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By Robert Rapier on Nov 18, 2015 with 37 responses

While You Were Distracted by Keystone XL

A Long-Awaited Decision

Earlier this month, after a debate that spanned nearly the entire duration of his presidency, President Obama finally rejected the proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. He had been heavily criticized on this issue from many angles, including by me, for his long-running failure to make a decision on this issue. For the record, my position on the pipeline wasn’t that it should be built. Nor that it shouldn’t. But rather that it was a distraction that garnered far more attention than it deserved, while more important issues desperately warranted attention.

Today, in the last Keystone XL article that I plan to write, I want to review the controversy, explain why I feel it took on a symbolic meaning far beyond what it deserved, and describe some of the other things that were taking place while an environmental movement mobilized to stop the pipeline. In a nutshell, I am going to strip the symbolism and wishful thinking and address things we actually know to be true.

Keystone XL Review

First, a quick review for that rare person who has no idea what this Keystone XL controversy is all about. The Keystone Pipeline is owned by TransCanada (TSX, NYSE: TRP). Phase 1 of the pipeline began operating in 2010, and had the capacity to move 590,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil from the Athabasca oil sands in Alberta to hubs and refineries in the US. In 2011, Phase 2 of Keystone connected Steele City, Nebraska to the major oil hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. Phase 3 connected the Cushing hub to Gulf Coast refineries with a capacity of 700,000 bpd and began operating in January 2014.

The Phase 4 expansion of the Keystone Pipeline is the one we came to know as the Keystone XL (“XL” stands for export limited.) Like Phase 1, this expansion would add pipeline from Alberta and cross the US-Canadian border. The 875 miles of pipeline would have a capacity of up to 830,000 bpd, and terminate in Steele City, Nebraska. Because the proposed route crossed the international border, the U.S. State Department was required to determine that the project was in the national interest in order to grant a permit (as the agency did with Phase 1).

The Keystone XL was first proposed in 2008. In 2010, the State Department issued its Draft Environmental Impact Statement. The State Department determined that the project was unlikely to have a significant impact on oil sands development or global greenhouse gas emissions, and they estimated that six people per year would be killed on average if the oil was instead transported by rail. In a 2010 interview, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the project with “We’ve not yet signed off on it, but we are inclined to do so and we are for several reasons.” (She was recently forced to pivot away from supporting the project in response to the surging presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.)

An Environmental Movement Forms

Opposition to the Keystone XL turned into an environmental movement. The pipeline project became the most controversial one in the U.S. since the Trans-Alaska pipeline of the mid-1970s. Opponents of the Keystone XL believed that stopping the pipeline would slow the rate of oil sands development, and thus limit greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere. Proponents argued that it would strengthen our relationship with Canada at the expense of more hostile oil suppliers like Venezuela, improving U.S. energy security and creating jobs in the process.

Books could be written on the nuances of each side, but I don’t intend to rehash those debates here. If you are interested, I have linked to some of my previous articles at the end. The truth is that it really didn’t have much significance either way. For environmentalists, this issue became larger than life. Fund-raising campaigns were launched to stop the pipeline. Protests were organized in front of the White House. Celebrities got themselves arrested.

In the aftermath of the president’s rejection of the pipeline, environmentalists will rightly claim victory. But let’s look at the big picture here.

Carbon Dioxide Emissions Continue to Rise

The Obama Administration could have ruled on the pipeline in 2010. It would have meant overruling the State Department’s recommendation at that time, so it would have required political courage. But, the President faced reelection. So instead of making a politically courageous decision, he kept coming up with excuses for why he couldn’t yet decide the issue. So let’s review what has happened since 2010, when the President could have first ruled on the 875-mile, 830,000 bpd pipeline:

  • 12,000 miles of oil transmission pipelines were built in the U.S. (Source).
  • The liquid petroleum pipeline network in the U.S. grew to beyond 190,000 miles. (Source).
  • Crude oil imports from Canada increased by 1.5 million bpd. (Source).
  • Canadian oil sands production rose by 700,000 bpd to reach 2.3 million bpd. (Source).
  • Crude oil transported by rail in the U.S. increased by a factor of 30 to reach 1 million bpd. (Source).
  • A train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. (Source).
  • While campaigning for reelection in 2012, President Obama announced his strong support for the 700,000 bpd southern leg of the Keystone pipeline (Source).
  • Global demand for oil increased by 4.2 million bpd. (Source).
  • Global coal consumption increased annually by 270 million tons of oil equivalent (the equivalent of 5 million bpd of oil), with demand in Asia Pacific up by 15%. (Source).
  • Annual emissions of carbon dioxide rose by more than 2 billion metric tons to an all-time record of 35.5 billion metric tons per year. (Source).

In Defense of the Protesters 

If you were an opponent of the pipeline, you may be wondering what my point is other than to argue about the futility of your efforts at actually having the end result you envisioned. But that’s not it. David Roberts at Vox recently wrote a very good and thoughtful column that sought to explain and justify the activism — while acknowledging the arguments of the skeptics. When you distill his argument down, it is that social change is hard to predict, and that these protests don’t really seem futile or pointless. This movement could lead to something bigger. He invoked, as others have done, the early protests of the civil rights movement and the tremendous positive changes that resulted.

But there is an implicit assumption built into these sorts of argument. We have the benefit of decades of hindsight here, and by linking the Keystone XL protests to the civil rights movement the implication is “Great things could happen from these protests without really much downside risk.” That gets right to the heart of my issue over the Keystone XL protests, and is an issue that Keystone XL protesters fail to acknowledge. Is it possible that these efforts are actually counterproductive? The answer to that in my opinion is “Absolutely.”

The Counterproductive Possibility

There are many different ways these protests could prove to be counterproductive. Perhaps there were situations within the civil rights movement that were counterproductive, and those could turn out to be the real historical analogies to Keystone XL. There are examples today where good intentions in the name of civil rights turn out to have negative unintended consequences. (See the backlash caused by a University of North Texas journalism dean trying to create a racial incident over a routine police contact. This is the sort of issue that can pull attention away from real issues of racial injustice).

