Clean Energy

The Unseen Consequences of "Green Jobs"

Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?

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In his State of the Union speech a couple of weeks ago, President Barack Obama planned to "win the future" by, among many other things, having the federal government "invest" in "clean energy technology—an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people." But will investing in clean energy actually produce countless new jobs?

A couple of weeks ago, the California think tank Next 10 asserted in its 2011 Many Shades of Green report that employment in the state's green core economy grew at 3 percent between 2008 and 2009. Employment in the rest of the economy, meanwhile, grew at just 1 percent. The report defines the "green core economy" as businesses that generate clean energy, conserve energy, or reduce and recycle wastes.

Specifically, the Next 10 report finds that the number of jobs in California's green core economy rose between 2008 and 2009 from 169,000 to 174,000—an additional 5,000 jobs. Green jobs account for just 0.9 percent of California's overall 18.8 million jobs. Note that California's unemployment rate is 12.5 percent, which means that 2,270,000 Californians are without work.

Unfortunately, when it comes to green jobs both the president and the Next 10 report are focusing on the seen while ignoring the unseen. In his brilliant essay, "What is Seen and What is Unseen," 19th century French economist Frederic Bastiat pointed out that the favorable "seen" effects of any policy often produce many disastrous "unseen" later consequences. Bastiat urges us "not to judge things solely by what is seen, but rather by what is not seen."

So let's take a look. Many of the green core economy jobs created in California are the result of policies that restrict the production and use of conventional sources of energy. For example, electricity generators in California are required to produce 20 percent of their supplies using renewable sources by 2010, a requirement that will rise to 33 percent by 2020. In addition, California's Global Warming Solutions Act will impose steep reductions in carbon dioxide emissions produced by burning fossil fuels. Other green jobs are the result of regulations requiring energy conservation [PDF] in residential and commercial construction. Certainly, these activities provide some benefits, including pollution reduction and energy savings. But let's focus on the claim that on balance they provide more jobs than they kill.

A new report, "Defining, Measuring, and Predicting Green Jobs," by University of Texas economist Gurcan Gulen, issued by the Copenhagen Consensus Center, takes apart many studies predicting that policies mandating alternative energy production, energy efficiency, and conservation will create a boom in employment. 

First, Gulen notes that many such studies fail to define clearly what they mean by green jobs. He points out that many pro-green jobs studies do not distinguish temporary construction jobs from more permanent operation jobs. Many studies also assume that green jobs will pay more than jobs in conventional energy production. But why would a construction job at a wind farm pay more than one at a conventional power plant?

Even more disturbingly, many green job studies have no analyses of job losses. Clean energy costs more than conventional energy, which means consumers and businesses will have less income with which to buy and invest. This reduces their consumption of other goods and services, resulting in job losses in those sectors—one of Bastiat's "unseen" effects. In addition, many studies simultaneously count on protectionist policies to exclude clean energy imports while assuming that domestic companies will be freely exporting to other countries.

As an example of how these pro-green jobs studies go wrong, Gulen analyzes the 2008 green jobs study [PDF] by the consultancy IHS Global Insight. That report found that the U.S. currently has 750,000 green jobs, of which 420,000 are in the engineering, legal, research, and consulting fields. Gulen observes, "Given that there are also categories for renewable generation, manufacturing, construction, and installation, it is likely that the majority of the jobs in the largest category are not directly associated with the generation of a single kWh (kilowatt-hour) of 'green' power or a single Btu (British thermal unit) of 'green' fuel." The Global Insight study also reports that government administration generates 72,000 of the current green jobs. Green policies often don't produce power, but do produce more regulators.

The Global lnsight study further asserts that pursuing green energy will increase economic productivity. "When compared to conventional technologies on unit of energy output, due to intermittency and low capacity factors, wind and solar are likely to be more labor intensive (hence less productive)," notes Gulen. In fact, Gulen adds that other studies are counting on the fact that green energy technologies are more labor intensive as a way to generate more jobs.

This strategy is reminiscent of the no doubt apocryphal story of the American economist visiting Mao's China taken on a tour of a construction site where 100 workers were using shovels to build an earthen dam. "Why don't you just use one man and a bulldozer to build the dam?" asked the economist. The guide responded, "If we did that, then we'd have 99 men out of work." To which the economist replied, "Oh, I thought you were building a dam. If your goal is to make jobs, why don't you take their shovels away and replace them with spoons?"

Gulen is not alone in his concerns about overblown claims for green jobs. A 2009 report [PDF], by Hillard Huntington, executive director of the Energy Modeling Forum at Stanford University, also found that promoting green energy is not a jobs generator. Huntington calculated the number of jobs per million dollars invested in various types of electricity generation. A million dollars invested in solar power produces three to five jobs; wind 1.6 to 6.5 jobs; biomass 1.8 to 6.5 jobs; coal 3.7 jobs; and natural gas two jobs. It looks like renewables are often winners at job creation until Huntington points out that on average an investment of a million dollars produces about 10 jobs.

"Electricity generation across all sources creates far fewer jobs than other activities in the economy; the estimates in the figure suggest that they range between 17-67 percent of the average job-creation in the economy," reports Huntington. "These net job losses mean that subsidies to either green or conventional sources will detract rather than expand the economy's job base, because they will shift investments from other sectors that will create more employment."

Another way to look at it is that in the worst cases, investing in solar power destroys seven jobs, wind eight jobs, biomass eight jobs, coal six jobs, and natural gas eight jobs, each compared to the 10 jobs generally created per million dollars of investment. All subsidies to the electric power sector divert money that would otherwise be invested in higher value wealth and job-creating activities.

Huntington concludes, "Policymakers and government agencies should look askance at the claimed additional job benefits from green energy." Gulen agrees, "Adding 'net' jobs cannot be defended as another benefit of investing in these [green] technologies." In other words, President Obama and other proponents of green energy like Next 10 are seeing only what their policies produce, and ignoring what their policies destroy.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent and author of Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution (Prometheus Books).

