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Germany’s Failing Energiewend, Part 1

March 29, 2016

Could Germany’s program for reducing CO2 emissions by replacing fossil fuels with renewables be failing?

In 2014, approximately 25% of Germany’s electricity was produced from wind and solar, with the goal of having 60% produced from wind and solar by 2035 and 80% by 2050.

But, residential electric rates are already 4 – 5 times higher than the average rate in the United States.

Recently, the government adjusted its energiewende plan by reducing local wind and solar subsidies while increasing the use of off-shore wind. This results in eliminating the involvement of small distributed generation and a return to centralized generation.

Distributed generation is the holy grail of many environmental organizations, for improving energy efficiency and lowering CO2 emissions. A return to centralized generation is a setback for distributed generation programs.

Until now, Germany has been the poster child for wind and solar, and for distributed generation.

In addition, it will be the existing utilities, RWE and E.ON, who will build the new off-shore wind farms as they have the capital required for large investments. In essence, the government is throwing a lifeline to RWE and E.ON who are heading toward bankruptcy because of the energiewende policy where large increase in renewables is stranding existing fossil fuel investments.

An important objective of energiewende was to force the shutdown of all of Germany’s 17 nuclear power plants. Thus far, 8 plants have been shuttered.

Off-shore wind is seen as the replacement for the lost nuclear power generation. This is nonsensical since wind is unreliable.

To hedge its bet on replacing nuclear with off-shore wind, Germany has decided to put 2.4 GW of coal-fired generating capacity into a reserve fleet in 2017, to supply power when renewables don’t. The plan is to close the reserve fleet four years later, but that will depend on whether the off-shore wind can actually replace nuclear’s baseload power.

Germany has also committed to cutting CO2 emissions from 1990 levels 40% by 2020, and 80% by 2050, while claiming to have already cut CO2 emissions by 27%.

The 27% claim overstates the reductions actually resulting from wind and solar, since between one-third and half of the CO2 reductions since 1990 came from closing highly inefficient East German industries when the Soviet Union collapsed.

The CO2 reductions caused by the collapse of the Soviet Union is masking the relative ineffectiveness of CO2 cuts from energiewende.

East German and Germany CO2 Emissions 1985 - 2008, from Hoover Institute

East German and Germany CO2 Emissions 1985 – 2008, from Hoover Institute

Germany is now trying to slow down its energiewende program by relying on off-shore wind farms while eliminating or reducing subsidies for on-shore wind and solar.

Overall, Germany’s energiewende is a cautionary tale for the United States: Including reliance on wind and solar to replace fossil fuels, and for attempting to cut CO2 emissions.

Part 2 will look more closely at Germany’s reliance on coal.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 9, The Utility Death Spiral, explains why displacing fossil fuels with wind and solar will result in the bankruptcy of Utilities.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

 

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

 

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

No Water Contamination from Fracking

March 25, 2016

After approximately ten years of activity, fracking has never been found to contaminate a water supply.

Even the EPA was hard pressed to condemn fracking. The EPA’s June, 2015 report on fracking said:

“We did not find evidence that these mechanisms have led to widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources in the United States.”

In fact, the EPA tried very hard to prove that fracking caused contamination of water supplies. Its efforts in Pavilion, Wyoming went to great lengths to prove water contamination by fracking.

Its first series of tests at Pavilion were badly flawed, even to the point that control samples were found to be contaminated. See, Fracking Indictment.

The initial testing was so inept the EPA tried for a second time to prove fracking had caused water contamination at Pavilion, but the second attempt also failed. See, EPA Strikes Out on Anti-Fracking Campaign.

Fracking takes place thousands of feet below the surface, and below any aquifers.

Diagram of fracking operation. Diagram source not known.

Diagram of fracking operation. Diagram source not known.

The accompanying diagram depicts the elements involved with a fracking operation, where the shale is usually thousands of feet below any aquifer. Multiple layers of rock, shale and sandstone lie between the shale, where fracking takes place, and the surface or any aquifer.

The Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that over 2 million wells have been fracked.

And, as the EPA has conceded, none have caused contamination of water supplies.

As the diagram shows, there are two related activities that may cause environmental problems.

They are:

  1. Disposal of wastewater.

Approximately half the water used to frack a well flows back out of the well and must be safely handled. It can be stored in a wastewater pit or in tank trucks. Wastewater contains chemicals used in the fracking process and also possibly radioactive materials that occur naturally in the ground. Instances have been reported where a wastewater pit has collapsed or leaked and possibly contaminated immediately surrounding areas.

