Dispatches From The Great Stupid, Climate Change Grandstanding Edition

We owe this tale to the always mordantly amusing Manhattan Contrarian.

Like his counterpart in the White House, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, (D, of course), is addicted to completely useless climate change measures. Last week he signed the bipartisan Clean Air Act, and in the subsequent celebration of this epic moment, a State Senator spouted rhetoric about waiting for Washington, D.C. to “save the planet.” Anyone who actually understands anything about the vicissitudes of climate change and the wildly complex interaction of factors affecting it knows that Washington, D.C. can’t “save the planet,” but Lamont’s state really can’t save the planet. The Manhattan Contrarian explains that Connecticut…

…has a population of only about 3.6 million. Its greenhouse gas emissions are in the range of about 41 MMTCO2e per year, which is well less than 0.1% of total world annual emissions of about 49,000 MMTCO2e. You could zero out Connecticut’s emissions entirely, and it wouldn’t even amount to a rounding error in the world total. Indeed, the increase that occurs each year in China’s CO2 emissions is a multiple of Connecticut’s total emissions. (According to Our World in Data here, from 2019 to 2020, latest years given, China’s CO2 emissions went from 10.49 to 10.67 billion tons, a one-year increase of about 180 million tons, or well more than four times the total annual emissions of Connecticut.)

But never mind. We’re dealing with grandstanding and virtue-signaling in the era of The Great Stupid, not serious science or policy-making. Thus it is that the central feature in the new Clean Air Act is the conversion of the state’s city buses and school buses from fossil fuel to lithium batteries. There are 800 of these bases. Governor Lamont emphasized that the new law will require the conversion of all the buses to electric within a few years; it will also prevent the state from buying diesel-powered buses after 2023.

Unfortunately, reality has a nasty habit of dashing progressive fantasies, sometimes humprously. That’s not a still shot from “Speed” above. The very next day after the signing and statements of hope and change, one of the 12 electricity-powered buses already in Connecticut’s fleet exploded into flames while sitting in a parking lot in the town of Hamden. Lithium fires can’t be put out with water or chemicals, so the flaming bus just had to burn itself out.

The rest of the electric bus fleet was immediately pulled out of service. Don’t despair, progressives: I’m certain Connecticut residents will still be eager to put their children on those new electric school buses when they arrive. Remember how business for airships boomed after the Hindenburg exploded?

The Manhattan Contrarian cruelly muses, “Perhaps Connecticut may have to look around for some other way to save the planet.”

Now, now, be fair. All is not lost. Connecticut Democrats can persuasively explain that the inferno above wasn’t really an electric bus exploding, just as Washington D.C.’s Democrats explained that we’re not really in a recession.

30 thoughts on “Dispatches From The Great Stupid, Climate Change Grandstanding Edition

    • More like a conflagration, than an explosion, I doubt the pressure wave was that great once the battery casing was breached.

      • I subscribe to Paul Homewood’s “Not A Lot of People Know That” blog, and when I read Jack’s post, I immediately remembered that Paul had commented on a bus situation before. I was actually shocked to find out that the article was a year old! I could have sworn he talked about Philadelphia’s problems just a few months ago. My, how time flies.

  1. Don’t people realize how toxic lithium batteries are? Rare earth minerals are … wait for it … RARE. Where is Pete Butegig going to find the stuff to make all vehicles electric? China? Russia? How will the power to charge those toxic batteries be generated? Where will all those batteries be disposed of? What is wrong with these people? What a short sighted “solution” to a questionable “problem.” Also, how much CO2 was released into the environment when that bus burned for hours? Are the buses going to be “clean burning?”