What if cutting off pipeline access doesn’t really work the way the protesters think it does, and oil ends up getting to market by rail because the demand is still there? That would be an example where efforts could actually make matters worse. Carbon emissions could actually end up being higher because rail transport is more energy intensive, and more people could be killed in rail accidents.

What if people were so singularly focused on this issue that they developed a totally unrealistic view of the importance of this project relative to much greater threats? I once likened this to protecting a drowning man from sunburn. Or focusing triage efforts on a hangnail in a patient with a serious head wound. Those are the sorts of distractions that could prove to be ultimately extremely counterproductive. I can spin all kinds of stories about the importance of mobilizing and motivating people to justify protecting a drowning man from sunburn, but I do a disservice if I fail to acknowledge the danger of misallocating resources when time is of the essence.

That argument inevitably leads to “Well, what is your solution?” I do in fact spend a lot of time writing about, advocating for, and working on various solutions. Most of my effort is focused on reducing the demand side. The war on drugs shows what happens when we try to cut off supplies from a product that is still in demand. That tactic doesn’t work very well, but that’s a topic for another article. My real bottom line concern is that when movements are built around inconsequential issues (a loaded phrase to be sure), resources are diverted and distracted away from more critical issues. Time is a precious resource that we can’t afford to fritter away in the hope that over a period of years the protests on the inconsequential issue lead to action on a consequential issue.


Democrat presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders recently tweeted “I have always opposed Keystone XL. It isn’t a distraction — it’s a fundamental litmus test of your commitment to battle climate change.” I disagree. The litmus test needs to be whether you really understand the reasons that global carbon dioxide emissions continue to climb. If you don’t understand the problem, or don’t understand the cause, you may focus your efforts on futile solutions. The fact that we are building pipelines is inconsequential relative to global coal emissions, for example. But by focusing so much attention on Keystone XL there is a risk of losing sight of this. The Keystone XL battle may have been won, but by positioning this the way they have, protesters may have a much harder time motivating people for much more important battles ahead. When you hype the significance of Keystone XL to the moon, it becomes hard then to follow up with “But this next issue is REALLY important.”

Unless pipeline opponents can leverage this victory into getting China to rapidly slash coal consumption — and Beijing just admitted China has been consuming even more than previously thought — the victory, like the controversy around the pipeline itself, will be purely symbolic.

My Previous Keystone XL Articles

Washington Post: President Obama is Lying About the Keystone Pipeline
Keystone XL’s Emissions Versus Coal-Fired Power
Protecting a Drowning Man from Sunburn
The Increasing Irrelevance of the Keystone XL Debate
Protesting Keystone XL While Rome Burns
Why Environmentalists are Wrong on Keystone XL
How I Would Decide the Keystone XL Pipeline Issue
Take a Stand, Mr. President

Link to Original Article: While You Were Distracted by Keystone XL


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  1. By Donough Shanahan on November 19, 2015 at 4:43 am

    “The litmus test needs to be whether you really understand the reasons that global carbon dioxide emissions continue to climb…. the victory, like the controversy around the pipeline itself, will be purely symbolic.”

    I think I can already call it a symbolic victory and not least for the amount of hours on the 24 clock we have spent on this (BTW still getting headlines in the UK). The chart below shows what the USA plans to do in terms of CO2 emissions per capita (Keystone ironically would not have changed this very much).

    What we should have been highlighting along side Keystone (@ the very least) is that the USA is only aiming for Chinese levels of emissions. These are no way near the best in class. So ‘we’ should have a campaign to be more aggressive and get to best in class performance. Instead we have had Keystone and I suspect, some amount of CO2 weariness. That said do most people really care? More SUV’s are being bought once again.

  2. By Forrest on November 19, 2015 at 9:19 am

    You have pulled the cover off a really big subject and problem. It’s an age old problem of history and politics on how power is obtained and continued. The U.S. political operations has historically been an election cycle phenomenon that ended after the election. Elected representatives would in turn pivot to represent the best interests of all citizens and act to lead the countries to a brighter future. Modern politics, this is not the case. The most successful have utilized politics and operated upon politics continuously. It’s as though the political campaign has never ended. They utilize the power of government to propel political gains. This appeared to start with Great Depression and the amazing gains of political popularity of compassionate federal care giving.

    Modern political adaptations more specific of what Robert’s post is hitting upon. A couple books on the subject, read that modern politics will never disclose timely decisions. The politics of the day will play wealthy opponents against each other as long as possible to milk revenue and maximize cronyism efforts. This disgusting tactic is very expensive to economy, but makes for bigger payday for political power. So, the affected economy of investors and businesses are forced to wait and employ all the influence they can employ to influence the decision making process. Modern day politics will even forego political constituency desires, if course if they can worm their way out of taking responsibility and blame others. They do this because of awards received make it so desirable. Also, decisions are totally evaluated by political gain. They make no hard decisions. Their is no decision to be made that would go against political power. Politicians will never communicate to public statements that go against goodwill of their elected constituency whom have miss guided biases. No, they will flame these biases to make them more powerful and corrosive even to the loss to the nations brighter future. They are totally selfish and know history will reward their effort.

    History is spun by those whom have the power. Ask yourself if the U.S. civil rights movement was that important? Would the country have naturally evolved per conscious of the public? Was the in your face fist raised tactics actually a detriment to obtaining desired results and only successful because the nations conscience was already headed that direction. I think so! Also, I think political opportunist seized the day and jumped in front of the marching band per knowing the retaliative safety in doing so. They desired to capture the spotlight and be awarded historical significance as well as political power. Read the history of the era and if ever one has the knowledge and reality of living through this history, most of it can personally be written off as hyperbola and over rated. Your kids and grandchildren are educated to a highly propagandized version. We could have just as easily sensitized more to religious values and effect change in low energy profile, but that wouldn’t be so exciting, dramatic, and political empowering.

