Crank of the Week – August 2, 2015 – Hillary Clinton
Finally giving a more or less straight answer to a question—perhaps a first for Ms. Clinton's presidential champagne—Hillary has come down in favor of the President's new “Clean Energy Plan.” According to a web posting, Hillary said “You don’t have to be a scientist to take on this urgent challenge that threatens us all. You just have to be willing to act.” In other words, don't bother to understand the science or the possible ramifications, just trust me! Interesting that during the same week she refused to answer a question about the Keystone Pipeline, saying she wouldn't comment while the Obama administration was still weighing its decision. What a cop out.
Proclaiming Climate change an urgent challenge that threatens all of us, we are asked to stand with Hillary. “Climate change is real,” she says, “we need to address it, not deny it.” Really? While it's true that Earth's climate is changing (it is always changing) that is not the question here. The question is whether humans are the primary cause of current change and, even more importantly, is that change a real threat to humanity. If you answer those questions in the affirmative there is a next question that is just as pertinent: will the steps outlined by Hillary, and by extension Barrack Obama, do anything to affect that change?
Let's look at that last point first, will the steps outlined by Hillary and Barrack have an impact on projected global warming. The following analysis comes from noted climate scientist Judith Curry:
It has been estimated that the U.S. INDC of 28% emissions reduction by 2025 will prevent 0.03°C in warming by 2100. It has been estimated that the U.S. INDC of 80% emissions reduction by 2025 will prevent 0.11°C warming by 2100. And these estimates assume that climate model projections are correct; if the climate models are over sensitive to CO2, then amount of warming prevented will be even smaller.
Bottom line, whatever else can be said about this “plan” it will not noticeably reduce global warming as predicted by the IPCC's models. What Hillary proposes will at best reduce temperature rise by one twentieth of a degree in a century. The counter claim is that the US will be leading the world by example. The rest of the world will look on dumbfounded as the greatest economic powerhouse the world has ever seen effectively castrates itself. They may laugh, but they damn sure won't follow.
Nonetheless, Hillary has at least publicly drunk the green Kool-Aid. Her website, “Taking on the global threat of climate change,” states: As the first pillar of her comprehensive energy and climate agenda, Hillary will set two bold national goals. Here are the goals.
- Have more than half a billion solar panels installed across the country by the end of Hillary's first term.
- Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America within 10 years of Hillary taking office.
Supposedly, these goals are a critical next step toward making America a clean energy superpower and combatting <sic> climate change. “That is why Hillary will make it a top priority to fight efforts to roll back crucial tools in our national strategy to reduce carbon pollution, increase deployment of renewable energy, and build a clean energy future,” the site effuses. Here is her principle claim.
Through these goals, we will increase the amount of installed solar capacity by 700% by 2020, expand renewable energy to at least a third of all electricity generation, prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks each year, and put our country on a path to achieve deep emission reductions by 2050.
Let's examine that plan and compare it with the goals above. First, here is the breakdown of US energy sources from 2014 as reported by the Energy Information Agency (EIA). Note that this is based on total energy consumption, not just electrical generation.
As you can see, 10% of US energy comes from renewables, but that is a bit misleading. Of that 10%, biomass accounts for 50% and hydroelectric another 26%. This means that all the other green feel-good stuff accounts for only 24% of the 10% renewables total. That's just 2.4% of the overall total. In fact, solar alone accounts for only 4% of renewables or 0.4% of the national total.
So, if we take Hillary's goal of expanding installed solar capacity by 700% by 2020, that would only expand solar to 2.1% of the national total. This is a long way from powering every home in America. Even if other forms of renewable energy are expanded to be a third of the national total how does that accomplish the stated goals? In other words, Hillary's plan is not only unworkable and ill advised, it is innumerate—her numbers just don't work.
As for the fatuous claims of improvements in health, asthma in particular, those are totally false. CO2 at atmospheric concentrations has absolutely nothing to do with asthma. Atmospheric CO2 presently sits at 400 ppm, or 0.04%. That’s the air we breath in, the air we breathe out has a carbon dioxide level of 4% or 40,000 ppm. If carbon dioxide triggers asthma there is not a thing we can do about it except to stop breathing altogether. You would think that she would try to come up with some new lies of her own, Hillary is both deceitful and unimaginative.
The other health lie is that extreme weather will kill more people. Extreme weather is dominated by natural climate variability, not the overall global average temperature. This is particularly true in the US, where extreme weather was substantially worse in the 1930’s and 1950’s. Even NOAA and the IPCC admit that drought, floods, tornadoes and tropical storms have not increased in recent decades despite constantly rising CO2 levels. Extreme weather events are not increasing with increased CO2.
Add to the unworkability of her pie-in-the-sky goals these fictitious claims of defeating dread global warming and improving health, and we arrive at one of two conclusions—this plan is either the work of scientifically illiterate, delusional individuals, or the whole thing is a sham to attract green (which is to say liberal) voters. On further consideration, it is probably both delusional and a sham.
Other things she vows to do is to keep more rational minded people in the Congress from rolling back the clean power plan (which is not even in effect yet), subsidize solar panels for the poor, and start a Solar X-Prize. We will leave the Obama energy plan for another day, but think for a minute about subsiding the installation of solar cells in poor areas—in most big city slum areas they can't even keep the streetlights working or people from stealing the copper out of A/C units and they are going to install a bunch of solar panels on the roofs of housing projects? And do we really need a national science fair contest for solar “entrepreneurs” like those who have given us Solyndra, Desert Sunlight, and all those spam emails promising to give your home free power? This is truly liberal detachment from reality on a monumental scale.
Let us call this plan what it is: a cynical bid for green votes from one of the least likable presidential candidates since Richard Nixon. It is an unworkable fix to a problem we do not have, proposed by a politician that neither understands nor gives a shit about climate change. So, for such a spectacular display of self-serving political pandering this Crank of the Week is all yours—Hillary Clinton, green opportunist par excellence.