California's Economic Climate Change Denialism

There's no free lunch when it comes to cutting greenhouse gases

In 2006, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the California state legislature decided that each and every man, woman, and child in California should eliminate 4 tons of CO2 emissions by 2020. And so America's first mandatory cap on greenhouse gasses, the Global Warming Solutions Act, became law. The state must now reduce its emissions to below 1990 levels, a 30 percent reduction from projected business-as-usual emissions, essentially cutting the allotment of carbon dioxide equivalent from 14 tons to 10 tons per person.

Opponents of the bill worried that deep, rapid cuts in emissions would hurt the state's economy. But never fear: In 2008, the California Air Resources Board issued a study reassuring Californians that they can make money hand over fist selling each other wind turbines and electric cars. Implementation of the cap "creates more jobs and saves individual households more money than if California stood by and pursued an unacceptable course of doing nothing at all to address our unbridled reliance on fossil fuels," the study cheerfully declared. Because by 2020 the mandates will increase economic production by $27 billion, boost personal incomes by $14 billion, raise per capita incomes by $200, and produce an additional 100,000 jobs. According to the study, "the bulk of the economic benefits are the result of investments in energy efficiency that more than pay for themselves over time."

The study projects that Californians will offset higher electricity and gasoline bills by driving more fuel efficient cars, by adjusting their thermostats to 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer, and by using energy efficient appliances at home. The idea is that while electricity will cost more, Californians will do things like switching from incandescent bulbs to energy thrifty compact fluorescent bulbs to reduce their energy usage.

But are these projections accurate? The study's economic peer reviewers don't think so. For example, UCLA economist Matthew Kahn warned that the cap "is presented as a riskless 'free lunch' for Californians." He noted that California's electricity prices are projected to increase by 14 percent, yet manufacturing employment is also supposed to increase by 0.4 percent. "This is a surprising finding," writes Kahn. "The micro-econometrics literature has concluded that increased energy prices retards manufacturing employment growth." He cites studies showing that cities with high electricity prices lose manufacturing jobs. Another peer reviewer, Harvard University economist Robert Stavins, bluntly states that the study's analysis is "systematically biased (and remarkably, internally inconsistent) in ways which lead to potentially severe underestimates of costs."

No one denies that energy prices will go up. Successful implementation of the Global Warming Solutions Act requires that 33 percent of the state's energy come from renewable sources by the 2020 deadline. Recent research finds that when states establish renewable portfolio standards for electricity, they pay on average 2 cents more per kilowatt-hour more than states that do not have such standards. That might not sound like much, but it's an 8 percent increase. California already ranks seventh in the nation based on how much California businesses, on average, spend for electricity. Only businesses in three very hot southern states and three very cold northern states spend more.

California gasoline taxes amount to 63.9 cents per gallon, the highest in the nation. Gasoline costs more in the Golden State than anywhere else in the lower 48 states. It is true that California is the fourth lowest state in per capita energy consumption. While some of the lower energy usage can be attributed to higher residential energy efficiency standards, substantially higher than average residential and commercial electricity rates also depress demand. The new mandates would add to the heavy regulatory burdens under which California businesses already groan. The Small Business Survival Index ranks California 49th among all states for business friendliness, just beating out New Jersey as the least business friendly state in the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council's annual rankings.

Yet the California Air Resources Board predicts that increasing energy prices and implementing new regulations in California will improve the state's economic outlook. A 2007 study by the Electric Power Research Institute begs to differ; the non-profit electricity industry think tank found that "the cost of meeting the stated 2020 emission reduction goal could range from $104 billion to $367 billion of reduced consumption (discounted present value through 2050)."

Last week, the California Small Business Roundtable issued their own report, charging proponents of the 2006 global warming mandate with wild optimism about its alleged beneficial economic effects. The report notes that California's 700,000 small businesses comprise 99 percent of all employer firms, provide 52 percent of all jobs, and contribute 75 percent of gross state product. Using the California Air Resources Board's own figures, the new report finds that the annual implementation costs would likely result in a loss of $182 billion in gross state output and 1.1 million fewer jobs. The business losses would occur in part because regulations would increase costs to consumers whose discretionary incomes would be reduced by about $3,800 per year as they paid more for housing, transportation, natural gas, electricity, and food.

