Math Vs. The Green New Deal

As a devoted Leftist I am encouraged to see young activists pushing for progressive policy goals. As an old Leftist I am somewhat amused to see once again bright-eyed and eager newcomers pushing for goals that are somewhat ambitious. As in unachievable without making most of the problems we face much worse.

The Green New Deal (GND) is a policy initiative aimed at converting the US fuel portfolio to renewable sources in 10 years. Some (not all) of those advocating the GND want to further limit the acceptable fuel sources, shunning nuclear, hydro-electric and foreswearing carbon capture and storage and geoengineering.

I guess they like a challenge.

The United States consumed 99 quads last year. What is a quad, you ask? It is one quadrillion BTUs. Oh, okay, what’s a BTU? It is a unit of energy–strictly speaking the energy required to raise the temperature of a pint of water from 39 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. About the amount of energy released from a burning wooden match.

A quadrillion of the little suckers is a lot of energy–if you burned all the coal in a coal train that stretched from Albuquerque to Anchorage it would be about one quad. And we burned the equivalent of 99 of those trains’ cargoes last year.

Fortunately for all of us, not all 99 quads were generated by coal. In fact, only 14 of them were! This is much better than in the past. Here’s how it breaks out in quads:

Petroleum and other liquids: 38.44
Natural gas: 29.19
Coal: 13.98
Nuclear: 8.34
Hydro-electric: 2.45
Biomass: 2.66
Other renewable energy*: 3.61
Other: 0.35

*Includes grid-connected electricity from landfill gas; biogenic municipal waste; wind; photovoltaic and solar thermal sources; and
non-electric energy from renewable sources, such as active and passive solar systems.


The energy we got from permissible energy sources last year amounted to 6.6% of the total energy we consumed.

Now, anything is possible. But it took a lot of hard work, harder politicking, generous subsidies and real determination over the course of the past 20 years to get us to 6.6% ‘acceptable’ renewables. I find it somewhat difficult to chart a path forward to 100% in a decade.

Not impossible. If we subsidized a massive buildout of solar power in the Southwest United States and built essentially a new grid, if we bought all the batteries built worldwide and hopefully more, if we mandated conversion of all motor vehicles to fully electric power, it’s not physically impossible.

I think the cost would be very, very high. I believe the amount of disruption to the normal working of our economy would be remarkable. And success would be dependent on starting basically today–and given the attitude of the current administration towards many of those advocating the GND, it would require a Damascene conversion on the part of Donald J. Trump and many other members of his administration.

I would hope that my fellow Leftists, much as I love them, are working on a Plan B.Because otherwise it all reminds me of the way things were 50 years ago. See if you can spot me in the picture…



  1. There’s nothing new about the Green Deal. It’s the same old deal: government finds new and ever more ways to tax the populace.


  2. Alongside a deficiency in math should be added a deficiency in geography. The US accounts for 17% of global energy consumption from only 4% of the global population. If the objective is to stop dangerous climate change then global emissions need to be reduced. The Paris Agreement is insufficient to prevent global emissions from rising, let alone to reduce them by at least 25% by 2030.
    So why are leftists in the United States and other parts of the Western World pushing for harmful policies that will not achieve their primary objective?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Manic,

    Could it be that their primary objective is not to drastically reduce global emissions of CO2 in the next decade, but to simply de-industrialize Western economies?


  4. But how much energy will be required to cook your new green healthy diet of only one egg per week and a thick juicy steak in your next lifetime?


  5. Tom,

    So who was playing at the concert 50 years ago?

    Fashion wise I keep away from orange as it clashes with my light colored hair. I think it was the summer of 1969 that I attended an outdoor concert by Peter Paul and Marry at Blossom Musical Festival. We drove in the wagon to the boonies to get to the venue. The interstate highway developments made it fairly easy get to formerly hard to get to places. An 18 wheeler was the biggest vehicle on the road in my area back then. It seems big development efforts have moved to China.

    I have never seen a 34 wheeler before, but it seems that what it takes to put some of the infrastructure in place to stop wasting so much RE in China.