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  1. You mean that “green” “investment” turns out to be an enormous exercise in rent-seeking, with little net economic benefit?

    This is my shocked face.

    1. You’ll never guess what I just did.

      1. Pooped in a porcelain pot?

    2. I find this a very interesting article. The apparent argument here is that inducing green jobs (albeit poorly defined what those are) is a detriment to the net economic output of our great nation. Indeed, Mr. Bailey goes so far as to argue we must look at the “unseen” components of such claims. This is correct. However, he commits the same logical fallacy he is accusing the greenies of committing: leaving out an important part of the equation and overall economic calculation. That of the net economic drag the old dirty economy is already exerting across the globe and our own country. Pick your favorite: water availability/costs for my family’s farm, increasing liability costs for insuring a whole suite of coastal activities from ports to residences, volatile energy costs driven by the fact we must go to increasingly extreme lengths (deep water, tar sands, etc.) to get the hydrocarbons our economy now runs upon, etc., etc.
      I agree that there is must opaqueness in the green job arguments, but there is much more confusion and obfuscation around our failed existing energy policies that are choking innovation with subsidies in the form of corporate welfare to Exxon, Chevron, and BP. We need more responsible price signals for the true costs of dirty energy.

  2. Unemployed people are better for the environment, so really it’s a win.

  3. Is that women wearing the latest fashion in California ?

    1. Good question.

      1. aye, she is. Don’t the massive sunglasses look absurd?

    2. Hey you have to keep a constant charge on that vibrator, lord knows unemployed and homeless women need lovin’ too.

  4. But Obama said all mainstream economists agree with him on everything.

    1. And Obama is the new Reagan. I learned that on the TV.

      1. Yes, we have suddenly decided to “win the future,” which apparently means keep trying to do the same shit over and over again.

        1. “win the future”?
          sounds like “Now I wanna see assholes and elbows people!”

    2. Just because 99 economists recommend Keynesian deficit spending, it doesn’t mean they’re right. Similarly, if 99 doctors recommend smoking, it doesn’t make it a good idea.

      1. But 4 out of 5 dentists recommend…never mind.

        1. But if we could just get that 1 dentist on board, that could turn this economy around

      2. But smoking helps you lose weight. And Michelle already told us were a bunch of tubby bastards so. . .

    3. That is a bad sign.

  5. I’ve been hearing how Obama is the new Reagan, so this story cannot be true.

  6. It is amazing how many modern political beliefs often viewed as dogma are so completely eviscerated by Bastiat oh so long ago. In fact, pretty much all of them can be destroyed with either the “broken window” or the “negative railroad” parables.

    1. “The Law” is the biggest little book in my library.

    2. On the model of “negative railway”, I once argued with a protectionist that, if creating high tarrif walls between Canada and the US created more jobs in Canada, then surely putting high tarriff walls between each of the provinces would create even more jobs. Putting barriers between the various counties and cities would do more yet.

      Sadly, he did not get the point.

      1. Trade creates jobs, not tariffs. When people trade, they make more money, and jobs are created by people wanting to make money.

      2. What the fuck are you talking about?

        1. Scotch and hookers. Go back to sleep.

      3. On the model of “negative railway”, I once argued with a protectionist that, if creating high tarrif walls between Canada and the US created more jobs in Canada, then surely putting high tarriff walls between each of the provinces would create even more jobs. Putting barriers between the various counties and cities would do more yet.

        Sadly, he did not get the point.

        Jeff Jacoby made a similar argument.

        If limiting imports from outside the U.S. protected American jobs, surely limiting imports from outside Massachusetts would protect Massachusetts jobs.

        1. I am from Massachusetts and the only jobs it protects are the ones held by Democrats the legislature.

          Kennedy wanted windmills, but didn’t like the idea when they wanted to put them off the coast near his home on the Cape. So by Obamamath, he killed about a few hundred jobs, but we can all applauding him because I am sure that money went towards something productive for the Commonwealth of MA, but it sure as shit was not pot hole repairs.

      4. To be fair, that’s a shitty analogy, since you’re comparing an open system to a closed system. If you believe jobs in a closed system can neither be created nor destroyed, you can still believe they can move from the favored side (Canada) to the undesirable side (Canada’s Mexico).

  7. “These net job losses mean that subsidies to either green or conventional sources will detract rather than expand the economy’s job base, because they will shift investments from other sectors that will create more employment.”

    The analysis Huntington is doing here is simply another exercise in favoring the seen over the unseen.

    In general, that activity that consumes the least human labor is the most productive. And, in particular, the whole point of energy is to replace human labor. The most efficient energy production, labor-wise, is that energy production that requires the fewest workers.

    Surprise, surprise… that’s natural gas.

    1. I don’t know the number of jobs nuclear creates, but it does cost the least per kilowatt hour produced. We should be investing in that.

      In other news, nuclear also is our best bet for alternative industrial electricity production, and we can get the fuel domestically, as well as from Canada and Australia.

      1. Subsidies are a bad idea. I prefer tax cuts. And an according reduction in spending to balance the budget.

        1. Tax cuts do not necessarily contribute to a free market, “Doktor Kapitalism”. Taxing different things at different rates creates a bias towards certain interests.

          1. Arguably yes. But if we’re going to “encouraging” certain industries, tax cuts are superior to subsidies. Do you want to go into the morality of taxes?

            1. Why not just cut taxes on ALL activities, then you could encourage every single sector of the economy. Imagine how many jobs that would create.

              We do not need a progressive income tax on individuals or corporations. Eliminate the whole damn tax code and start over with ONE national consumption tax that has no bias towards any particular type of consumption.