The California Air Resources Board issued a fanciful study finding that mandates to cut greenhouse gas emissions will cost Californians essentially nothing. This is pure California dreaming. In his stinging critique of the study, Harvard economist Stavins said that putting the world on a less carbon-intensive path will require serious policy and sacrifice. "This will not be easy, and it will not be cheap," he wrote. "Indeed it will be costly." Telling the public anything else is just climate change economic denialism.

Ronald Bailey is Reason magazine's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is now available from Prometheus Books.

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  • Barry Loberfeld||

    There's no such thing as free legislation.

  • ||

    If "green" energy were currently cheaper and more efficient than fossil fuels, we would be using them. We wouldn't need to subsidize them. Therefore any push to "green" energy will entail making fossil fuels artificially expensive and our energy more expensive and all of us poorer. There is no way around that.

    Greens try to get around that by claiming "externalities". But they never offer any evidence that CO2 emissions are in fact making us poorer or that the forgone cost of glabal warming associated with CO2 emissions cuts is equal to or higher than the immediate cost to the economy.

    Yes, they live in a fantasy world.

  • No Name Guy||

    As is typical for the greenies, they think they can have their cake and eat it too.

    Delibertly reducing efficiency is not the way to get richer. This is from Econ 001 (yeah, well before Econ 100).

    "Green" energy - what a joke.

  • Glibertarian||

    I truly believe that we're very close to the technological breakthroughs that will allow us to harness the awesome power of carbon-free moonbeams and good vibes. We just need to spend a few trillion more dollars of "government money" to prime the pump.

  • Chad||

    I find all sorts of studies of these sorts to be hogwash. Our understanding of macroeconomics is simply to weak to discern anything at this level of detail. Instead, people just make assumptions that logically lead to the conclusions they want to find.

    In the end, stable economies will find ways to employ most people who want jobs. Unstable economies, where situations change faster than people and companies can adjust to them, will have higher unemployment.

    Which is more stable? Sunshine or the Middle East.

    Duh.

  • ||

    Oh the arrogance of mankind. Believing they can destroy...or save... the planet. Talk about delusions of grandeur.

    I can't wait until these idiots are finally forced to admit that they were wrong (when the sky doesn't fall like they claimed it would). But then they will move on to some other lie to ram down our throats.

  • ||

    But the capper is that even if we spend trillions on "green energy" and cap-and-trade and we all bicycle when we're not driving our Priuses, we will succeed, in coming decades, in making the average global temperature about .1 degree lower than it would have been otherwise. How can anyone honestly claim that result is worth it? Instead we just hear "Well, we have to do something!"

  • Some Guy||

    Because by 2020 the mandates will increase economic production by $27 billion, boost personal incomes by $14 billion, raise per capita incomes by $200, and produce an additional 100,000 jobs.

    So the guy that wrote that study couldn't make it in Hollywood because his scripts weren't even in the Michael Bay realm of plausibility.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    One of the lamest excuses for the cap and trade bill that I've heard a couple of times now from Democratic Congressmen (one of them who represents my own district) is that Congress has to act to shape the CO2 regulation to head off EPA doing it, which they claim would be much more onerous.

    They talk as if the EPA were some independent 4th branch of government over which they have no control whatsoever.

    The EPA and the Clean Air Act were creations of Congress in the first place. If the objective is to keep the EPA from regulating CO2,all they have to do is pass a law preventing the EPA from doing it.

    Of course all the other excuses they have for it are also bogus, all the "green job" bullshit, etc. But really, the claim that they ahve to do this to "save" us from the big bad EPA is the lamest one of all.

  • pinky||

    I think we can destroy the planet if we try hard enough. I still don't think we can save it though.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Which is more stable? Sunshine or the Middle East.


    This may come as a shock to you; most oil used in America comes from Canada and Mexico.

    Saudi Arabia and Yemen are stable countries.

    There is of course the issue of how America was paying for the oil; it seems that oil purchases were financed by debt.

  • Chad||

    Ron, I was thinking about this earlier today.

    What makes power cheaper in some places than others? Outside of places with large amounts of cheap hydro (which cannot be replicated), everyone has access to the same technology.

    Honestly, the answer lies in subsidies and regulations. Whichever places subsidize the most and regulate the least have nominally low prices. Of course, the true prices are probably just as high or higher when you factor in the cost to provide the subsidy and the cost of suffering whatever problems or dangers the regulations mitigate.