  3. By Ronald Lindeman on November 19, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I don’t remember you mentioning climatologist James Hansen and his statement about ‘game over’ if the oil sands of the world are developed and Keystone pipeline is an example of that. His point would be about the world’s oil sands, not what came from one pipeline. Just like my contribution is one seven Billionth or living in the US, one Billionth of the human worlds contribution, but every contribution does add up.
    But you are not without your distraction either. You mentioned China and it’s contribution in the last paragraph, but the people living in US can mainly do something about their contribution in the US. Each country has to put into place the solutions in their country. That last paragraph is an example of the problem.

    • By Robert Rapier on November 19, 2015 at 12:08 pm

      Hansen’s comment is exactly the kind of thing that concerns me. His “game over” comment is akin to declaring chicken pox as the most dangerous health threat facing the planet. If you look at the previous articles I have written, there are peer-reviewed studies that show that if we burned all the oil sands reserves in the world — indeed all the oil reserves in the world — it could only increase the global temperature by half a degree and it would take nearly a century to burn through that much oil. So assuming we have zero realistic replacements for oil 50 years from now, then perhaps you might start to see some impact from our oil consumption. Meanwhile, we will have been thoroughly cooked by the world’s coal consumption.

      The world’s coal reserves can increase the temperature by orders of magnitude. I can promise you the average Keystone XL protester does not understand the relative magnitude of the threat, because of things like what Hansen has said. KXL wasn’t the war, it wasn’t even a major battle. It was a minor skirmish that many protesters mistook for something far more significant. My point in writing these articles is to point to the much bigger factors impacting carbon emissions.

      Symbolic victories aren’t acceptable if they don’t lead to real change. If we aren’t getting real, measurable victories then I would suggest (as I have) that we are misallocating resources.

      • By Scot Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm

        The average Keystone XL protester during the Washington protest march was actually a remnant of the OWS (Occupy Wall Street) protest….. Naomi claims the KXL protest was about to fall flat on its face due to lingering OWS crowds overshadowing the mainstream news…..

        Then her and cohorts contacted the organizers of OWS to have them bused and fed to attend the KXL rally…….

        That improved the media optics greatly…. causing the feds in turn to take KXL much more seriously……. It also eased the political tension at a time when the politicians were starting to think they might be lynched……

      • By Ronald Lindeman on November 20, 2015 at 6:51 am

        I think you are worse than a distracter, you are a deleverager. What is the reason that France has nuclear power plants? It’s not hard to understand, France has almost no coal, oil or Natural gas. French colonies had the ores that when processed would work in nuclear power plants. If France had coal and a domestic industry using it, they might have used that politically to promote coal produced electricity. What you are going to tell China is that the magic words are natural gas, oil and oil sands. Ah, to bad China, we can us all the oil sands that we want, but you can’t use coal. Sucks to be you China. How’s that coal working out for you China. What may be a political solution to the problem of some countries having natural resources in fossil fuels and some countries not having those, is to make a deal to try to leave as much in the ground as possible. What you are doing is what a coal company promoter would do is to deleverage and blow up any agreement between countries to leave as much fossil fuels in the ground and tell the countries with coal to not make a deal, those rich countries don’t respect the deal and sacrifices the poor countries that are rich in coal, but poor in the magic natural gas, oil and oil sands are making. The best way to leave the coal in the ground is to make a deal to leave as much of the other stuff in the ground also.

        • By Forrest on November 20, 2015 at 7:44 am

          You’re making the point I’ve used. Environmentalist are hypocrites if they think shooting our coal industry will influence other poor countries to do the same. They will use coal if plentiful, cost effective, and can construct easy build power plants. When they have unlimited supply of deficit money, then they might act more foolishly. You have to offer them cheaper alternatives for them to change positions. The leadership argument is so bogus. They’re no competing fuel sources of value for them. We have to make “Green” energy cost efficient and then the problem goes away.

          Modern coal plants are low polluting as compared to low tech combustion. Gasification solves a lot of problems including kicking up generator turbine efficiency up to natural gas standards. Hydrogen production is a potential game changer of the fuel. Yes, very expensive as compared to low tech. However, we should be utilizing cookie cutter, simplification, and construction improvements to maximize control, improve quality, and minimize expense. The technology has no inherent high costs other than custom low volume plant engineering and construction. The same can be said of nuclear. If GW is half as dangerous as proponents claim they would run to nuclear solutions. Hydro, again in same category, but highly cost efficient. We should maximize international efforts to produce hydro power. Canada has very high potential. We need to sign purchase agreements to maximize this power. Notice, I only see Environmentalist acting politically and fighting progress. They have cherished solutions and looking for a problem to apply them. They fight the competition that might deflect investment to more suitable and cost efficient solutions.

          • By Ronald Lindeman on November 20, 2015 at 9:28 am

            There are a lot of things that people can bring up, that if only it was this way, we could do it. If only saying that we have to have non carbon fuel energy that is cheaper than carbon fuel energy could make it that way, we’d have the problem solved. But there would be other things in the way. That’s why we have to have global political agreements, because wishing something doesn’t always make it true. we can throw money and smart people and smart companies at the problem with research and deployment, but we don’t have all the time in the world. We’d also have the problem of people doing what they know. I would like to see 10 nuclear power plants built a year (US) for 20 years, but how would you actually get them built in a economic environment in which already paid for nuclear power plants are closing? I luv nuclear bumper stickers? You do it by putting in a carbon tax to protect utilities from the economic risks. Anything else doesn’t work. Then you get people who would say, ah, you can’t do that to poor people, when at the same time they don’t object to poor people paying sales taxes, property and payroll taxes. Many would object to having poor people not paying taxes. They would only object to a carbon tax, all other consumption taxes would be okay. I would advocate for a carbon tax that is mostly a carbon sales tax instead of sales, property and income taxes at the state level. Make it a Federal tax with block grants to the states. If a states people pay a billion dollars in the carbon tax, they get a billion dollars if the state reduces its own taxes by a billion. Tax and dividend and cap and trade country wide don’t take in wide differences in carbon fuel usage per states. If we have a country with 6 trillion in taxes in a 18 trillion dollar economy, we could make the switch to carbon taxes instead of other taxes.

