Large numbers of my friends and acquaintances are climate skeptics, and many of them spend a good deal of their time feeling down in the dumps about the subject. Their reasoning goes something like this: Here we have something that should immediately be identified as baloney by any thinking person. And yet thousands and millions of people seem to have fallen for it. And not just random people, but people seemingly among the elites of society -- academics and journalists and government bureaucrats. Most of the media function as propaganda bullhorns to spread the idiocy. The forces of hysteria have commandeered tens of billions of annual dollars of government funding to pay for their program and spread their message, drowning out and suppressing any opposition. Their program calls for taking away everyone's freedom and impoverishing the populace with higher costs for energy. And yet the program seems to be getting adopted everywhere!
How could a sane person not get depressed about this? Easy! Over on the other side of this issue, we have a secret weapon. The secret weapon is that the supposedly carbon-free energy sources -- or, at least, those supposedly carbon-free energy sources that are acceptable to environmentalists (meaning wind and solar and definitely not nuclear and hydro) -- don't work. Even worse, wind and solar are not even carbon-free, because it takes large amounts of carbon-based energy to make the turbines or panels or whatever. Put these two problems together, and governments that try to reduce their carbon emissions by heavily subsidizing wind and solar quickly hit a wall where energy prices for the masses soar through the roof even as the carbon emissions don't go down. You won't find the New York Times or Washington Post reporting on this, but it's getting harder and harder not to notice.
Let's take a closer look at Germany, which has been the source of quite a bit of news on this subject in the past few days. On first take Germany would seem more than any place else to be the biggest cause of your depression. "Transitioning" from fossil fuel energy to wind and solar has been the signature issue for Chancellor Angela Merkel for more than a decade, and as of this moment she seems to be cruising to victory in the election coming up on Sunday. But don't get the idea that it would make any difference if one of the other candidates or parties managed to defeat Merkel, because there is no political party in Germany of any size or consequence that offers dissent on the "climate change" issue. The entire country has fallen into the mass hysteria! (Has anything like that ever happened before in Germany? Don't ask!) Germany has moved aggressively to cut its carbon emissions, and was a leader in the 2015 Paris negotiations in making aggressive promises of emissions reductions and in strong-arming other countries, including the United States, to commit to aggressive reduction targets. Germany is part of the EU commitment to 40% emissions reductions (from 1990 levels) by 2030, and in addition has its own internal goals of reaching the 40% reduction by 2020 (coming right up!) and 95% reduction by 2050. Impressive!
OK, that's the fantasy. How about in the real world? From Jamie Horgan in The American Interest, September 20, "Germany Will Miss Another Green Goal":
Berlin’s grand green energy transition is falling short of the lofty targets that inspired it. Earlier this month, the think tank Agora Energiewende released a report that projected Germany would fall well short of its goal to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions—far shorter than was previously believed. Berlin had committed to cutting 40 percent of its GHG emissions by 2020 as compared to 1990 levels, but as that year looms large, the country has achieved a reduction of “just” 28 percent (a remarkable decrease, though nowhere close to the target), and it’s expected to only shave off another 2 or 3 percent over the next few years. Now, a new study from the BEE renewable energy group suggests that the country is going to fall short of its Brussels-set target of sourcing 18 percent of its energy production from renewables by 2020.
Good job to Horgan for publicizing this, but he's still getting taken in when he says that Germany's existing emissions reduction of 28% below 1990 levels is "a remarkable decrease." No, it isn't. That 1990 date was intentionally picked by Germany to scam the rest of the world. 1989 is the year the Berlin Wall fell. Over the next decade and a half, the Germans shuttered essentially all of the inefficient Soviet-era heavy industry in East Germany. Germany picked the 1990 start date so that it could take credit for those reductions that would have happened anyway and pretend that this had something to do with saving the planet.
Here is a chart of Germany's year-by-year greenhouse gas emissions changes since 1990. Source: CleanEnergyWire.
You will quickly see that Germany hit the emissions reduction wall around 2010. Since then, its emissions have actually increased in 4 of the 7 years. Multiply out the changes since 2009, and you will find that Germany's emissions at the end of 2016 were 99.79% of the level they had had at the end of 2009. This, despite the fact that 2010 was the year they passed the so-called "Energiewende" law. That's some "energy transition" -- 0.21% emissions reduction in seven years!
How could things be going so badly? Among other things, Germany caved to environmentalists in deciding to eliminate nuclear power after the 2011 tsunami at Fukushima in Japan. Nuclear power emits no CO2. Wind and solar don't work, at least much of the time. So, what's left? Coal! From Bloomberg News, September 21, "How Merkel’s Green Energy Policy Has Fueled Demand for Coal":
By 2030, the eastern German town of Poedelwitz will likely be razed to get at the rich veins of coal beneath its half-timbered houses. The reason: Chancellor Angela Merkel’s effort to steer Germany toward greener energy, which has unexpectedly meant booming demand for dirty coal. . . . “This is unparalleled destruction of the environment,” says Jens Hausner, a farmer who has seen 17 of his 20 hectares consumed by digging equipment that looks like something out of a Mad Max movie. In a bit more than a decade, the hulking machines are expected to claw through the town’s 13th-century church and 40 or so remaining homes.
I like the part about "unexpectedly." Can anybody in Germany do basic arithmetic? Apparently not. And what about the cost?
Germany has spent some 650 billion euros ($780 billion) on subsidies for green power in recent decades. But the country will at best get to 30 percent by 2020, according to Berlin climate researcher Agora Energiewende. Emission reductions “won’t be a near miss but a booming failure,” Agora researchers write.
Even in a country with a GDP of almost $3.5 trillion per year, that $780 billion of "green" energy subsidies is real money.
Germany's stated goals of emissions reductions are just fantasies. They will not be achieved, but meanwhile the prices that their people pay for electricity and gasoline and heating oil will soar. (Germany's residential electricity prices are already about triple the U.S. average.) Same for California, and New York, and anybody else who tries a comparable strategy. As of now, you aren't reading much about the magnitude of the disaster, but it is truly a disaster. The story can't be suppressed forever. Be optimistic!