Energy

Going "Green"

Separating environmental fact from fiction

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I ride my bike to work. It seems so pure.  

We're constantly urged to "go green"—use less energy, shrink our carbon footprint, save the Earth. How? We should drive less, use ethanol, recycle plastic, and buy things with the government's Energy Star label.

But what if much of going green is just bunk? Al Gore's group, Repower America, claims we can replace all our dirty energy with clean, carbon-free renewables. Gore says we can do it within 10 years.

"It's simply not possible," says Robert Bryce, author of Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy. "Nine out of 10 units of power that we consume are produced by hydrocarbons—coal, oil and natural gas. Any transition away from those sources is going to be a decades-long, maybe even a century-long process. … The world consumes 200 million barrels of oil equivalent in hydrocarbons per day. We would have to find the energy equivalent of 23 Saudi Arabias."   

Bryce used to be a left-liberal, but then: "I educated myself about math and physics. I'm a liberal who was mugged by the laws of thermodynamics."

Bryce mocked the "green" value of my riding my bike to work:

"Let's assume you saved a gallon of oil in your commute (a generous assumption!). Global daily energy consumption is 9.5 billion gallons of oil equivalent. … So by biking to work, you save the equivalent of one drop in 10 gasoline tanker trucks. Put another way, it's one pinch of salt in a 100-pound bag of potato chips."

How about wind power?

"Wind does not replace oil. This is one of the great fallacies, and it's one that the wind energy business continues to promote," Bryce said.

The problem is that windmills cannot provide a constant source of electricity. Wind turbines only achieve 10 percent to 20 percent of their maximum capacity because sometimes the wind doesn't blow.  

"That means you have to keep conventional power plants up and running. You have to ramp them up to replace the power that disappears from wind turbines and ramp them down when power reappears."  

Yet the media rave about Denmark, which gets some power from wind. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says, "If only we could be as energy smart as Denmark."  

"Friedman doesn't fundamentally understand what he's talking about," Bryce said.

Bryce's book shows that Denmark uses eight times more coal and 25 times more oil than wind.  

If wind and solar power were practical, entrepreneurs would invest in it. There would be no need for government to take money from taxpayers and give it to people pushing green products.  

Even with subsidies, "renewable" energy today barely makes a dent on our energy needs.

Bryce points out that energy production from every solar panel and windmill in America is less than the production from one coal mine and much less than natural gas production from Oklahoma alone.  

But what if we build more windmills?

"One nuclear power plant in Texas covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Manhattan. To produce the same amount of power from wind turbines would require an area the size of Rhode Island. This is energy sprawl." To produce the same amount of energy with ethanol, another "green" fuel, it would take 24 Rhode Islands to grow enough corn.   

Maybe the electric car is the next big thing?

"Electric cars are the next big thing, and they always will be."  

There have been impressive headlines about electric cars from my brilliant colleagues in the media. The Washington Post said, "Prices on electric cars will continue to drop until they're within reach of the average family."

That was in 1915.  

In 1959, The New York Times said, "Electric is the car of the tomorrow."  

In 1979, The Washington Post said, "GM has an electric car breakthrough in batteries, now makes them commercially practical."

I'm still waiting.

"The problem is very simple," Bryce said. "It's not political will. It's simple physics. Gasoline has 80 times the energy density of the best lithium ion batteries. There's no conspiracy here of big oil or big auto. It's a conspiracy of physics."  

John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 BY JFS PRODUCTIONS, INC.
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  1. The correct answer to the problem is to change the laws of physics. Isn’t that an enumerated power?

    1. The Anointed Obama has chosen not to demonstrate that ability yet.

      Although some of his statements to date indicate that we should certainly understand that he is not subject to the laws of nature.

      1. ::Holds up sign the reads::

        “Unfortunately, I studied law.”

    2. Boot, I canna change ’em!!

      1. You can’t change the gravitational constant of the universe?

  2. Telling people that their putative “green” initiatives aren’t “green” and may even be counter-productive is the closest one can come to heresy in the modern age.

    1. HERETIC!

  3. There is a solution that would take about 20 years, Thorium powered nuclear.

    http://energyfromthorium.com/

    1. I prefer dilithium crystals.

      1. Did you see what that shit did to Spock?

        No way.

    2. Carlo Rubbia has an idea for a thorium driven energy amplifier which appears to be the only thing that can make wind/solar practical…

      1. That’s just a type of Thorium reactor. It doesn’t amplify energy from other sources.

    3. The best part is that ‘Thorium’ sounds completely bad ass.

      1. I like this comment. Yes! The sound is like “God of Thunder” meets “Revenge of the Nerds”. Thorium. Tough-sounding. But actually simply a metal that exists almost everywhere…and has a half-life roughly the length of time the universe has been around…

        heh!

    4. There are still a lot of bugs in the thorium system. Bugs that have been around for about 20 years, ever since thorium was touted as the next nuclear fuel.

      1. Are you talking about Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors or Thorium/Uranium fuel rods used in an LWR? Because, while there are things that need to be worked out, a LFTR is pretty straight forward.

        1. It’s my understanding that they had that worked out in the 50’s but our government had a better idea, as usual.

          1. Ya, the gubmint wanted breeder reactors to make plutonium for bombs. No use for that power generator which can be used to actually dispose of bomb materials.

    5. When I read about thorium reactors a couple of years ago, I was astounded that no-one was seriously promoting the technology. Especially as my country, Australia, stands to benefit from having the world’s largest known thorium reserves.

  4. Stop making Gaia cry.

  5. “Friedman doesn’t fundamentally understand what he’s talking about,” Bryce said.

    Not only you say it, Bryce – Thomas Friedman is a pompous, ignorant windbag.

    1. Yeah, talk about stating the obvious.

    2. The nice thing about this statement is that the context is irrelevant. On essentially any subject whatsoever, aside from the amount of his monthly stipend from the Chinese government, Friedman has no fundamental understanding of what he’s talking about.

      1. If Friedman told me the sky was blue, I’d duck outside to check.

        1. And if you were in Seattle, he’d most likely be wrong.

  6. This is the best article I have read by Stossel, so far. I love it when Bryce describes himself as a left-liberal that was bitch-slapped into reality by the laws of thermodynamics (ok, he said he was “mugged” by them, but I got the picture, wink, wink). Obvioulsy that had to be followed by a bitch-slapping by the laws of economics, but you have to crawl before you can walk.

    1. There are no “laws of economics”, economics is a social science. Sure, it’s nice to have your economic theories line up with real scientific disciplines like physics, chemistry and biology, but economists shouldn’t pretend to be more than they are.

      1. I think that physical science is overrated as well. Newton’s “laws” of motion aren’t right all the time either.

        Physical science can be as subject to politically motivated hackery as social science when convenient. See Galileo, climategate, etc.

        1. Nobody claims that Newton’s laws are right all the time.

          1. Newton’s laws are INCORRECT, as per the General Theory of Relativity, which is itself incomplete, as per quantum mechanics.
            However, Newton’s equations, even given that he was ultimately wrong, are precise enough to be useful in most situations.

      2. There’s nothing more inherently “scientific” about physics than about sociology. Both can be pursued with rigorous empiricism and self-discipline, restricting yourself to testable theories backed up by solid measurements.

        Conversely, either can be throughly fucked up by politicization, political-correctness, post-modernist beliefs in consensus reality, dogmatism, and other human foibles.

        The interesting historical question is why physics and chemistry have suffered to date relatively little from these social memetic viral attacks, while social science (and medicine, interestingly) have.

        The only suggestion I have is that for most of human history physics and chemistry have been relatively uninteresting to most people, abstruse backwater fields with very little practical application. Hiding in the shadows like that, they evaded detection and targeting by the social viruses.

  7. But what if we build more windmills?

    “One nuclear power plant in Texas covers about 19 square miles, an area slightly smaller than Manhattan. To produce the same amount of power from wind turbines would require an area the size of Rhode Island. This is energy sprawl.” To produce the same amount of energy with ethanol, another “green” fuel, it would take 24 Rhode Islands to grow enough corn.

    Similar problem exists with solar panels, and the land below them would instantly become useless for anything else – no wonder conservationists don’t want them placed in the desert!

    Environmentalists should be called “sentimentalists”, for it would be a much more accurate concept.

    1. But what about the desert, isn’t that already useless?

      Not so, says the tortoise!

    2. OM:

      You do have a way of originating proper labels for people and ideas.

      Sentimentalists are the same people that think having everyone work in an “urban garden” is so wonderful. (I should work the earth like my great grandfather ? That’s progress?)

    3. This one reason OM is one of my favorite posters here.

      1. Hear, hear!

    4. Solar is the only “green” tech I like because of it’s one big advantage: the ability to distribute it.

      It doesn’t have to be one big solar power plant. You can put the panels on everyone’s roof and the storage batteries in everyone’s garage. The land beneath remains usable for whatever it was being used for before.

      Put them over mall parking lots for nice, shady parking. 🙂

      Of course there are designs and maybe even a prototype out there for neighborhood level nuclear reactors. One company last year was speculating on household nukes.

      1. It’s a little mystifing when folks imagine the biggest obstacle to solar electric power generation is the cost of the land over which it’s proposed to layer acres of ultrapure expensive electronics. It’s almost as if one thinks the major cost of getting a big-screen TV is the wall space it takes up.

        Here’s North America’s largest solar electric power plant to date:

        http://www.metaefficient.com/n…..ed-on.html

        It cost $100 million to build and generates 30 million kW-h per year. The United States uses about 14,000 kW-h per capita per year, so this $100 million plant can provide the electricity used by a whopping 2140 Americans.

        Let’s say we want to provide the electricity used by half the United States (150 million people) with solar electric plants. We would need 70,000 of these $100 million solar electric plants.

        Not going to happen. Not now, not in President Unicorn’s second term, not in the lifetime of anyone reading this.

        1. I don’t think it’s the cost of the land people have in mind when they bring up ’24 Rhode Islands’ and the like – it’s the sheer amount of surface area required, regardless of cost. It’d be prohibitive even if the land were free.

          1. No it wouldn’t. Rhode Island has an area of a measly 1200 square miles. That’s nothing. Lincoln County, Nevada, for example, has an area of 10,600 square miles — almost ten times bigger — and a population of a mere 4000 souls.

            I’m quite confident you could find 1200 square miles of utterly uninhabited and nearly worthless Federally-owned desert in the Southwest, if you needed it.

      2. Solar panels on every roof and storage batteries in every garage seem to be an ideal situation at first glance. But the output of solar panels and storage batteries is DC. We live in an AC world, for a bunch of good reasons. Every separate solar/battery installation needs an inverter to convert DC to AC, a filter to smooth out the inverter’s spiky output, and circuitry to synch the final output with the AC on the grid. That equipment is more expensive than the solar panels, IIRC. You *do* want to connect to a grid, to supplement your solar generator when sun is absent for long periods or you have temporary, unanticipated loads. There are no easy answers. If the answers were easy, they would have been tried already. I hope some engineer will correct any errors above. My engineering is a little stale.

    5. You need a backup source for nearly 100% of your wind capacity, when the wind isn’t blowing. That basically means twice as much energy generating capacity as your electricity needs- all the existing coal and nuclear generating plants plus the equivalent capacity of windmills. And the electric bills to pay for twice as much generating capacity as you are using. With coal and nuclear, you only need a small amount of redundancy, because operation is far more reliable and predictable.

      1. Were this not true, we would be shipping stuff around the world in sailing ships. Burning stuff to power ships revolutionized commerce and travel.

    6. Not quite true about the land under them becoming useless, but I like your style, Kid.

  8. “Electric cars are the next big thing, and they always will be.” [I loved that quote!][…] “The problem is very simple,” Bryce said. “It’s not political will. It’s simple physics. Gasoline has 80 times the energy density of the best lithium ion batteries. There’s no conspiracy here of big oil or big auto. It’s a conspiracy of physics.”

    That’s also the reason why hybrid cars make no sense, especially in hotter areas of the US where you need the A/C running.

    1. another shill for big physics
      😉

    2. don’t forget colder areas of the country (I live in Minneapolis) The cold makes the batteries not work at all. or immensely less efficiently.

      1. There is a sodium halide battery being developed be GE that is significantly less affected by extreme temperatures.

    3. Well, then we’ll just have to make everyone move to cooler areas, won’t we?

      1. Or move to hotter areas.

        I’m so confused.

    4. Hybrid cars derive part of their energy savings from not having to idle the engine at stoplights, the other part from recovering the energy that conventional brakes waste.

      That’s why hybrids don’t save much energy on highway driving in non-rush-hour conditions, where idling at stoplights and stop-and-go braking aren’t a problem.

      A/C use has nothing to do with that.

      Hybrid cars make no economic sense because the premium cost of the hybrid technology and batteries over conventional technology isn’t enough to EVER get to break even.

      Hybrid cars only make sense if you derive value by attracting granola or liberal sexual partners and fucking them, or derive value by (falsely) boosting your esteem by thinking your helping the environment when you’re actually harming it.

      1. They may well make sense for stuff like city buses or local delivery trucks, however. Vehicles that do nothing but endless local stop-and-go driving, and where supplementing with an overnight recharge in a central garage is straightforward.

        1. The company BAE (I work for them) makes just this kinda thing for Buses.

      2. You wrote:

        “That’s why hybrids don’t save much energy on highway driving in non-rush-hour conditions, where idling at stoplights and stop-and-go braking aren’t a problem.”

        That is incorrect. Hybrid cars save fuel on highways with hills or mountains. They charge the battery going downhill, and drain it going up. This is clearly shown on the dashboard battery display of the Prius.

        This weekend I drove a Prius 250 miles non-stop through Georgia, carrying a large load of stuff for delivery. The car averaged 60.1 mpg. No conventional mid-sized car capable of carrying that much stuff could come close to that.

        The only place where the hybrid design would not be a benefit would be a flat, straight, non-stop road somewhere like the Great Plains. Or, in a trip with an average speed ~80 mph. A Prius does not work well at such high speeds.

        Also, this article is wrong about the ratio of nameplate to actual power for wind turbines. It is around 30% on land and 40% for offshore installations. No one would install a wind turbine in a place where it achieves only 20% of nameplate. Nuclear power plants reach 90% to 95% of nameplate power. They have to be turned off from time to time for maintenance and refueling. Other plants are turned off because they are not used for baseline generation.

        The wind blows less on some days and wind turbines produce less energy, but that is not a huge problem nowadays. Weather forecasting is remarkably good, and these low production days can be predicted ahead of time. When a lot of wind is predicted, maintenance at conventional gas, coal or nuclear plants is performed. When there is very little wind, maintenance on the conventional plants is deferred, and perhaps shifted to the wind turbines instead, although overall they require much less maintenance per kWh, according to EPRI, because operating temperatures and conditions are less extreme.

          1. This Popular Mechanics report says that during highway driving at 65 mph, the VW Jetta got 45.4 MPG versus the Prius at 44.8 MPG. The Jetta numbers are impressive. However, my 2010 Prius does better than 44.8 on the highway. As I said, I checked this weekend and found it was just over 60 mpg. The average speed was below 65 mph, I think, since I drove ~30 miles on secondary highways, from Atlanta, GA to Helen, GA.

            I had a 2005 Prius before this, which got 45 to 50 mpg on the highway. (Unfortunately, I wrecked it in an accident.)

            Plug in hybrid cars will get far better overall mileage than ICE-only hybrids. Electric power generation and battery storage are inherently more efficient and cleaner than gasoline ICE-based technology.

            For a good overview of energy in transportation and power generation, see these documents from NREL and Lawrence Livermore:

            http://lenr-canr.org/acrobat/NRELenergyover.pdf

      3. Granola never seems to get enough respect for the tastiness. It attracts a bit of unwanted attention… but food derived from mixing various items with honey can’t be all bad.

  9. Will someone please develop a perpetual motion machine or a flux capacitor.

    1. Can I interest you in investing in my car engine powered by tap water?

      For a mere $5,000, you can have a 1% share in what will be a multi-billion dollar business.

      I also sell bridges, BTW.

      1. I’m interested . . . do you accept Continentals?

        1. I’m afraid we only accept Americans.

      2. Can I buy that pretty bridge in Boston? Whenever I visit on business, I like to take early flights out, and that frigging bridge is always closed for one reason or another (probably patching leaks in the Big Dig), and I have to hire Sherpas to find another way into Logan Airport because the street signs in downtown don’t do boo to get you there.

        1. Which bridge? The Zakim (http://baaston.com/images/Zakim_Bridge.jpg)? I’ve not seen that closed. Or the Longfellow (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Longfellow_Bridge_2.jpg)? That thing needs serious maintenance work…

  10. Interesting point about the Denmark example: Denmark is part of the European common synchronized grid, meaning that they are linked to every other 50hz generator on the continent. They can produce all the “wind” energy they like, because when it stops blowing, they can rely on nuclear power from France, or coal power from Germany for their offsets. It’s the equivalent of a Delaware or Rhode Island being powered by wind.

    1. Selectively citing certain aspects of other nation’s energy activites is the stock and trade of the enviro-wackos and their rent-seeking fellow travelers.

      Such as the “green jobs” boosters blathering about China spending more on some “green” energy than the U.S.

      And all the while China is busy all around the world doing deals to lock up as much fossil fuel energy sources as they can get their hands on.

