Getting Steamed about Global Warming

I need to rant.  A local co-op utility, IREA, just south of the
Denver metro area, just came up with $100,000 of their rate payer’s money to a
global warming apologist.  See an article about it at the Denver Post.  Fortunately, the reporter had the good sense to go to my friend and associate Phil van Hake, who was very clear about how idiotic this is.

Just to set the record straight:

  1. Global warming is not longer controversial in scientific circles.  Just read any relevant publications from the National Center for Atmospheric Research.   I chose them simply because they are government funded, and considering the stance of our government, they’d probably pooh-pooh global warming, too, if it were possible to do so and still maintain some shred of scientific integrity.  If that’s not a good enough source, I was just reading the latest issue of the Economist, (hardly an environmentalist rag), and where they discuss the continuing heat wave in much of the US.  No, we can’t absolutely attribute this particular heat wave to global warming, but the pattern of erratic and hotter weather is completely consistent with climate change models.
  2. Suppose you’re playing dice, and your opponent keeps on getting lucky rolls.  You might assume his luck is due to chance, but if someone later tells you that he was caught with loaded dice, do you then think to yourself, “He seemed like a really nice guy.  I’m sure he was unjustly accused.”?   That’s the game we’ve been playing with climate change: luck has not been going our way, and most reputable scientists are telling us the dice are loaded.  Isn’t it time to get up from the table and cut our losses?
  3. IREA is a CO-OP.  It should be spending money trying to increase the welfare of its members.  Instead, it’s spending their money lying to them.  When Exxon lies to us, at least I understand their management is doing it because they believe that those lies will lead to greater profits for their shareholders. 
    I think they (the Exxons of the world) are wrong, because when public opinion catches up with scientific reality, we will start enforcing strict carbon emissions standards, and companies that are not prepared for that eventuality will be hurt.  But IREA has no such excuse: they exist to serve their members.
  4. IREA is not alone in giving Pat Michaels moneyin his attempts to debunk climate change.  He’s an industry apologist, and does bad science.  Michaels has a history of threatening to sue people who say this sort of thing about him.  I’d love to have this discussion with him in a public forum such as a court of law.
  5. Here are some other sites having discussions about this: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/07/disinformation-you-want-it-ireas-got-it/; http://mountainpower.blogspot.com/

8/7/06– Colorado is far from alone in having to deal with obstructive government.  I just read a scathing editorial by RENEW Wisconsin  Executive Director Michael Vickerman on a so-called planning report from the Wisconsin PUC.  Wall Street has woken up to the need for renewable energy and energy efficiency, and main street is not far behind, but that does not mean that the bureaucrats are are going to wake up and smell the coffee any time soon.  What we have here are people who made up their minds long ago about coal-fired power generation, have supported coal as the “least cost” alternative for decades, and now that the facts have changed, they are fighting a furious rear-guard action to justify their past mistakes. 

To quote Stan Lewandowski, IREA General Manager, “A carbon tax or a mandatory market-based greenhouse regulation system would erode most, if not all, of the benefits of the coal filed generation.”   That is absolutely true.  If the true costs of coal fired generation were taken into account (which is what a carbon trading system, tax, or regulations should be designed to do), coal would have no price advantage.  Only someone wedded to coal as a generation technology would think this was a bad thing.

To quote John Maynard Keynes, “When the facts change, I change.  What do you do, Sir?”

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2 Comments

  1. Well Said and A-MEN, Tom!

    While I am kinda proud of being quoted, I’m much more proud of getting the Post to actually run this story. Before Sunday, it had already been picked up by the AP, Reuters, NY Times, Wash. Post, ABC, CBS, and plenty of others … but NOBODY from Colorado’s mainstream even mentioned it -> What’s Up With THAT?!

    I want to give this story legs, so please don’t let it end here! Write Letters to the Editor: either about IREA’s continuing to deny scientific fact, or the Colorado media’s (i.e. except for the Denver Post) complete ignorance of this story. IREA customers should contact them directly, asking something like “Why did you choose to do this with MY money, but WITHOUT my approval?!” etc. …

    And, of course, Please feel free to contact me directly if you need any other info on this situation.

    Thanks,
    PvH
    303-762-8547
    phil@pvhccc.com

  2. David Cottrell said

    Excellent post.

    Just to clarify, I believe the sum was $100K and the $150K was being raised from other sources (REA’s, individuals ?). — I’ve changed this above-TK

    In reference to point #5. I saw on their Web site that one of the reasons they opted out of Amendment 37 was because A37 didn’t include Hydro as one of the renewable sources of power and Hydro was one of their generation sources. — I deleted the relevant part of the post, since this new info made it no longer relevant – TK

    Thanks for the awesome post.

    dave@cottrellinvestments.com

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