A New Insult-Meme!

In a discussion of ‘alternative energy’ at a social media site, someone raised the practical issue of the difficulties involved in high-volume energy storage.  Someone else came back at him with a comment to the effect that “climate-solution deniers are as bad a climate change deniers.”

This is probably just the leading edge of a new insult-meme:  I expect to see a lot more of the climate-solution-denier accusations being made.  We are getting uncomfortably close to a pervasive climate of Lysenkoism.

In Arthur Koestler’s novel Darkness at Noon, set in the Soviet Union, his character Rubashov (an old Bolshevik who is now on trial for his life) muses:

“A short time ago, our leading agriculturist, B., was shot with thirty of his collaborators because he maintained the opinion that nitrate artificial manure was superior to potash. No. 1 is all for potash; therefore B. and the thirty had to be liquidated as saboteurs. In a NATIONALLY CENTRALIZED AGRICULTURE, the alternative of nitrate or potash is of enormous importance: it can decide the issue of the next war. If No. I was in the right, history will absolve him, and the execution of the thirty-one men will be a mere bagatelle. If he was wrong …”


“We know that virtue does not matter to history, and that crimes remain unpunished; but that every error had its consequences and venges itself unto the seventh generation. Therefore we concentrated all our efforts on preventing error and destroying the very seeds of it. Never in history has so much power over the future of humanity been concentrated in so few hands as in our case. Each wrong idea we follow is a crime committed against future generations. Therefore we have to punish wrong ideas as others punish crimes: with death. We were held for madmen because we followed every thought down to its final consequence and acted accordingly. We were compared to the inquisition because, like them, we constantly felt in ourselves the whole weight of responsibility for the super-individual life to come. We resembled the great Inquisitors in that we persecuted the seeds of evil not only in men’s deeds, but in their thoughts. We admitted no private sphere, not even inside a man’s skull. We lived under the compulsion of working things out to their final conclusions. Our minds were so tensely charged that the slightest collision caused a mortal short-circuit. Thus we were fated to mutual destruction.” (emphasis added)

The assertions now being made that anyone who challenges catastrophic CO2-caused climate change is complicit in the deaths of thousands/hundreds of thousands/millions parallel the above rather closesly.

Koestler’s Rubashov also observed that it had become “necessity to drill every sentence into the masses by vulgarization and endless repetition; what was presented as right must shine like gold, what was presented as wrong must be as black as pitch; political statements had to be coloured like ginger-bread figures at a fair.”  


In America today, we are seeing even topics that lack the claimed apocalyptic overtones of climate change treated in this way.  For example:  in another social media post, a woman remarked on the extremely skewed postal rates that exist between China and the US.  Someone came back accusing her of being a tinfoil-hat-wearing right-winger, or words to that effect.  Even a discussion of postal rates has to degenerate into mud-slinging in no time at all.

Of course, neither the original post nor the comment included any such thing as a link.  (It took me all of two minutes to locate a comprehensive Forbes article on the subject, which I then linked.)

I believe that there are still people who are subject to rational persuasion, but wonder whether there will be enough of them to make a difference.

27 thoughts on “A New Insult-Meme!”

  1. Regarding energy storage: one thing I observe is that almost no journalists understand the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt-hour (this also applies of course to megawatts, gigawatts, etc). Talking about how a new energy storage facility has a capacity of 500 MW is like talking about the capacity of your car’s gas tank in horsepower.

    Business journalists are just about as bad as other journalists on this point.

  2. Stored energy in any form always has to be treated with the greatest respect. See Tesla’s well-reported problems with electric battery fires. Last time I checked, since the dawn of commercial nuclear power, more people had died from the uncontrolled release of stored energy in hydro-electric dam collapses than from nuclear accidents.

    It seems that almost none of the renewable energy crowd understand the implications of the unpredictably unreliable nature of wind energy — or the predictably unreliable nature of solar energy. And they always leave the cost of energy storage (or fossil fuel back-up) out of their calculations demonstrating that subsidized “renewable” electric power is close to being cost-competitive with taxed 24/7 fossil or nuclear electric power.

    But this is part of a bigger problem with our educational system. We don’t do math. Otherwise, how could we have a boat-load of politicians spend two nights debating on TV without once mentioning the awkward implications of $20 Trillion in unrepayable debt? And we don’t do science — as evidenced by them all bending a knee towards the Anthropogenic Global Warming scam.