Wastewater must be disposed of safely, and the prevailing practice in the industry for decades has been to inject wastewater deep into the ground. Recently, the disposal of wastewater by injecting into the ground has probably caused earthquakes. When earthquakes have occurred, local authorities have mostly taken action to reduce the flow and pressures of wastewater injection or curtailed the use of certain wastewater wells.

So far as is known, fracking has not caused earthquakes.

2. Improperly constructed well casing.

Well casings are cemented so the well bore is sealed to a point below any aquifer. This prevents oil or natural gas from seeping around the well bore near the surface. If the cementing is poorly done, it’s possible for natural gas to seep into surrounding areas.

It’s impossible to say that accidents have never occurred. In fact, wells have exploded and caught fire.

It’s also true that automobiles have crashed and killed people, and that trains have derailed and killed people, and that virtually every human activity entails some risk.

Fracking itself has not contaminated water supplies or posed a threat to people.

Handling related activities, such as wastewater disposal and the proper sealing of well casings, must be done with care.

It’s also clear that methane (natural gas) can seep naturally into water supplies. There are areas where methane occurs naturally near the surface, and where it has leaked into water wells, aquifers and streams, in Minnesota, Wyoming, Illinois and Pennsylvania, to name a few locations.

The accompanying picture from the National Geographic magazine in 1980, 25 years before the use of fracking in shale formations, proves that methane has leaked naturally, without fracking, into the water supply of homeowners.

Photo from August, 1980 issue of National Geographic Magazine

Photo from August, 1980 issue of National Geographic Magazine

When over 2 million wells have been fracked, without, as the EPA says, “Any evidence of widespread, systemic impacts on drinking water resources,” it’s clear that drillers are doing a good job in preventing accidents, and that fracking is safe.

Fracking has not caused contamination of water supplies.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 14, explains why it is impossible to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 without destroying America’s economy and standard of living.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Value Received for CAPEX

March 22, 2016

Return on investment, or return on invested capital, are financial expressions for determining the value of an investment, or for comparing investments. Typically, it is shown as ROI.

Corporations use this measure to determine how best to utilize the capital they have available for investment. Invariably there are competing investment opportunities, and a decision must be made as to which investment is best.

Some companies have very limited capital, so it’s critical to choose the investment that provides the greatest return.

The same analogy applies to countries. Some countries, especially developing countries, have very limited capital, and should choose investments that provide the greatest return.

NASA Satellite Image of Nighttime Africa

NASA Satellite Image of Nighttime Africa showing paucity of electricity

The United States is not immune to having to invest wisely. With a national debt of $19 trillion, the United States can’t ignore the importance of making good investment decisions.

Therefore, it’s important to determine which type of power plant provides the greatest amount of electricity for each dollar invested.

Or, which power plant provides the greatest bang for the buck.

To determine bang for the buck, it’s necessary to determine the amount of electricity each type of power plant can produce, and capacity factors are used to make this determination.

For example, natural gas combine cycle power plants have a capacity factor of around 85%. In other words, they produce 85% of the electricity that could possibly be produced based on the nameplate rating.

Wind, on-shore, has a capacity factor of around 30%. In other words, it only produces 30% of the electricity that could possibly be produced based on the nameplate rating. In the case of wind, this is a reflection of the fact that the wind blows intermittently. If it blew steadily 24/7 at 35 mph, it might approach 90%.

Using the resulting information, it’s possible to determine which type of power plant provides the best return on investment.

And for developing countries that have a shortage of capital, how to get the most electricity from their available capital.

Cost to Build Based on Nameplate

Capacity Factor

Cost Based on Electricity Produced

Natural Gas CC

$1,100/KW

0.85

$1,300/KW

Ultra-Supercritical Coal

$2,800/KW

0.85

$3,300/KW

Wind

$2,000/KW

0.30

$10,000/KW

PV Solar

$3,000/KW

0.25

$12,000/KW

Clearly, natural gas combined cycle power plants produce the most electricity for each dollar invested.

Levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) could also reflect relative costs, but the choice of variable inputs, such as interest rates, cost of fuel and life of the investment, confounds the resulting answer. Even so, the LCOEs provide some indication of the relative cost of electricity. Once again Natural Gas Combined Cycle power plants provide the least expensive electrify, reflecting the best ROI.

