Scotland: A mighty wind…

Yesterday I was reading some news about Portugal’s “renewable” energy, that upon closer examination also turned out to be, not true. And under that post, in exclusively glowing praiseful comments I found this, “Scotland has been producing more than twice the power it consumes since 2014 (from renewable alone).”

Now, normally I would say that anyone can easily check this kind of thing. But I must admit that Scotland is very very good at obfuscating data that doesn’t shine with righteous “Green” purpose. So while I searched over and over for information about Scotland’s overall energy production and consumption, I was almost invariably channeled into information exclusively about the “renewable” electricity sector.

But in one of those documents I did find a useful graph. I mean, it is a very problematic graph. But it is the best carefully-buried, close-to-whole data I could find. And I will no doubt add a screen capture of it below. The first thing to notice is that there are no units. The second thing to notice is that the scale of the Gas bar is drawn at almost exactly 50% of the scale for Electricity. So, what can we learn from this graph, none the less.

Scotland’s electricity sector is indeed dominated by wind. And that sector totals 22,927 units. The gas sector, which is a source of CO2, is 46,999 units. So mostly-wind electricity is ONE third of Scotland’s energy, while natural gas is TWO thirds of Scotland’s energy. And while this must not be the whole story, for instance where is gasoline in that, or wood burning and etc… Let’s take that data and acknowledge that fossil fuels provide a MINIMUM of 67% of Scotland’s energy. It could be much more.

And let us examine a few problems with the “renewable” numbers.

First of all, a relentless mendacity of “renewable” data reporting is to state the capacity rather than the actual generation. Renewables are more honestly called “intermittents” because that is what they are. In practice wind and solar are often operating at a fraction, or a small fraction of their capacity. Sometimes that is 0% of their capacity for days or weeks at a time. This is such a problem that it has its own term, “dunkelflaute.”

But worse than that, the UK’s wind industry is in crisis. It was news just a couple of weeks ago that even with massive subsidies and guaranteed very-high-rate electricity contracts, the UK government could not find any private investors willing to take their subsidies and build more wind capacity. It is estimated that in order to get more offshore wind built the government is going to have to sweeten the pot by increasing the subsides from £44 per megawatt-hour to £75. That would be a total increase of more than 200% over 2022 prices. And Scotland has some of the most expensive energy already. And all that wind is probably almost all of the cause.

So, here is the thing. I hate that it is true. I hated it the first time I read a promising headline about fifteen years ago that turned out, on closer examination, to be an obscene falsehood. But when you hear glowing statistics about the success of “renewable” energy, be skeptical. Because for some interests wind and solar are cash cows, troughs of subsides that they can feast on. And for many other people, people who genuinely want a sustainable future, belief in this LARPing Green nonsense is a religion. And they will say anything in praise of it, whether it is true or ridiculous.

Finally, and just for reference, so you can get a feel for the zealous mendacity, Lazard says the “average UNSUBSIDIZED levelized cost of energy” for wind is $50. But the UK has just proved that it is at nearly twice that at $94.51. And in light of the UK government’s rich subsidies, please note the use of the word, “UNSUBSIDIZED!” £75 or $94.51 IS the guaranteed subsidy which, again for clarity, has doubled since 2022, that was less than a year ago.

If wind farms were viable, corporations would be building them on their own initiative, fighting with the government for permits, just out of a profit motive.

And… a postscript…

For additional reference the Canadian LCOE for new nuclear is between $55 and $85. The actual UK LCOE for wind @ £75 is $128.85 CAD. But wind incurs a Levelized Cost of Storage (LCOS) which increases the cost by 80 to 94%. So that $128.85 inflates to between $231.93 and $249.65 CAD. That’s something like 3 to 4 times the cost of new nuclear.


“Been reading some forum stuff about designers ‘taking input’ from non designers and the majority is, “that’s how things work in an office. Suck it up and collect your paycheck or find another job.”

We don’t do this to other qualified professionals. We don’t do it with electricians or cooks. The only reason this can happen in graphic design studios is because nothing gets broken and no one dies when it happens. No one would think, “ok,” that soccer mom is gonna be under the hoist ‘sharing’ with the mechanic who is diagnosing their car problems, or that hospital admin is gonna be in the room ‘collaborating’ with the surgeon.

These are non-designers ‘playing’ at being designers by exploiting the technical skills of an actual designer to facilitate their affectation. This is why a lot of studios use, and get better work from freelancers. You give a professional their assignment and let the professional do their job. This micromanaging interference with all its pop psychology rhetoric and team-speak bullshit is unprofessionalism wearing a pretty dress.