  11. So we’re all fucked then?

  12. If you want to conserve gasoline, or energy in general, you do it by raising the price (taxing it). 10 or 12 dollars per gallon and you could start getting Americans to bike to work.
    I mean, I live here in Washington DC, and I can’t count the number of Cadillac SUV’s with “Treasure the Cheasapeak” bumper stickers I see. Or Volvo station wagons with “baby on board” going way over 80mph (apparently liberals do not know that going faster uses more gas).
    But wind mills and unicorns…uh, I mean solar don’t raise the cost of gas, and don’t do anything, other than allow greenies to maintain their smugness.

    1. Re: Fresno,

      If you want to conserve gasoline, or energy in general, you do it by raising the price (taxing it). 10 or 12 dollars per gallon and you could start getting Americans to bike to work.

      No, what it would do immediately is the following:

      A) It would rise unemployment, sharply, in the retail economy.
      B) It would rise unemployment, sharply, in the service sector (plumbing, contracting, anybody that uses a van or small truck to provide services to households).
      C)It would lead to food spoiling in the fields as it would be too expensive to harvest and ship. Thus, it would raise the price of food even more than the extra cost of fuel per ton.

      People would still drive to work. They would just not drive so much to other places, starving the retail and entertainment sector of money.

      1. I agree.
        But my point is, “what do you want?” Its pretty easy to get people to use less energy. Its just not possible to do it cost free (the unicorns just do not come galloping into the coral by calling to them).

        1. They did in “The Last Unicorn”

          1. let me guess: starring Tom Hanks

            1. No, Jeff Bridges, if I recall correctly.

          2. Steve Smith raped the last unicorn to death. With his penis.

            1. When you say “his”, are you referring to the unicorn’s, or Steve Smith’s?

              1. First one, then the other. So, technically, “their penises.”

                1. What about the horn? Can Steve Smith fashion simple objects as crude dildos for raping purposes? His habits need to be studied more . . . by the brave, of course.

                  1. There has been little formal evidence that Steve Smith can make tools. Or be able to turn off the caps-lock.

  13. In 1979, The Washington Post said, “GM has an electric car breakthrough in batteries, now makes them commercially practical.”

    I’m still waiting.

    Watermelon: It’s a conspiracyyyyyyy . . .!!!

  14. If you want to conserve gasoline, keep your keys in your pocket.

    1. And keep other things in you pants, because, you know, more people means more gas consumption.

      1. Also more inventions and ingenuity, but what the hell, we know that’s a losing tradeoff. The species should have stuck with 40,000 Neanderthals living in caves, obv. Very small carbon footprint.

  15. I actually kind of agree with Stossel’s point that most “green” activities are mostly feel-good drop-in-the-bucket kind of things but he lost me with this line:

    “If wind and solar power were practical, entrepreneurs would invest in it.”

    For one thing, entreprenurs are investing in it, and for another thing it’s difficult to know if something is practical until you’ve invested in it.

    Stossel’s point here is what, exactly? “Fuck it, let’s keep burning oil, waging wars, warming the planet, because I’m pessimistic that anything else will work?”

    1. Re: DanT,

      For one thing, entreprenurs are investing in [wind power],

      I would invest in a unicorn farm if the State was subsidizing me the same way it subsidizes the wind-power “industry.”

      […] and for another thing it’s difficult to know if something is practical until you’ve invested in it.

      This tells me you have no clue, no idea, not even an inkling, of how investments are made or pondered.

      1. We can’t know what’s in this crappy bill until we’ve passed it.

        1. nor do politicians care, because they’re spending other peoples money, and can’t even get fired for doing it badly (unlike an investment manager)

      2. This tells me you have no clue, no idea, not even an inkling, of how investments are made or pondered.

        Huh? You do realize that in order to find out if an idea is feasable or not you have to spend money, right? I think this is called “research and development”…

        1. Re: DanT,

          Huh? You do realize that in order to find out if an idea is feasable or not you have to spend money, right? I think this is called “research and development”…

          Yes, when there is an idea that sounds workable, and there HAS been R&D on wind turbines since the 60’s, yet there is still “need” for government subsidies to set up a single wind farm – what does THAT tell you?

          1. I have a feeling it doesn’t tell DanT anything…just sayin.

      3. There’s the crux of it. Back about five years ago, with gasoline at $4/gal, our company was being bombarded with ethanol work…you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone working on an ethanol plant. Of course, subsidies were flowing fast and furious.

        Fast-forward to today, and you’ll see the subsidies gone and virtually all of those ethanol facilities either closed or just barely scraping by. It was an enormous waste of capital that now sits idle, another hole dug by our brilliant Central State and filled with our tax dollars.

    2. They’re investing in it because there are good tax advantage and government subsidy involved. Take away those handout, it doesn’t make much sense.

    3. And you’ll be outraged to learn that the lobbying group pressuring congress to pass wind energy laws applicable to states (or they forfeit their federal transportation dollars) were hired by a bunch of do goody entrepreneurs. Be interesting to see which expense costs more.

    4. For one thing, entreprenurs are investing in it, and for another thing it’s difficult to know if something is practical until you’ve invested in it.

      How much profit did they make?

      “Fuck it, let’s keep burning oil, waging wars, warming the planet, because I’m pessimistic that anything else will work?”

      Who cares if the planet gets warmer?

      1. Not us. Bring it on!

    5. DanT:

      “Fuck it, let’s keep burning oil, waging wars, warming the planet, because I’m pessimistic that anything else will work?”

      You’re aware that the planet has in fact not been warming right? Right?

    6. Stossel’s point here is what, exactly?

      I don’t think there is a point. It’s a presentation of facts and figures, and that’s worthwhile in its own right.

  16. What so many enviro’s don’t get is that being “green” doesn’t have to mean not using oil, it means using it far more efficiently.

    For example, an engine that will allow a Camry to outrun a Viper, and still be able to get 75 MPG.

    ALL of the tech already exists, but nobody has connected the dots yet.

    1. For example, an engine that will allow a Camry to outrun a Viper, and still be able to get 75 MPG.

      ALL of the tech already exists, but nobody has connected the dots yet

      Yea, but Dick Cheny and the evil oil companies are surpressing the invention so they can keep America addicted to oil.

      1. I have the plans for a 200mpg carburetor

    2. Interesting. Let’s get numerate.

      A helpful Wikipedia page on drag, here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drag_(physics)

      Suggests that a car at 70 MPH on the highway requires about 20 kW just to overcome air resistance. Since it takes 51 seconds at 70 MPH to cover a mile, that means the theoretical minimum energy usage of a car at highway speeds is 1.02 MJ per mile.

      Another page, here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline#Energy_content

      tells us that the theoretical maximum energy content of gasoline is about 32 MJ/L, or 121 MJ/gallon.

      Dividing one by the other, we come up with a theoretical maximum possible efficiency, for a perfect car (no internal friction, no rolling resistance, perfect engine) cruising steadily on the highway (no acceleration, no braking) of 119 MPG.

      Given how close 75 MPG is to that unattainable 119 MPG, I’m kind of doubty.

    3. so what’s to stop YOU from connecting the dots?

  17. Yet the media rave about Denmark, which gets some power from wind. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman says, “If only we could be as energy smart as Denmark.”

    they forgot to include what Friedman said about us giving up representative government and having enlightened Chinese depots rule us (maybe starting off with a cultural revolution and lightening the earth by about 70 million).

  18. Somewhat related. Ready the bile-ducts:

    http://changeobserver.designob…..ntry=13788

    1. “And I’ve learned from the resource ecologies of favelas and shantytowns that the concept of embodied energy ? emergy ? stretches forward as well as backward in time.”

      Emergy. EMERGY.

    2. Ron, you better attack this shit.

    3. “You’ll probably think I’m strange, if not sad, but I can no longer look at paved surfaces without thinking about breaking them open to free the soil.”

      Never mind, Ron, this guy’s fucking insane.

    4. “Pauli demands that we commit to Net Positive Impact ? that’s to say, “economic activity where the demands placed upon the environment are met without reducing the capacity of the environment to provide for future generations.” Otherwise stated: Leave the world better than you found it.”

      For using the word entropy so liberally throughout the piece, this guy apparently does not understand it.

    5. “This plan describes not only the skills and resources that a community will need to cope with the challenges coming down the track, but also how those skills and resources are to be put in place and who will do what.”

      And the totalitarian shines through.

  19. If wind and solar power were practical, entrepreneurs would invest in it

    Like they invested in Enron and Madoff and Goldman-Sachs?

    Market worship is even dumber than Gaia worship.

    1. Re: TTT,

      I don’t understand your point – the author is pointing out to the lack of investment of those two systems as an indicator of the lack of practicality they both share. What does that have to do with Enron, Madoff and the so-called Market worship?

      1. Because Republicans and Hargle-Bargle Harrumph.

        1. It also sounded like Vogon poetry to me, too.

      2. whether or not something is invested in is not necessarily an indicator of social or economic worth. Like Collateralized Debt Obligations, or KFC’s Double Down.
        Further, if solar and wind were practical, then there would be no reason to invest in it. There is still room for advancement in solar power, and we’re seeing it in advancement in material sciences. And wind power works well to supplement home energy use, decreasing the energy bill enough to actually have a return on investment (yes, even without the tax breaks). If every suburban home had one, then the state wouldn’t need to subsidize the construction and insurance of nuclear power. If I could chose what the state subsidizes, I’d rather it be wind than nuclear.
        We’ll probably always have to get energy from burning something, but what’s wrong with efforts at conservation?

        1. We’ll probably always have to get energy from burning something, but what’s wrong with efforts at conservation?

          Conservation is not an end, only a means to an end (maximizing profit).

        2. “Further, if solar and wind were practical, then there would be no reason to invest in it.”

          Huh?

          1. This is in the context of wind and solar being describe as “not practical” which I took to mean as “not yet more energy productive than oil” which was probably a mistake on my part. My assumption was that they didn’t mean that wind and solar power could never be practical, but I see now that it was.

        3. what’s wrong with efforts at conservation?

          None of them is cost-free. Reducing power consumption necessarily means either reducing some other economic activity, or (at best) diverting capital from some other investment to investment in energy efficiency. Whatever that tradeoff is sensible or not is not obvious.

          To make it concrete: suppose you drive an old clunker car that gets 20 MPG and you have a dyslexic kid entering first grade who needs intensive training to be able to read and not fall behind and you have a mom with early-stage (i.e. treatable) breast cancer. Sounds like you have a strong need for paying for a service (mom’s treatment) or investing some capital in a long-range project that will pay off (teaching your kid to read). Luckily you’ve got $35,000 in the bank to pay for this stuff.

          But along comes some fool who says Why don’t you use that $35,000 to buy a Prius and get rid of that clunker? You’ll save on gas! What’s wrong with efforts at energy conservation?

          1. haha, sure. I see your point. But “reducing power consumption necessarily means either reducing some other economic activity, or (at best) diverting capital from some other investment to investment in energy efficiency” assumes a system where there is no unnecessary energy consumption, which of course there is. Anecdotally, I’ve noticed lots of people will just let the car idle while they get situated, do their makeup, or just wait for someone who’s going to be another 5 minutes. I live near two people who work at the same place I do, but we don’t carpool yet just because we’re all shy. I usually take the bus to work, and though it costs me comfort and convenience, I’m able to spend all that time reading. And right now I’m only using natural light instead of using a light I don’t need. So I guess my point is that energy conservation by itself doesn’t have to cost much, especially since there is so much energy wasted.
            As for the Prius specifically, I don’t see much value in it, especially considering the battery (difficult and expensive to replace) unless you would just rather have your pollution centralized outside of your community (and you want a silent car for some nefarious reason) or if you had a power outlet but no nearby gas station. But hybrid cars have features like only burning oil only when you go over a certain speed so it’s easy to have the car go in standby mode instead of idling, or using breaking as an energy source instead of just an energy drain. These are plenty of times when we use energy unnecessarily, and if you’re planning on getting a new car anyway, maybe that would be a good choice.

            But my original point was more intended to address systemic energy waste instead of personal energy waste, and you have a good point about the trade off not being obvious.
            With the example of a wind turbine in every many suburban back yards and a solar panel on many urban roofs, you have a definable return on investment for each building, decreased energy lost from just sending it from a central point, a more stable and less centralized energy grid, less oil consumption, and small check on the rising demand of oil. As a nation, we could afford it by firing private military contractors and refraining from nation building.

            1. Your point assumes that the cost of information — in this case knowing what is “necessary” and “unnecesary” energy use — is zero.

              It’s not. The cost of acquiring information is quite high. This is why it’s hard to make big money in the stock market, despite the fact that obviously some companies are run poorly and will crash and burn, while others have brilliant ideas and efficient operations that will do well.

              What you’re saying is the equivalent of telling people they should put all their savings into stocks, because obviously some stocks will give them a huge return for their investment.

              Aye, but which stocks? Any one of us may be able to point to a solitary example (Amazon!) after the fact — but that’s a long way from coming up with a reliable general prescription.

              So you can point to one or a few examples where you think folks could reduce energy consumption at zero cost. (Although, since you don’t know the individual facts in each case, you’re not sure: perhaps that person idling the car has a half-dead battery and if he stops the car it won’t stop. Or maybe he’s got an infant in the car and it’s really, really hot outside.) But that’s a long, long way from having a reliable general efficiency-o-meter that you can point anywhere and detect cost-free opportunities for lower energy use.

              Parenthetically, you’re also assuming people are generally stupid, and can’t see these things for themselves, and need some bright person such as yourself to point them out. Perhaps that just means you’re really, really smart. Or it may mean something else.

              1. I’ve personally known a lot of people who idle for a silly length of time, leave lights on all day while they’re at work, leave lights on in the office while they’re home, and so on. A lot of people just don’t think about it. I admit to assuming that everyone has had an experience where they realized they were doing something in a needlessly inefficient way. But I didn’t mean to imply that there should be a Federal Department of Energy Conservation Advice with me as the head (though I would not refuse the appointment).
                In reference to the original article, people making lifestyle choices like deciding to bike to work are the types of things that organically inspire others to start thinking about other ways that they can be more energy efficient.
                I still think there are probably lots of areas where energy is simply wasted – on individual and systemic levels – and it would sometimes be a minimal cost to correct compared to the benefits. That the very information is itself a cost is something I hadn’t thought of.

            2. I think the problem is more than people just being irresponsible or thoughtless. It seems to me that the United States wastes a lot of energy because the government invested money on building infrastructure that promote sprawl. Most Americans can’t easily reduce their energy costs in a meaningful way because we are so spread out.

              1. People who want houses and yards are not evil. Not everyone wants to live in a 600 square foot loft in a 40 story building downtown.

              2. Right. Because the population of the United States was totally confined to dense urban areas from the 1790s until the Interstates were built in the 1960s. Ben Franklin wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanac about how he longed for a way to escape to a place — suburbia — where he could have his own backyard, a two-horse garage.

                It was only after the highways were built, in the 1970s and 1980s, and encouraged by TV sitcoms portraying a fantasy “ideal” suburban lifestyle, that Americans spread out along them. For years those roads just stood, empty, baking in the Sun, until people drove out along ’em and claimed a homestead.

                There were rumors of these things called “farms” of course, along with millions of people living on them, miles from their nearest neighor, but that’s just urban legend. Everyone knows food comes from big stores in shopping centers.

                1. So you want us all to live like we did in the 19th century? Yeah, that will attract a lot of people to environmentalism.

                2. It’s true that early America saw more people living in rural communities They were far more likely to be self sustaining, live where they work, and maybe just go into town every now and then to buy and sell goods.
                  A problem with suburban living is having entire cities full of people commuting 100 miles through traffic. I see this as a modern problem of metro and infrastructure planning, though you seem to disagree. Not everyone has to live in 600 foot apartments in 40 story buildings, but it would be nice if there were places where people could park near the center of their suburb and take a train to the urban center where they work or if zoning restrictions were lifted so it wouldn’t be unique to live within walking distance of good jobs, a grocery store, and a bar. I’ve visited too many suburbs where it’s a 30 mile drive on the freeway to do just about anything. To be fair, that was mostly in California.

            3. A solar panel on every roof? WTF?

              I see your point, but the costs will never be offset by any net gain. When I looked into solar just last year, I discovered that an initial $100,000 investment would only cover about 20% of my yearly energy use. One lone panel would be enough for perhaps an outlet or 2. Maybe.

              1. And just wait until a hurricane hits the $100k green investment attached to the roof of your house…

              2. That’s so bad it’s funny. The average American family’s annual energy cost is $1900, 20% of that is $380, and it would take 263 years to recover from the investment of 100k. But I read about advancements in the field pretty often, hopefully soon the cost of such a solar panel will drop a couple zeros.

      3. The market only comes close to reality over a long time period. In any reasonable time frame per a human life time it is meaningless (stock valuations, popular industries, mineral values, etc).

    2. There are billions of free market transactions occurring each day with all parties satisfied (i.e. feel better off after the transaction than before it) and you pick three examples in the last decade where scheisters have used the free market (and government, I might add in the case of G-S) to commit fraud? No one said the free market is perfect, simply that there is nothing better.

    3. Your examples contradict your point. You’re trying to suggest investors are too cautious or skeptical to invest in wind and solar — and give examples of where investors were clearly not cautious enough and too optimistic?

      Logic fail.

  20. it’s difficult to know if something is practical until you’ve invested in it.

    Isn’t that the definition of gamble, not invest?

    1. There is no difference between an investment and a gamble.

      1. PLAY FREEBIRD! PLAY FREEBIRD!

      2. Just like there’s no difference between an educated guess and pulling shit out of your ass.

      3. Vegas loves folks like you.

      4. Bitch please.

      5. Re: DanT,

        There is no difference between an investment and a gamble.

        Yes there is: The interest rate.

      6. “There is no difference between an investment and a gamble.”

        Really?

