Questions no one thinks to ask: Why, why, why? And what does it cost?

Sometimes I think that old journalistic imperative should be updated to: Who? What? When? Where? How? Why, why, why, why, why? And what’s it cost?

There’s a story in the local paper today — one of those follow-up thumb suckers to the news from a couple of days ago, in this case the collapse of the proposed solar power project by ENN Mojave Energy near Laughlin — offering the rather wishy-washy projection that the future of solar energy in Nevada is “mixed,” whatever that means.

The story never addresses why anyone is pushing solar power — to save the planet from global warming, of course — or what it would cost if it is built.

The story notes that Warren Buffett’s Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. is in the process of purchasing the state’s monopoly power company, NV Energy, and quotes some guy as saying. “You’ve seen him take a very progressive stance toward renewables.” You’ve also seen him take some very progressive stances on making money. And with the “NVision” plan foisted on ratepayers by our lawmakers in Carson City, Buffett could build any kind of power generation at any cost and be guaranteed to make a profit — sort of like those cost-plus contracts.

There appears to be one little flaw in the underlining premise: It is false. There is no global warming and there has been none for 16 years.

The U.K. newspaper the Mail, reports on data quietly released by the Met Office this past week:

“The world stopped getting warmer almost 16 years ago, according to new data released last week.

“The figures, which have triggered debate among climate scientists, reveal that from the beginning of 1997 until August 2012, there was no discernible rise in aggregate global temperatures.

“This means that the ‘plateau’ or ‘pause’ in global warming has now lasted for about the same time as the previous period when temperatures rose, 1980 to 1996. Before that, temperatures had been stable or declining for about 40 years.”

In fact, a Forbes magazine article quotes several scientists who say we may be headed into a mini ice age.

Speaking of cost, which hardly anyone ever does, according to calculations provided to Public Utilities Commission commissioners at a meeting earlier this year, various renewable energy and power efficiency programs dictated by law already account for nearly 12 percent of the cost of electricity in northern Nevada and about 8 percent in southern Nevada.

Like the editorialists at Investor’s Business Daily, I sometimes think we are living in a fantasy world of make-believe: “There’s no global warming dragon to slay. It has been as much a myth as any fire-breathing lizard from a children’s book.”

But we keep on paying those gallant knights. This week the Los Angles Times reports:

” The Obama administration is considering a sweeping initiative to address climate change, including the first-ever limits on carbon dioxide from power plants, the country’s biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions, according to people familiar with the discussions.”

It is enough to make one swoon.

35 comments on “Questions no one thinks to ask: Why, why, why? And what does it cost?

  1. Steve says:

    By the time we get to say “I told you so” the environmentalists will have invented another dragon which absolutely must be slain before it causes the end of the planet.

    Bet me?

  2. Thomas Mitchell says:

    No bet from me, Steve, because you are right.

    Oh yes, I forgot to mention the R-J’s Biz Press is running a “green” biz contest.

  3. nyp10025 says:

    I think you tried this statistical trick when you were editor of the R-J. You take an aberrently warm “El Nino” year — 1997 00and use that particular year as a baseline, and then compare it to an aberrently cool “EL Nina” year. Not very subtle, is it?

    In fact, the scientists at the UK’s Met Office issued a statement repudiating the Daily Mail story:
    “The linear trend from August 1997 (in the middle of an exceptionally strong El Nino) to August 2012 (coming at the tail end of a double-dip La Nina) is about 0.03°C/decade, amounting to a temperature increase of 0.05°C over that period, but equally we could calculate the linear trend from 1999, during the subsequent La Nina, and show a more substantial warming.
    “As we’ve stressed before, choosing a starting or end point on short-term scales can be very misleading. Climate change can only be detected from multi-decadal timescales due to the inherent variability in the climate system. Looking at successive decades over this period, each decade was warmer than the previous – so the 1990s were warmer than the 1980s, and the 2000s were warmer than both. Eight of the top ten warmest years have occurred in the last decade.”

    You simply ignore all this evidence Mr. Mitchell, because your libertarian ideology and odd fixation on fossile fuel extraction is somehow threatened
    by this evidence.

  4. Vernon Clayson says:

    The way the government keeps throwing this crap at us is to overload our senses, they aren’t confused, it’s a carefully conceived plan to keep us confused while they carry out the plan to transform the nation. When I say “they” it isn’t just Obama and his coterie, it’s also the Congress and the courts. It’s the entire federal government as a monolith on a roll. I watched part of the hearing this morning, high executives and military leaders spoke of great things in process and accomplished, no one asked them how an unaccomplished nerd like Snowden was allowed into this inner sanctum and how involved he was. Let’s say Snowden had a friend in high places that found this position for him, okay, it happens, but with his lack of education he couldn’t have joined the military under present standards, yet here he was, working with educated personnel, executives and military leaders. Something stinks in this productin and it isn’t Snowden.

  5. nyp10025 says:

    “a monolith on a roll”??
    I thought monolith had sharp corners.

    Or is he thinking of some kind of sandwich?