              1. Yessir….draw up the legislation to get rid of the IRS and I have just one question….Where do I sign?

            2. The government shouldn’t be encouraging or discouraging anything. Leave that to the market.

              1. I would rather the government discourage or encourage than ban outright.

                For example, I’m fine with a don’t do drugs campaign, as long as they would legalize all drugs.

      2. “but it does cost the least per kilowatt hour produced”

        That is certainly true as an operating expence, but may not be when you include huge upfront capital costs or disposal costs.

        I’ve seen all kinds of setimates for the total cost to produce nuclear power and they are all over place. It is not clear that nuclear is cheaper.

        1. A lot of the setup comes from jumping through the hoops of the Nuclear Regulatory Commision and the EPA. There are literally 100,000 pages of reporting and regulation to be done to open a nuclear power plant (I don’t know how other forms stack up). Plus, until now, every US powerplant was unique. There was a lot more in design costs. Now that the NRC only licenses 3 designs, costs will probably go down.

          As for clean up, there are several new technologies to reduce the amount of waste. Only 5% of a fuel rod is used before it’s contaminated with waste elements; if we used an entire rod it would be more fuel efficent and the waste would probably be less radioactive to boot. Mixed Oxide Fuels and other research is bringing the price of disposal down.

          1. There are significant advantages to nuclear that are often overlooked. The article below explains the basic physics people often overlook and for most part, it is our inability as humans to grasp very large numbers that prevents us from understanding how big a deal Nuclear really is. Though i suspect the more we talk about the FED and the deficit etc. . . large numbers will not be so hard for us to grasp.

            http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=2469

      3. No no doktor, the eco-liberals would never go for that. We might have another 3 Mile Island. The hypocrisy by the Pelosi/Kennedy lemmings is astounding.

  8. One of these days, Obama will make a comment about the benefits of government spending and it won’t be a lie.
    And I’ll have the ice-skate rental concession in Hell…………

    1. It’s a pipe dream.

  9. This word “Unseen”- I do not think it means what you think it means.

    1. What do you think it means?

      1. None of these consequences were really “unseen” beforehand.

        We pretty much expected the consequences of the “Green Jobs” to be what they turned out to be.

        I just think it’s wrong to say that these consequences were “unseen”.

        1. Oh, they were seen alright and people made a big deal about them, but there are only a handful of people who are unwilling to “see” these consequences and unfortunately, they are in charge.

        2. ignore = unseen

  10. The study is less than rigorous. For god’s sake, it cites Alvarez 2009, the fake study purporting to show green energy was destroying jobs in Spain. Which of course wasn’t true; Alvarez didn’t bother to detail what jobs were being destroyed or how he determined they were, in fact, being destroyed. He simply made the assertion.

    This isn’t a disinterested study. The Copenhagen Consensus Center has from the beginning opposed efforts to deal with climate change.
    Really, Ronald

    1. That’s the same problem as many pro-“green” energy studies: no documentation. The problem still holds.

    2. “The Copenhagen Consensus Center has from the beginning opposed efforts to deal with climate change.”
      Yep, Sachs doesn’t like them at all.

    3. Its bad technology any way you cut it. I dont care if it if it creates jobs or destroys them if the goddamn windmills dont fucking make the lights go on when I need them on.

      Here is some perspective on “green” energy. I am sick of being called a flat Earther by dumbasses who think they are smarter than everyone else because they have the “science” in their corner. Albert Einstein had this whole thing figured out before any of this was up for debate. See the article below for scientific enlightenment:

      http://www.energytribune.com/articles.cfm?aid=2469

    4. Ben Wolf: First, the article takes into account the criticisms of the Alvarez study. Secondly, the fact that the Spanish government is deeply cutting subsidies to solar power suggests that Alvarez is right. And third, the NREL critique of Alvarez is by no means an objective one.

      On the CCC: The Center attempts to use benefit/cost analysis to prioritize efforts to address various problems including climate change.

  11. All subsidies to the electric power sector divert money that would otherwise be invested in higher value wealth and job-creating activities.

    Too many words.

    Another way to look at it is that in the worst cases, investing in subsidizing solar power destroys seven jobs, wind eight jobs, biomass eight jobs, coal six jobs, and natural gas eight jobs. . . .

    If I invest my own money in natural gas, I haven’t destroyed a single job.

    I submit, however, that the value of an investment (and by an investment, I mean not a subsidy) isn’t measured by jobs created. Its in profits earned. Because profits are the best measure we have of the increase in value to society as a whole. If my investment in natural gas is more profitable than investing in some more labor-intensive industry (where my investment would create more jobs), society is better off, because I have directed resources to a more productive use.

    1. You’re right, subsidizing is not investing. Subsidizing is diverting money that would be invested to a less profitable area. The fact that something needs a subsidy is tantamount to proof that it’s a bad idea.

      1. Subsidizing is diverting money that would be invested to a less profitable area.

        If capitalism were a zero-sum game, your argument would be airtight. But as capitalists are always inventing new ways of “making” money, taking some of it away does not necessarily mean that you have removed X number of dollars from the economy forever, or that circumstances might not arise from such interference that may prove in the long run to be more advantageous. The fact is, you just don’t know. Better to argue the more fundamental idea that the government has certain limited functions, and betting on winners and losers in the private marketplace (in the form of ideologically driven subsidies, i.e. taxes, i.e. confiscation of wealth) is not one of them.

        1. Your last sentence is certainly true, and I admit freely that what is profitable today may not be profitable in the future. An example is our voracious consumption of hydrocarbons: we’re using up valuable tools for the chemical industry as, well, fuel. Plastics and all sorts of manufactured goodies come from petroleum, but we burn most of it. Obviously, forward thinking is good. Unfortunately, I cannot think of a good way to organize an economy so that it does a good job at forward thinking that does not involve potentially very dangerous government intervention. All I can hope for is rationality.