LCOE, Cents/kWh

Natural Gas Combined Cycle

5

Ultra-Supercritical Coal

6

Wind

10

PV Solar

15

Unfortunately the Energy Information Administration (EIA) distorts LCOEs by estimating the LCOEs for plants entering service 4 years from now, in 2020. These are estimates of future costs, and do not reflect actual costs.

The EIA also distorts the LCOE in at least two ways:

  1. It adds the cost of carbon, i.e., CO2, to the LCOE calculation for coal-fired power plants, thereby distorting the actual LCOE.
  2. It uses a capacity factor of 36% for wind, which is far above the capacity factor of nearly all wind installations until now.

Obviously, actual LCOEs for wind and solar are higher today than the LCOEs forecast by the EIA for 2020, since the EIA claims that each of these technologies will continue to improve.

The EIA is adhering to the administration’s political war on fossil fuels, rather than being an objective third-party analyst representing all Americans.

The United States is having to borrow to pay for the subsidies used to support so-called clean energy investments. The 30% tax credit for PV Rooftop solar installations, and the 2.3 cents per kWh production tax credit paid to wind farm investors, add to the national debt for which all Americans are responsible.

It’s inescapable that Natural Gas Combined Cycle and Ultra-supercritical coal-fired power plants provide the most electricity for each dollar invested.

Investments in wind and solar are bad investments, and are being made because of the administrations war on fossil fuels.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear explains why politicians are harming Americans and poor people in developing countries by pushing its CO2 agenda.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Tax Payer Dollars Given To Green Climate Fund

March 18, 2016

The UNFCCC Green Climate Fund was established at COP 16, as described here on the UNFCCC web site:

“At COP 16, Parties, in decision 1/CP.16, established a Green Climate Fund (GCF) as an operating entity of the Financial Mechanism of the Convention under Article 11. The GCF will support projects, programmes, policies and other activities in developing country Parties. The Fund is governed by the GCF Board.”

President Obama pledged the United States to contribute $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, but Congress, in what has now become a useless gesture, did not authorize payments to the Green Climate Fund.

The events leading up to the current situation are important, because they show how entangled the United States has become in the UNFCCC.

The UNFCCC was established at the Rio “Earth Summit” and the UNFCCC treaty was ratified by the United States Senate.

UNFCCC COP 21 Paris Meeting Symbol

UNFCCC COP 21 Paris Meeting Symbol

The objective of the UNFCCC is to cut CO2 emissions, and the recent COP 21 meeting in Paris established an agreement where each country, including the United States, is to cut CO2 emissions.

At least 55 countries, representing at least 55% of global climate emissions, must ratify this agreement before it takes effect.

While many in other countries believe the COP 21 Paris agreement is a treaty, the COP 21 agreement was written in such a way as to avoid requiring ratification by the United States Senate. Some say the United States is not legally bound by the agreement … but that is likely to be contested in the courts since the United States has ratified the UNFCCC treaty.

Here is how the World Resources Institute describes the process for ratifying the agreement.

“Most countries will sign the Agreement ‘subject to ratification, acceptance and approval,’ making their signature conditional on obtaining the required domestic approval for joining the Agreement. … In the United States, many international agreements are joined as executive agreements based on presidential authority.” (Emphasis added)

The Obama administration claims the COP 21 Paris agreement can be ratified by executive action.

It should be noted that Christiana Figueres, current executive secretary of the UNFCCC, said:

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history. This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for the, at least, 150 years, since the industrial revolution.” (Emphasis added.)

The economic development model to which she refers and wants changed, is capitalism.

We now have a situation where the United States is party to a treaty that is intentionally attempting to upend the economic system of the United States.

This month, the United States, contributed $500 million to the Green Climate Fund even though Congress has not authorized any such payment.

The Obama administration claims its lawyers have developed a legal rationale for using funds authorized for another purpose to be used to make this $500 million contribution to the Green Climate Fund. See video: http://bit.ly/1pxlLbD

Ironically, the United States will have to borrow this money from China, where US taxpayers will be obligated to repay the money with interest.

Tax Payers have now contributed $500 million to the Green Climate Fund, and are on the hook to contribute $2,500 million more.

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear explains how the united States ratified the UNFCCC treaty.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Coal Battered, but Not Down

March 15, 2016

Coal usage in the United States is heading lower because of the administration’s war on coal. The EIA forecasts a 16% reduction in US coal production from 2014 to 2017.

