Friday, June 21, 2013

Obama's new obsession with the global warming myth

Barack Obama was visiting Berlin and at the Brandenburg Gate (which looked so ordinary to me a few years ago – relatively to my childhood – because no one is waiting there to shoot you anymore), he gave a speech urging the world to reduce nuclear weapons and... to combat climate change.

Our leaders before 1989 would surely be jealous if they saw how enthusiastically and uncritically the attendants of the rally were waving their parade sticks. But the reasons behind the difference are understandable: Obama is more charismatic and he probably more genuinely believes some of these left-wing delusions than our leaders in the years of late socialism did.

Nuclear reduction treaties are being signed often but the repetitive speeches suggest that they don't really mean much.

More seriously, the deluded anti-carbon policies may cripple the world economy. When we already thought that everyone agreed that this is a lost cause – there hasn't been any significant global warming for about 20 years and everyone seemed to agree that the plans to reduce carbon emissions have costs that beat any hypothetical benefits by many orders of magnitude (moreover the "benefits" are extremely likely to be negative by themselves) and that even climate alarmists have shifted from thinking about "mitigation" to plans of "adaptation", we see crackpots who happen to be top politicians at the same moment and who repeat the old debunked misconceptions again.

Obama boasts that the U.S. has doubled the production of power from "renewable" sources. It's fun but a detail to notice is that the U.S. has indeed done much more than typical large countries that have signed to the Kyoto protocol. America has increased the power from "renewable" sources and improved the fuel efficiency despite its absence from any major global anti-carbon hooray campaign. The increased efficiency wasn't the only goal or the main goal but the invisible hand of the free markets simply works – it is even more able to improve certain quantities than the (partially) planned economies can, including quantities that the (partially) planned economies are obsessed with.

Moreover, there are countries such as mine that have quintupled the production of power from "renewable" sources during the same period and that are producing many cars that are more fuel-efficient. And I could even boast the reduction of CO2 emissions relatively to the late 1980s – but that would be a demagogy because everyone should know that this decrease had nothing to do with our "good will" to fight global warming and everything to do with the inefficiency of communism that ended in 1989.

At the same moment, we have also acquired a much deeper understanding for the fact that this campaign was a major mistake. Even Al Gore now admits that the support for the biofuels was a major mistake but it will take some more time for everyone to agree that the subsidies for all ludicrous sources of energy have been a mistake. Our lawmakers are already eliminating subsidies for all of them – especially the photovoltaic plants, in our case. They are – as much as other laws and treaties allow them – trying to retroactively impose extra fees on those who have been making an undeserved and undeservedly guaranteed profit from these deeply uneconomic and misled policies.

What will the crackpot Barack Obama actually try to do if he wants to walk the dangerous walk and not just talk the stupid talk (about the harsher planet expecting his grandchildren blah blah blah)?

The Christian Science Monitor and many other outlets talk about his desire to shut down "hundreds of existing coal plants". These media discuss the need to convince whole regions of the U.S. that depend on coal plants to behave suicidally and allow the Feds to literally destroy a crucial segment of their economies. CS Monitor advises Obama to visit the states between Wyoming and Kentucky, act as a messiah, and this will guarantee that Democratic and perhaps even Republican lawmakers will back the recommended suicidal policies. The worst fact about this plan is that it could actually work.

That's one side of the equation. The other side of the equation are the consumers of the electricity. I can't understand how the U.S. may do well if hundreds of power plants are abruptly shut down. We're told that in whole regions, coal produces 1/2 of the energy.

In Europe, we have many countries and one of them may suddenly get a little bit crazy and shut down the power plants of some kind. Even if a large country such as Germany does such a thing, it doesn't really destroy the system because the existing grid is marginally enough for Germany to import the bulk of the electricity it needs from other countries that didn't get crazy at the same moment. For example, Czechia is an energy exporter most of the time. It may export much more than it was exporting in the past if that's necessary. There are other neighbors that would probably behave rationally if Germany began to behave truly irrationally so the whole region would be doing mostly fine.

But if the U.S. really wants to shut down an important fraction of its power plants, where will it import the power from? If I don't count places like Canada ;-), the U.S. occupies a large fraction of North America. There are no Czechias hiding in the corners that could inject the badly needed power (and common sense) when the whole America (starting from the White House) gets crazy.

To a large extent, it is paradoxical that Barack Obama gave the speech in Berlin because despite the occasional anti-global-warming talk we hear from Germany, Germans remain mostly rational. The Daily Mail has told us that some German government officials demanded other EU countries to loosen their requirements for CO2 car emissions (allow higher CO2 emissions). If the countries won't start to eliminate this heritage from the worst years of the climate hysteria, Germany may stop the expansion of the German carmakers' car production in those countries and maybe reduce the existing one, too. This suggests that at least in some respects, countries like the U.K., France, and Italy have gotten more carbon-hysterical than Germany.

You may see that at least in individual industries, people are starting to realize that the plan to regulate CO2 emissions is a pernicious idea that should be abandoned. But the transportation doesn't offer just a negligible fraction of the man-made CO2 emissions; it is responsible for about a fifth. Other industries that produce CO2 are doing so for a good reason, too.

In different countries, regions, and industries, different processes that lead to the CO2 emissions are differently represented. Any attempt to impose carbon fees or carbon taxes or any other genre of carbon harassment asymmetrically will lead to increasingly violent clashes between the nations, between the regions, between the industries and companies, between all the people. Everyone can feel that carbon regulation is a very harmful policy when it comes to the activities that he won't be allowed to do freely anymore, activities that are important for his or her own well-being. Everyone can be less sensitive when it comes to the other people's interests. But the former cases should be enough for everyone to agree that all CO2 regulation should be abandoned.

And that's the memo.

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