And what can happen when a studio or art department is run this way is that everything takes longer and is terribly frustrating. And good creative people leave. And dull, unimaginative robots stay. And that affects the work.

And it is not ‘different’ because it is ‘creative.’ Indeed, good creative actually depends on people being free to work creatively. Imagine Picasso working if a committee of his art buyers sent a delegate to his studio to day-to-day ‘collaborate’ with the artist to ‘help’ him to produce more marketable stuff…

This is in some very real sense a garbage-in micromanagement style. One I was very familiar with in the early ’90s. It is not a productive model. The only thing it serves is the ego of the people playing at being ‘creatives.’ And this structure to some extent guarantees garbage-out.

What you read on forums illustrates this beautifully. Does “that’s how things work in an office. Suck it up and collect your paycheck or find another job,” sound like a creative, productive workplace to you?

Taxing Carbon

Just for clarity. A carbon tax is literally the least the government can do to gently and wishfully encourage industry to decarbonize. The absolute minimum. It is not very effective, and populists can easily lie about it to leverage ignorant deplorable anger, but it is ‘technically’ very very slightly more than doing nothing.

As a more useful alternative, we could discourage oil and gas investment by levying a 100% corporate income surtax. We could set minimum standards for making our cities more walkable and… transitable (?) instead of sprawling automobile hellscapes that cannot help but bankrupt us. We could rebuild our passenger rail system and electrify it all, like civilized countries, and add usefully timely high-speed service.

But just to dip a toe in the prospect of saving the habitability of the whole fucking planet, we have a quite moderate carbon tax that is revenue neutral for the federal government and costs no individual earning less than six-figures anything.

But instead we are collectively having an apoplectic fit over this trivial, minimal, alternative to active punitive and restorative legislation that could save us from this shit-show we have manufactured through petulant greed and irresponsibility.

Not gonna happen…

I want the wind and solar dream to be true. Everyone does. Just like everyone wants the PET bottle they put into the recycling to be “recycled.”

Durham Region the other day quoted a statistic, “Since the 1950s, 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic have been generated around the world and only 23 per cent of those plastics have been recovered or recycled.”

To which I responded, “I want to know where you got the 23% figure. Prior to about 30 years ago exactly 0% of plastics were even being attempted to be recycled. Today as little as 5% of plastics are getting “recycled,” and that is down from 10% which itself may have been wishful thinking. And all that depends on allowing only the most generous use of the word “recycled,” because we do not have an industrial-scale method of cost-effectively breaking down plastics into constituent polymers so that they can be actually recycled into new plastic.”

And essentially the same wishful thinking is happening with “renewable” energy (wind and solar) advocacy. I would be absolutely fucking delighted if this were happening. But it isn’t and it is not possible.

If we stay this course, what is more likely is that rich people, who can afford to pay ten or one hundred times more for electricity, will afford their private Tesla roof and their rapacious lifestyle, while everyone else can do without. Wind and solar are perhaps opening the door to the greatest regression into inequity that humanity has ever seen.

I would love a free-energy wind and solar future. But is is not really a logistical possibility and every day we waste on this dream is a day we continue not to do what must be done to mitigate this worsening climate emergency.

Pretending a thing is true when it isn’t is religious belief not science.

Moreover green-washers inevitably tout electric cars as a big advantage for a sustainable future. But a huge part of why are cities are not sustainable is that the car-centric sprawl, that is taken for granted in Canada and the US, is inherently ridiculous. Car dependency is one of the main reasons why we are in this mess. And more than anything it is not the gas that cars guzzle and spew into the atmosphere as exhaust that is the worst part of cars. It is that car-centric development precludes efficient, compact, walkable human-scaled cities and towns. Seas of parking and vast rivers of stroads and highways are, and always will be, unsustainable.

Electric cars CANNOT save the planet and that is not what they are here to do. They are here to save the auto industry and the obscene urban sprawl that that industry foisted upon us. And even though almost all the vehicles we need will eventually have to be electric, the manufactured “need” for so many ubiquitous cars is a huge part of this catastrophe.

Yes we’re going to a party party

When we talk about the urgent need to eliminate right-wing extremism from Canadian politics, I am not sure why people jump to the idea of us ending up with a two-party system. There are several political parties in Canada, not all of them are either the Liberals, or the NDP or the CPC.