    • (1) Lithium is not a rare earth, it is an alkali metal (like sodium or potassium).
      (2) Rare earths are not rare. Due to relativistic lanthanide contraction, they all react almost alike. This makes them very difficult to separate. They are not rare in occurrence, they are rare in a refined state.
      (3) The separation process traditionally generates vast amounts of liquid hazardous waste. Several US companies have developed ways to purify the rare earths economically, but China is fighting against them. I am not sure they survived the COVID lockdowns.
      https://www.metaltechnews.com/story/2021/09/09/critical-minerals-alliances/made-in-north-america-rare-earths-return/683.html. We would rather allow China to let lakes of this hazardous waste evaporate and blow the toxic chemicals across the earth than allow the metals to be processed in a less hazardous manner here. We outsource our pollution.
      (4) It is not the lithium that catches fire. The compounds involved in modern rechargeable batteries are pyrophoric (they react with water and air, generally resulting in a fire). You fight such fires by smothering them with dirt or sand. It is, of course, idiotic to put water on such a fire. However, 30 years after such batteries were introduced, fire departments continue to do just that.
      (5) The most environmentally friendly batteries we have are lead acid. We recycle the lead very efficiently (the EPA shut down our last lead mine in Missouri several decades ago and have been mainly recycling since then. Sorry Mr. Freeman).

      • Thank you. My point is simply lithium batteries do not simply come from display racks at Walgreens. Their construction and disposal are incredibly problematic.

  2. Now, now, be fair. All is not lost. Connecticut Democrats can persuasively explain that the inferno above wasn’t really an electric bus exploding, just as Washington D.C.’s Democrats explained that we’re not really in a recession.

    Bwahaha!

    Now do the “insurrection.”

    Slightly more seriously, how stupid does the public have to be to buy this contra-logical nonsense? It truly boggles the mind that people will nod approvingly at Lamont’s transparent arglebargle, then shake their head sadly about the bus fire without any true awareness of the relationship between the two.

    We live in times where the collective IQ is approximately equal to the degrees Fahrenheit of global warming in the last millennia.

    • I find it fascinating that the two wise sayings that constantly occur to me these days–the one about not being able to fool all of the people all of the times, and the one about how calling a dog’s tale a leg doesn’t make it a leg, are both attributed to Abe Lincoln.

      Imagine having a leader that smart and perceptive in the White House now.

    • To be fair to the general public, there are a lot of details that most people don’t have the time to research themselves. Both Democrats and Republicans have at times endorsed the idea of anthropogenic global warming, so surely that means it is a real thing. So many scientists assert that not only is global warming real and an imminent threat, but also that we can make a difference. People in general want to be good stewards of the environment, and prominent figures like Elon Musk are all-in on the electric vehicle. We hear about how Europe is decarbonizing (though of course, that train wreck is now becoming obvious to even the casual observer), and how we shouldn’t just follow suit, but lead the way. Practically every state has a mandate that there be so much renewable energy in their portfolios. The message is constant and pervades everything. If it all seems so much in agreement, could it really be wrong? And aren’t the solutions the renewables people keep touting?

      The numbers involved in this whole fiasco are enormous, and people don’t really grasp big numbers very well. A meter stick has 1,000 hash marks on it. When people are given a meter stick and told it represents a billion, and then asked to identify how much of the meter stick is a million, they point somewhere in the middle, instead of at the very first hash mark. It sounds good to get rid of Connecticut’s 41 million tons of CO2. 41 million sounds like a lot. And if you don’t understand the degree of difference between 41 million tons and 49 billion tons, then that seems like it is making a significant contribution.

      • Francis Menton at The Manhattan Contrarian does a great and relentless job of detailing the folly of the environmental movement. He’s very good at marshalling data.

      • To be fair to the general public, there are a lot of details that most people don’t have the time to research themselves.

        Oh, well, that’s fair. After all, we are only talking about tens, perhaps hundreds of trillions of dollars in public funds impact with many of these federal-level climate change fantasies, and billions on the state level, not to mention the economic impact on our daily lives.

        I guess you’re right, nobody could possibly have the time to concern themselves with such minutiae. 🙂

        If it all seems so much in agreement, could it really be wrong? And aren’t the solutions the renewables people keep touting?

        Heh. The road to Hell is paved by consensus.

      • Great point. A few years ago, climate alarmists made a huge deal out of the fact that 12 billion tons of ice melted from Greenland’s ice sheet in during an abnormally warm weekend.

        A bunch of readers of that story panicked…

        …until someone who knew better reminded the masses that Greenland’s ice sheet contains an estimated 3,000 trillion tons of ice…trillion. Even if the rate of melt continued at that same pace (which of course, it doesn’t do), Greenland’s ice sheet would be gone in 2,050 years.