  3. Gavin…another problem, I think, is the reduction in the number of people who do anything mechanical or electrical outside of work/school. There used to be a lot of people who worked on their own cars, sometimes did some pretty elaborate performance mods…also, amateur radio operators and other electronics hobbyists. Plus kids working with chemistry sets, erector sets, etc. I think most of the hobby-oriented technical & scientific stuff has been displaced by computer-focused activities.

    Still people who work on their own cars, for money-saving or for fun, but I bet it’s a lot smaller as a % of the population than it used to be.

  4. I have a long history of eduction and working with energy and power generation. You can find some info at my blog darkislandpr.blogspot.com

    I’ve been interested in alternative energy since the early 70s.

    It seems to me that when people talk about alternative energy or sustainable energy, they are always talking about wind and solar, primarily photovoltaic solar. There are lots of other alternative and renewable (depending on how renewable is defined)

    Waste to energy (hi tech garbage burning
    landfill gass
    Wood burning

    Cogeneration/Combined cycle/CHP is, technically under the PURPA law of 1976, alternative energy though it is really just a much more efficient way of using conventional fossil fuel.

    (I developed a cogeneration plant in the 80s while working for Alcon and created some new federal law along the way. https://darkislandpr.blogspot.com/2017/12/alcon-v-prepa.html )

    All of the alternative energy schemes will work and are useful and perhaps even the best choice in certain, very specific, applications None of them are universally the best, or even a good solution.

    Utility scale battery storage is also very useful for many purposes such as short term load management/peaking, system stabilization and more. It cannot be used to substitute a stable base load power generation system.

    If we are going to have an industrial society, if we are going to have anything more advanced than a 3rd world economy, we need reliable, baseload, dispatchable power. At the moment, that means fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) or nuclear. There are no other alternatives.

    Some alternatives like geothermal, biogas (which is still a fossil fuel), landfill gas can provide dispatchable power on a limited basis but they cannot scale sufficiently.

    Hydropower, if you don’t care about the poor fishies or the natural grandure of places like Glen Canyon, are great for baseload power and have other benefits. But they are huge, expensive to build, maintain and operate and don’t provide all that much power. Hoover Dam, for all it’s size including the 120 mile Lake Mead only has a capacity of 2,000MW and actually operates at about 500MW. A typical nuke or fossil fuel central plant is 500-1000MW.

    And there are not that many places to put a Hoover Dam.

    One of the good things about the Trump Administration is that they are quietly forging ahead with nuclear. I think modular nuclear plants, in the 50-100MW size range, are what we need.

    I like that Bill Gates is also putting his money where his mouth is by putting billions of his dollars into development of Gen4 nuclear technologies.

    John Henry

  5. JH…there is a lot to be said for cogeneration, which I believe is used more in Europe than in the US…I think still used in some parts of NYC?…but for city use, the city needs to be willing to have the generation plant within some reasonable distance.

    A state university not too long ago congratulated themselves for their Environmentalism when they replaced their steam-heating boiler…which could run on both nat gas and coal….with an electrode boiler. Of course, this means that the coal-generated electricity that runs the boiler suffers the thermodynamic losses in generation as well as the losses in transmission. If they *really* wanted to be environmental and conserve energy, they should have gone for cogeneration.

  6. One of the objections to nuclear power in the US is the cost and delay of constructing nuclear power plants. This is a valid objection but few people ever talk about why we have these costs:

    1) Utility companies love high costs. In the US electric regulators, usually state agencies, decide on what the appropriate return on investement should be as a matter of policy. Let’s say it is 5%. In theory, this return is only on required investment but in actuality, it is on pretty much anything the utility spends.

    So a utility spends $100mm on a new plant, they get to make a profit of $5mm. Now if they can run the costs of that plant to $200mm, they get to make a profit of $10mm.

    Does anyone see any incentive to control costs here?

    (Yes, that is greatly simplified. The more I have learned about utility regulation and pricing over the years, the less I understand it. Which is how I think they want it)

    2) Every nuclear plant in the US is different. There is no one, standard, design. A custom built anything is always going to cost more than a similar model stamped out by the dozen.

    Again, higher cost, more profit to the utility.

    3) Customization means that training is much more difficult and expensive.

    4) Lots of people, federal, state and local govt employees, consultants and engineers and so on make a lot of money regulating nuclear power plants. This makes the regulations regarding siting and construction much more complex and expensive.

