and will last for 50-60 years or even longer.” While the years cited by scientists may differ, they are in agreement that we are looking at decades of cold.
In the years since the late 1980s when “global warming” was unleashed on the world as the greatest hoax of the modern era, billions have come to believe the Earth was threatened by greater warming cause by man-made “greenhouse gases” resulting from industrial and all other uses of fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. While carbon dioxide has, indeed, increased in the atmosphere, the truth is that the Earth has entered a cooling cycle and that it is on the cusp of very cold weather for decades. We could even cross over into a full-fledged Ice Age because one is overdue at this point in time.
You cannot depend on what the mass media tells you. They are hardwired to continue the global warming hoax. You can, however, educate yourself with books such as Robert Felix’s. You can use Google to find out more about ice ages. You can and should prepare yourself for changes in the Earth’s climate that will have vast impacts on the global economy and on the ability to grow enough crops to feed the world’s population.
[Originally published on Warning Signs]