        So there is no difference between buying several hundred shares of AT&T for the dividend yield and feeding the same amount of money into slot machines in Vegas?

        1. The difference is your odds or winning. AT&T is a great investment because odds are it won’t be broken up because our state capitalism tries to protect big companies from risk, and AT&T is too big to fail, and they have lots of government contracts. Triple Sevens is a bad investment, because you know that your odds of winning the jackpot are 1 in a million and the odds of you even breaking even are gamed to be slightly against you. I think “gamble” has become slang for a high risk investment, but really anytime there’s risk, it’s a gamble.
          Gotta love semantics

          1. No the difference is that shares of stock means you own a proportinate share in real, tangible assets, buildings, equipment, inventory. And you also own a share of the economic profit generated by the company’s activities.

            When you gamble in a casino, you don’t own a “share” of anything.

            1. well, that is true. But you still accept risk in an investment, which is a “gamble.”

              1. Lungfish|5.27.10 @ 5:21PM|#
                “well, that is true. But you still accept risk in an investment, which is a “gamble.””

                By this definition, getting out of bed in the morning is ‘gambling’.
                Sorry, if ‘gambling’ means everything, it means nothing.

                1. True, haha, getting out of bed in the morning really is a gamble, for me at least.

                  Webster defines Gamble: to play a game for money or property, to bet on an uncertain outcome, to stake something on a contingency, [or] take a chance.

      7. Dan T. proving, yet again and again, his overly simplistic and childlike understanding of the world and everything in it.

        Hush, Dan T., the adults are talking.

        1. I always have a vision of a applesauce-smeared toddler beating both fists against the tray of a high chair.

          1. ATTICA!!! ATTICA!!!

    2. No, that is known as health care reform.

  21. So by biking to work, you save the equivalent of one drop in 10 gasoline tanker trucks.

    I hate this type of reasoning. Obama uses it to justify government action because that supposedly gets more results than individual action.

    I hate it because it is an extension of the perpetual victimhood that both Teams Blue and Red love. It makes their programs easier to sell.

    It also ignores the fact that everything occurs as a result of individual action. It is only due to coordination of individual actions that group action can be said to have occurred.

    Sure, it’s fair to point out the small contribution that his biking to work represents. But the next step is not to snootily turn your nose at the act, it is to point out that a few more participants would make a big difference.

    And I’m not just talking environmentalism, here. Apply to any movement or ism.

    1. That’s a good point. If everyone biked to work everyday(not going to happen)it would make a small difference in energy consumption.

    2. YEAH! Down with -isms!

      I think that’s what you’re trying to say, right?

      1. I believe in antiismism.

    3. Plus there are other benefits to biking to work.

      1. Other costs, too. It would take me longer to get to/from work, plus on the roads in my area there’s a significant risk of being run over by a car, truck, bus, etc. It’s near suicide.

        1. but then is it a cost of riding a bike or a cost of where you live in relation to where you work, or city planning built around the assumption that everyone will/should drive? Not that we all have a choice in the matter

      2. I bike to work most days (provided the weather cooperates) because I like the pleasant 30 minute ride along the lake shore, and the extra bit of health and fitness benefits I get.

        Also, it saves me either the $5 round trip fare if I were to take public transit, or the $16 for parking, plus gas and frustration if I were to drive .

        What I don’t do it for, is the planet.

    4. I hate this type of reasoning. Obama uses it to justify government action because that supposedly gets more results than individual action.

      Or rather, because it DOES get more results that individual action. Imagine if we had fought World War II using the libertarian model…


      It also ignores the fact that everything occurs as a result of individual action. It is only due to coordination of individual actions that group action can be said to have occurred.

      Isn’t government the coorindation of individual actions?

      1. Re: DanT,

        Or rather, because it DOES get more results that individual action. Imagine if we had fought World War II using the libertarian model…

        Think about it for a change, Dan – if the US had been libertarian back then, the US would not have gotten involved in WWII except as a weapons supplier for both sides.

        Shoving people into “action” against their better judgment cannot be construed as being a “good thing.”

        1. Yes, and if the US hadn’t gotten into WWII imagine the horrors that might have occurred- millions and millions of Jews would have died in concentration camps, Poland and Eastern Europe would have been held in thrall for decades by a murderous totalitarian foreign power, China might have been overun by a murderous totalitarian ideology. Good thing we stopped that.

          1. I don’t think your argument is very sound. In the first place, the Third Reich killed almost all of its millions of victims long before the concentration camps were liberated, or could have been liberated, and they had actually run out of Jews more than they’d run out of time. It’s not like modern day East Germany or Poland has a big Jewish population.

            Furthermore, I’m not understanding this at all:

            Poland and Eastern Europe would have been held in thrall for decades by a murderous totalitarian foreign power

            Er…like the Soviet Union? In what sense was life under the Soviet boot better than what it would have been like under the Nazi boot? Whether you get snuffed in Buchenwald or a Siberian gulag seems a bit of hair-spliting exercise.

            Furthermore, China was overrun by a murderous totalitarian ideology (Communism) in part because of the need to accept Mao as an ally in the struggle against the Japanese. Once again, I’m not seeing the big difference between China under Mao and China under Hirohito, really. Is a home-grown murderous dictatorship better than one foreign born? Is that it?

            One of the reasons why I think your argument is a little weak is that if the United States had preserved some distance from Europe working out its issues with the attractions of fascism, it might have preserved some more options for use in the far more deadly and long-lasting struggle against the world-wide attraction to fascism from the left, id est communism and all its kudzu-like variants.

            Maybe yes, maybe no, but I think the notion that US participation in the Second World War was obviously better than what happened on Earth 2 (where there was no such thing) is unsustainable.

            1. That one went smooth over your head, didn’t it?

            2. that’s funny, because you just described why everything vanya said was ironic while calling it weak and then making vanya’s argument more explicitly. It’s like you’re the same person with opposite senses of humor.
              Although you might disagree that our participation in WW2 was a net positive, but it’s really hard to argue that sort of thing. Otherwise speculative historical fiction wouldn’t be as fun or crazy. (full disclosure, I’m looking forward to the coming indy film “Iron Sky”)

              1. Yea, I thought about reading CP’s post again, but…

            3. Agreed – Also there is little possibility that Hitler would have gotten very far after the whole france thing. Remember that he had Stalin to his east, and britain etc to his west. After Stalingrad, Hitles lost not only his momentum, but much of the faith he had won by taking many of the gambles he did early on through invading Poland etc. You see hitlers problem was that his sparks of genius declined rapidly after invading france. By bombing England and not immediately following through with any form of ground invasion, he lost his momentum there as well allowing Britain to regroup. After that he mostly went downhill as his generals (and not to long after his country) lost faith in his abilities. Had the US not helped, is no where certain that Hitler would have been able to hold his conquest for very long.

      2. We did largely fight World War II based on the Libertarian model, because the ability to wage war is one of the enumerated powers of the United States government. There were, of course, some exceptions to this, among the most egregious being the internship of Americans of Japanese descent. Still, the war was actually declared by Congress as required by the Constitution, as opposed to every conflict we’ve had since. Maybe you should have used Korea, Vietnam, or one of our current “police actions”.

        1. Not sure how libertarian the conscription was … or for that matter, nuking the Japs while they were trying to surrender.

          1. D. Saul Weiner|5.27.10 @ 2:14PM|#
            “…nuking the Japs while they were trying to surrender.”

            The Japanese were in no way, shape, or form ‘trying to surrender’ prior to the two nukes.
            Not by their definition, nor ours, period; that’s a lie.

            1. clarity…nice

              1. Mainer|5.27.10 @ 6:04PM|#
                “clarity…nice”
                I’m tired of the ‘well, Kido sorta talked about’ arguments…..

        2. This is fascinating. Surely an action isn’t sanctioned by libertarian principles just because it’s enumerated in the constitution.

          I mean the government has the power to force you to quit your job, leave your home, and possibly die fighting a war you may or may not agree with. That’s far more of an abuse of individual agency than almost anything else I can think of that libertarians object to so vehemently.

          Besides, enumeration is kind of a lame cop-out. Case law determines what the constitution means, you’re just choosing to ignore it in instances where there’s a policy you don’t like. If something’s been declared constitutional over and over again in the court system, it is for all intents and purposes enumerated.

          1. Because the provision that the government can “raise and support an army” automatically makes the draft constitutional. Awesome logic. I guess the “general welfare” clause means free shit for everyone, where possible, so long as you define welfare as free shit.

            Oh, and the idea of abiding the rules set forth in contracts (such as the Constitution) is sooo un-libertarian. You know better than this.

            Does the possibility of bad precedent ever occur to you? Just because progressive fucksticks operate under the assumption that the constitution is a set of loose guidelines doesn’t make it so.

            1. But you’re inventing a tortured and strict definition of constitutionality that reflects your policy preferences. Part of the contract is respecting case law. Therefore, everything that is legal must be libertarian.

              I’m just saying that the constitution isn’t a libertarian document, so you needn’t feel constrained by it when defending libertarian principles.

              1. Hate to say this, but Tony has a point.
                libertarian =/= constitutionalist
                The constitution is the result of a compromise with the Federalists. The only reason that the libertarian and constitutionalist platforms seem so similar today is because just about everyone else is drinking the statist kool-aid.

                1. The only reason that the libertarian and constitutionalist platforms seem so similar today is because just about everyone else is drinking the statist kool-aid.

                  Refreshing!

          2. If something’s been declared constitutional over and over again in the court system, it is for all intents and purposes enumerated.

            No it’s not. Because it only takes one judge, somewhere, to reverse it. Not a Constitutional amendment.

            Compare Brown v. Board of Education to the process of undoing Prohibition.

          3. Case law determines what the constitution means

            Actually, the constitution determines what the constitution means. If you were right, no verdict would ever be overturned because, by definition, the case law would have to stand.

          4. I agree with Tony. Nothing in libertarianism is dependent on the Constitution.

      3. Isn’t government the coordination of individual actions?

        In North Korea. Arirang is popular there. I’m sure you’d be welcome there.

      4. Or rather, because it DOES get more results that individual action. Imagine if we had fought World War II using the libertarian model…

        Fighting wars is a legitimate function of government.

  22. 10 or 12 dollars per gallon and you could start getting young, healthy, urban Americans to bike to work.

    For those of you who don’t live within a few miles of your workplace, are older, handicapped or otherwise unable to bike, well, fuck you.

    1. Heartless bastard. 😉

    2. you should be living within a walking distance to your work. if you are unable to walk or bike, of course, exceptions can be made.

      1. That is so achievable for everyone, right? People have to take work where they can get it, and living close by may be unaffordable, or moving is impractical or expensive. Many areas are not highly compatible with walking or cycling.

      2. And when your job changes…

      3. Wow, just imagine the supremely dense cities that would require.

        Skyscrapers a mile tall, a huge prole underclass confined to windowless sub-sub-sub-basement cement-walled living cells, because they can’t afford the suite on the 90th floor above the smog and bridges, not to mention the enormous environment-raping civil engineering projects to bring in the fresh water, food, and other supplies required by 20 million people living in a Blade Runner megalopolis.

    3. What if you are unable to compromise?

    4. A while back, I was part of a message board dedicated to cycling – mountain biking mostly, but roadies had their own niche. I mentioned I wanted to get more saddle time and one woman mentioned I should ride my bike to work. At the time, I had a 62 mile (one way) commute up the Garden State Parkway to Paterson. She insisted it could be done! I could bike to work! She took the trouble to map the routes for me and everything. Taking local road versus the GSP would have upped the distance almost 20 miles and taken me through some unsavory neighborhoods. But I would be saving the earth, and getting 160+ miles of biking in a day! What a b-a-r-g-a-i-n!

      She was an insistent feminist who thought I should ditch the man I love and move to Vermont so I could pursue my half-hearted dream of being a mountain bike racer. I don’t frequent that message board any longer.

      1. 62 mile (one way) commute up the Garden State Parkway to Paterson

        Ah, god, the flashbacks! Make them stop! You make me want to gouge out my jugular with a piece of broken glass.

        So glad I left NJ. So glad I no longer commute 63 miles each way. So glad I no longer work in Edison and Livingston.

        Urk, it’s making me nauseated just remembering it.

        1. commuting more than 100 miles a day? Damn, that’s insane. The UN should make a less than 20 mile commute a human right, and metro area planning councils should have to answer for the crime of stolen man-hours of productivity

          1. I’ll presume this is satire.

            1. Yes, but I should know better. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if a 100 mile a day commute is legally inhumane.

            2. Yes, but I should know better. Though I wouldn’t be surprised if a 100 mile a day commute is legally inhumane.

        2. FUCK YOU. NJ IS THE HOME OF LIBERTY.

    5. The next Civil War will involve rural and suburban America invading and razing the cities.

      1. California first, then the rust belt.

        1. no need to raze LA. We can do a pretty good job of that ourselves.

          1. First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin.

    6. For those of you who don’t live within a few miles of your workplace, are older, handicapped or otherwise unable to bike, well, fuck you.

      Sadly I actually feel this way. I have contempt for the weak, what can I say?

      1. I take it you’re not afraid of tiny, weak bacteria and viruses?

  23. Maybe the energy required to power our preferred lifestyles is simply not as cheap as we have been led to believe. The long-term effects of fossil fuel energy will be unimaginably costly. We’re basically making minimum payments on a huge credit card bill and expecting the next generation to take care of the balance.

    Energy is cheap if you don’t factor in environmental costs. Which is not rational of course, just convenient for people who like their lifestyles the way they are and want to pretend it can always be this way.

    1. Well Christ-on-a-Cracker, you’ve done it for me. The current state of energy use is not reasonably sustainable. We should not expect it to be so.

      However, isn’t it wrong to coerce people to change their habits through government action? If peoples’ current lifestyles are so energy abusive won’t the natural market cost of such lifestyles cause their end? People will adapt or die whining without (but even louder with) governmental policy sayso.

      1. isn’t it wrong to coerce people to change their habits through government action?

        If by coercive action you mean government forcing energy producers to accurately price their product rather than socializing environmental costs while reaping the profits, then no.

        If peoples’ current lifestyles are so energy abusive won’t the natural market cost of such lifestyles cause their end?

        No. The “natural” market doesn’t necessarily take into account the negative external costs of environmental harm. If industries can treat the environment (which is commonly owned) as their private dumping ground then they are getting a free lunch and we are paying for it. Government is necessary to correct this failure of the market to make people pay what they owe.

        1. I hate saying this (I promise, I do consider myself a libertarian), but I think Tony’s right (on this one point). There are external costs associated with pollution. I don’t think it would be unconstitutional, or even immoral for the government to tax energy use at a level that accounts for those externalities. The problem, of course, is deciding what level that is. That’s above my pay grade.

          1. I agree with Tony also, but the solution is not to tax energy. We should tax pollution directly.

          2. Tony is right (gulp). There are externalities (costs) associated with the use of fossil fuels that are not reflected in their price.

            The right way to fix this is to tax the shit out of fossil fuels – up to a level that is equal to those uncollected costs – and let the free market come up with a way to find “cheaper” alternatives than the fossil fuels, either alternative fuel sources or more efficient technologies (ie the same amount of work performed for less money).

            The right way is NOT to pick winners and losers among the alternative technologies and subsidize those at the expense of all the others.

        2. Although I agree with you Tony, this is not a “failure of the market.” It’s a failure of people to sue polluters for damage to their property.

          1. Or it’s the success of corporate lawyers to stop those cases, settle before it gets to court and sets a precedent, or pay off legislation to set lawsuit caps.

          2. How does establishing standing work when we’re talking about the entire planet?

            Litigation is the least efficient way to handle this. Oil companies have expensive lawyers anyway.

        3. how the fuck is it a failure of the market if the GOVERNMENT creates a state enforced indirect subsidy through commons LAWS in favour of corporations? This is more then anything a failure of the state leading to humans being human, and responding to incentives.

    2. The oceans will rise, volcanoes will erupt, starving polar bears will roam the streets hunting our children!

      AIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

      1. Wait, that’s the plot of LOST.

        1. ” If peoples’ current lifestyles are so energy abusive won’t the natural market cost of such lifestyles cause their end? People will adapt or die whining without (but even louder with) governmental policy sayso.”

          Yes, I believe this eventuall will happen, and probably a lot sooner than you think.

          I think our current environmental/resource situation is very similiar to our debt situation. You can go on running up the credit card for quite a while until suddently you realize oh shit, we are bankrupt.

          I personally would prefer that not to happen. I think it’s important to live within the natural resources constraints of the world.

          1. Maybe, or maybe not. But I don’t see anything wrong with “greenies,” preparing for the worst and I do think “anti-greenies” are just gambling that everything someone says about the environment is some kind of communist lie.

            1. “Maybe, or maybe not. But I don’t see anything wrong with “greenies,” preparing for the worst and I do think “anti-greenies” are just INVESTING that everything someone says about the environment is some kind of communist lie.”

              FTFY

              1. They’re not gambling or investing on the idea that global warming is a communist lie. They damn well know it’s real, they’re just trying to make as much short-term profit as possible, which involves spending a little on anti-science propaganda.

                As someone around here said, the problem at the heart of everything is a total focus on short-term profit and myopia with regard to the long-term.

                1. You missed the debate about “gambling” vs. “investing” above…

                2. Tony|5.27.10 @ 4:03PM|#
                  “As someone around here said, the problem at the heart of everything is a total focus on short-term profit and myopia with regard to the long-term.”

                  As if you had a clue.

                3. Profit is the root of all evil!

                  We are all one community, cells in the universal organism that must work together in order to survive!