  6. Steve says:

    He is using an analogy. One that involves both a sandwich and a monolith.
    Here is one example, you don’t want to get in the way of this thing in action.

  7. nyp10025 says:

    So it’s both a floor wax and a dessert topping!

  8. nyp10025 says:

    Yup, there will always be a small minority of scientists dissenting from the overwhelming consensus that the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere through the use of fossil fuels is causing significant climate change.

  9. Steve says:

    Then there is this.

    Green plants make O2 from CO2. As slow as the process of climate change is, this greening will also have an effect. An effect in the opposite direction. And it cannot be ignored.

  10. nyp10025 says:

    Green plants make oxygen? Lean something new every day.

  11. Steve says:

    CO2 greens the planet, read the article and learn something else new, Nyp.

  12. There used to be scientific consensus about a lot of things that turned out wrong.

    The evidence is mounting.


  13. nyp10025 says:

    I am not sure about which subjects “there used to be scientific consensus … that turned out wrong.” At least, not in the modern era of science.

  14. Depends on what you mean by modern era, doesn’t it?


  15. Steve says:

    Modern era of science= the as yet unproven theory era of science.

  16. nyp10025 says:

    You guys would think that.

  17. Steve says:

    The greening of the planet due to human introduced CO2 is about proven and its modern.

    You guys simply don’t like it when your dragon is made less dangerous.

  18. Vernon Clayson says:

    Monolith as I used it means one large piece, it has nothing to do with a freaking sandwich or a freaking cube. The age of the earth is an unknown and so are temperature variances over those eons. Considering the age, immensity and heat of the sun that directly affects earth, man’s puny fiddling around is a fart in a windstorm, much like nyp’s commentary. It’s like water, the water here is the same supply that served the first squiggly thing that divided itself in the muck The clouds in the sky are a part of a water cycle that began before that, they will float there as close to forever as man can imagine. Speaking of muck, wet and dry spells come and go, nyp should take advantage of a dry spell and wiggle out of the liberal/progressive/socialist much, breathing in the few freedoms left would seem like life itself.

  19. Rincon says:

    The damn program must not like long Web addresses and wouldn’t let me type, so I’m continuing the above bombast, err…comment 🙂

    Using the fact that global warming has leveled off (NOT reversed at all!)for 8 years (not 16), is like a desert farmer throwing out his irrigation equipment because he had a few weeks of wet weather. Since a much greater aberration occurred from 1942-1979, this has essentially no impact on the global warming argument. Global warming does not eliminate all the other ups and downs of climate; it is merely superimposed on them.

    The basic problem is that we’re perfoming an experiment on the planet. We’ve already taken CO2 way higher than the Earth has seen in at least 800,000 years, and although we cannot be certain that the 98% of climatologists that agree that global warming is real and manmade, it is extremely risky to bet the farm that the other 2% are right. Fact is, NO ONE can be confident in EITHER scenario. The answer, as with most risk mitigation, is cheap insurance, not the ostrich approach.
    This is fron the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The NAS was created by Abraham Lincoln. Its members are elected by their peers to advise the government on all issues where the sciences are pertinent. Since you like going with minority opinion, I suggest you check into spiritual mediums, homeopathy, and crop circles, while you search for the Yeti, UFO’s, and the Loch Ness Monster.

  20. Did you ever stop and ask whether global warming might not be a good thing? More people die of cold than heat.


  21. Wendy Ellis says:

    A consensus is when a group of people decide where they will go for lunch. A consensus is what color members of a family decide to paint the house. There is nothing scientific about it. Scientists are trained (or at least I was), to observe, record, and analyze the data. But the first thing we are taught in statistical analysis is the Null Hypothesis: “There is no difference.” The global warming crowd skipped that basic rule, the purpose of which is to eliminate bias, and produce enough statistical evidence to lend credence to what you are trying to show.

    Scientists and experimenters have a natural tendency to pay more attention to data which support their idea, and ignore the data (or discount them), which do not support it. It is called bias, and is the reason for statistical analysis: to legitimately disprove (the data support your idea), or prove (the data do not support your idea), the Null Hypothesis.

    Because the earth’s climate has many years of history, it would take an enormous quantity of data to disprove the Null Hypothesis. The climate has always changed over eons of time; there have been warm times and ice ages. But one thing is sure:

    A whole lot more food can be produced during the warm periods.

  22. Steve says:

    Another thing is true, more CO2 makes a greener planet. It simply takes some time.

    What they hate is when their dragon is made less scary.

  23. Steve says:

    Hydro is bad for the environment.

    Small hydro is worse than big hydro. But Hydro is bad for the environment. Go figure.

  24. Wendy Ellis says:

    Below are two in a series of some very basic statistical concepts: Hypothesis Formulation (intro), and Null & Alternative Hypotheses Part 1 and Part 2. Brandon Foltz has a series of 8 or 9 videos on statistics. The below are for the purpose of understanding some basic concepts. These are really good if you are not familiar with statistics. They illustrate the subject, without getting into the significance of the calculations and uncertainties.

    Pay special attention to the caution against using such terms as “certain, proof, truth.”

