Memo To: Howard Dean, presidential contender
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Tilting at Windmills
Every week or so I check your website to see if you have improved your position on the economic policies you would pursue in the White House. Nothing much has changed lately on that score, but now I find you have embraced the idea of using “wind power” to cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide mankind is spewing into the troposphere with his (and her) gas guzzling SUVs. My recommendation is that you take some time off the campaign trail to smell the roses and forget about “global warming” as a pressing problem. And especially ditch the idea of windmills. Let Ralph Nader have that coo-coo Greenie vote.
Here, Dr. Dean, are a few items that have recently come to my attention. I suggest you and your staff take a gander. The first is a cheery column by the politically incorrect Jeremy Clarkson of the Sun, the U.K.’s best-selling newspaper. (Hint: It runs photos of naked ladies on Page 3 every day.) The second is by Fred Singer, written as a letter to the editor of The Wall Street Journal on the subject of “McLieberman,” i.e., the cross between Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman, both of whom have been spewing CO2 into the Senate chamber recently. Singer, a climatologist who has a PhD in physics, knows even more about global warming than Ralph Nader does, and has a better sense of humor too. PS: Have someone on your staff calculate how much CO2 has spewed into the troposphere in Southern California these past few weeks. I’ll bet more than all the CO2 of all the motor vehicles on earth for the last few years. No kidding.
Saturday, October 4, 2003
All hiss and wind
By Jeremy Clarkson
An announcement this week that Britain is poised to get an enormous new wind farm in the Lake District will bring glee and joy to the land.
Twenty-seven 400ft turbines will stand proud and tall over this area of outstanding natural beauty.
A recent survey found that 82 per cent of people like the idea of wind power, believing it to be filled with pine-fresh, dew-kissed, morning goodness. And what's more, because Britain is the windiest country in Europe, the very air itself is enough to bring clean 'n' green light 'n' warmth to everyone's home, for all of eternity.
Well forgive me for undoing my flies and urinating all over your eco-friendly bonfire with its scented logs, but have you ever actually heard one of these windmills at full tilt?
It sounds like someone is feeding five million volts through the Grateful Dead's speaker stack. I'd rather live next door to a home for demented dogs.
And it gets worse. Britain currently has 1,030 windmills which between them provide enough electricity to power 386,000 homes. So one windmill can only handle 375 houses.
To provide enough electricity for 22million houses, you'd need 58,000 windmills. And that's before you get to the factories and the shops and the businesses. And where are all these damn things going to be built? In the windiest parts of Britain? Well you can kiss goodbye to all the beauty spots then.
Many, it's said, will be built offshore, which is fine, but not what you'd call cheap. In fact, your electricity bill is going to look like the quote for rebuilding Iraq.
If you don't believe me, go to Germany. In the last five years, since the Green Party won a slice of the government, 14,000 windmills have sprouted out of the Fatherland.
You honestly cannot move for them. They are quite literally everywhere. And now the whole country is starting to say: "Hang on ein minute. This isn't really working."
Because electricity generated by a windmill is so expensive, the government has to pay massive subsidies just to keep them going.
And new laws have been introduced forcing the power companies to buy some of their electricity from the wind farms. Even the German bird lovers are up in arms - and it's not surprising. The chances of a sparrow being able to fly across Germany without being minced are nil.
Talk to Germans about the new white blight on their landscape and you always get the same answer. "WHAT? YOU'LL HAVE TO SPEAK UP. I can't hear you above that Godawful drone."
So what is the answer then?
Well Iceland claims it has enough geothermal activity to power the whole of Western Europe for a thousand years. All we need is to build some pylons from Scotland to Reykjavik . . . oh, hang on a minute, that's 900 miles across the roughest seas in the northern hemisphere.
Well I suppose we could burn coal and gas. It's cheap. It's easy. It's efficient. And you don't have to sit around in the dark, freezing your nuts off every time the wind drops.
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McLieberman Bill Unsupported By Science: Voted Down by Senate
Letter to Wall Street Journal 10/31/2003
By S Fred Singer
Senator John McCain's rosy economic appraisal (op-ed, 10/30) of his Climate Stewardship Act (S.139), co-sponsored with Joseph Lieberman, is not supported by the facts. Even if this energy-rationing scheme were to cost households only an improbable "$20 a year" (or about $2 billion a year, instead of many times as much - according to most other estimates), its benefits are essentially zilch. It would hardly influence atmospheric greenhouse gases and certainly not the climate. No dispute about that.
According to independent, non-partisan analyses, McLieberman, which would require mandatory reductions of carbon dioxide, would eliminate jobs, dramatically increase electricity prices, and impose significant burdens on the poor, the elderly, and minorities, all the while doing nothing for the environment.
Mr. McCain is also off-base when he claims a scientific consensus; I will therefore expand on my testimony delivered to his Senate committee. His authority, the Summary of the UN-IPCC science panel report (but not the report itself), bases its conclusion about existence of human-induced global warming on three major claims. Although widely publicized, none of them pass muster; they have been or are being disproved by actual data.
* The IPCC claim, that the climate is currently warming, is based solely on surface thermometer data. It is contradicted not only by superior observations from weather satellites but also by independent data from radiosondes carried on weather balloons. In addition, proxy (non-thermometer) data from tree rings, ice cores, etc. confirm that there is no current warming.
* The IPCC claim that the 20th century was the warmest in the past 1000 years is based entirely on a misuse of such proxy data. Two Canadian scientists have just published a detailed audit that exposes a shocking set of errors; it permits anyone to independently verify their counter-claim.
Note that even if these two IPCC claims were valid, they would not by themselves prove a human cause; the warming could well be a natural climate fluctuation of the kind frequently observed in the past.
* The third IPCC claim is that climate models which incorporate the observed increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases can accurately reproduce the temperature record of the past 100 years. That assertion is inaccurate. True, the models employ enough adjustable parameters to mimic the global average temperature. But once the record is econstructed according to latitude and altitude, any agreement with model results disappears.
Thus, human-induced climate warming, although expected from greenhouse theory, appears to be difficult to demonstrate and is likely to remain insignificant in comparison to natural variations of the climate. In any case, even its sponsors agree that McLieberman would have an unmeasurable effect on atmospheric carbon-dioxide and climate. And its economic burden and impact on jobs are certainly much greater than its supporters maintain. All in all, it is a bad deal.
The Senate was on target in 1997, during the Clinton administration, when it passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution against a similar proposal - by unanimous vote. Yesterday's vote of 55 to 43 against S.139 does not represent a shift in opinion so much as a "freebie" for senators willing to cater to environmental pressure groups. It is certainly ironic that the bill would have committed the U.S. to ration energy use unilaterally at a time when Russia has all but killed the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
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S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and former director of the US Weather Satellite Service. He authored Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming's Unfinished Debate.