        Perspective is a beautiful thing.

    • That isn’t the half of it. Is there enough copper on earth to make the wires needed to carry all this current? Hint: Elon Musk has identified an asteroid made almost entirely of metals and is planning to mine it. You can wish all you want, but where are you going to get the materials to MAKE all this stuff? You may want a Dyson sphere, but where will you get all that matter?

      • Michael,

        You are right. This is definitely the minimalist version of any real math involved. Everything here assumes you can get materials, which is a required assumption to start the discussion at an easy level. There are huge assumptions built in, but this is just trying to puncture a few of the areas of magical thinking before going over the discussion of resource, reserve, and extraction or any other complicated part, because energy policy is based on fairy dust, unicorn farts, and magical dragons. No article can hit all of the problems without a TLDR. Slaying but one is a good day’s work.

        • The so-called experts are all so far out of their depth it is laughable. It is like the epidemiologists who ‘modeled’ the lockdowns. They didn’t bother to factor in economic, educational, or mental health concerns. It never occurred to them. It is like Michael Bloomberg discussing modern agricultural methods. The global warming models don’t work and they don’t know how to make them work. So, rather than fix the models (that they can’t do), they alter the data.
          https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2012/06/11/why-hansen-had-to-corrupt-the-temperature-record/

          Their proposals are laughable, like small children in a sandbox discussing how to take over the world tomorrow, but they make less sense. Look at how the Paris Accord insists that European and US natural gas and coal causes global warming, but Russian and Chinese natural gas and coal doesn’t. Also note how they insist that nuclear power causes more global warming than Russian natural gas. Why would anyone take something like that seriously? That is why Trump rejected the Paris Accords, they were nuts, especially the part about making Europe dependent on Russia. The Democrats, of course, loved it and we are now implementing it.

      • As an electrical engineer by profession, the “copper problem” has been weighing on my mind for some time now. As a conductor, copper isn’t the only option. Aluminum has been used in wiring for decades – it has “good enough” conductivity, great strength-to-weight ratio, good flexibility, and it’s super-abundant. However, it’s more maintenance-intensive, it corrodes easier, connections work themselves loose with heating/cooling cycles.

        Which brings us to our other shortage: people, specifically electricians. A massively larger grid requires more electricians than we now have to build. A massively larger grid based on aluminum will need a LOT more electricians than we now have, just to maintain. I look at the tradesmen I meet on the job, and as a group they’re getting older. I’d say for every guy I meet in his twenties there are three in their fifties. Not only are we not building up our workforce of skilled trades, we’re going in the wrong direction.

  3. Connecticut might be able to do this, since it is a small area, however the United States is made up of urban hubs and has thousands of miles that are mostly open space without much of a power grid moving through it.
    This is from a magazine called Western Farm Press. You can browse online at westernfarmpress.com. This is from the article “Ford touts EVs for ag, but are they practical?”: “It costs much more to build an EV, with the battery costing about $18,000 and the charger an added $3000.00” “If you’re a Super Duty customer towing 10,000 pounds in Montana or on the north slope of Alaska, an electric vehicle is an awful situation, the batteries are too heavy.”
    Same magazine, headline “Water, power supplies further shrinking in West”

    “….ongoing Western drought won’t merely be measured in acre-feet, but in megawatts, as rolling blackouts become a likelihood in Arizona and California this summer”. Gerak said “Their appetite combined with their with their environmental mandates are creating a strain of supply-demand issues on power.”
    It goes on to discuss the low water levels in Lake Powell, Lake Mead and the Colorado River.
    They can push electric vehicles and going green all they want in Connecticut, the infrastructure isn’t there to support it, particularly outside elite circles of the coasts. It seems to me like it took about 100 years for the oil and gas industry to get their infrastructure across the US. I don’t doubt electric infrastructure will be quicker, but not that much. Plus we’re forgetting something really important… you can not export wind, solar and hydro energy to other countries like you can oil, coal, gas and biofuels. For global stability, that might be critical in the years ahead.
    One day, I have to assume, these people will come face to face with the reality they created and have to deal with the consequences.