    While viewing the above, Consider the changes in the earth’s climate over the years to be the Null Hypothesis, status quo. Abundant data show that there have been warm periods and ice ages, and that these changes have occurred, and continue to occur, naturally.

    Consider the Alternate Hypothesis to be that changes in climate are due to the presence and/or activities of human beings.

    Just for fun, consider the fire alarm example and the Type I Error committed when pulling the fire alarm when everything was, in fact, okay. Just something to consider, since there is always the chance of committing Type II Errors as well.

    Below is a fun and friendly way of grasping the concepts of the Null vs. the Alternate hypothesis:

    Null Hypothesis and Alternate Hypothesis for laymen.

    Me? I love statistics. They are essential to the work I do, and define the level of certainty for data sets and trends. This is why I have such difficulty with claims about human-caused climate change, and anyone who insists that it is “settled science.”

    Those who claim humans are to blame, seem to rely on faith, belief, absolutes, and propaganda. They accuse people who express any doubt about these claims, of being “climate deniers.” In other words, anyone who questions the validity of these claims, lacks “faith.”

    Faith is not science, and it is not objective. Therefore, it is best relegated to religious matters.

  25. Rincon says:

    We’ve made progress! I see no one arguing that the Earth is not really warming. There is hope!

    When it comes to statistics, Wewndy is correct, as I was, in stating that we cannot be certain of any of our conclusions. The problem is not in the statistics, but in how we interpret them. This is not a criminal courtroom. CO2 should not be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Doing so would be like failing to build a home to safe standards because no one can prove that a high enough wind will come along in the life of the home to blow it down. One prepares for contingincies. The more likely, the more extensive the preparations. No preparation at all is generally foolish, as earthquakes in Iran, etc prove to us over and over.

  26. nyp10025 says:

    So the rolling monolith is really a huge cylinder? I mean, otherwise it really couldn’t roll, could it?

    Or perhaps a giant sphere? Although when I think “monolith” I really don’t think spheres.

  27. Hokum says:

    I am amazed at how Steve can casually dismiss a huge amount of carefully done scientific research on global warming and then turn around and state that elevated CO2 will “make for a greener planet”. His statement is based on the fact that photosynthesis increases with CO2 concentration. While correct, things are, as usual, far more complex than one would hope.

    To quote: “Finally, the stimulation of yield by elevated CO2 in crop species is much smaller than expected.”

    “As a result, predicting the ultimate biospheric consequences of a doubling of the Earth’s atmospheric CO2 concentration may prove to be much more complex than originally anticipated.”

    “These data show that plant responses to elevated atmospheric partial pressure of CO2 depend on complex (sic) of partially compensatory processes which are not readily predictable.”

    And so on. Some plants will gain at the expense of others. One of the big gainers appears to be ragweed. Oops, not such a panacea if you have allergies. In addition, most experiments show that the carbohydrate level in crops increases while protein and most minerals decrease. Once again, not so encouraging if you are overweight or have a poor diet as most of us do.

    More importantly, Steve casually talks of a greener planet, neglecting to mention the myriad other potential impacts of climate change. Many will be positive, but only if they occur slowly enough to allow inexpensive adjustment by civilization. For example, sea level has risen about 9 inches since 1870. Ask Venice or the Netherlands (or New York after Sandy) if 9 inches less water would be welcome. The other question of course, will it accelerate?

  28. Steve says:

    I gave you the link to Science Daily. Hokum. Not my conclusion, the conclusion of scientists.

    Just so happens to be true, the greening of the planet is measurable and is proven science.

    You question the outcome of such a thing, just as I question the main cause of climate change and what you guys continue to scream for.
    Your dragon is not scaring us anymore.

  29. Wendy Ellis says:

    Rincon, you miss my point. Show me the data, and the level of certainty. Remember, human caused climate change is the Alternate Hypothesis. The scientists who are so anxious to accept it, obviously do not have enough scientific proof to reject the Null Hypothesis: That climate changes independent of human activity.

    How do I know that they cannot reject the Null? Because they proclaim such certainty, demonize anyone who questions their Alternate Hypothesis, and pronounce it as “settled science.” They are so biased, that they label their Alternate Hypothesis as “truth.” The quote at the beginning of one of the video links pretty much says it all:

    “Some people will never learn anything for this reason:
    because they understand everything too soon.”

    –Alexander Pope

    And, by the same gentleman:

    “He who tells a lie is not sensible of how great a task he undertakes; for he must be forced to invent twenty more to maintain that one.”

  30. Rincon says:

    I believe the paradigm of the null and alternate hypotheses is misplaced here. In situations where we must estimate risk, reasonably priced insurance is the preferred strategy. I don’t compare the null to the alternate hypothesis when I decide to insure my home; why then would I use that thinking when deciding whether or not to insure the planet?

  31. […] there has been no global warming in 16 or 17 years, is this trip really […]

  32. Steve says:

    Insure the planet? Who underwrites THAT?

  33. […] a recent posting here, I questioned why we should continue to believe the global warming models since they failed to predict […]

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