    “State Grid’s new 1100-kv line could help reduce renewable energy curtailment because Xinjiang’s wind and solar power plants are among China’s largest and also the country’s most heavily curtailed. More than one-fifth of Xinjiang’s solar generating potential and one-quarter of its wind power was squandered in 2017, according to Chinese government statistics. Sending that power to eastern China instead of wasting it would help State Grid meet Xi’s promise to shrink curtailment to less than 5 percent in all regions by 2020.”


  6. Jaime,
    It is unclear why the climate alarmists want to control emissions. They appear to sincerely believe that they can save the planet by imposing the morally right policies. Appearing to be virtuous in the eyes other, like-minded people, seems to take precedence over seeing through effective net-beneficial policies.


  7. The Netherlands used in 2017 an energy amount of about 100 GWy (3147 PJ), currently 20 GWy is electric, of which 16 GWy is fossil. On 21 December last year The Netherlands pledged 50% green energy in 2030 and 100% green energy in 2050…


  8. Tom, why do you think that the lefties pushing the delusional ideas you outline would act differently than Stalin’s folks pushing the new Soviet man, or Lysenkoism, or the ultimate deluded farce, that socialism is scientific?
    Marx, Lenin, Khruschev, Mao, Castro, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Mugabe, Chavez and Maduro all proved that socialism can’t work.
    Macron and the ruling class he is part of are pushing energy policies that lead to riin and revolution.
    The idiocratic young lefties in the US can’t even think rationally about energy, economics or climate.
    You are hated by the because you are a heretic.
    You are actually not part of them despite your sentiments otherwise.
    You have a brain and a heart.
    The GND is pushed by people with neither.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hiya hunter–well, a failure to think rationally is not something reserved for lefties only. And I would say that Norway, Sweden, Finland and others prove that socialism can work–if led by intelligent socialists.

    And they may be thin on the ground–but no thinner than intelligent capitalists, IMO.


  10. Tom,
    The Scandanans abondoned socialism a long time ago in favor of a mixed economy with strong welfare.
    And that hasn’t worked out either.


  11. Depends on how you define ‘not working out.’ They make more money. They live longer. They have better healthcare. Their governments don’t shut down on a whim. They say they are happier than Americans, when asked.

    What part of that isn’t working out for them? And yes, you are correct that they have altered their approach over the decades and it is more welcoming to capital and capitalists. What part of improving their approach do you object to?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I would hope that my fellow Leftists, much as I love them, are working on a Plan B.Because otherwise it all reminds me of the way things were 50 years ago. See if you can spot me in the picture…

    What’s Plan B? Well, the obvious alternatives are to listen to Michael Shellenberger, read the Ecomodernist manifesto and check out the Breakthrough Institute.

    Also, I’m guessing you’re the guy without a shirt on the left.


  13. Tom,
    The Scandanaians abondoned socialism a long time ago in favor of a mixed economy with strong welfare.
    And that hasn’t worked out either.


  14. …..but they backed out of real socialism asap.
    …and it begs the question of apples and oranges:
    Small homogeneous pops, vs. huge heterogeneous population, etc….
    You do raise good points and I truly appreciate your views


  15. Thomas, the Scandinavians aren’t Socialist. That their economies are working is an example of capitalism.

    They don’t have nationalised industry, and precious little government commerce at all. They don’t have centralised control of the economy. They don’t set prices or wages — I believe Sweden doesn’t even have a minimum wage. The Swedes have toyed with denationalising education. Health care is decentralised and is not free (although very cheap).

    What part of their system do you think is Socialist?

    Liked by 1 person

  16. None of the things you mention are foreign ideas to socialist thought. Socialists like markets–if they are properly regulated. That includes the labor market as well. Paying for healthcare has to happen–whether by taxes or fees.

    The point is instead of being panic stricken about somebody or something lowering the ceiling for the elites of the world, socialism is about raising the floor and making sure nobody falls below it.

    Don’t confuse us with communists. That’s a game too many have played.


  17. [quote=”JAIME JESSOP”]Could it be that their primary objective is not to drastically reduce global emissions of CO2 in the next decade, but to simply de-industrialize Western economies?