            • By neroden on November 28, 2015 at 10:24 pm

              Read Lazard’s Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis version 8.0 and look at the unsubsidized table.

              From cheapest to most expensive:
              Energy efficiency, obviously.
              Gas Combined Cycle (range of prices is about the same as solar & GCC)
              Solar (range of prices is about the same as coal & GCC)
              Coal (range of prices is about the same as solar & GCC)
              Nuclear (not competitive)
              Biomass Direct (not competitive)
              Geothermal (not competitive)
              Other stuff which is even more expensive

              Except for one key thing: solar prices are dropping. Very very fast.

              This is what dooms all new-build fossil fuel power plants (and nukes, too). By 2020 it will be a plain waste of money to build one.

              Our only challenge will be getting rid of the *old* fossil fuel power plants, the depreciated ones.

            • By Ronald Lindeman on November 29, 2015 at 10:05 am

              I have seen the numbers on the costs reducing, but that doesn’t always mean that it will change what the utilities buy. Much of their decision making, most businesses really, are they do what worked before. and if wind and solar is a little bit cheaper, they may not want change because of new training and all the other things that go into running a utility. Or they might not like it. The better way to make sure the utility makes the non carbon fuel power decision is a carbon tax. Lower costs for non carbon power is great, no doubt about that, but is it enough? We don’t know yet.

            • By Ronald Lindeman on November 29, 2015 at 10:11 am

              there is another part to this. The 3 ways to low carbon economy. 1) energy efficient. 2) low carbon electricity in the electrical grid. 3) fuel switching. The electrical grid of 2050 would be about 50 percent greater than it is now. We would charge batteries in motor vehicles. But we would also do other fuel switching like water and space heating with electricity. And other industrial processes. So at some point we have to raise the price of carbon energy so we get our energy from the low carbon electrical grid. that’s one of the main reasons for a carbon tax.

          • By Ronald Lindeman on November 20, 2015 at 9:31 am

            Those people who don’t want a solution to much carbon dioxide put in the atmosphere will play nuclear and renewables off of each other. To the nuclear advocates, they’ll say, ah, look at those dummies, if only they knew as much as you. To the renewable advocates, they’ll tell them the nuke people just want to poison you. Both should be an advocate to carbon taxes.

          • By neroden on November 28, 2015 at 10:19 pm

            Coal is dead. Why? Because it’s really really dirty. Even the gasification version. Given practically any alternative, people will take it.

            *And new solar is cheaper than new coal. Right now.*

        • By Robert Rapier on November 20, 2015 at 10:53 am

          “I think you are worse than a distracter, you are a deleverager.”

          I can only assume that you didn’t actually look at the numbers. The fact is that oil sands can’t make any measurable impact on the problem. But you think us leaving oil sands in the ground is going to get China to leave coal in the ground? My point was that we aren’t leaving it in the ground. We aren’t doing anything, except scoring symbolic victories. That’s why oil sands production went up, oil consumption went up, our oil imports from Canada went up, oil by rail went up, etc. Personally, I would rather work on problems utilizing facts to guide us instead of emotions.

          • By Ronald Lindeman on November 21, 2015 at 12:16 pm

            I’m going to tell you that I understand what you are saying. But I also think that nobody has said that keystone has sent anybodies emotions to the moon over it. It’s realized just how far back we are in actually doing anything meaningful. Anything meaningful would be killed now in Congress by the lack of votes and the lack of public political will. We aren’t on the next level of doing something meaningful because of distractions, but because of the realities of political elections. but also, the lack of political effort from those that should know better. There are 6 million STEMS in the United States. (That’s Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians.) If 16 percent were to give a thousand dollars to the political fight against Human caused Global Warming, the one billion dollars might have some political influence. But if you can’t get STEM’s, who one might think would know and care a little bit about it, if they don’t or won’t contribute to the political cause; what is the hope? We humans are just not making enough of a political effort. And for me, it’s not Keystone distraction, but rational view of political realities.

    • By Scot Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      Meanwhile Utah is in the process of opening a new Tarsands Operation……. just google it!

      • By John Wilson on November 19, 2015 at 5:52 pm

        It oil sands not tar Scot

        • By Scot Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 7:01 pm

          John….. I know that…… And I did that deliberately because I am trying to communicate with those who are too stupid to know the difference between tar and oil…… ;-)

          • By John Wilson on November 19, 2015 at 10:59 pm

            Sorry Scott its just that calling them tar sands is really starting to piss me off

  4. By Michael Cain on November 19, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I have always believed that someone in the Bush administration told TransCanada not to worry about where the route ran, as the administration would have their back. The first route managed to upset Native Americans, and ran across one of the few parts of Nebraska where the local environmentalists were likely to complain loudly (northern sections of the Sandhills). Without the delays involved when those groups got involved, the pipeline would probably have been approved long before the bigger national groups got involved. At least in Nebraska, after fighting for considerable time, TransCanada finally said “Alright, we’ll go around that corner of the Sandhills,” and the modified route was promptly approved by the state government.

  5. By Scot Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 3:53 pm
  6. By Scot Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 3:55 pm
    • By Optimist on November 19, 2015 at 8:00 pm

      Yeah, the hydrogen fairy… (Harp music playing in the background)

      How much coal/oil/natural gas would it take to convert us to a “hydrogen economy” Scot?

      And BTW, ISIS really would LOVE having all those targets to aim at…

      • By Scott Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 8:55 pm

        Optimist….. The specified link has to do with US federal energy policies….. not sure why you are trying to shift off topic…… Do you know anything about the book author that we all need to know?

      • By Scott Drysdale on November 19, 2015 at 10:33 pm

        Not interested in answering your question Optim…. the point of the document link was for you and all to focus on the US Feds screwups.