          Capitalism certainly isn’t a zero-sum game. My point there is that redirecting money in the form of subsidies is not a good idea. Currently, profitability is our best way of judging the social benefit of a particular good or service. This is not a perfect model, but it gets the job done better than government.

          1. Agreed.

      2. To Doktor Kapitalism @ 2.8.11, 5:26PM
        “Subsidizing is diverting money that would be invested to a less profitable area.”
        Don’t you mean:
        Subsidizing is diverting money that would be invested in a more profitable area.

        1. That’s a better way to say that, yes. It felt awkward when I wrote it.

  12. I suppose the question then becomes, are the environmental and sustainability aspects of “going green” worth the cost of fewer jobs? I’m not one of them, but there is a significant number of people out there who would say, “yes”.

    1. If we *really* wanted to go green the right way, we would be investing in industrial power production. Nuclear and geothermal (the latter mainly on the west coast and Alaska) would be good for operation and engineering jobs. We also get the benefit of much better and cheaper electricity. This would mean lower overhead for companies, so they could pay for more employees. The reduction in price wouldn’t necessarily hurt producers, and that would enable more people to comsume more. The market would reach equilibrium, and it would be better than where we are now.

    2. The important question is not more jobs or fewer jobs: it’s better jobs or worse jobs — where “better”, broadly speaking, means further away from rowing galleys and turning millstones.

      If more jobs are required to do something one way versus another, you can bluntly say that the economy is less wealthy by the number of excess jobs “created”. If it requires a tax or subsidy for those jobs to be “created”, you can add that to the amount the economy is less wealthy.

      If going green is worth it, sell it as going green. Selling it as helping the economy because it creates jobs is flatly false.

      1. If “going green” were actually worth it, the free market would probably have picked up. Of course, our market is unfree and not everyone is rational, so that’s not a perfect explanation. But if it’s jobs they want, they should sell it as that. This two-pronged attack is probably just a way to get enough people on board to pass the spending bill.

        1. President Obama is counting on the greed, power lust and short-sightedness of congressmen (who always have one eye on the next election) and their constituents who are so ignorant of politico-economic theory that their eyes glaze over whenever somebody promises Jobs-Jobs-Jobs?. It’s a cynical and immoral strategy that has worked to perfection in the past and will continue to work as long as individuals are willing to mortgage their future and the futures of generations to come for perceived (and illusory) short-term gain.

          1. Sounds fairly accurate.

    3. Re: Jim,

      I suppose the question then becomes, are the environmental and sustainability aspects of “going green” worth the cost of fewer jobs?

      Worth to whom?

      And, that’s not the problem. Doing more with less will lead to less jobs in a certain sector of the economy, but offset by lower prices. However, forcing other sectors to SUBSIDIZE a “jobs program” that happens to be labeled “green” is neither “sustainable”, nor “green.”

        1. What about the buggy whip manufacturers.

          1. There is always S/M demand.

  13. Perhaps the prez should just advocate subsidizing more horse-drawn plows,
    outlawing earth-moving machinery, and
    require every teenager to be accompanied everywhere by a trained and licensed government chaperone.
    Think of all the farm and infrastructure jobs created, not to mention keeping kids off our lawnz.

    1. If you care so much about the teenager on your lawn–do it yourself. Go out there with your rifle (at least until they nullify or repeal the 2nd Amendment) and keep them off your property.

  14. Unfortunately, when it comes to green jobs both the president and the Next 10 report are focusing on the seen while ignoring the unseen.
    How DARE you apply economic logic and common sense when the planet is clearly in peril? Why do you hate the children, Bailey???

    1. Unfortunately, when it comes to green jobs both the president and the Next 10 report are focusing on the seen while ignoring the unseen.

      How DARE you apply economic logic and common sense when the planet is clearly in peril? Why do you hate the children, Bailey???

      [Damned tags…]

      1. How about that unseen air pollution that murders 10,000 Americans every year. When are you going to quit ignoring it?

        1. I’m not sure “murders” is the right word. Air pollution is inaminate, does the gun kill, or the person who pulled the trigger? You should be arguing that the people who own sources of pollution are doing the murdering, but still you need to both prove it and give us a feasible alternative.

          1. Yes, that is precisely who is doing the murdering. Feigned ignorance is not a legitimate excuse for killing people.

            There is plenty of science that demonstrates the deadly effects of air pollution, we know damned well who emits it, and we have plenty of alternatives.

        2. Have you considered that more than 10,000 people would die if you start to reduce energy production and consumption?

          And it wouldn’t even be a trade-off the same 10,000 (the old and the frail) would die as well as many more as you cut of winter heating and summer cooling, to name just two of the life-enhancing benefirts we get from energy use.

          You keep choosing to only count (and overstate) negative externalities.

          1. Heating and cooling aren’t externalities. But so long as the benefits of an action outweigh the consequences, it’s generally a good choice.

            1. Isaac wasn’t saying heating & cooling are negative externalities, he was just reminding Chad that 10,000 people who might die as a result of air pollution (and by the way… I’d REALLY love a citation on that one) are outweighed by the benefits produced by pollution-emitting technology.

              1. That’s basically what I was saying, too. The way it was worded was just a bit ambiguous.

                I’d be interested in where they came up with that number, as well.

              2. “I’d REALLY love a citation on that one)…” I’ll get you one.

          2. Don’t confuse childish chad with a rational thinker.

            1. Who would do that?

        3. While your hysterical, emotional appeal to 10,000 people BEING MURDERED by the air is adorable, please do try to keep up.

          The argument is not whether “green energy” or “green jobs” would be better for the environment, or whether it would keep the air from MURDERING people. The argument is that the statement that green energy will strengthen the economy is utter bullshit.