Meanwhile, coal usage around the world is increasing.

According to the IEA, “Global coal consumption increased by more than 70% from 4,600 Mt in 2000 to an estimated 7,876 Mt in 2013, and at a 4.2% annual rate, coal was the fastest-growing primary energy source in the ten years through 2013.” Since then, coal usage has declined slightly because of China’s economic slowdown.

But coal usage is forecast to increase substantially. By 2040, the EIA expects global coal-fired generation capacity to expand from about 1,800 gigawatts in 2013 to about 2,300 gigawatts in 2040, or about 500 gigawatts, or 28%.

Usage will increase most in China, but India and other developing economies will also rely on coal as the preferred method for generating electricity.

The reason? Coal is the least costly method for generating electricity in these countries, and coal is abundant.

And, with new ultra-supercritical (USC) coal-fired power plants, the pollutants are largely contained, so they can increase electricity production without fear of pollution.

Traditional coal-fired power plants had a thermal efficiency of around 32% HHV, while new USC coal-fired power plants have a thermal efficiency of around 45% HHV. This advance in technology has been brought about by improvements in metallurgy.

Improvements in efficiency also translate into corresponding reductions in NOx, SOx, Hg, and other pollutants. With modern pollution control equipment, these plants deserve the sobriquet of clean-coal.

USC plants emit around 1,700 pounds of CO2 per MWh, which exceed the new EPA regulations that only allow 1,400 ponds per MWh.

However, USC plants emit much less CO2 than do traditional subcritical plants.

China has not agreed to cut CO2 emissions until 2030, which reflects the massive building of new coal-fired power plants.

By 2030, China’s CO2 emissions could be 3 times that of the United States. MIT estimates involving carbon taxes are somewhat lower at around 13,000 MMT, but still 2 – 3 times that of the United States.

China 2030 CO2 Emissions with Obama Accord

China 2030 CO2 Emissions with Obama Accord

China and India are intent on improving the condition of their people and the removal of poverty to as great an extent as possible. Eliminating poverty requires cheap and abundant electricity.

Piyush Goyal outlined Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s mission to provide energy access to everyone across India by 2019 when he said:

“It is also important to understand the agony of poverty. It is important to understand the pain that the common man experiences when he is required to pay very high cost for energy.”

The same conditions exist across SubSaharan Africa, and only coal can bring an end to poverty.

A speaker at the recent Platts nuclear conference in Washington said:

“Coal is the only way to eradicate poverty. Coal gave us the modern world. It is easier to put in coal generation than anything else.”

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear explains why CO2 isn’t to be feared, why politicians are harming Americans by pushing the CO2 agenda, and that mankind has benefited from using fossil fuels and can continue to do so, perhaps for 1,000 years.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

War Against Natural Gas

March 11, 2016

While this administration has been focused on its war against coal, the radical left has continued its war against natural gas.

The Sierra Club announced a war against natural gas in 2011, and continues to campaign against producing and using natural gas.

Cheap and plentiful natural gas has been an economic boon to the United States. It has created jobs and lowered the cost of heating millions of American homes.

Yet, radical environmentalists persist in damning natural gas and doing what ever they can to stop the use of natural gas.

The Washington-based Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) is now trying to stop the building of new chemical plants along the Gulf Coast.

From Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) web site: Picture of power plants releasing steam into the air.

From Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) web site:
Picture of power plants releasing steam into the air.

Like many radical environmentalist organizations, the EIP’s web site shows power plants releasing steam into the atmosphere, while trying to infer it depicts the release of pollutants. Steam harms no one.

Eric Schaeffer, former director of the EPA’s Office of Civil Enforcement, is head of the EIP, which determined that 44 petrochemical projects were proposed or built in 2015, and that if they were all built they would release 86 million tons of CO2 annually.

These 44 plants would create jobs and economic development in the states where they are built.

Radical environmentalists pit CO2 against jobs.

Nothing could be clearer, radical environmentalists will sacrifice jobs and economic growth in order to cut CO2 emissions.

When it pleased them in the past, radical environmentalists praised natural gas as being “good”, a bridge from coal.

But now that this administration has largely destroyed the coal industry, killed thousands of well-paying jobs and damaged the economies of broad swaths of America, they are now changing their tune, and declaring war on natural gas.

