ENVIRONMENT

The Blaze’s “Environomental Analyst” Isn’t Even A Scientist

The following article offers up analysis by Nicholas Loris, seeking to put to rest any notion that this onslaught of hurricanes has anything to do with climate change.  The problem is, Nicholas Loris isn’t even a scientist.  He’s an economist who also carries degrees in finance and political science.

http://www.theblaze.com/news/2017/09/19/new-analysis-disputes-the-theory-that-climate-change-was-responsible-for-harvey-and-irma/amp/

If you read the actual reports by actual scientific organizations such as the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (which he supposedly uses to base his analysis on), they actually come to the opposite conclusions as he does.

So once again, we have someone simply just posing as an expert, representing the conservative Heritage Foundation and their traditional defense of fossil fuels.   Not surprisingly, in examining of Loris’ resume you’ll find that he has worked as an associate to the Charles G Koch Foundation.  Another complete sham of an “analysis” as well as an inexcusable and inhumane attempt to defend Big Oil. ■

 

A Power Failure At Prager U

A thread that seems to be persistent in right-wing media sources –  the decrying of green energy as somehow being dirty, inefficient, and too difficult to implement. Here, Bjorn Lomborg representing Prager U attempts to make that argument using wildly inaccurate statements based on an artificial and untruthful foundation. Taken point-by-point, with the time at which the comment was made listed first:

https://www.prageru.com/videos/are-electric-cars-really-green

1) 1:08 “..while it’s true electric cars don’t run on gasoline, they do run on electricity, which in the U.S. is often produced by another fossil fuel – coal.”

Yes, you can say that coal “often” produces electricity.  But coal consumption has steadily been declining and now accounts for only 1/3 of U.S. energy production. If he framed the argument honestly, he would have included the other 2/3rds of our energy production – almost all of which is cleaner than coal, such as nuclear, natural gas, solar, and wind power.

2) 1:27 He compares the emission levels of electric vs. gas-powered cars by using a Nissan Leaf and a Mercedes cdi A160.

Here he did actually use an “average U.S. fuel mix” instead of coal power. But to represent the gasoline powered car in his example, he cherry-picks the single most fuel efficient Mercedes that I have been able to find. The Mercedes cdi A160 is a compact car that is known for it’s extremely efficient gas mileage of 52 mpg. A gasoline powered car that gets that kind of gas milage is far from the typical vehicle Americans drive. But by using this extremely efficient Mercedes as his gas-powered example, he’s able to project emission numbers that are much lower than the typical gas-powered car.

3) 1:29 In comparing the overall lifetime emissions of the two types of cars, he uses a “90,000 mile lifetime”.

A car’s average lifetime is not 90,000 miles. Consumer Reports said the average lifetime of a car was 150,000 miles – and that statement was made back in 2006. The New York Times and Time Magazine says it’s closer to 200,000 miles today. And when you use such a short lifetime of a car, you’re giving a disingenuous advantage to gasoline fueled vehicles, as they emit even more CO2 than electric cars the longer they are in operation. Also worth mentioning is the fuel efficiency of a gasoline-powered car as it ages – it generally diminishes.  But if you stop measuring emissions at 90,000 miles, the true environmental impact will not be accurately portrayed.

4) 2:05 “Throughout the full life of an electric car, it will emit just 3-5 tons less CO2”.

A phony representation, as he uses the flawed 90,000 mile “full life” of a car as the basis for that statistic.

5) 2:13 He compares a European “cap-and-trade” system for European car producers w/ tax incentives offered to U.S. consumers.

This is an apples and oranges comparison. The EU emissions trading system incentivizes lower CO2 emissions with a cap and trade system. This basically sets an emissions limit (cap), and rewards factories who keep under that limit by allowing them to sell (trade) the difference between the actual CO2 they produced and the set limit. At that point, the other factory over that limit can buy those credits to lower their CO2 emissions on paper (without actually lowering them) which allows them to comply with the limit.

You cannot compare this with a $7,500 tax credit offered to consumers to promote clean energy. And maybe a similar “cap-and-trade” system which Mr. Lomborg views as efficient could work here in the U.S. if it wasn’t an idea generally opposed to by most Republicans.

6) 2:55 Here he reminds us to “..remember Vinod Khosla’s observation- that electric cars are coal-powered cars”.

As previously stated, despite what Khosla observed, most electric cars do not rely on coal-power (see point #1).