                  KUMBAYA MY LORD, KUMBAYA

                  1. oh snap, you totally winned that hizzargument bro-dog. Subtelty is for nerds!

                4. We know Global Warming to be true? Does this mean that Climategate was a fluke?

                  I, personally, have my doubts about global warming. A *lot* of them!

                  And, as for not knowing the long-term costs of pollution: as we’ve figured them out, we’ve learned to deal with them. Sometimes, we’ve dealt with them via regulation; other times, companies have dealt with them when they discovered the impacts involved, and still other times customers have dealt with companies that have had problems, and they have reformed because of that (either because of lawsuit or because of taking business elsewhere). To me, it’s debatable whether or not regulation was necessary to get these effects, or even counter-productive at times, but in any case, it’s happened.

                  But overall, we’ve done a lot more to improve things than central planning has done around the world!

      2. first the polar bears will hybridize with grizzlies thus making both species extinct. oh noes. The upshot for the new hybrid is that they will be able to shoot frickin’ laserbeams from their eyes. That’s what hybridization does right?

        1. They have these already, minus the laserbeams. They’re called grolar bears. The grizzly and polar bears are preparing…

          1. Yeah I saw that.

            1. Fuck that, they’re called Pizzlies.

    3. And Tony gives the statist agenda away. The goal isn’t to find a better way of doing things, but to acclimitize people to doing without.

      1. I was just ahead of my time, I tell ya.

      2. No. Ideally we could maintain our lifestyles more or less intact. I don’t think we could ever expect people to sanction anything else. All I’m saying is that we’re living in a delusion of cheap energy. It’s not as cheap as it seems, we’re just putting off the costs (and making it more expensive the longer we wait).

        1. Tony|5.27.10 @ 3:38PM|#
          “…It’s not as cheap as it seems,…”

          As if you had a clue.

    4. Re: Tony,

      Maybe the energy required to power our preferred lifestyles is simply not as cheap as we have been led to believe.

      Maybe – since the price system currently relies on funny money, there is no way to determine this.

      The long-term effects of fossil fuel energy will be unimaginably costly.

      You cannot have it both ways – if you cannot be sure about the cost of our energy usage, then you cannot say our actions are “costly.”

      We’re basically making minimum payments on a huge credit card bill and expecting the next generation to take care of the balance.

      Again, maybe. You have a point but not for the reasons you think. It is the interest rate that determines the cost of decisions; since the interest rate is manipulated by a few powerful individuals in the Fed, one cannot determine just how much our energy usage is actually the result of a bubble and not of our true needs. You cannot however conclude that it is our energy usage the culprit – people NEED energy.

      Energy is cheap if you don’t factor in environmental costs.

      People already factored in the environmental costs, otherwise they would have abandoned the city of L.A. to rot a long time ago. People have accepted the costs – you on the other hand seem not to realize this because of your arrogance.

      Which is not rational of course, just convenient for people who like their lifestyles the way they are and want to pretend it can always be this way.

      Again, you cannot say people are acting irrational when they’re being fooled. You cannot have it both ways.

      1. Come on OM, you know that’s not how exteranlities work. A good with an exertanlities is unaturally cheap precisly because the user of that good only pays a small part of the externality.

        So when I run my car, yes I am contributing to smog, but the cost is small to me. If we added up the costs to everyone else though, the price would be higher. Sure I’m bearing the costs of eveyrone eles pollution, but me not driving won’t reduce that.

        That’s why exteranlities are tricky things, and why the price mechanism isn’t fully effective on goods that produce them. This is econ 101.

        Now what to do about the exteranlity is another issue…

        1. Re: Kroneborge,

          Come on OM, you know that’s not how exteranlities work. A good with an [externality] is unaturally cheap precisly because the user of that good only pays a small part of the externality.

          “Unnaturally cheap”, as in “I know what the true cost is never mind the market”? You have NO idea of the subject you’re talking about. Learn economics first and then come back to talk to us adults.

          So when I run my car, yes I am contributing to smog, but the cost is small to me.

          The cost of what?

          If we added up the costs to everyone else though, the price would be higher.

          The cost of WHAT?

          That’s why exteranlities are tricky things, and why the price mechanism isn’t fully effective on goods that produce them. This is econ 101.

          Tricky things” . . . You should change courses, or teacher, or your textbook, or maybe dedicate your life to something else besides things you do not grasp.

          1. It’s becoming apparent that you’ve never even taking an economics course (either that or you are fucking with me, possible because most of your other posts have been reasonable intillgent). Anyway, it seems you are trying to be obtuse here it goes

            Externalities singify market failure. You are correct that with externalities it’s probably impossible to know the true price, although depending on the exteranlity it could be possible. Some are probably easier to figure than others. For example pollution in a stream is probably easier to cost than air pollution in a city.

            So going back to the car example, (not counting the possible effects of C02) we know that burning gas causes smog, which can cause health problems like asthma etc. So, when I burn a gallon of gas, the public (of which I am a member pays the whole cost) but I get all the benefits.

            So to make things simply, if I was in a city of 1000 people, you could argue that I only bore 1/1000 of the smog cost, but I got all the benefit of burning the gallon of gas (driving).

            So the price I pay for burning a gallon of gas is P (the price of gas) + 1/1000 of the costs of the smog. Whereas the price of the gallon of gas should really be P + smog. Then the supply and demand curves would be meeting at the right place.

            Because of externalities an inefficent amount of gas is being burned (higher than otherwise would be if the price was higher).

            Did you actually take an economics course? Did they really not cover how exteranlities work?

            BTW, I am an economist (UCSB), and a CPA

            1. Doesn’t matter, he made fun of you by saying you don’t know what you’re talking about, so your point is invalid.

              1. I suppose I can’t argue that with logic, lol

            2. “So to make things simply, if I was in a city of 1000 people, you could argue that I only bore 1/1000 of the smog cost, but I got all the benefit of burning the gallon of gas (driving).”

              Only if you are the only one in that city that burns a gallon of gasoline.

            3. A lot of people here deny externalities exist at all.

              And their reasoning? I think we can illustrate it with this memorable scene from the movie Liar, Liar:

              Jim Carrey: Your honor, I object!
              Judge: Why?
              Jim Carrey: Because it’s devastating to my case!

              1. Externalities are bullshit. Everyone who contributes to “externalities” (which is everyone) pays for them simply by accepting the costs on themselves. Some people are more vulnerable than others- thats nature.

                1. Colonel_Angus,

                  You can’t be serious. By definition an externality is a cost someone pays that they don’t agree to, resulting from a transaction they are not a part of. Are you saying the arbitrary and unfair and market distorting system we’d have if we ignored externalities is just fine with you because “hey life isn’t fair”?

                  You completely undermine any moral justification for libertarianism and free markets with this attitude.

                  1. Tony, I wouldn’t classify pollution as an externality since polluting the property of others is already something that libertarians believe is something you have to pay for. An externality that comes from someone acting within their rights is a justified externality, and people should just have to live with them.

                  2. Brilliant! Gov’t is an externality. I love it.

                    Tony, you are right that energy prices can’t reflect actual costs, because we don’t know. How, then, can gov’t accurately gauge that?

                    OM has the better point, though. As long as the FED is manipulating interest rates, people will continue to invest in risky ventures they otherwise would not have. SEE HOUSING CRISIS. Kill the FED and you will kill these investments and the costs will get closer to what they really should be.

            4. define the price of smog

              1. Ok, I’ll try ONE more time. Exteranlites are not bullshit because of the way incentives work. Even though everyone ends up paying for them, they are only responsible for their portion of the costs.

                So if the 1000 people all burned one gallon of gas, everyone paid an equal amount right? But if a person decides not to burn that gallon, his cost doesn’t go down by P + smog, it goes down by P + 1/1000 smog. So he’s still paying 999/1000 smog.

                It’s basically the same thing as the tragedy of the commons. Each indvidual actor has it in their own best interests to act a certain way. But for the group as a whole, it would be better not to do it.

                With some exteranlities privatization can fix that problem, but with others it can’t (air pollution is a great example).

                1. Now you need to explain why people in general do not survive by theft.

                  If I steal my food from the supermarket, I will almost always get away with it, the police being unable to be everywhere, and the supermarket finding it more costly to employ armed guards than accept the small amount of theft that goes on.

                  So why doesn’t everyone steal their food? Why do people in general behave like civilized people, including taking externalities into account when making their own decisions?

                  Possibly because they have a brain? Because they don’t like abusing the Commons?

                  The difficulty with the whole Tragedy of the Commons arguments is that there are so many Commons throughout the world, and throughout history, but surprisingly few actual Tragedies. Apparently, its practitioners suffer from the same disease the socialist dreamers suffer: an inaccurate model of actual human behaviour.

                  Human beings are neither so ideally social that they function well in communes, nor yet so selfishly depraved that they routinely ignore the cost of their individual choices on the commonwealth.

                  1. with the example of smog from vehicle pollution, many people just don’t have a choice, assuming they even think about it. The places where many people have lived all their lives, where their family, job, and friends are, require them to drive. This refers to the above conversation about systemic failures in metro-area planning.

            5. “You are correct that with externalities it’s probably impossible to know the true price, although depending on the exteranlity it could be possible.” “probably impossible” and “could be possible” – The use of weasel words doesn’t help your argument.

              Also,

              “So to make things simply, if I was in a city of 1000 people, you could argue that I only bore 1/1000 of the smog cost, but I got all the benefit of burning the gallon of gas (driving).

              So the price I pay for burning a gallon of gas is P (the price of gas) + 1/1000 of the costs of the smog. Whereas the price of the gallon of gas should really be P + smog. Then the supply and demand curves would be meeting at the right place.”

              Over simplification on a large scale. Not zero-sum here, if you are carrying out business of any type your externalities are significantly reduced by the benefits to others; shop keepers, supermarkets coffee shops, gas store owner etc. ad infinitum. Same with all the 1000 others in your hypothetical carrying on with their own lives. It seems to me that your example reveals that it’s all pretty much equaled out except for almost imperceptable differences in uses and benefits.

              1. Except of course that the costs are not impercetible.

                For example,
                http://articles.sfgate.com/200…..an-air-act

                Anyway, I’m am most defitely over simplying, because this isn’t a research paper, it’s a blog. I’m trying to keep the economics nice and simple. Very little math, mainly concepts.

                1. “[C]osts are not impercetible.”

                  Cost measured sans benefits may not be imperceptible but that was not my point. When the benefits to those same people (and everyone also benefits)are weighed in, the costs seem to me to become imperceptible or at best impossible to measure. Even those that suffer adverse effects enjoy benefits from energy usage.

                  My point is, how would one know with any certainty when the costs in this particular instance outweigh the benefits especially when speaking of the activities, decisions and choices of millions of people?

                  And what tkwelge wrote.

                2. Kroneborge|5.27.10 @ 4:09PM|#
                  “Except of course that the costs are not impercetible.

                  For example,
                  http://articles.sfgate.com/200…..an-air-act”

                  You’re kidding, I hope.
                  First, that sort of ‘study’ is subject to all sorts of bias; I’d have to see the thing to make sure it wasn’t one of those ‘he got run over by a truck while he was breathing, therefore he died of bad air’.
                  Secondly, there was absolutely *no* attempt to measure the benefits obtained from that supposedly polluted air.
                  That ‘study’ is propaganda, not econ.

            6. My problem with the leftist “externality” argument is that in most cases the externalities seem like they are being taken into account. People choose to live in more polluted cities, understanding the risks and costs so that they can enjoy the fruits of higher consumption possibilities. If the smog was removed, property values would increase, but people would give up on the consumption and employment possibilites that go along with those things. Obviously that doesn’t make it okay to open an oil refinery next to a residential neighborhood, but if they build both at the same time, or the oil refinery first, and people CHOOSE to live next door to the oil refinery and take the risks of the health hazards in return for lower housing costs and more consumption possibilities. Simply yelling about “TEH EXTERNALITIES!!!!” is a massive simplification of the issue.

              All cultures go through a period of high pollution on their way to modernization, and then when their citizen’s decide that cleaner air is worth giving up potential increases in consumption possibilities, the lobby their government’s for more pollution controls, making a social trade off between pollution and consumption.

              1. How come nobody argues that we need to take into account the effects of externalities related to government action. WHat about the externalities from eminent domain abuse? What about externalities from the drug war? What about externalities from higher taxes? WHat about the externalities from government regulation? Even the CBO only does cost benefit analysis based on the government spending side of the equation, and their is almost no effort to really quantify the costs of government actions on the private sector.

                1. I would certiainly argue that we need to take into account the exteranalities of government actions.

                  Anyway, the economic argument about externalities is it’s better to incorporate the price of the externalities into the price of the good than to deal with the exteranlities through regulation (in most cases). So for example, mileage requirements are an inefficent way to deal with it, a higher gas tax would be more efficient.

                  Also exteranlities isn’t exactly a lefty argument. It’s an economics problem that demostrates how markets can fail. Of course most of the solutions are lefty (and thus usually inefficent, and often wrong).

                  1. Can you pinpoint a problem (with proof) that makes either mileage requirements or a gasoline tax necessary?

            7. Taxing the cost of “externalities” is not an efficient way to deal with a real problem. If you can prove that one entity is causing real harm to another, you do not have an externality. Mercury and sulfur pollution are known to be harmful, and man made sources are known. Taxing this harm would be stupid. A better way to deal with this is a simple straightforward regulation to reduce this harm to near zero. Carbon dioxide and global warming are not examples of problems that can be calculated or pinpointed on specific entities.

              1. I don’t see how CO2 is any different. Could you elaborate?

                We know that the excess CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels leads to environmental harm. We know exactly where the excess CO2 is coming from. What’s the problem?

                1. I’m leaving CO2 out of the equation right now to try and reduce the amount of aruging on this board. I think there is enough scientific evidence to suggest we should take common sense steps to protect against the risks of climate change.

                  But I also think that it really doesn’t matter in some respects. There are MORE than enough reasons to reduce fossil fuel use, without taking climate change into account.

                  Anyway, taxing externalities can be a great way to handle them (obivously it depends on the exteranlity). If you are talking about the healthcare effects from smog, then a tax on gas would make perfect sense. It would increase the costs of gas, thus moving you towards a more efficent equilibrium. In addition, you could use the tax money to pay for the health effects.

                  1. Even if you ignore CO2, coal is dead the moment you account for the externalities. Even the most conservative estimates put it at around $.04/kwh, with many running notably higher. This clearly puts new wind, gas, and nuclear well ahead of any new coal. It would also make the dirtiest plants non-viable the day the law was passed, regardless of their age.

                    1. I have seen the sources of your estimates, Chav, and you are full of shit.

                    2. You mean crap sources like the EPA?

                    3. Chad, I can’t wait to hear you bitch and moan about how Big Solar and Big Wind are raping teh consumers.

                    4. Chad, aren’t you due to dazzle us with more “I have a negative carbon footprint” bullshit right about now?

                  2. If you know exactly what chemicals in smog are causing health problems, that is not an externality. That is a specific problem that you can pinpoint and reduce through a straightforward regulation. Taxing it would be inefficient because the government is not efficient at redistributing that money in the best way.

                2. “We know that the excess CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels leads to environmental harm.”

                  How so?

                  1. Wait, so you are arguing that government regulation is more efficent that the price mechanism?

                    The redistrubtion is easy, you could one just offset Medicare/Medicaid costs. Two do grants to hospitals etc, or three just reduce the income or payroll tax.

                  2. “How so?”

                    By doing its job as a greenhouse gas and trapping more heat, increasing average near-surface global temperatures, causing myriad environmental disruptions.

                    1. In order to save the planet, we have to either stop using all fossil fuels, forever… or commit mass suicide.

                    2. Tony IS Captain Planet!

            8. I sometimes think the real libertarian argument is that smog is really a public good, and there is no such thing as bad emissions.

              1. Turnkey, it’s the smug levels we have to watch out for. That’s the stuff that really causes problems.

              2. “I sometimes think the real libertarian argument is that smog is really a public good, and there is no such thing as bad emissions.”

                My wife would disagree!

    5. Maybe the energy required to power our preferred lifestyles is simply not as cheap as we have been led to believe. The long-term effects of fossil fuel energy will be unimaginably costly. We’re basically making minimum payments on a huge credit card bill and expecting the next generation to take care of the balance.

      And what is this huge credit card bill?

      It is not as if we are borrowing billions from China just to buy gasoline, right ?

      Energy is cheap if you don’t factor in environmental costs.

      Quantify these environmental costs to the nearest dollar.

      1. “Quantify these environmental costs to the nearest dollar.” A big topic, and one I won’t try and cover all of.

        Here is one example though.
        http://www.cleanairnet.org/cai….._fuels.pdf

        I would agree that no measurment is going to be perfect. But I would also argue that it doesn’t have to be.

        My perfered method of taking it into account would be a slowly rising net zero carbon tax. This would increase the returns to labor, and encourage efficent use of energy. If energy couldn’t be used any more efficiently, then the net result would just be zero (although I don’t believe this would be the case).

        1. It doesn’t need to be perfect. It just needs to beat sticking your head in the sand and pretending the answer is zero, when it is clearly not.

    6. How much cleaner-burning are existing automobiles, compared to the mid-1960s models?

      Isn’t that good enough for you? Obviously not.

      1. No! It isn’t good enough! And Al Gore still gets a pass for flying in jet planes and riding in limos, because he is spreading The Word!

  24. Why is it when there is a discussion of the politics of envrionment, we ignore the basic principle of conservation?

    Use only what you need to get the job done, consider reuse/recycling of the residue and investigate less environmentally harmful substitutes.