This was inevitable, because the objective of radical environmentalists is to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050. This is what this administration and the EPA have publicly stated.

Cutting CO2 emissions 80% would destroy the living standards of all Americans.

Meanwhile, radical environmentalists continue to favor cutting CO2 rather than keeping or creating jobs.

 

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear, Chapter 14, explains why it is impossible to cut CO2 emissions 80% by 2050 without destroying America’s economy and standard of living.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

 

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NOTE:

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Sea Level Rise

March 8, 2016

Determining the amount of sea level rise in the past, and predicting it for the future is a tricky proposition at best, and may possibly be something that’s not currently possible to do.

The media touts recent studies as proof of global warming and of disastrous sea level rise in the future.

Examining the basic components of sea level rise can provide a better perspective on the issue. They are:

  • The amount of glacier melt or growth
  • Increase or decreases in ocean temperatures
  • Subsidence
  • Rebound from past glacier activity
  • Geologic and topographic features along shorelines

It may well be that satellite measurements of sea levels are the most accurate, but these have only been available for the past twenty-five years, since approximately 1992.

These measurements show an average sea level rise of approximately 3.2 mm/year, or about 12 inches per 100 years. IPCC data show that sea level rise from 1930 to 1950 was equal to or greater than the rise shown by satellites from 1992 to the present. This would indicate there hasn’t been a recent acceleration in sea level rise.

Sea Level Rise from IPCC AR5 Satellite altimetry readings are shown with 90% confidence levels as an error bar.

Sea Level Rise from IPCC AR5
Satellite altimetry readings are shown with 90% confidence levels as an error bar.

Here are the variables involved in making estimates about past sea level rise, and predictions about future sea level rise:

  1. Sea levels have risen since the last ice age due to melting glaciers. What happens over the next 100 years depends on whether currently existing glaciers melt, or increase in size.
  2. Over the past 2,000 years global temperatures have increased and decreased. As a result, oceans levels have risen and fallen.
  3. Tidal gauges around the world have been used to measure sea level rise locally, and were the primary method for measuring sea level rise globally prior to the use of satellites. In modern times, tidal gauges have become very sophisticated, replacing gauges mounted on pilings etc. with electronic measuring devices. Tidal gauge measurements were inherently difficult to use for measuring global sea level rise because they were affected at different locations by:
  • Subsidence. Locally, the ground subsided so that the gauges indicated a rise in sea level that was actually a lowering of the ground level.
  • Rebound from the last ice age. Glaciers deformed the Earth where they stood during the last ice age. Areas where the glacier was thickest caused the Earth to sink, while at the edge of the glacier the Earth tended to rise. With the loss of glaciers the Earth rebounded where the glacier was heaviest, and the tidal gauges, such as around Sweden, would indicate a lowering of the sea level. Obversely, such as in Venice, the tidal gauges would indicate rising sea levels.

4. Geologic processes, such as described above, land use and coastal or river engineering and erosion can influence how sea level rise affects specific shorelines.

Sensational Cover Showing Statue Of Liberty Being Submerged by the Sea

Sensational Cover Showing Statue Of Liberty Being Submerged by the Sea

The recent dramatic National Geographic Magazine cover typifies how sea level rise is misunderstood and dramatized by the media. It so happens that the area around New York City has been sinking, by 1 to 2 mm per year, or at least 4 inches per century, which offsets the 11 inch rise claimed by the National Geographic article, bringing sea level rise close to what was considered normal over the past century, or approximately 7 – 8 inches.

Recent studies reach varying conclusions, but those cited recently by the media show sea level rise below that shown by satellites. More detailed information on recent studies can be found at http://bit.ly/1plW9y8

Media histrionics need to be kept in perspective, and understanding the basic variables and what satellite data has shown thus far, would indicate no dramatic disasters are awaiting us from sea level rise caused by global warming.

 

* * * * * *

Nothing to Fear explains why CO2 isn’t to be feared, why politicians are harming Americans by pushing the CO2 agenda, and that mankind has benefited from using fossil fuels and can continue to do so, perhaps for 1,000 years.

Nothing to Fear is available from Amazon and some independent book sellers.

Link to Amazon: http://amzn.to/1miBhXy

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

Book Cover, Nothing to Fear

 

* * * * * *

NOTE:

It’s easy to subscribe to articles by Donn Dears.

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© Power For USA, 2010 – 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author, Donn Dears LLC, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Power For USA with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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