    Not directly related to cost is the fear people in the US have been trained to have of nuclear.Yet, as Gavin pointed out, more people have been killed by sudden energy release than by nuclear accidents. I’d go further and say that more people have probably been killed by exploding car batteries (the normal 12v kind) than have been killed in nuclear accidents.

    We need better education on what nuclear power is, how it works and why it is safe.

    1) I recommend everyone see The China Syndrome. Best pro-nuke propaganda movie even made. Yeah, it has that odious bint Jane Fonda but still watch it.

    2) We need to teach people how many were actually killed at Chernobyl. I suspect that if you ask most people they will say 10s of thousands. In actuality, it was either about 5 or 45 depending on how you count.

    Hiroshima/Nagasaki may have saved half a million Japanese and American lives. But by scaring people about nuclear power, they have cost many others.

    3) Educate people about France which has generated about 75% of their power from Nuclear for the past 40-50 years.

    John Henry

  7. David,

    Wikipedia says Europe generates about 11% of it’s energy from cogeneration. Germany has a target of 25% by 2020. I believe about 10% of all electric power in the US is from Cogen but, in a 5 minute search I could not find an actual number. DOE has info by state but you have to log in and I didn’t feel like it. DOE does have a map showing cogeneration installations in the US here.

    I am not clear if this is all or just the ones registered with DOA as “Qualifying Facilitys”

    For those with no idea what we are talking about, cogeneration isdefined as the simultaneous generation of electricity and useful heat.

    The typical internal combustion engine be it turbine or piston converts about 40% of the energy input to usable shaft power to turn a generator. In a piston engine, the other 60% goes out the exhaust and radiator about 50/50. In a turbine, the other 60% goes out the exhaust.

    If you capture that heat and convert it to steam or hot water for heating, cooking or processing or to chilled water for air conditioning, you can get the overall efficiency up to 80% or so.

    Capturing and using the heat is technically very simple. The key is to have some use for it.

    While looking for info on cogen penetration in the US I found this doc from DOE that has a great explanation of it in its various configurations.


    I am a big fan of cogeneration and hope to see more of it. Wikipedia says DOE has a goal of 20% by 2030. I see no reason that this is not doable. Assuming a viable use for the heat, cogeneration plants are essentially standard, off-the-shelf generator sets with some additional plumbing.

    Unfortunately, not a lot of opportunity for tax scamming as with solar and wind.

    John Henry

  8. David,

    Re generation in cities, many cities have large power plants in or very near them. There should not be great difficulty in siting.

    Here is a 250MW plant (0.5 Nukes) cogen plant located in downtown Cambridge Mass (With picture)


    Consolidate Edison has a 311MW combined cycle (cogeneration) plant in the Brooklyn Navy Yard

    Also 700MW central steam and combined cycle plants in Manhatten on the East River. Can’t find the address but my recollection is that it is around 60th or 70th street.

    Also some smaller gas turbines in Manhattan and other boroughs.


    I don’t see siting as a big problem for cogen. An issue to be addressed, certainly but not insurmountable.

    John Henry

    John Henry

  9. David,

    Re working on cars, have you tried to do that recently?

    I grew up tinkering with outboard motors before I was 10, worked on my motorcycles and cars for most of my life.

    Steam engine and refrigeration mechanic in the Navy

    Spend a lot of time with industrial machinery for the past 40 years.

    I drive a Hyundai Elantra and a few years ago it was running a bit rough and I figured I’d change the plugs. They had 100,000 miles and I figured it was probably time.

    I opened the hood, and I couldn’t even find the plugs. I looked at a couple of YouTube videos and I probably could have changed them but it was far more trouble than I felt like going through.

    Everything else is even more complicated.

    On the other hand, in the 60s and 70s one could expect to spend a couple hours every other weekend Clean the plugs, gapping the points, checking timing and generally futzing around with any car just to keep it running reasonably well. Then periodically more major maintenance like carbaretors and such.

    And in the end, instead of a car that needed its first tuneup at 100,000 miles, you were damn lucky to have a car that would last 100,000 mile at all.

    Kids don’t know mechanics these days because there is no need.

    It is a huge problem for American industry and I could bend your ear for a while about it but won’t.

    John Henry

  10. You would think that all the discussions about battery capacity and cell phone endurance would have made some impression on the chattering classes in terms of the difference between power and energy.

    I can still remember the discussion with my father why replacing the two “D” cells running my erector with a 9V transistor cell I found wouldn’t produce the results I wanted. In my defense, I was about six and the principles of thermodynamics were still a couple of years in my future.