      • By Joe Incognito on November 20, 2015 at 9:16 pm

        Hydrogen can be made using wind, solar, hydro and nuclear created electricity. Only Atlantic Hydrogen was performing research into splitting natural gas into H2 and carbon black using Microwave energy which was powered from the electrical grid where fossil fuels were used…..

    • By Forrest on November 20, 2015 at 6:55 am

      It’s common knowledge that hydrogen will play a big role in future energy needs. Automotive and DOE sure does. I just read the fork lift experience and advantages of fuel cell. It’s a foreshadow of what will happen to automotive and battery car. I noticed the expensive lithium batteries haven’t replaced common lead acid in forklifts.

      Reading the R&D progression in materials and hydrogen catalyst sure promising. Wind energy really looks promising if they can generate hydrogen fuel. The storage or piping to harvest of wind energy via hydrogen very cost effective as compared to grid hookup. Hydrogen will meet energy needs upon a actual demand cycle. I read the California experience in which wind energy not only varies seasonally, but yearly. We can’t afford energy that has such high rate and long range variability. Hydrogen will solve the problem. Nuclear, coal, and even biomass appear to have high hydrogen production capability. Space and air plane travel very efficient with hydrogen with no pollution.

    • By Forrest on November 20, 2015 at 7:14 am

      The author really hypes Global Warming. Civilization is doomed! Run and hide.

      I hold GW to high suspicion, but will defer to the hype as I’m not a scientist and must believe half of the reports. We must understand that even this author writes of the GW damage estimate is unknown. It’s speculation. The theory sits upon maximum complexity of measurement and time. It has an immense data set of global and solar system complexity. In reality we have anemic proof, only a slight indicator of the theory. The science and physics is highly contaminated by politics and easy tax money funding and popularity upon politics to support the theory. We have many examples in history of popular beliefs of science community being wrong. That true science will always rely on the wisdom of not declaring the feat settled and unquestionable.

      On top of this I believe hydrogen fuel cell will naturally move to forefront to meet energy needs. We need not fear GW as this technology will have a dramatic influence. Also, the power of the cellulosic biofuel processing to harvest would be rotting plant material and generate automotive fuel will dramatically lower natures contribution. Consider the pollution from manure, compost, insects, rotting timber, etc. These contributors of GW gases dwarfs man made.

  7. By Optimist on November 19, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    “She was recently forced to pivot away from supporting the project in response to the surging presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders.”
    OT, but: Well now, why so easy on the candidate?

    At best you’re suggesting she is not good at communicating a fairly straight-forward issue to voters. At worst, that she’s an opportunist. Not good news, either way.

  8. By Joe Incognito on November 20, 2015 at 8:51 pm

    Look guys…. we all need to be more honest about what we truly believe from both sides. Why not just admit that we can’t know the truth of the matter without a clear understanding of one or more of the earth models…. and even then one might have to trust some of the “assumptions” put in to these models that remain a work in progress….

    Furthermore there is too much blaming of the Fossil fuel industries. Before the OWS event in Washington DC, the feds were starting to fear a public lynching as a consequence of their gross incompetence in regulating the US economy. And there are books indicating that some of the politicians took advantage of separating themselves from their “partners in crime”, i.e., the Oil and Coal industry…. .especially after the BP Deep Horizon offshore oil platform disaster…… a convenient situation so as to divert attention away from politicians.

    • By Forrest on November 21, 2015 at 9:03 am

      Most will not trust the magic box calculations of GW. After all the computations full of assumptions that by their nature suspect and of low accuracy. The cloak of secrecy should be pulled away. I don’t believe any accuracy can be improved with super computing modeling. The science is just to inaccurate for such computations. The high level math just makes the results less reliable. Currently, we miss the forest for the trees. I’ve read of massaging temperature data as over time the data basically worthless given the high degree of environmental change i.e. road construction, home construction, relocation, particle emissions, snowfall, rainfall, el nino, volcano eruptions, farming, forest growth, world population, heating loads, solar energy, cloud formations, irrigation, lawn practices, economic cycle, forest practices, biofuel production, coal combustion, green power, etc.. Consider the maze and hurtles for attempting accurate data and the subtle, incredible limited data set in geological terms. The infinitely complex contributing factors and the smallest of CO2 change .01% to attribute GW to. This “science” is most inaccurate. Inaccurate to measure and incredibly inaccurate to make any predictions.

    • By Forrest on November 21, 2015 at 9:28 am

      GW science is made illegitimate per the politics. Taxpayer money expenditures is wholly corrupted by the desires of the Left that exploit GW and run political campaigns to run over competition. The science is corrupted by the power of politics and money. Scientist are trained to hype minimal results to gain popularity and wealth. Politics are mining the science for similar gains. The fear mongering just part of the game. Those with least knowledge full of the most vitriol and political actions. Solutions to the problem filtered by desires of the Left. This is a most atrocious way forward for solving environmental problems. You get incredible ridiculous solutions, evaluations of the problem, and potential future costs. Coal is labeled dirty and unusable, fossil fuels should be abandoned, wind energy is free, and solar the solution. They improvise negative ratings for the most potent and powerful solutions of hydro, nuclear, and biofuel. This is not a good way forward for those whom handle the reins to direct the nations best interest and future. Leadership and media should shame all efforts to politicize the science. The science should be presented in open format with max peer review and vetting. The calculations published in spread sheet format like the DOE GREET modeling. Government shouldn’t award science funding projects upon desired results, but of quality of the activity. Independent activity rated higher than the usual liberal agencies. I wish funding would be directed similarly to public information. Meaning, the power of the mainstream media upon politics diminished as it is historically proven biased. The public has a huge deficit of good information. They get fed Hollywood versions and union media corruption viewpoints that work to empower politics. Developing an independent source most empowering to citizenship that need to know good information for better future.