    So all you are saying in the end, Ron, is that everyone should race to the bottom, and let energy producers pollute like mad, put their neighbors in danger, while sucking at the government teet as fast as they can. THAT lowers nominal prices. But is it what we want?

    The race to the bottom is one of a thousand manifestations of the prisoners' dilema. I always find it odd that libertarians are so anti-government that they would prefer to let the lose-lose option happen rather than utilize any win-win option if the government were involved.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    But the capper is that even if we spend trillions on "green energy" and cap-and-trade and we all bicycle when we're not driving our Priuses, we will succeed, in coming decades, in making the average global temperature about .1 degree lower than it would have been otherwise. How can anyone honestly claim that result is worth it? Instead we just hear "Well, we have to do something!"


    Using hydrogen bombs, we can reduce the average global temperature by thirty-seven degrees if we ever needed to do so for whatever reason.

    (Read about The Cold and the Dark: the World After Nuclear War for more details.)

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Gee another "global warming" thread and another version of Chad's MASSIVE EXTERNALITIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    What a surprise.

  • ||

    Ron,
    I am a Californian. My annual CO2 footprint is 9 tons. I don't try very hard, my condo is old an inefficient. Nor have I had much government support, still no solar panels. My life style is pretty good; though I take the bus to work, I don't fly. My energy bills are cheap for California. $20 summer, $70 winter. CO2 Certified Offset costs are $50 per year.

    In Beddington England there are experiments on domestic CO2 reducts which have achieved 6 tons per person without hampering a modern lifestyle which includes some flying. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/bedzed-7-years-on.php

  • ||

    The reality of eco-topia is finally setting in here in Northern California . A series of wind, solar and geothermal power generation facilities are planned for volcanic, rural Lassen County California. Ah, but when a real world transmission line was planned to actually send that power to people who need it, the tofu hit the fan. The "activists" who had sung the praises of renewable eco-friendly everything made it clear they would clog the courts with lawsuits if that line came through THEIR land, and the utility companies had to abandon the project.

    Green Power: it's there, just don't reach for it.

  • JB||

    Green EnvironMentals are nothing but Reds in drag. They are a bunch of lying fuckbags.

  • Chad||

    Sam-Hec | July 22, 2009, 12:32am | #
    Ron,
    I am a Californian. My annual CO2 footprint is 9 tons. I don't try very hard, my condo is old an inefficient. Nor have I had much government support, still no solar panels. My life style is pretty good; though I take the bus to work, I don't fly. My energy bills are cheap for California. $20 summer, $70 winter. CO2 Certified Offset costs are $50 per year.

    In Beddington England there are experiments on domestic CO2 reducts which have achieved 6 tons per person without hampering a modern lifestyle which includes some flying. http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/07/bedzed-7-years-on.php


    I agree. The Europeans and Japanese are rich, happy, productive societies who emit only about 60% of what we do per capita. They are living proof that the "it will cost an arm, leg, and first born" crowd are simply spewing hyperbole. It will cost something, but not that much - something on the order of 2% of GDP.

  • ||

    Our understanding of macroeconomics is simply to weak to discern anything at this level of detail.

    We're not talking macroeconomics, chad. This is a specific study of the costs of a certain set of proposals with, you know, actual DATA. Data is that stuff that hand-wavers like Krugman ignore when it's right in front of their faces.

    -jcr

  • ||

    What makes power cheaper in some places than others?

    Excellent question, Chad! You're showing that even the slowest student can raise a cogent point!

    Honestly, the answer lies in subsidies and regulations.

    ..and then you go off into the weeds. Here's a little hint for you: google the term "supply and demand".

    -jcr

  • ||

    They talk as if the EPA were some independent 4th branch of government over which they have no control whatsoever.

    Well, it's not that they have no control, it's that they can't be bothered to do their goddamned jobs instead of shirking the legislative power off onto executive agencies.

    -jcr

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Well, it's not that they have no control, it's that they can't be bothered to do their goddamned jobs instead of shirking the legislative power off onto executive agencies."

    Which they never had any legitimate Constitutional authority to delegate to begin with.

  • The pharmacologist||

    Martin Owens:
    "The "activists" who had sung the praises of renewable eco-friendly everything made it clear they would clog the courts with lawsuits if that line came through THEIR land, and the utility companies had to abandon the project."