  4. Governor Lamont probably didn’t hear about the cargo ship that caught fire and eventually sank in the Atlantic earlier this year (February or March timeframe). It was carrying a shipment of cars from the Volkswagen-Audi Group, so four thousand vehicles – including Bentleys, Lamborghinis, Porsches, and Audis. The crew tried to put the fires out, but couldn’t. The cause…? Some of the cars were electric and at least one of the Lithium-ion batteries spontaneously combusted. That fire also had to burn itself out…until the ship sank, taking several hundred million dollars worth of vehicles with it.

  5. I saw a video of a congress-critter questioning Mayor Pete over the viability of the current pipe dream of everyone having an EV by 2030. The foundation of the speech/question was a comparison of the energy requirement of charging said EV overnight at home and running the refrigerator. It was stated that the EV charge requirement (in KWH) was 25 times that required by the fridge. So if both drivers had EV it would be 50 times the consumption. The critter then stated that similar calculations put operating the AC at home is approximately 17 times the Fridge.

    At that point it was brought up that during many months of the year, in varying locations, the utility providers have to ration power because of the load put on the grid by the AC, which uses less power than the EVs. So how can the grid handle the EVs, especially in summer months? Mayor Pete bloviated about improvements and upgrades, but the question remained unanswered. I note that 2030 is a mere 8 years away.

    • Of course, electricity can be metered and slowed down, just like water out of a hose.

      However, for reference: electric vehicles tend to have very large batteries–anywhere from the smaller 40kwh batteries in the compact electric cars up to Rivian’s 180kwh battery.

      A typical central AC unit will use around 3-4 kw per hour. So fully charging a Rivian would take the equivalent of running an ac unit upwards of 60 hours, minus safety thresholds of 5% or so on either side of the battery’s capacity.

      For further reference, my family of 5 uses 10-18 kwh per day when not running the AC. So yes, if you want the capability of charging your car in any kind of realistic time frame (a 240v plug at 50 amps would charge about 25-30 miles per hour), you’re using 3 to 4x the energy an ac unit uses and up to 10x the energy a fridge uses.

      But you can reduce the amperage to whatever you want–it just means energy is flowing longer.

      Last reference. If the average family has two cars, that they put 15,000 miles on, with an average of 300 watts/mile, that’s an extra 4.5 mwh per year per car. A typical family, running an AC unit from June to September, probably uses just over 10mwh per year. So a two car household is probably doubling its energy needs per year.

    • Congress critter was Rep Thomas Massie (R-KY). He runs his home in Kentucky from batteries salvaged from wrecked Teslas and solar panels and other ‘green’ stuff. If anyone in Congress knows what the Democrats plans require, it’s this guy; the one talking about 25 refrigerators, air conditioning, and how the grid is woefully unable to support these dreams.

  6. Just for grins, how many of us use laptop computers, tablets, or smartphones, all of which have lithium ion storage batteries? I’m personally going to be rethinking the old institutional sand buckets we had in the ’50s & earlier around my house. I’m not sure that the old stand by “ABC” pressurized chemical household fire extinguishers could handle lithium battery fires.

    Too, don’t forget the scenes of the unlucky schlumps who had lithium battery-powered Ecigs or Vaping devices in pants pockets or purses that burst into flame spontaneously.

    I think I’d go back to old NiCad batteries, even with the size & weight trade-off.

    MB

  7. When the climate change people discuss their findings of ‘incontrovertible global warming’, remember this.

    (1) The same people who pushed the new ice age in the late 70’s pushed global warming in the 90’s.
    (2) More importantly, the SAME PEOPLE used THE SAME DATA to determine there was an imminent ice age in the 1970′ and then imminent global warming disaster in the 1990’s. That’s right, the data they claimed showed a clear COOLING trend now shows a clear WARMING trend. How can this be? They changed the data.
    (3) Now, there are fears of a new Maunder Minimum cooling period.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamiecartereurope/2020/05/12/the-sun-is-asleep-deep-solar-minimum-feared-as-2020-sees-record-setting-100-day-slump/?sh=7e58c5635e28
    (4) This is not an emergency we should be starving tens or hundreds of millions of people to try to prevent. We can’t tell if it is even cooling or warming.

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