    I see a lot of claims that cars are too complicated for mere mortals to work on. If anything, it’s easier now than ever. Between the engine computer and the internet you can usually get a pretty good idea of where to start, albeit some engine compartments are more like watch repair than mechanics. Information is much easier to come by and the nuts and bolts haven’t changed that much. I think the biggest difference is that we are a couple more generations from a more rural society. The ever more voluminous warnings attached to everything probably don’t help.

    Most of the practical skills that seem in short supply have always been mostly things passed from parents to children, at least initially. I think parents should spend more time trying to pass on what they know to their kids. At the very least it will teach them to deal with boredom graciously. And if it’s something the parent doesn’t know, they can both learn together, another important lesson.

  11. Cogeneration — nice idea. As always, implementation needs careful thought. A few years back, I was working in Almaty Kazakhstan (beautiful place, by the way). Stayed in an excellent modern apartment building, which supplied hot water to us residents by circulation from the power plant a few blocks away. The hot water was circulated through radiators for space heating as well as for making the showers comfy. A good use of thermodynamically rejected heat from the power plant.

    Great system, until the power plant went down for unplanned maintenance in December … while the snow lay crisp and deep and even.

  12. Those sorts of systems are, or were, very common here. Both Denver and Manhattan had them that I know about and I’m sure that there are many others. I don’t know how many survive. One requirement is for a power plant in or very close to the down town. Denver had three steam plants on the South Plat, I can’t remember which supplied the municipal steam system but I wouldn’t be surprised if all were now gone.

  13. This climate solution denier tag will not have legs. This is because certain solutions must be rejected and it’s too easy to just propose things off the list so that the IPCC fetishists are the ones fighting climate solutions.

    Just talk about building vehicles that reduce sunlight received and you’ll see them all change direction on a dime.

  14. I think parents should spend more time trying to pass on what they know to their kids. At the very least it will teach them to deal with boredom graciously. And if it’s something the parent doesn’t know, they can both learn together, another important lesson.

    When I moved away from Orange County and sold my house, I had a pretty good collection of tools. Some of them thing like nail guns of various sized and a small compressor.

    I have two sons. One is a trial lawyer with whom I have not been close in recent years. The other is a fireman/paramedic.

    Guess who wanted the tools?

  15. If it wasn’t the lawyer your other son would have been the only fireman in the country without more tools than a sane person would contemplate, I think it’s practically a job requirement. I speak as someone hopelessly addicted, though not a fireman.

  16. I probably had more tools than any sane person. I still have my great grandfather’s cross cut saw that I cut my initials in when I was 5. He bought it in about 1876. That is the year in the sawyer’s mark on the rip saw, which a helper of a contractor working on my house in the 1980s stole. He disappeared and quit his job the day the saw disappeared. I have a hand drill that my grandfather soldered a pipe nipple to replace the wood handle. The cap on the pipe made a nice place to store drill bits.

  17. About cars; yes & no. I appreciate the potential longevity but when something goes wrong, it is all “secret” (propriatory). I have an older car that works perfectly, most of the time. The other times I get only first gear. Several shops have suggested a rebuilt transmission ($6,400 plus labor) and a used transmission control module ($200-$400, if available) with no guarantee that the project will fix the problem.

    So I am reading tea leaves. The engine controller and transmission controller “talk” to one another (of course). The primary functions are pretty much the same in all vehicles but each manufacturer has propriatory functions to deal with specific needs of specific vehicles. These are not typically documented. My car, like many German & French vehicles has multiple temperature sensors. The coolant sensor is a duplex gizmo. One part will trigger a fault code if the engine overheats. The other portion is used to control fuel injection and does not trigger codes. BUT,from the tea leaves of internet babble: If the engine overheats, the engine controller can force transmission down-shifts to reduce load. If the intake air is Arctic cold, the engine will block transmission upshifts until the engine is warm enough. These functions are “just so” stories without documentation. For decades, the engine control temperature sensors have been undependable and have caused significant recalls. Plus this problem is intermittent.

    Fine. The car is good for 100,000miles (mine is less) but when something goes wrong, trash it, because I can’t bet almost $10,000 on work that “might” fix the problem. [Same plan from the dealers]

    I’ll be getting a replacement for the cheaper sensors (~$11), will check for intermittents in the harness. If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably sell it for parts and look into getting the clunker in the garage functional. Replacing a dead CD player with a new cheap one is the way of the world now. I can’t just go replacing a whole automobile because the workings are “secret” and possibly a $11 part has failed.