    There's an article in "The Smithsonian" this month about an engineer who is proposing building bouy-like devices that capture the movements of ocean waves and converting that into a continuous energy source. I'm not an engineer, so I can't really explain it, but the article does a pretty good job. Anyway, the article pointed out that no sooner had this engineer started working on her project, some environmentalists started bitching about the effects her devices will have on the fish. It seems the same folks who are yelling the loudest about us getting off our oil and coal addictions are also the first to decry, through environmental concerns, any effort to actually move us away from said addictions.

  • ||

    The Europeans and Japanese are rich, happy, productive societies who emit only about 60% of what we do per capita.

    Actually, they aren't as rich or productive as we are, and they are crowded into a much smaller area, reducing their need to emit CO2 for transportation.

    So there's that.

  • ||

    So, the study says people will adjust their thermostats to 68 in winter? BWAHAHAHAHA My wife would freeze to death, and blue skin just isn't her color. 78 in summer? I start sweating at about 74! BWAHAHAHAHA!!! Compact fluorescents? Even funnier! Those are the ugliest bulbs which give off horrible eye searing light! We received one from some econut org, I put in the garage ceiling light, where I only have to see it for a few seconds every couple of days. For us these ideas are all insane. We would instead cut back on eating out or other little luxuries. And I tend to think that most people would do the same.

  • Michael Ejercito||


    There's an article in "The Smithsonian" this month about an engineer who is proposing building bouy-like devices that capture the movements of ocean waves and converting that into a continuous energy source. I'm not an engineer, so I can't really explain it, but the article does a pretty good job. Anyway, the article pointed out that no sooner had this engineer started working on her project, some environmentalists started bitching about the effects her devices will have on the fish. It seems the same folks who are yelling the loudest about us getting off our oil and coal addictions are also the first to decry, through environmental concerns, any effort to actually move us away from said addictions.


    And why does anyone listen to what the Greeniacs say or do?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Actually, they aren't as rich or productive as we are, and they are crowded into a much smaller area, reducing their need to emit CO2 for transportation.

    So there's that."

    Yep - and they are also more willing to use nuclear power - which is anathema to the green assholes over here.

  • ||

    "I truly believe that we're very close to the technological breakthroughs that will allow us to harness the awesome power of carbon-free moonbeams and good vibes. We just need to spend a few trillion more dollars of "government money" to prime the pump."

    No truer sarcastic words have ever been written. I work in "clean" energy research. These technologies are nowhere near production capability and may never prove to be viable. But, university researchers will be kept employed for years to come because the government and the private sector has decided that funding this research is good PR. It makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy, like they're saving the world.

    Meanwhile, my husband has lost his job because the company he worked for--citing the high-cost of doing business in California--closed their offices and manufacturing plants and moved out of state.

  • stuartl||

    Actually, they aren't as rich or productive as we are, and they are crowded into a much smaller area, reducing their need to emit CO2 for transportation.

    To environmentalists this is a feature, not a bug. It is all about control and doing what they know is best for us incorrectly educated masses.

  • ||

    If an inefficient amount of certain carbon energy sources is being used (because externalities are not being taken into account), then yes CA will be better off by reducing it's use. Even without getting into the climate change aspects places like LA could get reductions in healthcare costs from less smog etc.

    My point being that there are more costs than we see on the meter, or the gas pump. And those should be included as well when we are looking at policy.

    If those extra costs are greater than the costs to fix the problems, then we should fix them. If not then we accept the pollution.

  • ||

    I agree. The Europeans and Japanese are rich, happy, productive societies who emit only about 60% of what we do per capita. They are living proof that the "it will cost an arm, leg, and first born" crowd are simply spewing hyperbole. It will cost something, but not that much - something on the order of 2% of GDP.

    Actually, their standard of living is far lower than ours by most measures. The US has a much higher level of home ownership than Europe and Japan. Also, our homes and apartments are much larger than theirs thus it takes more energy to heat and cool them. so what you are basicly saying is we all have to move into houses half the size of our present ones but still pay as much as we do now to heat them in order to save the planet. Sounds like a great deal to me. By the way, is it actually getting any warmer outside?

  • Chad||

    R C Dean | July 22, 2009, 10:09am | #

    Actually, they aren't as rich or productive as we are, and they are crowded into a much smaller area, reducing their need to emit CO2 for transportation.