    I keep thinking about this and asking “who benefits?”, but the best answer I can come up with is ‘countries in south and east Asia’.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Cui Bono?
    Oligarchs who have heavy investments in tax subsidized “renewables”.
    NGOs who receive big money from oligarchs, believers and taxpayers.
    Academics and media who get paid to promote “climate change” as an “existential threat”.


  19. The most amazing fact about the recently announced drastic greenhouse gas reductions in The Netherlands is that they were made by a conservative-libdem government coalition with labour and green in the opposition…


  20. socialism is about raising the floor and making sure nobody falls below it.

    No, that’s Social Democracy. Generally done in the west via welfare. That has nothing to do with Socialism at all, which is government control of the economy.

    This is distracting us from the Maths of the “New Green Deal”. It’s utterly impossible. When doing their calculations of the cost of putting in the required solar, wind etc, the Greens forget that unlike conventional sources, they have short shelf lives. A nuclear plant can last 40 years, and a dam requires only new turbines from time to time — not a new dam. Solar and wind are lucky to last 10 years.

    By the time we got round to installing all the required “renewables”, the original ones would have broken down.


  21. Hans,
    CO2 reductions by better efficiency and rational policies only annoy the climate change obsessed.
    The most striking thing about the CO2 reductions is that they made no difference at all for the climate.
    To the extent that the reductions imposed higher costs on the Dutch, they were a negative.


  22. The set of deniers is expanding as the Green New Deal begins to be discussed by lawmakers:

    This led to much Twitter controversy. I was particularly struck by this between a self-declared climate scientist and someone I assume much greener and newer:

    Dr Mika, remember, said:

    “I literally teach climate change to undergrads and rant about capitalism/FF industry/etc. every class”

    But it’s never enough. The following was much-deserved parody. At least I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. For myself, the sensible lady lost me with “I like you a LOT Eric”

    Meanwhile, Mike Shellenberger had a rather more substantive take:

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Shellenberger is off again on another 35-tweet rant,

    or you can read his latest article here:

    Liked by 2 people

  25. “Ye shall know them by their fruits” is a keeper!

    I’d like to suggest a theme song to go with exposing the false claims of the “GND”

    Neil Diamond on Jonny Cash Show. 1970

    A revival meeting remembrance.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Kakatoa: There are hidden gems on YouTube! At twelve, living and going to school in leafy Surrey and Berkshire, in London’s commuter belt, there is no way I would ever have seen this. Nor would I have had any expectation of seeing it in my lifetime, even as I became an admirer of Johnny Cash from afar. But Tim Berners-Lee found a niche that changed all that. And the humility of Diamond here, having been the young know-all, is a great message for our generation.

    Liked by 1 person

  27. Richard,

    My parents drug me along on a 3 week vacation in the UK back in 1967(8,9?). We went through some of the leafy areas of London. My musically talented older brother made sure we hit a few music ion spots during the trip. I found the video after our boarder collie was going nuts around 3 in the am. She is young and the only way to calm her down when she is really worked up, she does not like coyotes, is to show her the livestock are safe. I don’t know what it is about snow, but she just loves the stuff so we had a fifteen minute trek checking everything out before she settled down. She was happy to go back to her kennel after the hike. I was up so I turned the coffee on and set the boob tube to our local PBS station which had a Neil Diamond special on. I decided to use Lee’s developments to check out a few details on Neil Diamond on the web. I was checking out the lyrics of “I Am I Said” when I saw the link to the J. Cash show special.

    I glanced at the “you might like section” on the screen and low and behold one of my favorite groups was highlighted “The Moody Blues”. I had no choice but to click on a link as it was put up by “Science Finds God”.(1)

    I had no idea that the group use to hang out with the Stones and Beetles back in the day. I had every one of their albums back in the 70’s. It was really interesting learning about how FM and stereo broadcasts were developed as the Blues were coming up with their sound. Given the search for meaning and truth that was going on at the time (kind of like these days) I found the discussion of how “The Nights in White Satin” came to be interesting. I was going to watch more of the video this morning, but the snow has coated everything once again……

    When time and the weather gods permit I’ll go back to the section of the video (starting about 56 minutes in) which covered various aspects of truth and referenced a former president

    1) A History of The Moody Blues


    [Sorry – this message got stuck in the spam folder. PM.]


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