          If the point is that green energy is better for the environment, then fine. Say that. But it’s difficult to sell that politically, given the increased costs of green energy to people and business. So instead, the green zombies will just tell a big, fat lie to try and convince people, all the while ignoring the fact that they could win everyone over, if they could just make people realize the air is MURDERING people.

          1. Facts are not hysteria. Calling facts hysteria, however, IS hysteria. Talk about irony.

        4. Re: Chad,

          How about that unseen air pollution that murders 10,000 Americans every year.

          Get Captain Kirk to employ an antimatter bomb to kill that cloud…

          You should take your Thorazine, Chad – you’re getting more paranoid.

        5. It is only killing liberals…so it’s win/win!

  15. For example, electricity generators in California are required to produce 20 percent of their supplies using renewable sources by 2010, a requirement that will rise to 33 percent by 2020.

    Which will inevitably raise the cost of production and the cost to consumers, as so-called “renewables” are PHYSICALLY inefficient [as in actual physics, gang] as energy conversion systems, compared to fuel or nuclear; leave alone the fact they are economically inefficient…

    1. The only good thing to say about solar and wind is that we won’t “run out.” Aside from that, they’re a waste of resources. Let’s just keep solar in the form of greenhouses.

      1. “…we won’t “run out.” Sure we will….someday.

        1. Well, yes, some millenium. Eventually the energy in the universe will dissipate to a few degrees above absolute zero everywhere. This is a long-term problem for creatures like us, and maybe we’ll solve it someday. However, solar and wind will continue to generate electricity for millions or billions of years before it becomes a problem.

    2. My favorite new Physics book. The chapter on energy is relevant to this discussion.

      1. The dumb bastards in this country will never elect a President that understands physics.

    3. Which will inevitably raise the cost of production and the cost to consumers, as so-called “renewables” are PHYSICALLY inefficient [as in actual physics, gang] as energy conversion systems, compared to fuel or nuclear; leave alone the fact they are economically inefficient…

      Wood and whale oil are renewables.

      And California has plenty of chaparral that goes up in flames anyway during the summer, and whales often swing along the California cost.

      1. You’ll never get the whales in California, and wood is a carbon dioxide scrubber, which is what this “green” energy business is all about. Neither will work, and they certainly aren’t as efficient, or we never would have converted from blubber to petroleum. Only when other fuel become prohibitively expensive will we go to wood and fat.

        1. You’ll never get the whales in California, and wood is a carbon dioxide scrubber, which is what this “green” energy business is all about. Neither will work, and they certainly aren’t as efficient, or we never would have converted from blubber to petroleum. Only when other fuel become prohibitively expensive will we go to wood and fat.

          Nevertheless, they are renewable.

          1. I’m not saying they’re non-renewable. I’m just pointing out reasons why they wouldn’t be used.

      2. But of course California whales would swing!

  16. It’s simple, folks. If you want to argue that green energy is more expensive than filthy energy, there can be only two reasons for it: it requires more labor, or it requires more raw materials. The latter is obviously not true. Ergo, it is the former.

    Have a nice day.

    Chad

    1. Expand. You’re thesis is not entirely clear.

      1. I think you’re a little bit addled, Chad.

        1. Think of the positive externalities of Big Corn! There are no negatives. It is sooo green.

          1. Hey, Big Corn has made a good living for me.

    2. Since when is “green” energy “clean” energy? Last I checked, Ethanol is considered “green” and it’s hardly environmentally pristine.

      1. That’s the problem: most people assume that “green” energy is automatically enviromentally friendly. It’s called greenwashing when a product is marketed as enviromentally friendly but really isn’t so much. The “green” energy bills are larger guilty of greenwashing.

        1. I don’t think ethanol is considered green in the purest definition because it requires more energy in production than it gives back? That could change down the road, but right now the path should be towards wind and solar, with nuclear, hydro, and high-efficiency natural gas as the transition.

          1. Wind and solar still aren’t efficient enough. The only good thing about them is that we can’t “use them up” like other fuels.

        2. “larger” should read “largely.”

        3. “Most” people might. But on the other hand, most people are morons who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or other fictional entities.

          No half-way serious environmentalist assumes any such thing. I doubt you actually have spent five seconds of your life paying attention to what environmentalists and scientists have been saying on these matters, rather prefering to attack your straw men.

          1. Most politicians aren’t halfway serious environmentalists. As they control the police and military, and could concievable use force against us for NO MATTER WHAT RIDICULOUS REASON, we should be worried. They also have our money, for similar reasons.

            Judging by your other posts, I doubt you actually have something reasonable to say.

          2. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is real. I have met her.

            1. Pastafarian feminism is weak sauce.

          3. “But on the other hand, most people are morons who believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster or other fictional entities.” Exactly, that is why our President is a sack of shit with big ears.

      2. Environmentalists gave up on corn ethanol a long time ago, DK.

        1. Politicians haven’t, and funnel $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ towards corn ethanol each year. If they actually cared, they might let the free market work its wonders (and no, I won’t explain how, since you won’t understand. Maybe tomorrow.)

          1. Nope, still don’t feel like it.

        2. But..but..but ethanol is renewable, so it has to be good – Obama told me so.

    3. If you want to argue that green energy is more expensive than filthy energy, there can be only two reasons for it: it requires more labor, or it requires more raw materials…

      …or it requires more capital.

      Like lots of land, or solar cell manufacturing.

      1. Land is a material, in the sense that I was speaking of.

        “Capital” consists of machines, buildings, etc that are all ultimately comprised of either materials or labor.

        Every penny you spend is buying one of these two. If you buy a $2000 painting, you are purchasing $50 of paint and canvas, and $1950 of talent and hard work. If you spend $2000 on gasoline, you are buying $1900 of a raw material, and paying a few people a few bucks to purify and transport it to you. If you want to create jobs, do the former. If you want to make the shieks even richer, do the latter.