    RC and the gang, you may want to update your data. The US just keeps falling down the rankings of per-capita GDP. We are nothing special anymore.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita

    Note that many of the countries near the very top of the list are actually extractive societies, not productive ones. However, compared to many countries such as Japan, Hong Kong or Singapore, WE are heavily extractive. Unfortunately, GDP mis-measures the value of extracted resources by not subtracting the value of the resource that was used up. If Exxon drills $10 billion worth of oil and then does $5 billion worth of refinement and shipping, it adds $15 billion to our GDP. A fair calculation of actual productivity would only add $5 billion. This distortion makes some countries look much much better than they are (Norway, UAE) or somewhat better than they are (US, Canada) or worse (Japan, Singapore) depending on what resources they are blessed with.

    It is pretty obvious looking at the top forty or so of the list that adjustment for extraction vs production pulls most countries towards the average of those forty. In other words, people in one country are about as good as those in the next.

    Having lived in both western Europe in Japan, I think that anyone who thinks Americans are meaningfully richer than they are has simply has never been there. They work less, consume less, and focus on quality over quantity. It is at least as enjoyable as what we have...and a hell of a lot better for the environment.

    As a final note, we also work more than people in most of those countries. Again, the per-capita GDP statistic will not reflect this. Worker productivity will, but we are falling in that metric as well. It misses the extraction vs production dichotomy, though.

  • Chad||

    Kroneborge | July 22, 2009, 3:32pm | #
    If an inefficient amount of certain carbon energy sources is being used (because externalities are not being taken into account), then yes CA will be better off by reducing it's use. Even without getting into the climate change aspects places like LA could get reductions in healthcare costs from less smog etc.


    No, Kroneborge. This is a classic prisoners' dilemma. Everyone is better off if everyone does it. But if everyone else does it and you don't, they get screwed and you get to eat their lunch for free.

    What do you do?

    Of course, you are better off not doing it. So you don't.

    But everyone else is in the same situation as you, so they don't either. So everyone passes on an opportunity to make everyone better off.

    Every nation wants manufacturing capacity, for a variety of reasons. But you can only get it if you offer bigger subsidies than the next country. So do you

    A: Make the principled stand, reject subsidies, and lose the business

    B: Try to subsidize more than the next guy and get the business

    This just isn't the environment. It happens all across the nation and world every time anyone considers building anything that will create more than a handful of jobs.

  • ||

    RC and the gang, you may want to update your data. The US just keeps falling down the rankings of per-capita GDP. We are nothing special anymore.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)_per_capita


    Chad, you may want to update your sources to something reliable. The beginning of the article says:

    ... converted at market exchange rates to current U.S. dollars.

    The proper conversion for comparison of standard of living is PPP (purchasing power parity). Using market exchange rates is grossly ignorant.

  • ||

    Oh, hadn't you heard? We're all supposed to die, or most of us, anyway. That's how we'll save the earth. Luminaries such as Prince Charles and Paul Ehrlich believe the carrying capacity of Planet Earth is quite low, well under one billion. Oddly, such prognosticators never offer to get off first.

  • ||

    The #1 "green" power source in the world is nuclear. If California were serious about reducing greenhouse gases w/o raising energy prices we'd build high-efficiency 3rd generation nuclear power plants. Instead, more and more we buy our power from out-of-state from coal-fired plants. There are very few places in CA to site wind turbines and solar panels are still too costly for wide-spread deployment.

    It makes no sense at all.

  • ||

    ***It is true that California is the fourth lowest state in per capita energy consumption.***

    Can we please put this canard to rest? Even Obama cited it last week.

    I lived in CA for 20 years. Never needed a/c in summer, rarely needed heat in winter. It's the friggin' climate!

    So--- when Obama can make Florida and Indiana's climates like California---then we can talk about per capita comparisons.

  • TallDave||

    The US just keeps falling down the rankings of per-capita GDP. We are nothing special anymore.

    Untrue. The nominal GDP per capita is less meaningful than PPP GDP per capita (it reomves exchange rate effects), which measures what one can actually purchase, and the U.S. dominates it.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

    The USA is far wealthier than Western Europe or any other comparable region; though some small countries are competitive by geographic accident, the larger countries like France or Germany are far below us, and no country with more than 5M persons is above us. If the U.S. states were listed one by one we would dominate the top rankings.

  • TallDave||

    If Exxon drills $10 billion worth of oil and then does $5 billion worth of refinement and shipping, it adds $15 billion to our GDP. A fair calculation of actual productivity would only add $5 billion.

