A Free-Market Energy Blog

Houston’s ‘Sustainability’ Planning: More Climate Pork

By Charles Battig -- August 7, 2019

[Editor note: The author, a longtime critic of activist government climate policy, takes on a recent climate plan by the City of Houston. His open letter to Lara Cottingham, Houston Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Houston, follows.]

“Explain how 8 per cent wind and solar will replace 62 per cent reliable energy 24/7. Texas winds may be a bit more steady, but during heat spells, wind activity … falls just when it is needed the most.”

” A logical conclusion is that the city and staff may have an agenda for wishing to ration energy in the city not related to temperature or climate change, or perhaps that they are uninformed of these climate/energy facts.

Houston City government and staff have arbitrarily decided to pledge, figuratively speaking, allegiance to U.N. climate goals and adopt the Paris Climate Agreement as formulated by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) by issuing a Climate Action Plan designed to meet those U.N. goals.  


The IPCC was founded by the U.N. in 1988, and has made its primary goal to define the human impact on global climate to the exclusion of other natural causes.  It is essentially a political entity, not an independent research agency.  It has diminished efforts to account for global climate other than the human use of fossil fuels, and has set carbon dioxide as prime regulator of global climate to the exclusion of a myriad of natural causes. 

That is a theory, never scientifically proved, and challenged by numerous scientific papers (see here, here and here).

The U.N. relies upon computer derived scenarios of future climate changes using computer programs which do not fully account for the major influence of clouds and cosmic particles. The historical temperature record has demonstrated that past U.N. computer predictions have grossly overstated the actual effect of human generated carbon dioxide.

What is the justification or objective of this embrace of the U.N. as the definitive arbiter of all things climate? It is unstated. 

The Paris Agreement is deeply flawed in terms of any theoretical impact on global climate change or temperature because two major contributors to global CO2 (if that is the parameter being targeted) are India and China, both of which currently remain unrestrained in their use of fossil fuels by that agreement.

The IPCC has based its alarmist, computer-generated predictions upon the false assumption that carbon dioxide is the prime determinant of global temperature, while ignoring the fact that water vapor (clouds) is the number one greenhouse gas, and that there exists the demonstrated effect of solar interactions with cosmic particles on cloud and water vapor formation.

Natural water vapor in the form of clouds is responsible for an estimated 90-95 per cent of the greenhouse effect.  The total contribution of all global CO2 to the greenhouse effect is about 3.6 per cent.  The human/anthropogenic component of that 3.6 per cent is a mere 0.117 per cent.  Water vapor rules the climate.

Real-World Emissions

China emits almost twice the amount of greenhouse gases as the US, which it surpassed in 2006 as the world’s top contributor to atmospheric carbon dioxide. Today, China accounts for approximately 23 percent of all global CO2 emissions. United States government estimates project that, barring major reform, China will double its emissions by 2040, due to its heavy reliance on fossil fuels for steel production and electricity.

India plans to double its coal production to feed a national power grid that suffers from increasingly frequent blackouts, and is the third largest contributor to fossil fuel CO2 production.

The US has never entered into any binding treaty to curb greenhouse gases, but has cut more carbon dioxide emissions than any other nation.

Prior studies have shown the utter futility of these carbon dioxide and fossil fuel reduction schemes to impact global temperatures by a state-by-state analysis from which, it was calculated, if entire state of Texas were to cease use of all fossil fuels and CO2 production, the savings in global temperature by 2050 would be a minuscule 0.0096 degrees C.  Moreover, it would take only 297 days before global increases in CO2 production would completely wipe out that insignificant temperature saving.   Anything Houston is proposing will have no real or nor measurable effect.

Climate Pork

Whatever scary tons of carbon dioxide are said to be saved by the proposed Climate Action Plan, there will be no measurable temperature effect, nor impact on hurricane formation. Lots of money to special interest groups.  Lots of economic pain and money spent which could be used for the real problems of housing, education, and aid to the homeless, or even flood control infrastructure for the next unpredictable hurricane, if real estate interests will agree.

City planners and climate lobbyists tout renewable energy as a replacement for fossil fuels. Natural gas produces 35.1 percent of the kilowattage, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and coal is responsible for 27.4 percent. Wind and solar contribute 6.6 percent and 1.6 percent. 

Explain how 8 per cent wind and solar will replace 62 per cent reliable energy 24/7. Texas winds may be a bit more steady, but during heat spells, wind activity usually falls, and wind turbine power output falls just when it is needed the most. Fossil fuel power plants will remain operating, and are the reliable and necessary 24/7 backup in all these renewable energy schemes. Wind power is sustained by billions of tax subsidies and political aid, and imported rare earth minerals from China.

Hidden Agenda?

A logical conclusion is that the city and staff may have an agenda for wishing to ration energy in the city not related to temperature or climate change, or perhaps that they are uninformed of these climate/energy facts.  If the city holds up the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as its authoritative source for all things climate, then we must assume that they fully believe the U.N. when Ottmar Edenhofer, lead author of the IPCC’s fourth summary climate  report released in 2007, stated that:

One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth.

This is the apparent goal of the city, and it is moving forward with the support of environmental activists and commercial enterprises hoping to profit from imposed de facto energy rationing. Public-private partnerships may be viewed as a form of corporate cronyism to the advantage of large corporate entities, and to the disadvantage of smaller businesses unable to afford new restrictions and regulations. Green virtue signaling is good for corporate public relations and image, but has no discernable impact on the climate or hurricane incidence.


Members of the public at large are usually outnumbered at relevant hearings by special interest groups. Unelected staff are crafting numerous schemes to ration the public’s free use of energy and modes of transportation. 

These schemes do not offer a cost-benefit analysis that includes the quantification of the impact on the climate.  They do reflect an anti-democratic mindset which wishes to impose a government-defined bureaucratic mode of living including unnecessarily more expensive energy–and higher taxes to subsidize commercial make-work efforts with no proof of cost effectiveness that would make a measurable impact on the climate nor the sea level rise, which, in tectonically stable areas, remains 7-10 inches per 100 years.

Or as the chief of staff for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez stated: her signature Green New Deal was not really about saving the planet after all. In a report by the Washington Post, Saikat Chakrabarti revealed that “it wasn’t originally a climate thing at all … we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

That “thing” is known to the public as democracy and informed freedom of choice.


  1. Harold H Doiron  

    Dr. Battig has it right. Why are the citizens of Houston tolerating this irrational behavior of its leadership and unelected staff? Surely their tax dollars could be spent on more productive endeavors.


  2. David Hutzelman  

    Metro’s misguided and irrational attempt to manage Houston’s transportation options mirror the sustainability madness. The agency is proceeding to implement a multi-billion bond issue despite commuting using mass transit declined br 20% from 2005-2015. (American Community Survey data)


  3. Weekly Abstract of Local weather and Power # 371 – Next Gadget  

    […] Houston’s ‘Sustainability’ Planning: More Climate Pork […]


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