    BTW, it’s not a Progressive doctrine, its mostly a Conservative philosophy. But it works.

    1. When Walmat puts Auxilliary Power Units on refridgerated trucks to save boat loads of cash versus running the engine all the time, it’s just PR bullshit as far as the left is concerned.

      The left is totatlly incapable of seeing the deductive chain that shows bigger profits come from reducing energy costs which results in lower energy consumption which leads to a “greener” world. Apparently it is unethical to try to achieve a green goal by co-opting the profit motive of big business.

      1. I don’t think it’s accurate to describe “the left” so broadly, since the center-left is certainly a group that works for and cheers these sorts of moves by big business. Environmental groups try to point out that many companies attempt “green washing,” that companies do often attempt PR bullshit when it’s cheaper or just easier. In the case of Walmart, it’s easy to snort at press releases touting more energy efficiency when nearly everything sold there is shipped from overseas. Though it’s cheaper because they manufacture everything in places without labor laws, the environmental cost of shipping US cotton to China and then shipping the tube-socks back to us is pretty high.

        1. Lungfish|5.27.10 @ 3:32PM|#
          “..Though it’s cheaper because they manufacture everything in places without labor laws, the environmental cost of shipping US cotton to China and then shipping the tube-socks back to us is pretty high.”

          Uh, got a cite for those supposed costs?

          1. Yes. It’s exactly 70 Gaia Units. jk
            Ok, no, you got me.
            I should have stuck to the theme of energy efficiency and conservation, but I appreciate you helping me refrain from being lazy, and googled “co2 shipping” and read about a study in 2007 by BP that showed CO2 output from shipping was twice as much as airlines and rising at a faster rate. CO2 is a greenhouse gas but I’m personally a bit more concerned about ocean acidification.

    2. Use only what you need to get the job done, consider reuse/recycling of the residue and investigate less environmentally harmful substitutes.

      You are correct. Long before there were any government subsidy to do so, people were recycling scrap steel, aluminum and even saw dust. Henry Ford and his folks came up with charcoal briquettes to not let the sawdust and other wood scraps from the manufacture of cars go to waste, just as an example.

    3. Why is it when there is a discussion of the politics of environment, we ignore the basic principle of conservation?

      Conservative doesn’t mean one conserves.

      1. …unfortunately.

        It used to, and it should. I have pointed out to self-proclaimed conservatives the root of the word.

        Wasn’t it Ben Franklin, that crazy old coot, who said, “waste not, want not”? Just seems to make simple sense to me.

    4. Why is it when there is a discussion of the politics of envrionment, we ignore the basic principle of conservation?

      So what keeps people from conserving?

      Businesses have every incentive to conserve, as it reduces costs and thus increases profits.

      1. Long term conservation does not usually assist the short term stock price.

        1. agreed. I’ve had a hard time selling my company on the return on investment in installing sensor lights that turn off after you’re out of the room for a few minutes. The whole system cost a lot, and if it weren’t for the fact that the company is 30 years old and has been in the same building for a long time, they wouldn’t have begrudgingly seen that they would eventually be saving money. Oh yeah, and we aren’t public, so no shareholders to be responsible to.

          1. A close friend of mine is a salesman for a small engineering firm, which mostly sells pumps, vacuums and compressors. I can’t count the number of stories he has told me about businesses (almost always small ones) who say something like

            “Why would we pay $2000 more for the efficient pump? I can’t wait three years to get paid back!”

            *facepalm* *facepalm* *facepalm*

            These people shouldn’t be managing a McDonald’s.

        2. Sure it does. Excess metal scrap in stamping operations is typically remelted and reused again. It’s good business sense. Who cares if it’s “green”?

          When you watch enough programs on History, Discovery and Science channels (How it’s made, Modern Marvels, Factory Made, Dirty Jobs, etc), you discover just how much of a raw material that is used in products and processes other than the primary use of the material. I’ve seen some products made that have almost zero scrap product. Corn husks, nut shells, sawdust, fish bones, etc, just to name a few, are all used in other products by other mfrs. They’re either used internally or sold to other mfrs.

          Has anyone ever compiled a list of secondary/tertiary material uses?

  25. Where to start…

    1. Biking to work, so you are saying that because any one persons constribution won’t mean much, that no one should bother? Have you ever heard of the aggregate? If a bunch of people do something it can make a difference.

    2. The argument that because renewables don’t currently produce a lot of energy so renewables will NEVER produce a lot of energy is bullshit. That’s like someone arguing in the 19th century that because no one really uses cars etc that no one will.

    New tech takes time to permeate.

    3. Agreed that subsidies are generally bad. But one is should be noted that fossils have been getting subsidies for years, and two fossils fuels are artificially cheap because they dont’ count externalities. Ideally of course the best way to fix this is incorprate the externalities in the prices of fossil fueles, and not to subsidize other stuff.

    4. Space used by wind is another bullshit analogy. Most of that space is also used for other purposes (like farming). Most farmers are happy to get an extra $30k or so a year to have turbines on their property.

    5. Yes fossil fuels are energy dense. But we are using them up quickly, AND they have a bunch of nasty exteranlities attached. If that’s not enough, most of the rest of the world oil is either in countires that are hositle to use, or is in places that make it VERY expensive to get. Oil’s at $200 a barrel isn’t the same thing at all as oil at $50 a barrell.

    Currently renewables can’t power America, but the tech has progressed to the point where they can help out. As technology continues to advance costs will keep coming down.

    And we’d better hope it does so soon, because the America that was built on cheap oil simply won’t run on $200 a barrel oil.

    1. I agree. Stossel isn’t a libertarian. He’s a contrarian, and not a very good one. If each person biked to work and saved one gallon of oil per day, that would be like 95 million barrels of oil saved per day. Yes, this math is bunk, but so is Stossel’s. I, for one, am sick and f*cking tired of that guy. He’s a crotchedy old man who dies his hair. Even when I agree with him, I find his lame theatrics insulting, like his Reason special where he had the piles of money on the table. Skepticism is good, but you cannot step over into arrogance and disingenuous rhetoric like that.

      1. Re: Lamar,

        Skepticism is good, but you cannot step over into arrogance and disingenuous rhetoric like that.

        Indeed, pointing out the physics of renewables is always disingenuous because it goes against sentimentalist dreams.

        I should place that in my Philosophy textbook I am writting, under the chapter titled “Lefty Irrationality in the 21st Century.”

        1. “pointing out the physics of renewables is always disingenuous because it goes against sentimentalist dreams.”

          They are pointing out that one bicyclist doesn’t amount to much, but the argument has always been that everybody riding a bike makes a difference. Just like one catalytic converter does nothing…but if every car has one, there is a difference. See, i.e., California smog.

          So, yeah, when you tell me that wind power won’t replace oil, and therefore is a waste, I find that disingenuous. There is a reason we call it an energy “portfolio”, i.e., because sources of energy are NEVER judged on a stand-alone basis, unless you are Stossel or your fine self.

          1. I think it needs to be pointed out that riding your bike to work isn’t “free” in the carbon sense at all (and I used to do it when I lived just a few miles from work). You’re still expending energy when you ride, and that energy needs to be replaced (unless you’re doing it to lose weight and do not replace it). That means eating more, which in turn means creating additional demand on the food supply and the resultant additional use of water, fertilizers, peticides, fuel, etc. to get your food to market.

            There’s no free lunch here.

            1. I think the idea is that most of us would use energy that would otherwise turn into fat or turds or fat turds.

              1. But that only works until the rider hits an ideal weight, no? At that point, the calories need to be replaced or you’ve consigned the cyclist to slow starvation.

                There’s a temptation to see the cyclist as being “green” and the energy he expends as “free,” but the reality is quite different. Even cyclists create some of Chony’s beloved externalities.

            2. If it weren’t for the fact that the average American is inactive and getting too many of their calories from fat, then I’d try and pull up the environmental cost of oil extraction, transport, refining, and burning vs the environmental impact of getting potatoes and beans from the farmer’s market.

          2. “So, yeah, when you tell me that wind power won’t replace oil, and therefore is a waste, I find that disingenuous.”

            It is a waste if (as in the case of wind) it’s considerably more expensive than an alternative. That’s not crazy libertarian ideology… it’s basic economics.

        2. But isn’t assuming that we’ll always have such a cheap and reliable source of energy as fossil fuels also irrational? If there really is no point in looking for alternative sources of energy, America is going to become a third world country if the price of oil continues to rise.

          1. nekoxgirl|5.27.10 @ 6:59PM|#
            “But isn’t assuming that we’ll always have such a cheap and reliable source of energy as fossil fuels also irrational?”

            Uh, yeah. Who would be making that assumption?

          2. There’s nothing wrong with looking for alternative sources of energy. But you might bear in mind that there are other uses for the time and energy of clever people, too.

            What’s wrong, perhaps, is to divert into a search for alternative energy the time and energy of clever people who are searching for (say) a 100% reliable side-effect-free method of birth control that works for either sex, or a cure for cystic fibrosis, or a material that would allow one to build artificial hearts, or a cure for AIDS or hepatitis, or…well, you get the idea.

            Whenever you have the urge to say something like what’s wrong with [insert random quixotic scheme here] try remembering the phrase “opportunity cost.” To do more of X you need to do less of Y. Identify Y before X, and make sure the resources freed up by no longer doing Y are sufficient to do X, also.

            1. I get what you are saying. And I do definately see the problem with the US government pretty much trying to pick which energy technology will be developed. I just get depressed when people like Stossel imply that fossil fuels are the only answer. It pretty much means the modern world isn’t going to be around for very much longer.

    2. Re: Kroneborge,

      1. Biking to work, so you are saying that because any one persons constribution won’t mean much, that no one should bother?

      No one should bother IF THE ONLY REASON they do it is to “contribute to the reduction of CO2”. If they bike to work for other reasons, then they can bother themselves all they want.

      Have you ever heard of the aggregate? If a bunch of people do something it can make a difference.

      Right – if all Chinese stamp on the ground at the same time, the rest of the world fill feel it . . . right?

      2. The argument that because renewables don’t currently produce a lot of energy so renewables will NEVER produce a lot of energy is bullshit.

      Yeah – physics is bullshit. Apples fall up.

      That’s like someone arguing in the 19th century that because no one really uses cars etc that no one will.

      That’s not the argument. The argument against renewables is the same against perpetual motion machines, and they were talked about for CENTURIES – have you seen one that works, lately?
      New tech takes time to permeate.

      3. Agreed that subsidies are generally bad. But one is should be noted that fossils have been getting subsidies for years,

      Tax rebates are NOT subsidies. A subsidy is giving money; a tax rebate is simply NOT STEALING SO MUCH. That’s a huge difference.

      […]and two fossils fuels are artificially cheap because they dont’ count externalities.

      People already factor in the externalities, otherwise they would have abandoned the cities long ago. Only arrogant buffoons think people and the market are blind to them.

      4. Space used by wind is another bullshit analogy. Most of that space is also used for other purposes (like farming).

      You’re an idiot. Have you ever been in a farm?

      5. Yes fossil fuels are energy dense. But we are using them up quickly, AND they have a bunch of nasty exteranlities attached.

      If we’re using them up quickly, what are you worrying about, then?

      1. “Right – if all Chinese stamp on the ground at the same time, the rest of the world fill feel it . . . right?” No, but if all the Chinese pollute, the rest of the world can feel it. For example CA can trade pollution that hits it from China. Actions matter, and the amount of people taking that action matters. One person pisses in a river, not to big of a problem, 1 million pissing in the river, and you have a river of piss.

        Physics doesn’t say you can’t get energy from solar, wind or geothermal. It just says that they are less dense than fossil fuels. That doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t be used.

        Whether they are cost effective depends on the technology used, and the costs of fossil fuels. Since the tech is getting better, AND fossil fuel prices are going up (long term) those price points are converging. I believe during the last run up of NG prices, it was actually cheaper to get your energy from wind that fossil fuels.

        Reguards exteranlites (reposted from above)
        Come on OM, you know that’s not how exteranlities work. A good with an exertanlities is unaturally cheap precisly because the user of that good only pays a small part of the externality.

        So when I run my car, yes I am contributing to smog, but the cost is small to me. If we added up the costs to everyone else though, the price would be higher. Sure I’m bearing the costs of eveyrone eles pollution, but me not driving won’t reduce that.

        That’s why exteranlities are tricky things, and why the price mechanism isn’t fully effective on goods that produce them. This is econ 101.

        Now what to do about the exteranlity is another issue…

        As for farms, I’ve been to plenty of them. Wind turbines have a small foot print, that still allows for crops, or grazing around them.

        I’m worried more becuase our economy is not ready to handle rapidly rising fossil fuel costs. The 2008 runup is nothing to what’s coming IMO. If you get your information from the people in the field (I subscribe to a number of investment letters that focus on resources and energy) instead of right wing blows, you would know that cheap oil has pretty much all been used up.

      2. “Yeah – physics is bullshit. Apples fall up.”

        Huh? What do apples falling up have to do with economies of scale?

      3. “Right – if all Chinese stamp on the ground at the same time, the rest of the world fill feel it . . . right?”
        You’re an idiot. Well, maybe not, I don’t know you so well, but you are a blowhard prone to hyperbole and adhominem. When you get frustrated because someone doesn’t agree with you, address the argument or punch a pillow.
        Anyway, I do want to address your comparison of renewable energy to perpetual motion machines; I think “renewable energy” probably isn’t the most precise term, but it refers to energy that pulls from a system or source that could last some billions of years. Like the sun. It’s probably best defined when compared to “non-renewable resources” which is a more apt description of oil.

        1. There’s nothing at all “nonrenewable” about hydrocarbons. Where do you think they came from in the first place? Hint: things that are green and run on solar power.

          1. That’s true. But on the types of time scales that we care about they are considered to be non-rewenable.

            Note this could change with some advances in bio-tech.

            1. Again false, about the time scales:

              http://www.physorg.com/news179683624.html

              I notice you allow for this possibility in your final comment about biotech.

              Now here’s the difficult question for you: let us grant for the sake of argument “peak oil” predictions that there’s a finite amount of oil, and it will be used up relatively soon. Myself, I’m skeptical, since I read the exact same arguments in the 70s and was told gasoline would be too expensive for private use by 1995 or so. One reason is surprises like this:

              http://geology.com/articles/marcellus-shale.shtml

              Holy moley, there may be enough natural gas under US soil to replace half our imported oil usage in power plants! Would’ve thought? Well, anyone familiar with the unpredictability of the future, maybe.

              But, still, let us grant that something must eventually replace drilling for oil, refining the stuff, and driving cars that burn it.

              But what? You are thinking you can already pick the winners, already know the power-supply tech of the future, of the world 50 and 100 years from now. (No one is worried the oil will run out on a lesser time span.)

              Doesn’t that strike you as a bit…unlikely? Don’t you feel like you’re going waaaaay out on a limb here, gazing a century deep into your crystal ball? Are you really very surprised that much of the world declines to go out on the limb with you?

              There’s certainly obvious things to do to prepare for the future. R&D work, hedging of bets, et cetera. But you know what? People are generally pretty smart. They already are doing the things that are obviously smart. They don’t need a stranger from the government to parachute in and tell them what to do. In fact, historically speaking, those efforts almost never work out well. Guesses by central planning almost always turn out more poorly than a billion decentralized guesses by people directly involved with whatever it is.

              This is the main point, I suspect. Where the decisions are to be made. And history shows unequivocally that centralizing them is always and always a big mistake.

              1. Actually, I agree that I shouldn’t try and pick the winners, I think it’s best to let the market do that. That’s why I suggest doing a net zero carbon tax and then getting out of the way.

                Also the US doesn’t use oil that much to generate electricty.

                Finally, it’s not so much about running out of oil (at least not right now) it’s running out of cheap oil. That is a problem already.

                1. Kroneborge|5.27.10 @ 6:07PM|#
                  “Finally, it’s not so much about running out of oil (at least not right now) it’s running out of cheap oil. That is a problem already.”

                  What’s the “problem”?

                  1. K, the market already is doing that. That’s the wonderful thing about a free market. It doesn’t require any Uncaused Cause to get moving. It just happens. All by itself! You don’t need to impel or compel the people who (for example) presently earn their money selling oil to start thinking about and planning for and investing in research about what happens when the oil runs out.

                    They’re not stupid. They’re already doing it. Just for example, are you aware that BP and Chevron are two of the world’s biggest solar power companies? Or have you asked yourself why the United Arab Emirates has invested such a staggering amount of money building conference, offshore banking, and assorted facilities unrelated to their present business of pumping oil out of the ground?

                    Here’s a thought. The world has no need for leadership on obvious points. It is not waiting for a Caesar to come along and command all the selfish barons to Do The Right Thing, to the wild cheers of the proletarian masses. We’ve tried that. It doesn’t work.

                    What the world actually does need is people who work on new ideas, new ways of doing things, new raw material for the market to sort out into winners and losers. And the best known ways of encouraging lots of people to try stuff, experiment, put their brains into gear and get inventing is…

                    (1) Implicitly promise that if they do think up something brilliant, they can get filthy rich. Yippee!

                    (2) Get fussbudgets and sidewalk supervisors, lawyers without an ounce of practical experience except in second-guessing and CYA bullshit out of the way.

                    Free market, less “regulation,” less interference, less screwing around with Professional Finger-Pointer A telling Entrepreneur B the best way to do stuff — why, that sounds like America! At least, the American of 100 years ago, maybe, the most productive and innovative society ever known.

