Energy

Green Like Me!

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Via Instapundit comes this link to an excellent Economist debate between one-time Obama "green jobs" czar nominee Van Jones and Andy Morriss on whether the government should push green jobs like drug dealers supposedly push pot on grammar-school playgrounds.

Morriss says no way in a convincing opening statement. Snippets:

While the phrase "green jobs" evokes organic farmers and wind turbine repairmen, there is no clear, common definition of what a "green" job is. Without one, special-interest lobbying will transform even well-intentioned programmes. Consider corn-based ethanol, a technology with no redeeming features. Corn-based ethanol is bad for the environment, placing unsustainable demands on water supplies and increasing harmful farming practices. It is bad for people, raising corn prices for some of the world's poorest people. It provides little, if any, environmental benefit, with a net energy gain often close to or even below zero (the exact amount depends on the weather during the growing season, among other things). Yet corn-based ethanol has received billions in taxpayer support and continues to be favoured in so-called "green" energy legislation….

In 1870, coal heated people's homes, natural gas provided light, electricity had little practical application and gasoline was a waste product from kerosene refining. The great energy policy debates of that era were concerned with whether the world would run short of coal. No one in 1870 would have predicted that coal would become almost entirely an industrial fuel in plentiful supply, that natural gas would be used primarily to generate electricity and provide residential heat, that electricity would be in widespread use in homes and industry, or that gasoline would become an expensive commodity. We know as little about our energy future as our predecessors did about theirs and so we must put a premium on strategies that can adapt to new information, circumstances and ideas. That is what entrepreneurs do best. We should let them do it.

More, including chance to vote on who you think is winning the debate, here.

And here's more on the definitional issue, from an AP story about an attempt by Oregon to capture how many folks are working in "green jobs":

"We found employers have a broad view of what constitutes a green job," [an official] said.

Green jobs counted in the report include engineers and architects; farmers and fishers; salespeople and lawyers; carpenters and truck drivers.

And even though employers responded to the survey last winter, in the depths of the recession, they were forecasting green jobs would increase 14 percent between 2008 and 2010.

You don't have to be The Amazing Kreskin to know that "green jobs" will become even more numerous the minute that money gets attached to any sort of definition, no matter how phony or fake. In fact, I think now that I no longer edit the tree-killing version of Reason, I'm a green jobber too, out here in the new media landscape where the cyber-birds and bees are buzzing and humming with nary an emission of greenhouse gases.

All about ethanol, a really bad idea that has helped keep corn farmers rolling in subsidies and poor people paying more for food throughout the devleoping world:

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  1. And really aren’t all bloggers in green jobs? Think of all the paper you’re not using publishing this holier-than-thou libertarian crap.

    1. Thank you for providing such deep thoughts to the discussion. Liberals can always be counted on to add something thoughtful to the conversation.

      1. I know I don’t comment that much, but even a cursory examination of my posting history would show that I’m not a liberal (except in the traditional sense). That said, I’ll leave it to you to determine how my comment was intended.

        1. You comment is too ridiculous to divine any intent from it. Unless it was a joke, it which case I apologize for not getting it. Otherwise, there is nothing holier than thou about pointing out the amorphous nature of “green jobs” whatever those are.

          1. Jesus, John. I don’t remember ever having seen this poster and even I realized the sarcasm.

            1. REally? I missed it completely. I guess I am just dense today.

              1. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I didn’t get it either.

  2. It is bad for people, raising corn prices for some of the world’s poorest people.

    Quibble: It raises the price of all grains by diverting crop selection to corn.

    1. It raises the price of practically everything by raising the price of land. Inefficiency kills.

      1. I remember reading something (here, even, maybe) about how there were hunger strikes in more than a few parts of Latin American in 2009 since corn go so expensive.

        One of those countries being Haiti…

        1. Hunger strike because you are hungry. Interesting idea.

  3. In fact, I think now that I no longer edit the tree-killing version of Reason, I’m a green jobber too, out here in the new media landscape where the cyber-birds and bees are buzzing and humming with nary an emission of greenhouse gases.

    I hope you’ve stopped associating with that Welch guy. I heard he drives an Escalade and burns tires in his backyard just for fun.

    1. And Bailey to. I hear he eats endangered sea turtles.

      1. I ride endangered sea turtles and burn Escalades.

  4. I tried barbecuing sea turtles over a tire fire, but it made the meat taste rubbery.

    1. Try some baby seal tears for seasoning next time.

      1. She would not be my first choice to reference in a conversation about food.

        1. EVBST may or may not be one of the 11 herbs and spices.

          1. I saw a Biography on Colonel Sanders. When he first started, he had people frying chicken in pressure cookers with his secret recipe. I bet that was some awesome chicken–good enough to launch his franchising empire.

  5. I appreciate the article. I tried to make this point, though probably less well, to Chad in another thread. I said that by favoring direct government investment and picking winners, he’s just going to end up with another ethanol, another Synfuels, etc. He tried to protest that he’s never favored ethanol, the old “oh, but this time government forecasting will be perfect.”

    If it were so easy to forecast how energy technology would change in the future and what could be invented, private investors would be lining up to invest already.

    1. If the Gov’t is so great at forecasting, let them take over weathermen 1st. See how that goes, and then maybe we’ll talk about other things.

      Oh. Nevermind.

  6. Can’t get more Green than trial lawyer.

    All you have to do is plant some trees and call it an “offset”.

  7. blogging a ‘green job’? Only by redefining what it is to be Kermit the Frog. There is a reason that Google located its first data center in the same area as Aloca has its plants — cheap wholesale rate electricity.

    Data centers are massive electrical sinks where some 20% of the input gets burned up in heat and heat extraction equipment to keep the data center cool. That server will still need to be running 5 years from now for me to read this piece vs say going to the library and pulling it out of the stacks. Last I heard, a printed copy of Reason cost no energy to read.

    1. JohnMC, you’re missing the point. If the “green jobs” czar decides that being a coal miner is a “green job” and pays money out for it to be defined that way, coal mining will be a green job! Reality is irrelevant.

  8. Congratulations! You qualify for the Green Jobs subsidy. Please pick up your $135,294 government check (?571,138 if you are Spanish) as soon as you vote Democrat.

  9. Whiskey distiller: the original green job!

  10. That server will still need to be running 5 years from now for me to read this piece vs say going to the library and pulling it out of the stacks. Last I heard, a printed copy of Reason cost no energy to read.

    It just has a non-zero cost to print and transport to the library in addition to the cost of maintaining the library building and its contents.

  11. And remember that there are likely no net job gains with “green jobs”. Every subsidized “green job” puts out of work somebody who was producing a similar output in an unsubsidized sector. E.g. to the extent the windmill boys succeed in producing their high cost subsidized electricity, that’s so many West Virginia coal miners out of work.

  12. You don’t have to be The Amazing Kreskin to know that “green jobs” will become even more numerous the minute that money gets attached to any sort of definition, no matter how phony or fake. In fact, I think now that I no longer edit the tree-killing version of Reason, I’m a green jobber too, out here in the new media landscape where the cyber-birds and bees are buzzing and humming with nary an emission of greenhouse gases.

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