        1. Chad|2.8.11 @ 9:38PM|#
          “If you want to create jobs, do the former.”

          You stupid shit, only brain-deads like you want to “create jobs”. I want the lowest price I can find for anything, meaning I want the lowest labor and material costs.
          Amazingly (to you) that ‘creates jobs’, but that’s an ‘externality’.

          1. Sevo: 9 times out of 10, the lowest price involves to a large degree whichever producer was able to get the biggest subsidies, externalize the largest portion of its cost, monopolize the market and wipe out any competitors, or simply prey on your emotions and trick you into overpaying for junk. Only on the rarest occasions does the lowest price actually translate into the socially optimal product.

        2. If you want to create jobs, do the former. If you want to make the shieks even richer, do the latter.

          Are you really advocating the burning of works of art for fuel?

          What’s next, teh books?

        3. Chad, if your model of economics does not distinguish capital from labor and material, you are missing out on the whole mechanism for wealth creation.

          In particular, a developed country’s wealth is 80% in intangible capital (social and institutional structures, education, art skills, etc.), 17% in tangible capital (machines, buildings, etc.), and less than 3% in actual materials like those I was referring to.

          It is true that that capital is formed because of some prior deferred consumption of resources or deferred use of labor, so in some sense capital is comprised of them. But thinking in those terms seriously evades where the vast, vast majority of human well being comes from.

          The difference between a pile of sand and a solar power array is important.

          1. “The difference between a pile of sand and a solar power array is important.”

            The difference is a whole lot of labor, including the labor associated with developing the product, organizing institutions that can build such structures, and educating the workforce that can execute such a plan.

            Compared to oil, a solar sell has minimal material value, and a lot of labor value. You will create far more jobs buying solar, dollar for dollar.

            1. And every job you “create” buying solar, dollar for dollar, means a similarly valuable job will go unfilled and its product unproduced because you are wasting the labor on solar cells.

        4. “Every penny you spend is buying one of these two. If you buy a $2000 painting, you are purchasing $50 of paint and canvas, and $1950 of talent and hard work.”

          Holy Labor Theory of Value, Batman! The legacy of my fellow countryman is alive and kicking.

    4. It’s simple, folks. If you want to argue that a Ferrari is more expensive than an Uno, there can be only two reasons for it: it requires more labor, or it requires more raw materials. The latter is obviously not true. Ergo, it is the former.

      Have a nice day.

      Makes perfect sense Chad doesnt it.

      1. Quality is important. Electricity doesn’t exactly have quality, though. It either is or isn’t.

        1. Reliably being there when you need it, is a “quality” coal, gas and nuclear have, unlike wind and solar.

          1. I considered that, as well as pollution. Electricity itself doesn’t have quality, but the means of production do. By the way, I think that geothermal should go on the second list, and tidal power on the first.

      2. It does. Which is precisely why you create more jobs buying the former than the latter.

        1. You have never studied:

          Economics
          Philosophy
          Politics
          History

          1. Or held a job above entry level, if that. If you have, you have a learning defect of some kind.

          2. Chad, as I understand it, has studied, and misunderstood, almost any subject you can name.
            You name it, Chad can amaze you with stupid ‘interpretations’ of that subject.

            1. There is a hole in my argument there, yes. He might have studied it but been to irrational to comprehend it.

    5. How’s this for a reply. You’re a moron. This is just a shitty restatement of the broken window fallacy. The response is if you spend money on useless jobs you will reduce actual productive jobs by more than you spend in the first place.

    6. Re: Chad,

      If you want to argue that green energy is more expensive than filthy energy, there can be only two reasons for it: it requires more labor, or it requires more raw materials.[???] The latter is obviously not true. Ergo, it is the former.

      It’s not the QUANTITY of the raw materials what makes the HIGHER cost, it’s the operation costs per kW produced.

      Also, LABOR is a cost, and any process that requires MORE LABOR, for the same OUTPUT compared to a similar process, is NOT efficient, either economically or even ENVIRONMENTALLY, as the more people you EMPLOY, the more SHIT you have to get rid of.

    7. I want “filthy energy”…I want a dirty woman!

  17. Chad|2.8.11 @ 5:56PM|#
    “It’s simple, folks. If you want to argue that green energy is more expensive than filthy energy, there can be only two reasons for it: it requires more labor, or it requires more raw materials. The latter is obviously not true. Ergo, it is the former.”
    Sort of like digging holes in the ground ad then filling them back up. Always a profitable exercise.

  18. I guess if you want to make a slightly better world (cleaner air, renewable energy, better energy grid, etc.) for the next generation, it’s going to require sacrifice.

    Although, I’d be happy with just ending all subsidies and tax incentives to oil and coal companies before renewable companies. I guess that makes me a liberaltarian.

    1. Every time someone says I need to sacrifice, I cling to my wallet.

      1. “Sacrifice” as a virtue is a vestige of religion. We should be past that by now. Why is surrendering a value considered to be a noble act? It’s always the kings, priests, politicians and slave-drivers who are demanding the sacrifices.

        1. You an Objectivist? If so, break out “The Anti-Industrial Revolution” before too long.

          1. Read it many times.

            1. Good. I mean quoting…but come to think of it that doesn’t work as well here.

    2. Thats not what I here, the people selling the green energy state that people will have better, higher paying jobs and that the green revolution will like another industrial revolution.

      1. NotSure|2.8.11 @ 6:29PM|#
        “Thats not what I here, the people selling the green energy state that people will have better, higher paying jobs and that the green revolution will like another industrial revolution.”
        And you left out the unicorns! Can’t forget unicorns!

    3. I guess if you want to make a slightly better world (cleaner air, renewable energy, better energy grid, etc.) for the next generation, it’s going to require sacrifice.

      Why isn’t “wealthier” in your list?

      Because that is the best improvement we can leave for the next generation — more wealth with which to deal with the problems that they come across.