    3. Agreed that subsidies are generally bad. But one is should be noted that fossils have been getting subsidies for years, and two fossils fuels are artificially cheap because they dont’ count externalities. Ideally of course the best way to fix this is incorprate the externalities in the prices of fossil fueles, and not to subsidize other stuff.

      The Clean Air Act accounts for the externalities.

      The externalities of burning coal have been known since the 18th century.

      And we’d better hope it does so soon, because the America that was built on cheap oil simply won’t run on $200 a barrel oil.

      We will find something else or use less.

      1. “We will find something else or use less.”

        Agreed, which is why I support research into trying both. Using less and finding something else.

        1. Oil shale becomes economically viable around $80/bbl, and we have shitloads of it. We also have oodles of coal. Yes, we need to have a replacement for oil and coal, but there’s no enormous rush.

          1. According to some stuff I’ve read, the US coal supplies have been overstated (I would link but it’s from a paid for investing letter, lame I know)

            1. Anyway, agreed on the oil shale, but that just means cheap oil is over.

              After all, it’s not peak oil that is the current concern, it’s peak cheap oil.

      2. Really? Prove it. What price is there, say, on PM2.5 particulates? How was it determined? What about NOx? Mercury?

    4. exteranlities, exteranlities…. What activity doesnt have exteranlities? Why does it only become inportant to acknowledge it when discussing energy production? What about the exteranlities of a Hamburger?

    5. That’s like someone arguing in the 19th century that because no one really uses cars etc that no one will.

      Hardly. You speak as if windmills and solar panels were invented yesterday, or perhaps within the last 10 years, instead of no less than 50 years ago. Or as if you’re ignorant of the fact that recent advances in these fields have been tiny, incremental improvements, the kind you see in any mature technological field.

      Here’s a clue. The “promise” of “renewable energy” is pretty much exactly like the promise of nuclear fusion power. It’s about 10 years away, and has been for much of the past three-quarters of a century. I personally read screeds word-for-word like yours thirty years ago and expect to read them thirty years from now, too.

      Boondoggles and pyramid scams and religious fads thrive on starry-eyed investors such as yourself. Have fun. But do not be surprised when those of us with a wee bit more life experience decline to jump on the bandwagon.

      1. Hmm wind is already competitive, and solar very soon. Also I wouldn’t consider 4% a year decreases in cost to be insignificant.

        http://www.wikinvest.com/industry/Solar_Power

        1. I’m sorry, but that is utter nonsense. The fact that it’s printed nonsense doesn’t make it any more persuasive, either.

          If wind and solar were already or very soon to be competitive, absent all tax credits and whatnot, power companies would be flocking to it. They’re not stupid. What investor wouldn’t like to make big bucks and be able to seem all “green” on the evening news?

          Again, let me suggest that any conclusion that relies on an implicit assumption that everyone else in the world is far stupider than me is likely to be wrong.

          1. Power companies are already making big investments in renewables. Wind has been growing at 20% plus for years, and I think solar even faster. Some of that of course is due to subsidies. Some is due to the fact that there is a lot of public opposition to new coal plants. And some of that is due to rising fossil fuels costs and wanting to deversify out.

            At current fossil fuel costs, I believe coal is still cheapest, but that can change very quickly, and I expect it will as the cost curves continue to bend.

            1. Kroneborge|5.27.10 @ 6:11PM|#
              “Power companies are already making big investments in renewables.”

              Any idea how much of that ‘investment’ is either mandated by government ‘green’ regs, and/or simply ‘investing’ gov’t subsidies?

              1. Any idea how much of that ‘investment’ is either mandated by government ‘green’ regs, and/or simply ‘investing’ gov’t subsidies?

                I do not know.

                It would make good business sense to plan for alternatives in the eventuality that coal prices rise. The money spent is similar to paying insurance premiums.

            2. Investments, yes. Big investments, no. And a 20% growth in such a tiny industry is not impressive. What do you suppose have been growth rates in Amazon.com’s gross sales over the last 10 years? A truly exploding young field is one where sales triple each year.

              I am not doubting that more people are installing wind and solar generators. They sure are. I am saying the chance that either of these comes to represent more than the miniscule fraction of energy generation tech they have represented for the past 50 years is just about zero.

              And I am, in fact, OK with that. They’re both absurdly overly complicated capital-intensive 20th-century solutions to fairly simple problems, id est how to transform solar power to easily transportable and environmentally benign power sources.

              The obvious answer when you live at the bottom of an ocean of free oxygen is combustion of hydrocarbons, and if I had to guess at the power source of the future I’d say it would be biotech-derived farming of liquid hydrocarbons, combustion power, and then some biotech-derived farming operation that closes the carbon cycle and pulls the excess CO2 generated by combustion out of the atmosphere, ready to be reduced to hydrocarbon fuel again. An endless, clean loop, building on Mother Nature’s preferred solution to energy generation for the past 3 billion years.

              All this inelegant effort to make silicon chips and giant windmills do the work that can be done easily, without fuss, by properly designed bacteria and algae, will be seen as the 20th/21st century equivalent of a desperate attempt to make clipper ships that can compete with jetliners for trans-Atlantic transportation.

              1. Carl, you do realize that solar cells are FAR more efficient than photosynthesis. Typical crystalline panels push 20% and cutting-edge cells exceed 40%, while normal photosynthesis barely hits 1%. Fancy tweaking may up that to perhaps 4-5%, but even in principle, the ceiling is in the low twenties. Solar will be part of the solution for a very long time.

  26. Well Rhode Island is really quite a small state, after all.

    1. Now, on the other hand, if it were approximately the size of New Jersey, then we’d have cause for concern.

      1. Maybe we should just cover over New Jersey with solar panels?

        1. Or harness the methane.

          1. They already do that in landfills.

        2. FUCK YOU. WE REFINE YOUR OIL.

  27. “3. Agreed that subsidies are generally bad. But one is should be noted that fossils have been getting subsidies for years, and two fossils fuels are artificially cheap because they dont’ count externalities.”

    If by “externality” you mean man-made global warming, no one is capable of proving it exists at all and are therefore incapable of quantifying any costs.

    Therefore there is no proof that fossil fuels are artificially cheap.

    1. Actually I would include all types of other externalities that are more easily measured. Like increased healthcare costs due to astham etc.

      I would probably also include the costs of the wars in Iraq.

      1. I would probably also include the costs of the wars in Iraq.

        That was purely due to government policy,not because people burned oil.

        Plus, we get most of our oil from Canada and Mexico.

        1. But the price of oil is determined on a global level.

          Also Mexico is about to turn into a oil importer (2011-2012 from what I’ve heard).

          Anyway, the government policy was largely directed that way to secure oil supplies.

          Or do you think it was REALLY all about helping the Iraq’s

          1. Why didn’t we just buy the oil from Iraq? Would’ve been a helluva lot cheaper.

      2. A”ctually I would include all types of other externalities that are more easily measured. Like increased healthcare costs due to astham etc.”

        More easily measured?

        Says who?

        Exactly how do look at someone who has asthma and quantify the exact causes and sources for his disease?

        1. http://articles.sfgate.com/200…..an-air-act

          Of course I’m sure people can argue about how exact it is.

          But exactness isn’t really the point. We don’t have to be exact to know the cost isnt’ zero.

          1. Kroneborge|5.27.10 @ 4:12PM|#
            “http://articles.sfgate.com/200…..an-air-act”

            See above; that article is propaganda.

            1. Indivdual users can measure the benefits on the resource that they are consuming. I don’t need anyone else to tell me how much use I get out of a gallon of gas.

              How much are the costs of the exteranlities caused by me burning that gas is a harder question.

              As I said, we don’t have to agree on that exact amount, just admit that it’s above zero.

              I actually particpated in a USC study on the effects of particulate matter on children.

              The finding shouldn’t be rocket science. Kids that breath in crap, have smaller lung capacity and are more likely to devlop asthma etc.

              I mean should we even need a study to know what should be common sense?

              Breathing this shit isn’t good for you.

              1. “I mean should we even need a study to know what should be common sense?”

                So, you admit that you have no evidence and the article is propaganda?
                Good; quit citing it as other than bull-shit.

              2. Kroneborg: You make one point I agree with strongly.

                When we don’t know the price of some externality with absolute certainty, the best option is to use the best price we can determine using science and economics, not to stick our head in the sand and assume a very wrong price of zero.

                Even if we set the price too high, it wouldn’t be a disaster. It would just mean that there would be a dead-weight loss associated with our over-taxation. However, this over-taxation would allow us to offset some other tax that *already* has a dead-weight loss, such as an income or sales tax.

                Indeed, the optimal pollution price isn’t the one where it exactly offsets the externalities, but rather the one whose marginal dollar in tax revenue causes the same amount of dead-weight as the next best tax.

                For example, if income taxes have a deadweight of 20% (a reasonable estimate), this would imply that $1.20 is removed from the economy for each dollar the government takes in. Of course, the government spends this money, re-introducing that dollar, so the net loss is $.20.

                Now, imagine we overshoot the carbon tax and it is actually removing $1.10 from the economy for each dollar in benefits. So what? We should RAISE it, and offset income taxes, until their deadweights are equal.

                Realistically, there is little chance of any overshoot at all on pollution prices, and even if we did, there is even a much more remote chance that we would exceed the deadweight associated with other taxes. The entire issue is a red herring.

                1. Chad|5.27.10 @ 9:03PM|#
                  “Even if we set the price too high, it wouldn’t be a disaster.”

                  Of course not! Why, we can claim the externality costs equal the entire economic output of the world, and that’d be just fine, right?

              3. As I said, we don’t have to agree on that exact amount, just admit that it’s above zero.

                How do we determine the exact amount?

                1. Hire economists and scientists, and have them calculate the answer. $30/tCO2 is a typical answer.

                  That’s equivalent to a 30c/gal tax on gasoline. Hardly the apocalypse.

                  1. Chad|5.27.10 @ 11:06PM|#
                    “Hire economists and scientists, and have them calculate the answer. $30/tCO2 is a typical answer.”

                    Chad, you’re full of shit. ‘Nuff said.

                    1. Great points about the deadweight loss of the tax Chad,

                      Also Ron, Just because you can’t do that math, doesn’t mean there arent’ generally accepted ways to calcluate these types of statstics and studies. Do they have a margin of error, sure. That doesn’t mean they are worthless.

                      We live in a world without perfect certainty of information. That doesn’t mean we can’t ever make any decisions.

  28. OK, you can all make fun of the unicorns if you want, but remember,

    And Noah looked out through the driving rain
    Them unicorns were hiding, playing silly games
    Kicking and splashing while the rain was falling
    Oh, them silly unicorns

    There was green alligators and long-necked geese
    Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
    Noah cried, “Close the door because the rain is falling
    And we just can’t wait for no unicorns”

    And don’t forget that indian crying because people didn’t pick up the trash on the highway! You cold-hearted bastards!

    1. The self same injun that ran a herd of buffalo off a cliff to butcher the two he wanted. Fuck the indians. They got casinos, now let them shut their fucking mouths and dab at the tears.

  29. Thanks, John, you’re right. We shouldn’t try at all. There is absolutely no use for any alternative energy source. Any industry that’s working on energy efficiency should be stifled, we all know that no innovations or advancements have ever come out of capitalist ventures.

    Oh, and thanks for your bike story. You’re right once again: one man can’t make a difference. I’ll stop voting today. In fact, why even educate myself at all? Ultimately whatever decisions I make are meaningless and any actions I take will have no impact on the world around me. That’s the can-do spirit that propelled John Galt to the top. You’d never see him trying to invent an alternative energy electric motor.

    1. Nice straw man you’ve built yourself there.

      1. I bet it’ll burn like a motherfucker. Buy carbon offsets.

      2. In legal and historical terms, a straw man is masquerading as a 3rd party in order to secretly carry out the will of the 1st party. When Exxon creates the non-profit Institute for Energy Research to influence policy decisions–that’s a straw man.

        Thanks for pointing that out.

        1. Yet one more strawman.

    2. If you want to invest in alternative energy, go right ahead.

      No one is stopping you or anyone else who wants to do so.

      If you can develop one that is truly viable (i.e is actually competitive) that will be great.

      If what you really want is rent seeking and/or excuses to run other people’s lives, that is another kettle of fish altogether.

    3. Besides, it’s not like Stossel has ties to the oil, coal, and gas industry or that he’s giving the keynote speech at one of their fundraisers next week, about which they said “Mr. Stossel is an important leader in our battle for increased liberty in American energy markets.”

      He’d never take money for an an organization funded by fossil fuels then come here and tell us how great they are and never to pursue alternatives? At the very least he’d disclose his ties to big oil in his article. Otherwise he’d have to think we were incredibly stupid and gullible to try to use us like that, right?

      1. Wait, what? He did do that? Aw, jeez, I’d be really embarrassed now if I’d believed everything he told me without doing my own research.

        1. Oh jeezly crow, guys! He really spanked us with that one.

          Sheee-it, jcalton, I approach humbled, with hat in hand. How can you ever forgive me for questioning your so clearly superior intellect and Googling skeelz?

          Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch videos of the WTC towers “free-falling” with horizontal puffs of smoke proving it was a controlled implosion.

        2. What a lame attempt to make Stossel appear to be an “oil company shill”.

          Troll fail.

          His mustache has more sense than you.

          1. You can pay $2,500-$7,500 to have him shill to you personally in Texas next week. This is not some liberal hippy conspiracy website, this is the IER’s own site:
            https://www.rapiddonor.com/ier/

            Tman, it’s not an attempt: “A shill is a person who is paid to help another person or organization to sell goods or services.” [wiki]

            1. So John is speaking at the 2nd Annual Institute for Energy Research Houston Luncheon. And people can pay several thousand for the honor of hearing him speak.

              I’m not sure how this makes him a “shill” since he isn’t pretending to be a customer of IER, or is he trying to “sell” anything specifically on behalf of IER.

              But the problem here is that you are trying to shoot the messenger, and you’re failing miserably at that. I can only imagine how badly you will fail if you actually addressed any of the points raised in the article.

            2. jcalton|5.27.10 @ 3:59PM|#
              “You can pay $2,500-$7,500 to have him shill to you personally in Texas next week.”

              Strangely enough, that hypocrite Al Gore only got $100K to shill for ‘green’ outfits in 2007.
              ( http://www.thesmokinggun.com/a…..gore1.html )
              So by your logic, anything that falls out of his mouth can be ignored, right?

      2. “Big Oil” is supposed to be capitalized.

        1. I never said oil was evil. I didn’t even imply it. I love my car.

          I just happen to like my news and editorials to come from sources that believe in truth, disclosure, and ethics. I’m pretty sure Reason does, too. Or I thought so until I read this article.

          But, hey, whatever, let’s just blindly defend him for hurting Reason’s credibility and insulting our intelligence, right? Who cares if good alternative media become just as bought-and-paid-for as the mainstream?

          1. Drink?

            1. The troll drinking game implies that you are into defending Reason. But if you cared about it as a journalistic entity or credible source of information, you’d also care whether it maintains editorial standards and best practices. You’d want it to be the best source for libertarian news and commentary that it can be.

              It’s my primary source for same. Wanting them to do better does not make me a troll. I’m not attacking the website, basically all I’m asking for is disclosure and to make sure that articles are edited and contributors are vetted.

              You can even bury the disclosure at the end if you want:
              John Stossel is host of Stossel on the Fox Business Network. He’s the author of Give Me a Break and of Myth, Lies, and Downright Stupidity. [Mr. Stossel is a spokesman for the Institute for Energy Research.] To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at johnstossel.com.

              Is adding one true and accurate sentence in a part nobody reads really all that painful or reactionary or nutcase conspiracy-theorist? It’s not like the website is trying to save on paper and ink.

              1. I’m going to take that as a yes.

          2. You could get your info from Al Gore (at algore.com). He is an honest sort who has nothing to gain from carbon trading markets and green energy companies. Besides, his site could use the hits.

            1. So you are saying that John Stossel is as reliable as Al Gore?

              1. yes. But at least he has a mustache

              2. I didn’t say anything of the sort. The implication is that if you don’t like what’s said on this blog, you can go someplace else. Like Albert’s webpage. Or a site like mediamattersaction.org–oh, that’s right you did link to that site. Who owns and directs that site? I forget . . .

                1. It sounds like you’re saying “if you don’t like what he says than go away,” which seems to me a version of “I don’t like discussion,” which sounds like a reason for you to avoid the comments section.

      3. He’d never take money for an an organization funded by fossil fuels then come here and tell us how great they are and never to pursue alternatives? At the very least he’d disclose his ties to big oil in his article. Otherwise he’d have to think we were incredibly stupid and gullible to try to use us like that, right?

        What is your problem with big oil?

        Were they behind the campaign to ban the reprocessing of nuclear waste?

        1. Where did I say that I had a problem with big oil?

          All I’m saying is if you work for [X] industry, then you should disclose that when you write articles about [X] industry.

          Defending [X] is missing the point. I don’t care what the [X] is.

          1. Stossel works for the oil industry? All I saw was that he was invited to speak at an organization who is funded (in part) by an oil company.

          2. jcalton|5.27.10 @ 3:34PM|#
            “All I’m saying is if you work for [X] industry, then you should disclose that when you write articles about [X] industry.”

            Bull…………………
            Shit!
            Stossel doesn’t work for the oil industry; he works in TV. He charges fees for speaking.

  30. I use ethanol every night.

  31. We’re constantly urged to “go green”?use less energy, shrink our carbon footprint, save the Earth. How? We should drive less, use ethanol, recycle plastic, and buy things with the government’s Energy Star label.

    Using ethanol is fine with me, provided content of it doesn’t exceed 40% by volume, only occasionally more.