That being said, the Conservative movement in Canada is an existential threat to Canada having a future at all. Sure, the NDP and Liberals could merge, they could also schism again later.

If I could make it happen, I would certainly arrange for a alliance between the Liberals and the NDP bent on the utter destruction of the CPC. That is after all exactly what happened with the Unite the Right movement that had the Reform/Alliance party devour the Progressive Conservatives and made our situation so much worse in Canada and saddled us with Harper.

When the Cons no longer have any political power, when they lose the ability they have now to dominate our political discourse, when their extremism and corruption are irrelevant, then I would experience insuperable delight watching the Liberals, NDP, Greens, etal in a war of reasonable ideas for a better future.

Unfortunately while the Conservatives are always calling the tune, no forward movement is even possible.

no time like the present

Sometime in the 1970s I learned about the greenhouse effect in geography class. In 1992 world leaders in Rio de Janeiro agreed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. So we should have been building out low-carbon nuclear electricity generating capacity, to replace the energy we got from fossil fuels, in 1992, more than three DECADES ago.

In 1997 in the Kyoto Protocol world leaders agreed, after five years of greenhouse gas emission increases, that they ought to start doing something about climate change before the consequences grew too great, before the damage became too problematic.

So, in 1997 I thought we would probably start building the low-carbon generating capacity, we should have started more than five years earlier.

But the answer was, “NO! Never nuclear.” — “Soon we will be able to make all our energy with windmills and PV panels.” That was twenty-six wasted years ago.

And when, unsurprisingly, that revolution did not happen, by 2007 I thought, “After fifteen years of increasing carbon output, we have made less than no progress on carbon emissions. Shouldn’t we start building some meaningful low-carbon baseload generating capacity?” And keep in mind that reactors started in 2007 would probably be online by now actually depreciating fossil fuel use.

But the anti-nuclear lobbyists said, “NO! Nuclear scares us! We refuse to understand it. We have no useful sense of the risk/benefit ratio. NEVER nuclear. Besides wind and solar are getting ‘cheaper.’ [for some definition of cheaper that is one or two orders of magnitude too expensive] We can do this with ‘renewables.’”

Another wasted decade passed and in 2017 I thought, “Ok, after twenty five years of increasing carbon emissions. Wind and solar have not magicked the problem away yet. We can wish that they may someday. But right now we need to build lots and lots of low-carbon generating capacity. Could we do that now? So far we haven’t done anything useful. We should do something.”

Them, “NO! Nuclear is an archaic technology. With ‘renewables’ and ‘green energy’ investment we don’t need it. Besides even though wind and solar are only an insignificant fraction of unreliable generating capacity we can pad those numbers out with hydroelectricity and this great new biofuel technology. We can build dams and flood vast ecosystems. And we can cut down forests to make wood chips, cook those in bioreactors to make carbon fuel and burn it! It is all so ‘RENEWABLE!’”

Me, “OMG! those are terrible ideas! New hydroelectricity development is environmentally catastrophic. We cannot ethically expand hydro development. And biofuel‽ That is taking a low-energy-density fuel source that is otherwise a carbon sink and turning it into a source of additional carbon. Wood burning is already a major source of atmospheric carbon globally. We need to reduce its use, not increase it. This is making the problem worse, just with extra steps.”

Them, “But it is not nuclear. NEVER nuclear.”

Me, with some exasperation, “but we have a climate emergency. We need to solve this. We need to do something real and effective because the consequences are fast upon us.”

Them, “We already have the solution to the climate emergency. You just have to BELIEVE that a solar panel on the roof of an apartment block in Scandinavia in the winter at night can produce all the energy that building needs.”

And it turns out that the dream of wind and solar coming in deus-ex-machina to save us, in all likelihood is a logistical impossibility while, at the same time, even fifty year old CANDU technology could still do the climate-mitigation-heavy-lifting, as was always the case.

It is 2023, the world’s hottest year ever recorded. We have seen climate catastrophe after climate catastrophe, flood, fire, famine. And it is already certain that coming years and decades will be worse even if we were to hit net-zero today. Thirty-one years have passed since the Rio Earth Summit and we have continued to do nothing that has even begun to make any difference. And most of that is because of our stupid, ignorant resistance to using a proven, safe, reliable, and cost-effective energy technology versions of which were fully resolved in the 1970s when I first learned about climate heating and the need to build low-carbon electricity generating capacity.