      And that is exactly what is sacrificed when you use force or subsidy to try to create a slightly better world in some other way.

      That said, yes, get rid of all subsidies for everything, including energy production.

    4. I’d rather leave a better world for my children that I can enjoy myself. If you want me to buy on, give me a tangible goal that’s realistic.

    5. End all subsidies to all of them. Nuclear only works with government financing, coal is heavily subsidized at a state level. Farmers were building wind turbines in their yards 100 years ago and that’s how we should be thinking today.

      1. “Farmers were building wind turbines in their yards 100 years ago and that’s how we should be thinking today.”
        Uh, yeah. They powered a (one) water pump.
        Good idea; you try it.

      2. Nuclear might be affordable if there wasn’t such a prohibitively high start-up cost. A significant portion of that comes from the enviromental and safety regulation. Streamline that, and nuclear might be affordable. The reduction in barriers to entry would lend itself to more competition, which might promote money-saving innovation.

        It’s not just subsidies when it comes to price. Regulation counts a lot too.

        1. Ever read The Health Hazards of NOT Going Nuclear by Petr Beckmann? First published in 1976 but just as relevant today, as valid arguments have an infinite half-life.

          1. Need to get my hands on a copy.

        2. SMR (Small and Modular Reactors)

          1. And thorium. Cheaper, safer, and can be used (in modified form) in existing plants.

      3. Yes, to harvest a diffuse, poorly sited energy resource far from most users that will require billions of capital investment to move said energy to where it is needed.

      4. Farmers put up windmills in their yards because it was the cheapest ($ or fuel or feed) way to pump water. There was no rural electricity.

        Modern windmills on the other hand have lots of cheaper competition, which probably means more efficient (of resources).

      5. You’ve never actually lived the life of a farmer, have you? It’s not exactly what you heard John Denver sing about.

    6. sacrifice another libspeak for social justice

  19. If you want to argue that green energy is more expensive than filthy energy, there can be only two reasons for it: it requires more labor, or it requires more raw materials.

    Fortunately, we have a good proxy for the inputs required to create usable energy. Its called the “cost”.

    1. Your concept of “cost” includes subsidies and externalities. Please try again.

      1. Chad|2.8.11 @ 9:41PM|#
        “Your concept of “cost” includes subsidies and externalities. Please try again.”

        Your concept of “cost” is nothing *other* than subsidies and externalities.
        Please try again.

      2. He got it right the first time, you simple minded fuck. Regulatory burden and cartelization through that burden and other edicts far outstrips subsidy in the cost equation in the non ‘green’ energy sector. Please dowse yourself in kerosene and strike a match.

  20. The green jobs BS is a non-starter, but this is what’s known as an externality.

    Assuming that thousands of people were employed destroying the ozone, would we want them to keep doing it just to save their jobs?

    If thousands of police were employed enforcing unjust laws and violating the constitution on a daily basis, would we want them to keep doing that, as well?
    [Let’s further assume that they are all privately employed police forces and prison guards so this isn’t about taxes.]

    The free market doesn’t really make those decisions. That’s what statist politics are for, assuming that you support a state of any kind. They have to deal with externalities because transactional forces don’t always.

    Basically, this “green jobs” thing is a semantics argument about what line of BS the gov’t is feeding us to accomplish its policy goals. Yes, it’s BS, but it doesn’t really address the underlying policy goal.

    Do we care about the environment, and if so, what can we do when the market fails to take into account our concerns?
    That’s the issue.
    For some people the answer is simply “No, we don’t care about the environment.”
    For others, it may be “The market adequately takes care of the environment.”

    The final issue is whether we want the government going anything relating to jobs, one way or the other, or should we let the market decide that?

    For me personally, I don’t really want the government involved in business at all. And vice versa.
    Others may disagree. Not sure if they’re libertarians, but whatever floats your boat.

    1. “The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law.”

    2. “Do we care about the environment, and if so, what can we do when the market fails to take into account our concerns?”
      Uh, change our concerns?
      The problem here is the open-ended question: “Do we care for the environment?”
      It doesn’t mean anything, since it means everything.
      Try this: “Will you give up, oh, clean clothes to save, oh, 1/10th of the purple finch population?”
      Nope.

    3. “For some people the answer is simply “No, we don’t care about the environment.”
      For others, it may be “The market adequately takes care of the environment.””

      And for others, it may be “We care about the environment but considering their track record, our concerns will get trumped by politics so government intervention is likely to do more harm than good and if we show businesses that we care, the market at least has a chance of reacting positively to consumer pressure.”

  21. Any subsidy or mandate will make an economy less efficient and kill jobs. The proponents of “green jobs,” like proponents of “stimulus spending,” ignore, among other things, the opportunity cost of taking taxpayers’ money.

    1. Taking taxpayer money than necessary to protect us from force and fraud is always a bad idea. If they must support certain industries over others, give tax cuts, rather than subsidies. That doesn’t do as much to hurt everyone else.

      One could argue that that means the government won’t have as much to pay for all it’s programs. We spend about $20 billion in earmarks annually. We spend money on a lot of other stupid stuff. If we got rid of that, the government would have more money than it would know what to do with.

      1. I don’t see how a tax cut is any different from a subsidy.

        1. One takes our money and gives it to someone else. The other just doesn’t take as much money from some of us.

          Plus, the government loses a fair amount in translation. And I still argue against both. I just see a tax cut as the lesser of two evils.

          1. A *targeted* tax cut. How is a $5000 tax cut to the solar panel industry different from a $5000 subsidy to that industry?

            1. RanDomino|2.9.11 @ 3:17AM|#
              “A *targeted* tax cut. How is a $5000 tax cut to the solar panel industry different from a $5000 subsidy to that industry?”

              Uh, are you serious?
              A subsidy means taking the money and then giving it back, but somehow or other, some of it always gets lost in the process.