  32. Put a bag or two of sugar in Gore’s Astrojet tank and you’ll really start saving energy.

  33. Reality? You can’t expect liberal retards to get bogged down in that. Math and physics. Common Stossel, you’re gonna have to better than that! John, maybe if you had a Nobel Prize or an Oscar, then you might get somewhere.

    1. We all know that Math and Science are just tools of the patriarchy used to oppress everyone except rich white men. Wait I think I’m on the wrong thread.

    2. No, it would take a true conservative to accept and understand modern science. Only conservatives look at the fudamental science behind a subject before they speak.
      Common Hank!

  34. I guess for me, even though, I think a lot of the liberal solutions are the wrong ones,

    We shouldn’t pretent that problems with our fossil fuels consumption don’t exist. Rants like Stossils appear to do just that. Stick our head in the sand and pretend everything is just fine.

    1. We shouldn’t pretent that problems with our fossil fuels consumption don’t exist. Rants like Stossils appear to do just that. Stick our head in the sand and pretend everything is just fine.

      What problems are they?

      If it is the fact that it is being consumed faster than it is produced, there is this thing called prices that are used to determine how much we consume.

      1. Couple of problems with prices though, and oil prices in particular.

        Oil is now being treated as an asset class, so even though in the long run it’s prices will “eventually” get dicated by supply and demand, in the short run that’s not neccessairly true. Note how the price of oil has been directly correlated with the whole risk on/risk off trade of the stock market.

        Bedides the asset class thing, prices mainly reflect current supply and demand, but the big problem is future supply and demand. Thus the price is not signaling to consumers the steps they need to take to prepare for much higher oil prices (although 2008 was a good start).

        1. “even though in the long run it’s prices will “eventually” get dicated by supply and demand”

          Sometimes you make sense KB. This is not one of those times.

          1. Ok, let me try again. Long run, incresing demand (mainly from China and India) combined with either a steady (or probably decreasing ) supply of oil will push prices up.

            But in the short run, prices are being determined by the risk on/risk off trade (IE stocks go up, or stocks go down, IE hooray the world is in a recovery, or NOO we are actually still doomed).

            So current (spot) oil prices are being determined partially by current supply and demand, and partially by it’s nature as an asset class.

            But the long term problems of rapidly increasing demand, and stable to diminishing supply(supply has been pretty stable at 85m barrels a day for a couple of years) have not been addressed.

            I believe this is a problem because of the capital intenstive nature of switching to a society that consumes less oil. IE, it takes time to buy (as a society) more fuel efficient cars, or make cities more pedestiran friendly, or put in public transit.

            1. Don’t forget the rise of Brazil along with China and India, and hey, lets throw in the exponentially rising energy demands of everywhere else. It’s a problem as old as Malthus, and I’m still not sure why it’s a hard sell. For example, the oft repeated assurance that we have 500 years worth of coal underground does not take into account growing energy needs and the increasing cost to get that coal, and the increasing cost to refine it. Saying renewable energy defies physics and then turning around and giving the law of diminishing returns a hall pass makes my head spin. Taking into account rising energy needs and the rising cost of getting that coal, we really have between 20 and 50 years worth of coal left. If consumption and population continues to grow, and capitalism sortof demands that it does, then we need to start thinking futuristic, looking for more innovative energy solutions than looking harder for more stuff to burn. Either that or we can wait for more oil shocks.

              1. I think I heard one estimate that it would run about 25 TRILLION in capital costs to meet etimated oil demands by 2025 or so.

                1. Yeah, and in 1957 I heard an estimate that we were going to be ‘out of oil’ by 1965. So?

                  1. The U.S. did run out of oil soon after 1965. Production peaked in the early 70s and soon fell by about half. We now import ~60% of our oil. If we did not import any, production would have fallen by 99% by now. We would have run out completely.

                    No matter how good extraction technology becomes there is still a physical limit to the oil. Also, it now takes more 10% of energy in oil to extract oil, compared to

                2. I think I heard one estimate that it would run about 25 TRILLION in capital costs to meet etimated oil demands by 2025 or so.

                  And do you think demand will grow forever?

              2. I agree with you for the most part, except for the part at the end about capitalism needing the population to grow. I kind of think it’s the other way around. If the population is growing, the economy has to expand but not necessarily the other way around.

                Keynesian economics needs the population/economy to keep growing, otherwise inflation finally catches up with you, but pure capitalism… I don’t know, someone correct me if I’m wrong but I’ve always been skeptical of the idea of limitless population growth.

              3. Lungfish|5.27.10 @ 4:19PM|#
                “…It’s a problem as old as Malthus, and I’m still not sure why it’s a hard sell….”

                That’s EASY! Malthus was wrong.

                1. Damn.
                  I thought the danger of growing exponentially with a finite set of resources made sense as an inherently bad situation, but perhaps you can elaborate on what you mean?

              4. If consumption and population continues to grow, and capitalism sortof demands that it does, then we need to start thinking futuristic, looking for more innovative energy solutions than looking harder for more stuff to burn. Either that or we can wait for more oil shocks.

                Who is this “we” that has to think of innovative solutions?

        2. Thus the price is not signaling to consumers the steps they need to take to prepare for much higher oil prices (although 2008 was a good start).

          Have you ever heard of oil futures?

          1. oil futures are fairly short sighted as well. They are very much connected to spot prices, and also act as an asset class.

  35. Really, guys, beating up on Stossel because he’s going to be a keynote speaker to a group that agrees with him is tres lame.

    You seem to be saying that on one who believes something should ever be paid for speaking (or, I suppose, writing) about what they believe, or they are discredited forevermore. Sure you wanna take that position?

    1. Because, obviously, Stossel would never say these things unless he was being paid to. But then again, why did Big Oil decide to pay him to speak as opposed to someone else? Maybe he had these views prior to being paid?

    2. Agreed. I don’t agree with Stossel’s brand of rhetoric, but I find it much more useful to address the rhetoric I find objectionable rather than attacking what may or may not be his motivations.

      If his argument is good, then what does hypocrisy or shilling or whatever have to do with it? If you pay me $10 to say the sky is blue, SFW?

      1. if you pay me $10 bucks to say the sky is blue, and I’m writing a piece for public consumption, then I’d say, “by the way, I’m a paid spokesperson for Lamar’s The Sky Is Blue foundation.” Anyway, I’ve been scanning this entire thread while waiting to go to work, and the only “beating up” I’ve seen is a fair calling out for lacking that full disclosure. Though I guess I’d give Stossel the benefit of the doubt if he just said he’s too busy for journalistic ethics standards. “Full disclosure; I’m too busy for full disclosure.”

        1. I should have been more specific:
          Stossel is not a paid spokesman for anything. He’s receiving a speaking fee.
          See the Al Gore link above. There are plenty of reasons to ignore Al Gore’s rants, but his speaking fee ain’t one of them.

  36. You know, I used to ride my bike to work. I wanted to cut back on my gas consumption and stay in shape. It worked on both counts.

    In the past decade, I’ve:

    * Installed a programmable thermostat
    * Installed a 93% efficient furnace
    * Installed a 16 SEER A/C condenser
    * Replaced my windows with high-R units
    * Replaced my incandescents with CFLs on all non-dimmed lights
    * Replaced my utilitarian exterior lighting with motion-sensor units

    I’ve seen a huge reduction in my electric and gas bills as a result. But I’m still the enemy, because I did all this out of free will and because of unlettered GREED.

    1. Which of course is one of the funny things that many on the right ignore.

      Conservation is usually a net benefit over the long term.

      For example, when building the house you can spend a couple of extra grand for energy efficient stuff, that will save you much more than that over the life of the home.

      It’s this whole thing about short term vs long term thinking.

      1. There is plenty of good information out there about conservation, and with current technology, it is enough to solve about a third of the problem…and save us money while doing so. Indeed, so much so that we could use the money to purchase the next cheapest third of the solution, roughly getting us 2/3 of the way to where the science says we need to be AT NO COST.

        But who would want to do something like that?

        1. Chad|5.27.10 @ 5:25PM|#
          “There is plenty of good information out there about conservation, and with current technology, it is enough to solve about a third of the problem…and save us money while doing so. Indeed, so much so that we could use the money to purchase the next cheapest third of the solution, roughly getting us 2/3 of the way to where the science says we need to be AT NO COST.
          But who would want to do something like that?”

          Uh, the New Soviet Man?

      2. It’s all about payback, discount rates, etc. I figured that, as an investment, these things will pay for themselves over their lives and I could do better putting money into equities. But in the meantime, they’re making my house more attactive, more comfortable and giving it a higher resale value.

        I didn’t need Algore hectoring me to figure this out, however.

        1. Gore has no fucking business lecturing we tiny people, not until he gives up jet planes and limousines and his huge-assed houses.

      3. But Tony said that everyone will always choose short term profits over bigger long term profits….

    2. If you have enemies, it’s probably for some other reason. I for one equate conservation with efficiency and I consider efficiency to be inherently good.

      1. It can be good, but you can also cause inefficiency by trying to be efficient. IOW, would you spend $10,000 for something that pays itself back at a rate of $10/month?

        1. Of course, there are also solutions that may have a higher up-front cost that when used in combination (think – designing the whole system to be efficient rather than making pieces of it more efficient) make much more of a difference.

          E.G., With the right passive heat exchange set up, you can get rid of the need for an AC/Heater and create huge cost savings.

          Like, these, for instance: http://earthship.com/aboutus

          And, I have been in a couple of these houses…they do not require you to give up any comforts. Really.

          1. Yep, works like a dream. All you need is land with the right exposure, and, and, and, and….
            Sorry, your ‘solution’ is all too similar to wind-power; works under *very* specific circumstances for, oh, 1/1000th of the population.

            1. Wrong, actually. Can be built pretty much anywhere.

              1. Neu Mejican|5.28.10 @ 3:29AM|#
                “Wrong, actually. Can be built pretty much anywhere.”

                Sure it can. It just doesn’t *work* ‘pretty much anywhere’.

                1. Simply aligning your standard track houses so that it’s long from east to west, and large windows on the south side can make a HUGE difference in heating and cooling costs.

                  It doesn’t require any extra material, or time. Just the builders to put into practice shit people new hundreds (and maybe thousands ) of years ago.

                2. Simply aligning your standard track houses so that it’s long from east to west, and large windows on the south side can make a HUGE difference in heating and cooling costs.

                  It doesn’t require any extra material, or time. Just the builders to put into practice shit people new hundreds (and maybe thousands ) of years ago.

                3. Ron L is an idiot.

        2. If it adds to resale value, which it would.

  37. “Denmark uses eight times more coal and 25 times more oil than wind”

    Do I need to comment on this fail?

  38. Didn’t Al Gore also invent the internet?

  39. The efficiency or lack of in the transportation situation is a direct result of government’s manipulative policies in the market throughout history. Controlled land settlement, railroad subsidies and land grants (sometimes requiring the railroads to avoid settled areas), granting ownership of large land areas to politically connected people to inflate land value, subsidized highways, subsidized airports, energy subsidies and protectionism, over regulation of private transportation business, bullshit safety and environmental regulation, government urban planning and zoning laws, interference in real estate and incentivizing home debtorship, have all contributed to the clusterfuck.

  40. As soon as I saw the tag line, I somehow knew it wouldn’t be John Stossel who separates “environmental fact from fiction”. Instead, he just spews tired old right-wing talking points.

    What a waste of virtual ink.

    1. When did facts become “tired,” Chony?

      1. When Chony has to find them.

      2. When he quotes someone who yaps about “thermodynamics”, when it is patently obvious that there isn’t a thermodynamic reason in hell that we can’t get 10000% of the energy we need from renewables.

        1. Ten thousand percent.

          5/4 of Americans have trouble with fractions, Chad.

          1. As does Chad, and as does Chad with ridiculous claims.
            Cite, please, Chad. Or are those facts ‘tired’?

            1. LG, are you confused by the idea that percents can be greater than 100?

              Ron, my claim is not even remotely “ridiculous”. We only use about 1/10000th the energy that we receive from the sun, and since solar tops out at ~40% efficiency, that means we could actually get around 400,000% of the energy we need from renewables, and even more if we left the earth and use mirrors and microwaves, or some other fancy trick, or counted geothermal, fusion, or fission, none of which are technically renewable but are close enough for a few millenia at least.

              100% renewables is not even within a million miles of any “thermodynamic” limit.

              1. I was being sarcastic, you schmuck.

                1. Dude, you know you’re no match for Chad… you didn’t go to Teh College and get Teh Knowledge.

                  Plus, you’re not a candayss enviroweenie. You’re a heretic. How DARE you question a minion of Teh Gore!

              2. Chad|5.27.10 @ 11:01PM|#
                “Ron, my claim is not even remotely “ridiculous”. We only use about 1/10000th the energy that we receive from the sun,…”

                Chad, your claim is beyond ridiculous; nuclear weapons produce tons of energy we can’t harvest.
                You’re an ignoramus.

                1. “nuclear weapons produce tons of energy we can’t harvest.”

                  That’s why we turn them into power plants right?

    2. I’m sorry Chad – I really would like for wind, solar and bio-fuels to be economically viable, but they are simply aren’t. Oil requires massively expensive efforts and lots of hard work to obtain, but it is still much cheaper than any of those alternatives.

      Our civilization requires far more energy and far more reliable sources of energy than they are capable of providing. Some in the environmental movement have recognized this fact and thus advocate what amounts to a dismantling of civilization ? a return to an agrarian society. Personally, I happen to like machines, medicine and a long life expectancy, so you won’t find me supporting that.

      At this time, nuclear is the only practical alternative to fossil fuels.

      Of course, we should make advances in efficiency and develop new and better sources of energy, that just makes sense, but we also must be honest enough with ourselves to admit the limitations of current technology.

      1. Joe, how do you know what is “economically viable”, when every form of energy out there is subsidized six-ways to Sunday, and all are laden with a wide variety of externalities, some of which are individually larger than the nominal costs we pay at the pump or on our electric bills?

        I am a technophile Joe, not a Luddite, so there is no reason for you to put someone else’s mistaken ideas in my mouth.

        1. Chad|5.27.10 @ 8:55PM|#
          “Joe, how do you know what is “economically viable”, when every form of energy out there is subsidized six-ways to Sunday,…”

          Uh, that’s a toughie; give me a minute….
          Well, how about we reduce the government involvement in the field of energy and let the market sort it out?
          Just a thought….

          1. You are wrong from the very beginning, Ron, because it seems to go over your head that some subsidies require the government to do NOTHING when in fact, it should.

            Get back to me when this sinks through your very thick skull.

            1. Chad|5.27.10 @ 10:55PM|#
              “You are wrong from the very beginning, Ron, because it seems to go over your head that some subsidies require the government to do NOTHING when in fact, it should.”

              Uh, yeah, and purple, too! Is there a logical thought buried in there?

              “Get back to me when this sinks through your very thick skull.”
              Get back to me when you *find* your skull.

        2. Hi Chad – It is true that subsidies distort the market and obscure the true cost (I’m in favor of removing all subsidies btw.), but everything I have read or learned about the various technologies leads me to believe they not competitive. I haven’t even seen articles making the claim that the alternatives are competitive in cost or practicality. They say that we should bear the extra cost because of their desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

          As for the Luddite thing ? I never said or suggested you were a Luddite. Heh heh ? please reread my previous post for clarification. (Note: Chad accuses me of putting words in his mouth while doing the very same thing to me!) Oh snap! ROFL ? Seriously now, you just strike me as a fella that believes the current alternatives are more capable than what I believe them to be. I’m not saying you are a bad person, a Luddite or even a fella that refuses to eat bacon because you think it is “icky”. (Although, why you think bacon is “icky” is beyond me.) LOL Just kidding! We simply disagree.

          We both cannot be right ? one of us is wrong and time will tell as it always does. Cheers!

    3. I expected to see you here defending your religion you ignorant cretin.

    4. Stossel’s right-wing talking points are wrong because MY left-wing talking points are true and made of solid, gold-plated unicorn testicles.

  41. Im not too worried about global warming, but I dont like the fact oil money goes to fund terrorism and Wahabbi extremist ideology. Seriously, the funding of all of those extremist mosques and madrassas all over the world can be traced back to Saudi Arabia. We should be doing whatever it takes to quit giving the Saudis trillions of dollars every year.

    1. “Doing what ever it takes”?
      Sorry, living a a neolithic life to keep others from getting my dough ain’t gonna get converts.

    2. “We should be doing whatever it takes to quit giving the Saudis trillions of dollars every year.

      agreed

      1. So, when are you moving back to the cave?

    3. Don’t you worry about global warming at all, even if the Earth were warming it would be a good thing.

      As far as the Saudis are concerned, what do you suggest be done? They aren’t selling most of their oil to us, and they will sell that oil to someone regardless what we do.

      Short of nuking the oil fields so no one can use it, or invading and occupying, nothing can be done. We may as well just use up their oil first as we are already doing.

  42. Yet another fine collection of falsehoods, half-truths and bald-faced lies from John Stossel, defender of the status quo. Can we please stop pretending that he’s a libertarian?

    1. Request denied.

      1. Great. Another pussy liberal clogging up the boards. Fun AND annoying.

  43. Robert doesn’t believe in the power of one.

  44. “Friedman doesn’t understand what he’s talking about-”

    Stop right there; you have me, Bryce.

  45. Apparently Bryce likes to go sailing off the Vinyard coast without the eyesore of windmill farms.

    1. I like the idea of putting all the useless wind farms in Nantucket, all those sail boaters are a good indication the wind there is dependable. And those who want stupid things should be first in line to suffer the consequences of their ignorance.