How cool would it be if all green-energy activists and Green Parties pulled their collective heads out of their asses, as they have done in Finland, and started following honest evidence-based policies that could actually achieve the climate change mitigation that they say they want?

Solar power is inherently inequitable.

People keep saying stuff like, “how did solar get so cheap so fast?”

Earlier this year I watched a video of a rich guy breaking down his Tesla roof investment. That installation cost what my electricity costs for 1613 months or 134 YEARS. For an installation that has an expected lifespan of <25 years.

But he expected to break even on the installation in about nine years because his household, even though not everything is electrified, devours almost 16 times as much electricity as mine.

And this leads us to the nightmare scenario. There are a couple of reasons whey solar in particular, but also wind, can never replace our fossil fuel energy consumption. But they can do something else. They can create the greatest inequity in centuries by making it possible for the rich to continue with their energy hungry lifestyles by virtue of being able to afford energy at one or two orders of magnitude higher cost, while at the same time everyone else gets to freeze or die of heat prostration in the dark.

This is why it is genuinely immoral to continue to pursue energy technologies that will not provide cheap reliable power to EVERYONE.


From years ago. But nothing useful has changed. So…

It is evident that many Ontarians are supporting Conservative (radical anti-government) candidates. I cannot understand how they could make such a mistake. So I have tried to find a way to explain the situation to those voters.

Imagine there is a party with its platform centred on their intention to cut your leg off. They insist that concerns that you might bleed out when your femoral artery is cut are just liberal propaganda and that there is no consensus that cutting is a cause of bleeding. Moreover, when the usefulness of the amputations is questioned, they insist that it will cause private sector leg stimulus. Before the end of their term in office leg removal will inevitably result in you having more legs than you know what to do with. You will become a human centipede.

When the party is questioned about their apparent intention to give your leg to multinational cannibals, they insist that unregulated extraterritorial human flesh eaters are the true source of legs and it is only by obliging them that you will have any legs at all.

This sounds cracked, but is essentially the logic in radical right-wing policy that has been fucking everything up for 30 years. Supporting such parties has been digging Canada into a deep hole most of my adult life. Unless you stop supporting these flaky ideologues things are just going to get worse. Cause cutting the legs out from under our economy is what this “Conservatism” really is about.

Arnold Ziffel

On Pigs. The place where I cared for perhaps a dozen was a farm where school children came to learn about agriculture. After the piglets were several weeks old, I no longer remember the exact number of weeks, but they were still not big, we could no longer bring the children into the large pen because the pigs would start attacking the children. And these were varieties of pigs bred for centuries to be less aggressive.

When BBC filmed Tudor Monastery Farm they were unable to use authentic period pigs because those breeds represented too much of a risk of knocking down someone on the production and killing them.

When mucking out pigs, they are itchy creatures, they will rub up against the barrow and blithely knock it over if you do not chase them away from it. And it is not easy to persuade a pig to go somewhere else. They don’t catch on very fast.

There is a myth about pigs being clean that no doubt is just a reaction to pigs traditionally being thought of as dirty. We actually told the school children that the pigs would restrict defecation to a toilet area if given enough space. I cleaned that pen. This is a lie. It is perhaps true that there was marginally more shit in one corner. But they shit all over that large enclosure. And on the subject of waste I have never seen another animal standing in its water trough and peeing into it while drinking.

But before I personally had experience with pigs, the first time I had the ‘pigs are smart and nice’ bubble burst, I roomed for a year with a kid who’s family farmed pigs. He knew. And I will not repeat the horror stories he told me after laughing at my Arnold Ziffel misconceptions.

Righteous bosoms!

Years ago I had a very strange FB interaction with a someone who was agitated about some feminist activists in Germany getting their tits out to draw attention to their message. I had responded by saying, “everybody likes breasts,” which for him was quite annoying.

I really could not follow his argument very well at the time. Something about how the breasts should have been randomized instead of lovely and healthy and young. “It shouldn’t matter,” was something he said. Apparently the breasts were not diverse enough in some way.

And my saying that for a promotional exercise you would necessarily want nice but otherwise unremarkable breasts to grab attention but not deflect from your message really triggered him. Then he unfriended me.

I don’t think it is a coincidence that the someone was a privileged white man, an educated and affluent one who ought to have known better than to dictate to young women what they were allowed to do with their breasts.

Apparently an environmental activist got her breasts out at the Junos and successfully got media coverage that drew attention to her message. And what the comments testify to is that people are still quite keen to shit on women for choosing to do what they feel is necessary to get the public to notice.