    • By Forrest on November 21, 2015 at 9:44 am

      Also, don’t think the Public Broadcasting Corporation fits the bill as described. They represent the most atrocious propaganda out their. It’s the most viscous or dangerous kind that promotes themselves as independent. They do utilize taxpayer resources, but to the almost full extent to support union or Left politics. What I suggest is independent small business sector full of diversity and eager to sell quality of analysis and investigation to media. They must be held to high standards of quality and non partisanship. This would be a cost efficient way forward to get quality info to public. Sure, taxpayer underwriting awarded to make it more cost efficient. Media can pick up the final tab and choose what their viewership wants. Private download available as well i.e. Apple Store.

  9. By Joe Incognito on November 20, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    Sind die Klimadaten manipuliert?

    Professor Dr. Friedrich Karl Ewert hat in 36 Ländern beim Bau von 83 Talsperren beraten. Auf die Untersuchung der Felsdurchlässigkeit und die Methoden ihrer Abdichtung hat sich der Geologe spezialisiert. Genaue Messungen, präzise statistische Erhebungen waren nötig, um spätere Mängel oder gar eine Katastrophe ausschließen zu können.

    Mit dieser methodischen Gründlichkeit hat er nach seiner Pensionierung begonnen, den Klimawandel zu hinterfragen. Er begann, wie im Studium gelernt die Temperaturmessungen der üblichen Warm- und Kaltphasen auszuwerten. Seit 1880 gab es schon ein weltweites Netz. Die so ermittelten Daten werden vom Goddard Institut of Space Studies (GISS) einer Abteilung der NASA verwaltet und im Internet angeboten. Von den mittlerweile 7365 Stationen liegen auswertbare Datenreihen von 1153 Stationen für die Zeit ab 1881 vor. Diese Zahlen sind auch die Grundlage, mit denen die NASA das IPCC, den sogenannten Weltklimarat beliefert. Und aus diesen öffentlich zugängigen Daten hat Ewert eine eher unglaubliche Entdeckung gemacht: Zwischen den Jahren 2010 und 2012 wurden die seit 1881 gemessenen Temperaturen massiv im Nachhinein verändert, so dass sich vor allem für den Zeitraum ab 1950 eine deutliche Klimaerwärmung ergibt, die es vorher so nicht gab.

    Es liest sich wie eine Verschwörungstheorie, was Ewert in der Zusammenfassung seiner jahrelangen Sisyphusarbeit schreibt: Der Vergleich der Daten von 2010 mit denen von 2012 zeigt, die NASA-GISS hat ihre eigenen Datensätze so verändert, dass wir vor allem seit Beginn der Nachkriegszeit eine deutliche Erderwärmung zu verzeichnen haben, die es so nicht gibt.

    Ewert war in einem Bericht aufgefallen, dass die Temperaturdaten von Reykjavik und Godthab Nuur rückwirkend geändert worden waren. Für die Daten ab 2012 ergab sich dadurch ein höherer Temperaturanstieg in diesen arktischen Stationen als mit den Zahlen vor 2010. Eine Analyse war möglich, weil die von NASA-GISS angebotenen Daten vor 2010 archiviert worden waren und deshalb mit denen von nach 2012 verglichen werden konnten.

    Ewert suchte nach dem Zufallsprinzip weitere 120 Stationen in der ganzen Welt aus und machte sich an die Arbeit, die Daten aus den Jahren vor 2010 und nach 2012 zu vergleichen. Und immer kam er zu dem gleichen Ergebnis: Die ab 2012 gelieferten Temperaturen ergaben eine höhere Erwärmung, als die bis 2010 veröffentlichten. Um diese, sagen wir ruhig Fälschungen nicht so einfach entdecken zu können, wurden zehn verschiedene Methoden genutzt, die sich nur dem erschließen, der über beide Datengruppen verfügt und sich vor der Mammutaufgabe nicht scheut, sie miteinander zu vergleichen. Eine der Grundlagen bei dieser Arbeit sind die von dem IPCC (Weltklimarat) sind die veröffentlichten sieben Erwärmungs- und Abkühlungsepochen, die 1881 beginnen und die auf 1097 Messstationen basieren.

    Demnach hatten wir 1881 eine mittlere globale Temperatur von 13,8 Grad Celsius, die bis 1895 auf 12,9 Grad abfiel, dann bis 1905 auf 14,3 Grad anstieg, bis 1920 auf unter 12,9 Grad abfiel, 1930 auf 13,9 Grad anstieg, 1975 auf 13 Grad abfiel, bis zum Jahr 2000 auf 14 Grad anstieg und seither sich wieder bis 2010 auf 13,2 Grad abgekühlt hat. Das bisher warme Jahr 2015 hat auf den langjährigen Trend keine entscheidende Bedeutung. Es zeigt nur, dass es 2015 um 1 Grad wärmer ist, als 1880, was für ein Jahr noch keine Trendwende bedeutet.

    In diesem Zeitraum ist die CO2-Konzentration von 3 Anteilen in 10 000 Anteilen Luft auf 4 Anteile angestiegen, ohne die Zyklen des Anstiegs oder des Abfalls der Temperatur zu beeinflussen. Wie gesagt: Das sind alles Daten des IPCC.

    Wenn nun die Daten einzelner Jahre in den Erwärmungs- oder Abkühlungszonen geändert werden, ergeben sich völlig andere Klimaszenarien. Ewert hat für die 120 zufällig ausgewählten Stationen die Zehntausende Einzeldaten erfasst, die für jedes Jahr von der NASA vor und nach 2010 angegeben wurden. So wurden auch die Veränderungen in den sieben Klimaphasen deutlich. Die Manipulationen werden in den Diagrammen sichtbar. Seine Daten auszudrucken ergäbe eine 6 Meter lange Liste.

    Es zeigt sich, dass zehn verschiedene Methoden angewandt wurden, um die Klimaerwärmung zu erzeugen. Sie werden alle in der Studie mit Beispielen dokumentiert.

    6 der 10 Beispiele wurden am häufigsten angewandt.