    Dear Lord, where you did you get this incredible notion that shipping and refinement doesn't add value?

  • TallDave||

    Our understanding of macroeconomics is simply to weak to discern anything at this level of detail.

    This from the crowd that claims to have figuured out exactly what the climate is going to do for the next 100 years.

  • Chad||

    TallDave | July 23, 2009, 12:11am | #

    Dear Lord, where you did you get this incredible notion that shipping and refinement doesn't add value?


    Dave, you read it backwards. It's the ONLY thing that added value. Taking oil out of the ground, refining it, and delivering it should add to GDP. However, the value of the raw oil itself should not be added to GDP. Yet this is exactly what we do. It inflates GDP, in some nations much more than others.

  • Chad||

    This from the crowd that claims to have figured out exactly what the climate is going to do for the next 100 years.

    No we don't Dave. We know what it will generally do. That's a big distinction.

  • Anonymous||

    Every nation wants manufacturing capacity, for a variety of reasons. But you can only get it if you offer bigger subsidies than the next country. So do you

    You offer no intervention: no subsidies, no income or sales taxes. I think of heard of somebody trying it, I think they used "the US Constitution" or some such nonsense.

  • ||

    " If California were serious about reducing greenhouse gases w/o raising energy prices we'd build high-efficiency 3rd generation nuclear power plants."

    Not without water we aren't. We have less water available for powerplants than we used to, and it will only get worse as our mountain icepacks continue to shrink. And Earthquake strengthening will only increase the costs of construction.

    Wind, Solar, NatGas/Biomass, and Wave power are our best bets for new generation of energy. Efficiency improvements on all levels fills in the rest.

  • ||

    "eliminate 4 tons of CO2 emissions by 2020."
    They can have my chili, sausage, and bean breakfast burrito when they pry it out of my cold, dead, greasy fingers...and my emissions when they cork the orifice from whence issues forth hot gaseous eruptions (no, not my mouth...the other orifice)

  • ||

    I forgot to mention,

    Conventional Nuclear power uses more water per watt generated than coal. And if the water gets too warm, the plant must stop operation...this has happened already. Did I forget tomention we have water issues in California?

    http://www.vwrrc.vt.edu/watercooler_apr08.html

    Let's not put all our eggs in the fragile looking basket.

  • ||

    We need a new version of the Gadsden Flag. Perhaps we could call it the Heinlein Flag.

    It would still have the snake, but instead of "Don't Tread On Me" it would say "TANSTAAFL!"

  • ||

    Something I forgot to mention:

    Are these idiots aware of something called the 'Carbon Cycle'?? What happens to the green plants if we eliminate all CO2 from the atmosphere?

    We already know that "Maunder Minimum" and "Mini Ice Age" mean nothing to them. Nor do they recall what was being forecast a mere 30 years ago.

    They want us to take them seriously? Why?

  • ||

    "Are these idiots aware of something called the 'Carbon Cycle'?? What happens to the green plants if we eliminate all CO2 from the atmosphere?

    Are YOU aware of what those 'idiots' have decided as their target CO2 level? Here's a clue:
    http://www.350.org/

    Not quite 'eliminate all CO2' now is it.

    (or were you being sarcastic? if so it wasn't quite working)

  • Anonymous||

    And if the water gets too warm, the plant must stop operation...this has happened already. Did I forget tomention we have water issues in California?

    It could still be a closed system, you'd just be using some of the power for a chiller -- if water costs enough, it will be cheaper that way than dumping it and pumping in fresh or shutting down and letting it cool.

  • Chad||

    Steffan | July 23, 2009, 1:58pm | #

    We already know that "Maunder Minimum" and "Mini Ice Age" mean nothing to them. Nor do they recall what was being forecast a mere 30 years ago.

    They want us to take them seriously? Why?


    If you want to be taken seriously, you should read the IPCC report and note that solar radiation is accounted for. It is not changing significantly.

    Pro-tip: We are currently at a sunspot minimum, which is every so slightly cooling the planet. Combined with the La Nina we just exited, global warming was held in check a few yeras.

  • Chad||

    And chalk up one more downside to our fossil energy culture - more stupid people.

    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1912197,00.html

  • ||

    "It could still be a closed system, you'd just be using some of the power for a chiller -- if water costs enough, it will be cheaper that way than dumping it and pumping in fresh or shutting down and letting it cool."