7) 3:28 He presents two scenarios- one being a 10% increase of electric car production, vs. a 10% increase of gas-power car production, both over a five year period. Then he states that emissions from electric vehicles will kill more people over that time period.

That is because coal-burning plants do emit massive amounts of pollution that even overwhelm an “average U.S. electricity mix” if they are part of that mixture. While Progressives have been fighting to reduce coal-powered plants by promoting ideas involving “cap-and-trade”, carbon taxes, solar, water, and wind power, the Republican party has instead prioritized the preservation of seventeenth century power sources, gladly accepting large donations from principal polluters to fight on their behalf. http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/indus.php?ind=E1210

Or look no further than the actions of President Trump’s effort to preserve jobs in the coal mining industry. Coal consumption has been on the decline for decades, with better, cleaner, more efficient energy sources taking it’s place. Combine that with advances in automation and you have a natural decay of an industry with fewer workers employed. But instead of acknowledging these easily verifiable facts, he convinces his followers that there is a government “war on coal”.

NBC writes about the actual findings of the study: “The study finds that overall, all-electric vehicles cause 86 percent more deaths from air pollution than do cars powered by regular gasoline. But if natural gas produces the electricity? Half as many deaths as gasoline cars. Wind, water or wave energy? One-quarter. Hybrids and diesel engines are also cleaner than gas. But ethanol isn’t, with 80 percent more deaths. “

8) 3:15 The source Lomborg uses from the previous point was from the “National Academy Of Science”.

I’m glad he views them as a reliable source. I hoping he reads about their consensus on climate change.

9) 3:52 He admits wind and solar are clean, but cites an Energy Department report projecting that these sources will only increase from 14% to 17% in the next 25 years.

Taking into account the many criticisms of the report itself (doesn’t account for certain types of solar power panels being developed, doesn’t consider the decline of coal-usage), he should be taking his complaints to the Republican Party. I assume he knows that the U.S. Republican Party are not the ones taking a pro-active role in expanding our clean energy sources. Instead, they take an example like the failure of Solyndra, and try to make that face of green-energy, portraying that potential as minimal. But Republican obstructionism is the reason why we cannot initiate more green-energy projects. When you look at other countries with abundant green energy sources, they were able to quickly implement these projects because they a) have strict finance campaign rules in which they could not be bought off by big oil, which leads to b) accepting the science that man-made global warming is real and action must be taken.

10) 4:37 His final points taken one by one: “The electric car:”

a) “..cuts almost no CO2”

It actually cuts all CO2 if powered from sources like wind and solar power. And significant amounts are cut if using natural gas or nuclear power. Only when talking about energy sourced from coal-powered plants will an electric car cut “almost no CO2”.

b) “..costs taxpayers a fortune”

I assume he’s referring to the $7,500 tax credit for buying a green car, which he earlier presented as the government “paying $7,500”. A more accurate portrayal would be $7,500 that a buyer won’t be paying in taxes if they purchase the car. And that doesn’t cost us a fortune because looking at it conversely, that is $7,500 that purchaser just saved. That’s $7,500 of a middle or working class American’s own money that they now can spend into the economy.

c) “..generates more air pollution than traditional gasoline cars.”

This is a curious statement as he actually showed just the opposite. He made the electric vs. gasoline comparison earlier using two sets of cars, and even stated that the electric cars emitted several tons less over their lifetimes “based on the emissions by it’s production, it’s electricity consumption, at average U.S. fuel mix, and ultimate scrapping”.

And going back to the “National Academy Of Science” report that he chose to cite, here is the actual report: http://www.pnas.org/content/111/52/18490.full.pdf

Here are a few sentences portraying the broader context of the report, which actually conveys the opposite message of what Mr. Lomborg tried to in his video:

“Our assessment of the life cycle air quality impacts on human health of 10 alternatives to conventional gasoline vehicles finds that electric vehicles (EVs) powered by electricity from natural gas or wind, water, or solar power are best for improving air quality, whereas vehicles powered by corn ethanol and EVs powered by coal are the worst.”

“EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar power reduce environmental health impacts by 50% or more. Consideration of potential climate change impacts alongside the human health outcomes described here further reinforces the environmental preferability of EVs powered by low-emitting electricity relative to gasoline vehicles. “

Reading the real science and actual positions held by the very sources he quotes, actually contradict his overall assessment which he bases on selective portrayal of data, invalid comparisons, and cherry-picked examples. This is what you need to expect when attempting to get an education at “Prager University.” ■