    • Eine Absenkung der Jahresmittelwerte in der Anfangsphase.
    • Eine Verringerung einzelner höherer Werte in der ersten Wärmephase.
    • Eine Erhöhung einzelner Werte in der zweiten Wärmephase.
    • Eine Unterdrückung der um 1995 beginnenden zweiten Abkühlphase.
    • Eine Verkürzung der Datenreihe um die früheren Jahrzehnte.
    • Bei Langzeitreihen wurden die Datenreihen sogar um die frühen Jahrhunderte gekürzt.

    Für die Kürzung der Datenreihe mittels Löschung der Daten aus früheren Jahrzehnten steht das Beispiel Darwin (Australien).

    Die Daten mit dem ersten Diagramm mit den NASA-GISS Messungen von 1882 bis zum März 2010 zeigen eine Abkühlung von – 0,0068 Grad Celsius pro Jahr an. Im März 2012 stellte die NASA-GISS nur noch die Temperaturen ab 1964 zur Verfügung, was eine Erwärmung von + 0,0038 Grad pro Jahr ergab.

    Im Dezember 2012 offeriert NASA-GISS nochmals eine neue Datenreihe. Sie begann wieder 1897. Aber auf wundersame Weise wurden für die Jahre von 1897 bis 1964 jetzt viel kältere Temperaturen angegeben, als vor 2010. Damit erhöhte sich der jährliche Temperaturanstieg noch einmal, auf + 0,0104 Celsius.

    An einem andren Beispiel, der Messstation von Palma de Mallorca, wird deutlich wie durch eine deutliche Absenkung der Daten in der ersten Absenkungsphase von 1881 bis 1895 und dann weiteren geringeren Anpassungen schließlich aus einer Abkühlung in Palma de Mallorca eine Erwärmung entstand.

    Zeigen die Daten, die von 1880 bis März 2010 von der NASA-GISS veröffentlicht wurden, eine jährliche Abkühlung von 0,0076 Grad Celsius, so ergeben die Zahlen aus der gleichen Quelle ergeben im März 2012 eine Erwärmung von + 0,0074 Grad pro Jahr. Es fällt auf, das einige Jahresangaben fehlen.

    Und als ob das nicht genug wäre, ändern sich die Zahlen noch einmal im August und im Dezember 2012. Jetzt ist wegen der neuen Zahlensätze es noch wärmer geworden. Jetzt zeigt es eine jährliche Erwärmung um + 0,01202 Grad pro Jahr.

    Wer sich die Mühe macht und sich mit den endlosen Listen von Ewerts beschäftigt, findet so farbig unterlegt, wann und wie die früher gemessenen Daten nach Jahrzehnten der heutigen Lehre vom Menschen gemachten Temperaturanstieg angepasst werden, damit die Erderwärmung plausibel wird. Wenn dann Vergleiche gezogen werden, dass es heute im Vergleich zu den Jahren seit der Industrialisierung viel wärmer geworden ist, wie immer wieder gemeldet wird, so sind das Meldungen, die auf sich ständig wandelnde Temperaturen früherer Jahrzehnte beruhen

    Die These vom Menschen gemachten Klimawandel erhält so eine völlig neue Bedeutung: Ja, ist immer dann von Menschen gemacht, wenn die Daten der Theorie angepasst werden. Die Fleißarbeit von Prof. Ewert hat Vorläufer, passt in eine Reihe von Skandalen und Widersprüchlichkeiten, die von den politischen Anhängern des menschengemachten Klimawandels einfach übergangen werden.

    Nachdem die Manipulationen der CRU (Climat research unit) der Universität East Anglia, der anderen Klimadatenquelle des IPCC herausgekommen waren und deren Chef Phil Jones abtreten musste, untersuchten auch die beiden amerikanischen renommierten Meteorologen Joseph D`Alemo und Anthony Watts die Daten von 6 000 Messstationen der NASA. Am 26. Januar 2010 veröffentlichten sie eine 110 Seiten lange Studie unter der Überschrift. „Surface Temperature Records: Policy Driven Deception? – Temperaturmessungen an der Oberfläche – politisch betriebene Täuschung?

    Sie beschreiben darin hunderte von Unregelmäßigkeiten, wie Verlegungen von Messstationen in Innenstädte, Selektierung von Stationen, die mal berücksichtigt und mal nicht berücksichtigt werden, zyklische Veränderungen der mehrdekadigen Wechsel von Abkühlungs- und Wärmephasen. Zusammengefasst kommen sie zu dem Schluss, dass NOA und NASA, zusammen mit CRU die treibenden Kräfte hinter dem systematischen Hochjubeln der weltweiten Erwärmung im 20. Jahrhundert seien und dass es dringend nötig sei, die terrestrischen Temperaturdaten von unabhängigen Klimawissenschaftlern untersuchen zu lassen, die kein eigenes Interesse am Ergebnis der Auswertungen haben.

    Es waren die Widersprüche der täglichen Meldungen in der deutschen Presse über den drohenden Wärmekollaps der Erde und die Berichte über Schnee in Jerusalem, bittere Winter an der Ostküste der USA, unbekannte Kälteeinbrüche in Argentinien usw. , die Prof. Friedrich Karl Ewert, Rainer Link und Prof. Hans-Joachim Lüdecke dazu bewogen, etwa zur gleichen Zeit, die verfügbaren Temperaturdaten der NASA in einer aufwendigen Arbeit auszuwerten. Sie wurde 2011 in Singapur veröffentlicht und kam zu gleichen Ergebnissen, wie die der Amerikaner. „Eine Analyse von 2246 Oberflächen – Temperaturdaten“ lautete die Beschreibung ihrer Studie.

    Die Faktensammlungen wurden von den Klimaerwärmer-Wissenschaftlern weder widerlegt, noch beachtet. Kaum ein Politiker und Journalist machte sich die Mühe, die umfangreichen Zahlenwerke einzusehen. Die Totschlagargumente, dass sich 98 Prozent aller Wissenschaftler der Welt einig sind und das 18 000 der besten Wissenschaftler der Welt das erarbeitet hätten, beherrschen die öffentliche Wahrnehmung und nationale und internationale Politik. Auch die umfangreiche Recherchenarbeit der kanadischen Journalisten Donna Laframboise, die namentlich nachweist, dass über 5 000 der IPCC-Klima-Wissenschaftler, die in der „Bibel des Weltklimarates“ aufgeführt sind, noch nicht einmal ein Studium absolviert hatten.

