When all you have is a hammer…

You know how to finish this phrase… everything looks like a nail.  That is a profound observation of human nature isn’t it?

We all have points of view, perspectives, bias, and filters on what we see and hear.  We can categorize these into simplistic labels like optimist or pessimist, but that fails to understand the mechanics of how each point of view truly operates in a society.

Let me try to explain this in practical terms.  Recent news articles are showing that the idea that white Americans are racist is catching rightful flak.  CRT was being crammed down organizational throats.  The reaction was predictable: while there certainly are vestiges of racism in our society, the broader problem is the polarization driven by social and news media in their attempt to retain readership.  If it bleeds it leads.  Well now, some media outlets are realizing that this is tone deaf.  Let’s see if their model catches on this next year.

The predictions that the world’s environmental problems can be solved with simplistic ideas like solar, wind and EVs is finally showing signs of realism: we can’t mine our way out of our problems and supply chains are real.  In fact, the costs of these ideas is now rising again for these reasons and will rise very quickly if we try to force markets to produce these devices. Meanwhile the climate alarmists sense all this and are redefining their arguments.  The recent GreenBiz VERGE Net Zero conference was careful to not talk about climate change but redefined the goal as a “pathway to safety.”  This reminds me of how our military redefined the need for funding our bases in the US as strategic readiness.  Don’t get me wrong here, I do agree with that as a better way to describe what we are trying to do.

We engineers get a bad rap in life because we almost always fall back to basic logic and numbers.  When asked whether the glass was half full (the optimist) or half empty (the pessimist) the engineer quips “you appear to have about twice as much glass as you really need.”

But, the real question with the hammer and the nail analogy is exactly that.  What are we trying to hold together?  Would a screw work better?  What about glue?  What are we trying to do?  It is fascinating to me to consider these questions on the earlier questions of racism.  Are we seeing comments about racism now because we have so many people in the HR departments searching for it to keep their jobs?  I think so.

Does the climate change market now sense their dreams are just that and are desperately trying to redefine the game before they are called to account for the lack of results in anything they are doing right now?  Yep, I think so.  This next year will force many to ask and answer a very simple question: what is this fortune in funding actually doing to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere?  When the data comes in it will show all this solar, wind, EV and supposedly beneficial electrification has made the carbon dioxide levels rise more quickly!  Thus the pivot to a pathway to safety.

Yep, follow the money.  If you make hammers everything does look like a nail.

Redefining ESG

I am so tired of hearing the boardroom and political nonsense that I have redefined ESG as Environmental Silliness and Grandstanding because that is exactly what it is.  Recent news has all pointed to the flaws in grandiose promises in the near term.  This blog focusses on the key letter that has changed meaning: we have moved from governance to grandstanding.

The idea expressed in governance is so rightful sounding.  Wikipedia is once again helpful here:

A broad (meta) definition that encompasses many adopted definitions is “Corporate governance” describes the processes, structures, and mechanisms that influence the control and direction of corporations.” This meta definition accommodates both the narrow definitions used in specific contexts and the broader descriptions that are often presented as authoritative. The latter include: the structural definition from the Cadbury Report, which identifies corporate governance as “the system by which companies are directed and controlled” (Cadbury 1992, p. 15); and the relational-structural view adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) of “Corporate governance involves a set of relationships between a company’s management, its board, its shareholders and other stakeholders. Corporate governance also provides the structure through which the objectives of the company are set, and the means of attaining those objectives and monitoring performance are determined.”

Doesn’t this sound disciplined and balanced?  It sure does, if and unless those involved are deluded and drank the Kool-Aid of the progressive purists and their idealistic nonsense.  Once you accept the absurd ideas that you can ban natural gas, internal combustion engines, and decide that electricity is the right choice in the near term regardless of the economic and environmental impacts, you are on your way to pure grandstanding which is defined as:  the action of behaving in a showy or ostentatious manner in an attempt to attract favorable attention from spectators or the media.

The recent cold weather here in Georgia is going to result in power outages because the grid is no longer being planned by rational principles.  If we really believe the weather variations are going to get worse we should also realize that our historical reliability constructs are no longer conservative.