    It could be...true true. But! The entire paradigm of Monopolized Utility scale energy production assumes that water is basically free of charge and abundant.

  • ||

    For some strange reason Steffan emailed me personally in response.

    "Good points, but IIRC San Onofre uses seawater. Water is not an issue there. Any future nuke plants in CA will likely be built on the shore for that reason.

    Heat pollution might have been an issue -- it *was* an issue for a while -- but TTBOMK the local sea life loves the hot water. This was, IIRC, remarkably galling to the local Greenies.

    This is one of those "if it works, don't try to fix it" problems, I think.

    --Steffan"


    in response.

    http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060414/news_1n14intake.html

    which says "No" to ocean cooling, as local sea life evidently dies off from the waste heat.

    Fixing it and designing others to not have the same problem would be prohibitively expensive, particularly in relation to the increasingly cheaper alternatives here in sunny windy wavy California.

  • ||

    How would people feel if subsidies for coal+oil were equal to subsidies for wind+solar+geothermal?

    because at the moment there is a large (and in my opinion, inexcusable) disparity between the level of subsidies for each. And the difference is in favor of the fossil fuels.

    If we let all of the energy production compete on a level playing field, wind (and geothermal where available) would be cost-competitive with coal. Solar probably would still be more expensive, but check back in another decade.

    This scheme would get closer to the 'true' cost of energy and yet still neglects externalities of combustion, which would only further increase cost of fossil fuels.

    Yet the opposition to those 'idiot greeniacs' would never consider this level playing field scheme, too many entrenched interests, sadly.

  • Chad||

    wjv | July 26, 2009, 1:18pm | #
    How would people feel if subsidies for coal+oil were equal to subsidies for wind+solar+geothermal?

    because at the moment there is a large (and in my opinion, inexcusable) disparity between the level of subsidies for each. And the difference is in favor of the fossil fuels.


    It depends on what you mean. If you are talking about direct government monetary subsidies and tax breaks, fossil fuels get more overall, renewables on a per-watt basis.

    However, if you include indirect subsidies such as the right to pollute, fossil fuels get far larger subsidies per-watt. I have never seen a serious estimate of coal pollution costs that came in at less than $.04/kwh. Twice that is probably closer to the truth. Note that coal power only "costs" 3 cents per kwh. So the subsidy is probably TWICE the nominal cost.

    But of course, libertarians don't believe government-provided garbage disposal is a subsidy, for some unfathomable reason.

  • ||

    I suppose it makes sense to subsidize on a per watt basis from a more bang for your buck perspective, however this is clearly no longer a level playing field then. By giving more money to one over the other because it is more cost effective, is by admission choosing a winner via bias.

    For tax breaks, it may have to be on a per watt basis, because I can't think of another way to structure them.

    However for direct monetary subsidies to companies and for direct grants for research, to create a level playing field would entail earmarking an equivalent amount of money for coal+oil+natural gas as wind+solar+geothermal gets. (if you wanted to include nuclear in this discussion, you could, but I wouldn't include it in the wind+solar+geo category, because its green branding, a.k.a sustainable nature, is highly suspect).

    Allow the entrepreneurs and science researchers decide how best to spend the money. I guarantee those three areas of renewable energy would become competitive very quickly if two things happened:
    1)Give equal direct subsidies to fossil fuels endeavors as renewable endeavors (should include utilities/power plants, public transportation,extraction operations/mining)
    2)Link votes on subsidy expiration: i.e. In order to renew the fossil fuel subsidies, it would be required to also renew the renewable subsidies.

  • ||

    Ohh, and also in accordance with what Chad said:

    bullet point 1) should also include environmental rectification costs (if paid for by gov't) as contributing to the total subsidies of either the fossil or renewable energy endeavors.

    Obviously fossil fuels will suffer from a larger portion of their pie taken from this expense, which would hopefully begin to more appropriately price externalities.

  • abercrombie milano||

    My only point is that if you take the Bible straight, as I'm sure many of Reasons readers do, you will see a lot of the Old Testament stuff as absolutely insane. Even some cursory knowledge of Hebrew and doing some mathematics and logic will tell you that you really won't get the full deal by just doing regular skill english reading for those books. In other words, there's more to the books of the Bible than most will ever grasp.

  • nike shox||

    is good

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