  46. I guess you’ll find John Stossel at the high rollers table.

    1. He earned the right to be there.

      On the other hand the man rides a bicycle, and not just for fun. It’s 2002 Huffy, cost $78.99. It seems unlikely a man that frugal would being hanging out at the high roller’s table.

  47. Stossel is making $10,000 bets; he’s not buying his own groceries anymore.

  48. This just in: Carbon offsets are bullshit.

    1. Just in? Better inspect your news ticker, the paper tape must be jammed.

      1. This just in: I use “this just in” as a snark crutch far too frequently.

        1. So you really don’t have a news ticker?

          I’m so disappointed, that would be a retro kind of super neat-o.

          1. But not very environmentally friendly. Which just adds to my long list of complaints about the dearth of ticker-tape parades these days.

  49. What, Heather has a problem with organic foods??? She’s making it so I can’t make a show of being pretentious at the store at all.

  50. Regulations without guns to back them up work in Heather’s world.

  51. Ha, that UN Climate Conference video is outstanding. It puts Roland Emmerich to shame.

  52. Uh-oh, there’s Bjorn. I can’t believe environmentalists having put out a jihad on this guy yet.

  53. BEING SMART ABOUT ENVIRONMENTALISM DOESN’T MAKE ME FEEL GOOD AND INSTANTLY SUPERIOR!

  54. Bjorn is for instant gratification on feelgood policies.

  55. Free trade? Bjorn is just calling himself a leftist so they don’t immediately tune him out.

  56. There’s a guy in the audience drinking water out of a PLASTIC BOTTLE! Get him, Heather!

  57. Just amazing, a leftist Liberal who isn’t a complete scientific retard. Now that’s something you read about maybe once or twice in a life time.

  58. Unless it’s extremely well-vented, I don’t think a gasoline-powered alarm clock would wake me up.

  59. Stossel and the GAO, sitting in a tree…

  60. Then massive amounts of forest we shall use!

    1. Does this mean my starving chainsaws will be fed?

      Chainsaws are people, too. They hurt when they are starving.

      And I always hug the trees before I fell them. If the tree has a hole with spotted owls living in it I will even have sexual relations with the tree. That’s how much I care.

      1. As long as you have relations before you fell the tree. Necrophilia is illegal in most states.

  61. If Heather could just get control of each of our lives, things would be so much better.

  62. Bryce is in the pocket of Big Cheap Abundant Energy.

  63. Ugh, why did Stossel have to ruin my budding erection by putting Gore’s picture up next to Gisele’s. She’s ruined for me now!

  64. Gisele is talking policy to me. Time for the mute button.

  65. The only green Stossel is showing is ENVY. Gore has multiple homes, but does he have a free golf cart?

  66. Denmark uses eight times more coal and 25 times more oil than wind

    -5 for not showing your units

  67. Good episode, Stossel. The female panelist was kind of ditz though. Meaning she was stupid.

    1. She was beautiful, smart, personable…. and completely vacuous. Her thoughts ran about 1mm deep. Too bad, she was almost perfect. Then I noticed the veneers. Just a pretty facade. so sad…

  68. A typical nuclear plant produces 1000 MW / Hour at peak performance. Nuclear plants also have capacity factors the same as wind or any plant. If you consider how often nuclear plants are shut down these days for leaks the capacity factor can sometimes by 0%. Average is 80%. Average for wind is about 20% less. Not bad. So if the nuclear capacity factor is 80%. ( ( 800 MW x 4 ) / 3 MW for each wind turbine ) / 50 per each square mile = 20 square miles. That’s how much land is needed for a wind farm that equals an average nuclear plant which takes 2 square miles. Keep in mind, land can still be farmed, there’s no waste or danger & wind tech is advancing much more than nuclear and costs less and can be built much faster.

    This guy seems to be making up these “facts” for this interview. Does he work for an energy company or something? And what nuclear power plant needs 19 square miles? That’s a huge plant? Or is the surrounding area in case of problems like leaks or a meltdown? Then the land used is equal to a windfarm that produces the same electricity.

    Let’s not forget that nuclear is centralized. Renewables like solar and wind allow individuals to generate their own power. So if you like decentralized economics and politics than for decentralized energy, renewables are the right choice. Plus renewables provide a lot more opportunity for entrepreneurship. There could be a store on every corner selling products to help homeowners generate their own energy at home. That’s the American way, that individualism, that’s the free market. Nuclear needs a powerful centralized government. It is the socialist answer, look at France. These commie articles about nuclear energy by these phony libertarians are retarded. Why doesn’t Stossel and Byrce move to North Korea if they like communism and nukes so much?

    1. As you noted, the capacity factor for wind is closer to 35% than 20%. I think most references say ~30% for land and ~40% for offshore installations.

      I think nuclear plant capacity factor is more like 90% these days, but some plants have been shut down for months or years by problems such as at Davis-Besse. Plus, some plants have been destroyed by operator incompetence, such as Connecticut Yankee. The Connecticut Attorney General’s Office described this: “What we have here is a nuclear management nightmare of Northeast Utilities’ own making. The goal is no longer to decommission a nuclear power plant, but rather to decontaminate a nuclear waste dump.”

      The amount of land taken up nuclear versus wind or coal is complicated by the fact that nuclear power requires uranium mining, which takes up space and causes pollution.

      Nuclear plants require close government supervision and extreme centralization. I do not understand libertarians are in favor of this technology. Wind is much cheaper and more reliable. Wind power in the U.S. is now increasing at rate equivalent to 3 nuclear power plants per year, after adjusting for the capacity factor (10 GW nameplate, ~3 GW actual).

    2. I just wanted to add something to my comment because I had a chance to do some more checking on Bryce’s comments which seem completely inaccurate.

      He states that a 19 square mile nuclear plant is equivalent to a wind farm the size of Rhode Island. This is easy to confirm and the facts are much different.

      The nuclear plant he is probably referring to is the South Texas Project which is 19 square miles and a 2500 MW plant.

      A couple wind farms to use to compare are: Cape Wind which will be 25 square miles and a 500 MW farm; Shepherds Flat Wind Farm which will be 30 square miles and 850 MW.

      So, nuclear plants have a capacity factor of 80%, wind 35%.

      South Texas 2500 MW x .8 = 2000 MW

      Cape Wind 500 MW x .35 = 175 MW / 25 = 7 MW / square mile

      Shepherds Flat Wind Farm 850 MW x .35 = 300 MW / 30 = 10 MW / square mile

      So wind is about 8.5 MW / square mile based on these examples.

      2000 MW / 8.5 MW = 235 miles

      Rhode Island is 1500 square miles

      It would take an area about 1/6 the size of Rhode Island to equal the Texas nuclear plant.

      1. You wrote: “It would take an area about 1/6 the size of Rhode Island to equal the Texas nuclear plant.”

        That sounds within the ballpark, but it is complicated by two factors:

        1. Wind farms do not actually take up much space. They mostly take up space way up in the air. The land underneath them can be used for agriculture, or the North Sea underneath them can be used for fishing. The cross section of the bottom of the tower is small. 200 wind turbine towers take up roughly as much ground space as 200 mature redwood trees, or 200 small sheds.

        2. Wind turbines are getting bigger and bigger, meaning they sweep a larger cross section of sky and you need fewer of them. Most are 1 or 2 MW now now but 5 MW units are coming into service, and 10 and 20 MW ones may be built, especially for offshore applications. A wind farm of 20 MW turbines would be roughly 20 times smaller than today’s wind farm. Actually, it would be even smaller because the larger the area of the turbines the higher the capacity factor tends to be.

        1. I should have said:

          The space taken up by tower bases in a wind farm of 20 MW turbines would be roughly 20 times smaller than today’s wind farm.

          The towers would have to be placed much farther apart, so the overall “space” taken by the wind farm would be about the same. But as I said, the “space” is empty space, in the middle of nowhere in Texas or over the North Sea. Wind turbines are erected in VERY windy locations, where people typically do not want to live.

          Wind over both land and sea is not evenly distributed by any means. It is more like water in rivers, channeled to some places but not others. That is why sailing ship routes were mapped centuries ago, and why the Black Ball packet ships in 1818 could schedule trips across the Atlantic reliably. Also, when you have enough wind turbines over enough area they always capture some energy, because the wind is always blowing somewhere, as long as the sun shines. Wind never drops to zero over the whole of Texas. The moving air has to go somewhere.

          Let me comment on other topic that has been raised by some people. It has been said there is not enough wind energy to supply our needs. This is correct only in the sense that technology to store and transmit electricity or wind-derived hydrogen synthetic fuel has not been developed. That actual potential energy from wind, from North and South Dakota alone, would easily supply all of the energy needs of North America, including liquid fuel. That is without erecting towers in National Parks or environmentally fragile areas. The U.S. middle states (from the Dakotas to Texas) could easily generate all of our electricity and liquid fuel, with enough liquid fuel left over to export more to the rest of the world than the entire Middle East exports as oil. With a modest improvement in existing technology, we could put Saudi Arabia out of business and earn trillions of dollars. I do not understand why capitalist and free market advocates are not anxious to do this. The notions that we are “running out of energy” or “there is not enough alternative energy” are preposterous.

          In Europe, the North Sea could supply ~4 times more energy than Europe consumes.

  69. I misspoke or typed… wind capacity factor is about 35%. I used 25%, which is why I times 4 in the equation…

  70. Ultimately it comes down to population – a prerequisite for energy sufficiency is a stable population. Unfortunately the current economic system is designed around perpetually growth. It resists an tendency towards population stabilization.

  71. Ultimately it comes down to population – a prerequisite for energy sufficiency is a stable population. Unfortunately the current economic system is designed around perpetually growth. It resists an tendency towards population stabilization.

    1. Cristos|5.28.10 @ 9:26AM|#
      “Ultimately it comes down to population – a prerequisite for energy sufficiency is a stable population. Unfortunately the current economic system is designed around perpetually growth. It resists an tendency towards population stabilization.”

      You bet! If you’d like to ‘stabilize’ the economy, why you can join the bozo up-thread and move right back into that cave.
      And for our edification, when was the population ‘just right’?

      1. Ron, you are cofusing growth with development. There is still LOTS of room for human development, really there should be no limit.

        BUT…

        There are hard limits to growth. The earth is only so big, and natural resource use has it’s limits. It’s important to distigush between them.

        For example, even at a 1% growth rate the population doubles every 70 years. So if you think the current 7 billion isn’t to much, how about 14b? or 28b? or 56b? Eventually there is a limit.

        1. Kroneborge|5.28.10 @ 11:32AM|#
          “Ron, you are cofusing growth with development.”
          No. I’m not.

          “There are hard limits to growth. The earth is only so big, and natural resource use has it’s limits.”
          You’ll have to define “growth”. So far, the more people we have on earth, the better off we are.
          Obviously, when the population is such that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder, we’ve reached a limit. But current numbers of humans, size of the earth and population growth (once we’re smart enough to let poor folks get prosperous) tells us we’ll need to worry about that about the time the sun goes giant.
          I’m far more worried about enviro-whackos doing what they can to reverse human welfare; guaranteed to cause more harm than any theoretical limit on growth.

  72. This guy didn’t learn about physics, but metaphysics.

    It’s funny because it doesn’t make any sense. The argument is basically: alternative energies are not fully developed and don’t make enough profits, so forget alternative energies.

    It would be funny to see whether these jackasses are still as “smart” when the oil runs out. But it won’t really be funny because we’ll all be screwed.

    1. Daniel|5.28.10 @ 10:28AM|#
      “It would be funny to see whether these jackasses are still as “smart” when the oil runs out. But it won’t really be funny because we’ll all be screwed.”

      Please tell us: When *is* the rapture?

    2. Innovation is the child of necessity, we will not find a suitable replacement for oil, until it runs out. If there was something as efficient and effective as oil, it would already be available in the marketplace.

      1. Tax oil into oblivion. There’s your necessity.

        1. Tony|5.28.10 @ 3:27PM|#
          “Tax oil into oblivion. There’s your necessity.”

          Chony’s typical juvenile approach: Use guns to force ’em to do what Chony wants.
          You’re an ignoramus.

          1. Note the sudden lack of compassion for the poor on the part of Tony…

            1. Chony never had compassion for ‘the poor’; Chony has a religious belief.
              See, oh, Mother Teresa.

      2. Carston|5.28.10 @ 3:00PM|#
        “Innovation is the child of necessity, we will not find a suitable replacement for oil, until it runs out.”

        So one day we have oil and the next day it’s gone?
        Have you ever been introduced to the economic concept of ‘margins’? I didn’t think so.

  73. “Let’s assume you saved a gallon of oil in your commute (a generous assumption!). Global daily energy consumption is 9.5 billion gallons of oil equivalent. … So by biking to work, you save the equivalent of one drop in 10 gasoline tanker trucks. Put another way, it’s one pinch of salt in a 100-pound bag of potato chips.”

    That sounds a hair like the Nirvana fallacy, or the tendency to compare advantage to idealism. It’s much like saying, “Seatbelts? Ha! Like THAT’LL eliminate death on the road!”

    Still love ya, John.

  74. Fenris|5.28.10 @ 7:23PM|#
    “It’s much like saying, “Seatbelts? Ha! Like THAT’LL eliminate death on the road!”

    So long as you consider the death of a human the equivalent of saving a gallon of gasoline, that might me true.
    It isn’t; that’s a ‘false equivalence’ typical of brain-dead lefties.

  75. The comment in this article on biking to work is terribly cynical. Sure, one person is not going to make much of a difference. But inspiration grows, in my experience, at an exponential rate. Lots of little grains can become a pillar of salt, large and important and hard to ignore.

  76. ‘Top Kill’ Fail ,s oil gushing
    OBAMA,O MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE,THE END OF DAYS,GOD HELP US. INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  77. ‘Top Kill’ Fail ,s oil gushing
    OBAMA,O MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE,THE END OF DAYS,GOD HELP US. INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  78. ‘Top Kill’ Fail ,s oil gushing
    OBAMA,O MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE,THE END OF DAYS,GOD HELP US. INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  79. ‘Top Kill’ Fail ,s oil gushing
    OBAMA,O MY GOD WHAT HAVE WE DONE,THE END OF DAYS,GOD HELP US. INPEACH OBAMA THE COMMUNIST ,GOD OPEN YOUR EYES.///For us there are only two possiblities: either we remain american or we come under the thumb of the communist Mmslim Barack Hussein OBAMA. This latter must not occur.TO THE WEAK-KNEED REPUBLICANS AND DEMOCRAT .THE COMMANDER REPOST THIS IF YOU AGREE

  80. Sustainable, carbon neutral, environmentally friendly (the word green has become tainted and I refuse to use it) third generation biofuels will be used as we wean ourselves off of “fossil” fuels.

    When we hit peak oil, and costs start there inevitable climb upwards, biofuels price will simply become more price-competitive. Even if this doesn’t occur anytime soon, in the foreseeable future, advances in biotechnology will make biodiesel and bioethanol competitive even at current oil prices.

    The United States Department of Energy estimates that if algae fuel replaced all the petroleum fuel in the United States, it would require 15,000 square miles (40,000 km2). This is less than 1?7 the area of corn harvested in the United States in 2000. — Wiki pedia

  81. Well,one bicycle may not make a difference but 1000’s will. Using numbers about the relative amount of coal and oil compared to wind in Denmark is also misleading — how much coal and oil does Denmark save by having wind energy. . . oh, and you forgot to add in the thousands of bicyclists and large amount of solar power that Denmark has.
    In short, we have two choices: keep increasing renewable energy optinos and research, or we give up and dig for oil until the Earth completely crumbles. There is just not enough oil to continue our unsustainable addiction.

  82. Al Gore is off on his is an Idiot. 1. Al Gore has more coal writs than any one person in the US, 2. Al’s Compound uses 1/8 electrical energy than Memphis does each day. Al getting the Peace Prize was a fraud, think of all the air planes he road doing his world trip around the world. Al Shut-up.

  83. Swinger Threesome video from real swingers all over the world.

  84. That sounds a hair like the Nirvana fallacy, or the tendency to compare advantage to idealism.

  85. In short, we have two choices: keep increasing renewable energy optinos and research, or we give up and dig for oil until the Earth completely crumbles.

  86. It’s much like saying, “Seatbelts? Ha! Like THAT’LL eliminate death on the road!

  87. we will not find any suitable replacement for oil

  88. In short, we have two choices: keep increasing renewable energy optinos and research, or we give up and dig for oil until the Earth completely crumbles.

  89. It’s funny because it doesn’t make any sense. The argument is basically.

  90. Telling people that their putative “green” initiatives aren’t “green”.

  91. I need some time to think about this!

  92. Gotta love engineers 😉

  93. The faculty of reason, rationality, or the faculty of discursive reason

  94. The reasoning for the black box is to document what exactly happens in a crash.

  95. I agree with most of what you wrote down below

  96. Reason is committed to a pluralistic approach, promoting …

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  107. So by biking to work, you save the equivalent of one drop in 10 gasoline tanker trucks. Put another way, it’s one pinch of salt in a 100-pound bag of potato chips.

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  110. The comment in this article on biking to work is terribly cynical. Sure, one person is not going to make much of a difference.

  111. We all should do our part in “going green”. It may not be much for one person but it adds up when we all pitch in.

  112. I am not against going green, but I do think that most of the green solutions won’t make a dent in the environment. If people want to use solar panels for their roofing or ride their bike to work, then all the power to them. If we are going to seriously “protect the environment” then we need to find a replacement for oil, gas, and coal. Wind and solar energy won’t cut it.

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