Processes, structures, control, planning, and that persnickety term reliability all come into play.

My choice of the word silliness is inadequate.  In keeping with the publishing standard that replaced education with indoctrination and alarmism I should use the politically incorrect word: Stupidity.


Carbon Con 2023

Our son suggested we attend the Comic Con parade in Atlanta about 8 years ago, so we and a bunch of our employees all agreed to meet along the parade route and then grab dinner at an area restaurant.  It was pretty wild and it showed me how much people will spend pretending to be a character.  Perhaps most impressive were those who were dressed up as Star Wars soldiers.  Those white plastic armor suits looked identical to the ones on movie sets.

I guess this is all innocent fun on so many levels… that is until and unless it becomes the life these individuals really believe they are leading.  When I hear people talking of the Metaverse or about the time wasted in videogame play I do worry whether we are headed nowhere good.

The title of this blog comes from an article called The Great Carbon Con Is Coming to an End: No more fluffy climate goals and emissions offsets. Businesses will soon be expected to show real progress.

As I read it, I felt redeemed for all the blogs I have written trying to warn people of the greenwashing and blatant lies being offered as corporate testimonies on ESG initiatives.  It seems that the charade is going to be called into accountability and the emperors shown to be nude and ugly.  One can hope.

The problem with this of course is that the last thing we all need is more proof that what we are being told by government and industry leaders can’t be trusted.  We all want to believe that actions today can lead to a healthier and prosperous tomorrow.

But, we are also in the perfect storm of technology that is sure to confound the process.  We have deep fakes that can automatically produce “proof” that people say this or that.  We have AI powered script and video generation that can flood our digital channels with misinformation, and we have ample proof that all too many of our leaders are corrupt.

Perhaps that is why so many of us want to entertain ourselves with magical creatures and other worlds we can live in.  These all seem oh so much better than the one we must live in today.

Perhaps we all do live in that matrix pointed to by the movie series of that name.  When I hear how many people attended the big meetings on climate change I am reminded of the wise words Joe Collier spoke when he keynoted one of the early meetings on cogeneration and said, “I just hope those of you who think you are going to make a lot of money promoting cogeneration projects have wives who work.  Seems like such an inappropriate remark today, now doesn’t it.

That year the meeting was dominated by entrepreneurs and industry participants.  Within two years it was dominated by lawyers looking for information to sue the snake oil sales companies that dominated the business.

You do see the parallels, right?  We are now in the entertainment phase of Carbon Con.  Enjoy!

Maybe now it is obvious?

I still remember when I was asked to talk about renewables back when they were first being considered in the energy source portfolio.  I warned about bird strikes with wind and the challenges of backing up both wind and solar.  Back then batteries were much more costly.

One of the topics I raised was the curious inclusion of wood waste as a renewable source for power.  I understood the idea of scraps off the forest floors, but what was emerging was the largescale destruction of trees with the idea that burning them was less harmful than letting them rot on the forest floor for decades.  My wife Susan and I had observed the burning of fields for the same reason in New Zealand.  The idea was burning the brush was better than letting it produce methane since methane does have a large global warming potential compared to carbon dioxide.

However, as I said back then, burning wood in seconds releases an enormous amount of carbon dioxide plus huge amounts of other pollutants.  Anyone who travels in the northeast will note the lovely smell of wood being burnt in the communities.  Yes, it does smell good, but that is not good for the environment.

As the article below shows, Australia has put an end to this and Europe may be following quickly once they get past this winter.  The war in Ukraine of course tempers purist perspectives.

Read the Mongabay article here.

But, does anyone in the US realize how big the biomass industry is?  Once again, watch the movie Planet of the Humans to get the inside scoop here.

Worse yet, we are all paying subsidies to produce this devastation.

We need a full scale review of all of these ideas which include corn based ethanol as gasoline additives, biofuels of all types, as well as the full cradle to grave footprints of solar cells and EV batteries.

If you think the EVs are good for the environment, read this New York Times article. 

So, is it now obvious we are on the wrong track?