    The old ones required a lot more care, but they worked and/or were fixable. An ancient air-cooled VW that i was using died in North Nowhere, Arizona. Failed ignition points. Bailing wire
    (iron workers wire, actually), set the gap with a business card (VW Idiots book) and drove to and around LA for several days until the high speed miss got me to put in a new set of points. In comparison, you have no idea how large of a state Illinois is until the computer wonder locks the transmission out in first gear and no one has a clue. I am not sure that vehicles have advanced in a practical way for the typical user.

    Maybe if you are leasing or buying a new machine every year or two, you will escape the deadly black box or be protected by a warranty. Otherwise who cares if the engine will not need service for 100,000 miles if it will not actually move because the manufacturers have not documented their new electronic “profit center” and no one in the field can diagnose a minor problem?

    All the tools are worthless without knowledge of the internal workings which are secret (propriatory). I am pretty sure that “propriatory” is another word for “extortion” which should merit felony time in a government institution.

  18. Climate science? Could we start with physics?

    Some photonics questions

    What are the photon absorption bands of CO2?
    What are the photon absorption bands of water vapor?
    What is the overlap?
    What does it mean?

    It means that water vapor is by far the predominant “greenhouse gas”. If that is the case on a planet 70% covered by water, then variations in CO2 are not causing warming. Worse. Variations in greenhouse gasses are not causing climate change.

    Water vapor (WV) and CO2 absorb/radiate in the same bands. There is 100 times as much WV as CO2 in the atmosphere..

    We have a water problem.


    As to hobbies – we are getting Makers Spaces.

  19. I only buy Hondas and Toyotas the last 20 years. My sister in Chicago bought a Hyundai because her daughter has one and it seems to be OK. It’s two years old

    Recently, it has been misbehaving, engine light on and shimmying while driving on the Dan Ryan, no place to get stranded. She has taken it to the dealer twice,

    The last time she tells me a man, who looked like a thug, told her the problem was her fault. He said it was the way she drives.

    She is 78 and caring for a disabled husband. How should she drive ?

    I told her to see how much it would cost her to trade it in on a Honda.

  20. “Climate science? Could we start with physics?”
    Could we just start with history? The current temperatures aren’t the slightest bit extreme relative to temperature swings of the last millenium. The “hockey stick” was a total fraud (go ahead and sue me, Mann) aimed at getting that absurd notion into the public’s heads.

  21. One of the good things about the Trump Administration is that they are quietly forging ahead with nuclear. I think modular nuclear plants, in the 50-100MW size range, are what we need.

    I like that Bill Gates is also putting his money where his mouth is by putting billions of his dollars into development of Gen4 nuclear technologies.

    Here! Here! For too long, fearful clueless idiots have been telling us all how to power ourselves.

  22. }}} I only buy Hondas and Toyotas the last 20 years. My sister in Chicago bought a Hyundai because her daughter has one and it seems to be OK. It’s two years old
    Recently, it has been misbehaving, engine light on and shimmying while driving on the Dan Ryan, no place to get stranded. She has taken it to the dealer twice,
    The last time she tells me a man, who looked like a thug, told her the problem was her fault. He said it was the way she drives.
    She is 78 and caring for a disabled husband. How should she drive ?
    I told her to see how much it would cost her to trade it in on a Honda.

    Sorry to hear that. I’ve had both Nissan and Hyundai/Genesis cars for the last two decades. Had no real complaints about either, and neither was new when I bought them, though they were “higher end” cars in both cases — a 1990 300zx (10yo when I bought it in 2000) and a 2013 Genesis Coupe (3yo, 60k mi when bought 3y ago).

    Bother were/are exceptionally reliable over time. The 300zx became unreliable only as it hit 25y old and 175k miles. The GC has been reliable as hell for the last 3y since I bought it, needing only routine maintenance (oil changes, new tires) and a brake job. But both of them were 30k+ cars when new, which I grant may make a difference.

    I’d suggest a better mechanic or dealer, as for the Hyundai.

  23. >Recently, it has been misbehaving, engine light on and shimmying while driving<

    engine light – Take it to an auto parts store like Autozone. They'll read the cars computer and tell you what the fault is for free.

    shimmying – bad strut/spring?

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