    Es muss noch einmal betont werden: Alle Daten die Ewert in seiner neuen Studie nutzt, sind frei zugänglich, wenn man weiß nach was und wo man suchen muss und es sind alles Daten die die NASA selbst veröffentlicht hat, also keine „Machwerke“ der „Klimaleugner“.

    Entsprechend der NASA-Daten von 2010 ist die Oberflächentemperatur weltweit von 1940 bis heute, um – 1,110 Grad gesunken und seit 2000 um – 0,4223. Dabei sind die Änderungen berücksichtigt, die sich durch „Wärmeinseln“ ergeben. Damit werden die Effekte beschrieben, wenn Messstationen in die Städte verlegt oder ihre Lage von Siedlungen umrahmt werden. Die Abkühlung trifft für alle Kontinente zu, außer Australien, das sich im letzten Zyklus ab dem Jahr 2000 (Phase sieben) um 0,6339 Grad erwärmt hat. Die Zahlen für Europa: Von 1940 bis 2010 ergibt sich nach den Daten von 2010 eine Abkühlung um – 0,5465 und seit dem Jahr 2000 um – 0,3739.

    Nach dem Skandal um die manipulierten Daten des CRU der Universität von East Anglia und jetzt durch die Veränderungen der NASA an ihren Temperaturmessungen – eigentlich sollten diese gravierenden Vorgänge genauesten von unabhängigen Wissenschaftlern untersucht und entweder widerlegt werden oder zu politischen Konsequenzen führen.

    Nicht auszudenken, wenn all die CO2-Gesetze, die Eingriffe in den Markt zur Rettung der Welt, die deutschen Energiegesetze zur Klimaschonung und so weiter auf manipulierten Temperaturdaten beruhen würden. Eine ganze Industrie von Klimarettern und den daraus resultierenden Billionen Dollar, die damit investiert oder deindustriealisiert werden stehen auf dem Spiel. Diejenigen, die sich bisher um die Klimaerwärmung gekümmert haben, wie das Bundesumweltministerium, das Bundesumweltamt oder gar das Potsdamer Institut für Klimafolgeforschung eignen sich jedenfalls nicht als Gutachter. Sie müssten sich selbst in frage stellen.

    Diesen Achse-Beitrag können Sie mit Diagrammen beim Autor abfragen.

    Alle Datensätze stehen jederzeit der Öffentlichkeit zur Verfügung. Die Studien von Prof. Ewert werden auf Wunsch per E-Mail zugesandt. (

  10. By Russ Finley on November 21, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    I avoid any website (like Vox) without a comment field. A comment field is a form of peer review and without it the inevitable errors will never be pointed out …the author/readers will not learn anything and/or will be/remain misinformed. It’s an online, one-way lecture hall, church sermon. Websites without comment fields are a throw back to the days of the local paper, only worse because they contain nothing but opinion pieces and even newspapers published a few letters to the editor. Maybe Vox writers should be banned from using any comment fields.

    Journalism/journalists are a dying field along with the medium they inhabited, the printed newspaper. There are still a lot of people who want to call themselves journalists and put journalism back on a pedestal, but comment fields have a way of making uninformed writers look uninformed. One way to fix that is to eliminate the comment field, but I’m not sure that’s such a great idea. For example, if Vox had a comment field, Robert may have been happy just leaving a comment. Instead, he was motivated to write a very informative article, essentially a very long comment, rebutting the Vox version.

    As Robert points out, the problem with using civil rights protests as an analogy for other protests, like anti-nuclear protests, is that successful protests can lead to bad results.

    Kristallnacht was a successful protest against the German Jewish subculture.

    Protests against slavery were good, but protests for the continuation of slavery (clan rallies) were bad. When you think you are right, the means will always justify the end, but when you’re wrong, the results can be unimaginably bad. Intent is irrelevant. Being right is all that matters in the end. At this point in human history, paving another road to hell will require tearing up a piece of the parking lot surrounding it.

    • By Forrest on November 22, 2015 at 6:30 am

      I find that often on websites that are “selling” a viewpoint instead of discussion are Left leaning. Also, I’ve experienced comment fields that were managed and open season on CIC politics when GW was in office, but turn to zero politics when the office such as presently occupied. Also, the gang up per tweeting communication to dis a particular salient poster. But, these dishonest tactics always applied by those fearful of good discussion. It’s like they suffer from exaggerated self worth and think others just have inferior thinking skills and need to be controlled. Elites wish not to bother their little head brethren with independent thinking, just take marching orders and shut up. Read reports on polling of current CW of the day, i.e. “40% of Millennials want speech censored”, “Left warms up to socialism”. The younger generation prefer late night news that entertains and fans their biases. Biases that pervert the long held norms and conventions of success, wisdom, honesty, and truthfulness. They don’t want to handle the truth. Fun to live in make believe where they are the important, cool, and the smart ones.

      The societal value of protesting is exaggerated and hyped as the event dovetails so well with politics of the Left. The reactionary force of protests is usually volatile, unmanageable, and infantile. It’s an event that attracts those with much time and desire to tear down. It’s not a constructive peaceful event to improve as advertised by liberal scholars and media. That path would be the normal construction of change per nations foundation. Were a nation of laws and representation. This is a problem for minority that want control. So, they invoke maximum minority power to get power. They think they are smarter and have higher values that go unrewarded by the constructed paths of change. They want to jump to the solution and need no discussion. Our thoughts will just side track the solution and take longer. Are thoughts are not worthy.

  11. By neroden on November 28, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    It seems clear that China is serious about cutting its coal usage. (Australian coal mining barons are completely freaking out about the drop in purchases by China.) Correcting a previous set of statistical errors is a good start — can’t cut the usage unless you know how much it was.

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