            2. It’s rather obvious. The tax cut does not directly affect the non-solar panel industry parties; the industry pays $5000 less than it would have. The subsidy takes $5000 from everyone (as a group) and transfers it to the solar panel industry.

              The net result is that a subsidy costs the non-subsidized directly, while a targeted tax cut does not. While both act to distort the market, it’s arguable that the subsidy is a double whammy, as it removes money from one area and injects it in another, rather than simply not removing moving from one area to begin with.

              1. But if the government takes less from one area, it takes more from every other. The financial effect of an equal tax cut or subsidy on everyone involved seems exactly the same- one party has more money, everyone else has less, thanks to direct government interference. If either way one party ends up with 10% more money and everyone else ends up with 1% less… what is the difference?

            3. Glad someone else took care of this idiocy for me.

        2. Allowing an individual to keep more of his own money is hardly a subsidy. Is it a “subsidy” when a robber returns a loaf of bread after stealing all your jewelry? You’re arguing from the position that my money is actually the government’s money, and that when they steal less of it, they’re doing me a favor.

        3. That’s because you believe that it’s the government’s money to begin with. It’s not.

      2. —“If they must support certain industries over others, give tax cuts, rather than subsidies”—

        Whatever type of libertarian, liberal or conservative you are, you have in mind a number regarding the amount of taxes it would take to support the level of government you prefer. If you give tax breaks to encourage any activity, you must, by design, raise taxes in other areas to cover the expense. In your scenario, unfavored taxpayers must pay more in taxes to operate the government. Making me pay more taxes so that someone else gets a “tax cut” is just giving them a subsidy, but not calling it one.

        1. Classic liberal / semi-Objectivist, which is close enough to libertarian for government work. I’d rather go to some sort of flat tax based on property to pay for the military, police, courts, and precious little else. And that takes us to the root of my argument: the government should be spending less overall. As I’ve said elsewhere in this debate, I would expect a corresponding cut in spending to keep us in budget (though we would need a lot of cut or tax increases to get us there, so this is hypothetical).

          As a proponent of free market capitalism, I don’t want the government encouraging or discouraging any activity which isn’t an affront to human rights (murder, theft, rape, arson, fraud), but I recognize that that isn’t realistic in the near future. So I advocate tax cuts to do so.

          A tax cut is not a subsidy. It is the opposite. Instead of taking a little money from everyone and giving it to a specific entity, I would prefer not taking as much from everyone and much less from our specific entity. And a corresponding cut in spending to keep us in budget. This would be affordable if we had a reasonably sized military/police, no welfare state or nanny state, and hardly anything else.

          1. Free market capitalism is a myth, DK.

            What really exists, and always will exist, is externality, market failure, and subsidy ridden crony capitalism.

            You may as well grow up and get over it.

            1. We’ve never tried capitalism without government intervention (subsidies, etc.). Let’s try that before we write it off. We’ve tried everything else, and history is just one big failure story.

              But I can’t expect and irrationalist like you to get that.

              1. “expect *an* irrationalist”

            2. Chad|2.8.11 @ 9:43PM|#
              “Free market capitalism is a myth, DK.”
              Yes, because of sleazy assholes like you.

              “What really exists, and always will exist, is externality, market failure, and subsidy ridden crony capitalism.”
              Yes, because of sleazy assholes like you.

              “You may as well grow up and get over it.”
              Sorry, I don’t ‘get over’ sleazy assholes like you.

          2. —“Whatever type of libertarian, liberal or conservative you are”—

            The use of “you” was a generic to cover the spectrum, not specifically your philosophy. Each group or philosophy has in mind a “best” level of government. It requires taxes to support this level (unless you are a true anarchist, hat tip to OM), and tax cuts to a favored group amount to a de facto subsidy by those not favored.

            1. Your last clause confuses me. Restate in clearer terms.

              I’m not for government intervention in the economy, but I think tax cuts aren’t as bad as subsidies.

  22. RanDomino|2.8.11 @ 6:57PM|#
    “I don’t see how a tax cut is any different from a subsidy.”
    Uh, a tax cut lets people keep their *OWN MONEY* and spend it as they please.
    A subsidy means the taking of that money by the government and then the government spending it for political purposes.
    Is that clear?

      1. Any fourth grader could understand it. However, by the time one has been educated, the ability to think clearly has been removed from about 95% of the population. The other 5% are either in jail, insane, or writing comments on reason articles.

        1. True.

      1. RanDomino|2.8.11 @ 8:58PM|#
        “A *targeted* tax cut.”

        Have a problem reading, do you?

  23. Just skimmed this, but one thing I don’t see mentioned is the market in other countries for actually green, efficient energy production technologies. Because there is an increasing market world wide for these technologies, the economy of the nation that becomes a net exporter of those technologies will benefit…and you can, conceivably, end up with a net benefit in number of jobs. That, as I understand it, is a large component of Obama’s argument for encouraging green energy industry in the US as a path to more jobs at home.

    Also, some of the “green jobs” are, actually, just things that need to get done to upgrade our infrastructure. Those are usually low tech, labor intensive, and local, so they have the potential to create jobs here.

    Those who argue that they don’t need to get done will trot out the broken windows fallacy…but we are not talking about breaking windows to create jobs…we are talking about fixing some windows that are already broken that we’ve been ignoring.

    1. “…Because there is an increasing market world wide for these technologies,…”
      Is it a market, or simply moving government subsidies back and forth?

      “Also, some of the “green jobs” are, actually, just things that need to get done to upgrade our infrastructure….we are talking about fixing some windows that are already broken that we’ve been ignoring.”
      Ans what would these be?

      1. Well, it is true that our infrastructure could be more efficient. But fixing it is a long term project, and those don’t create lots of jobs, nor are a political snort of crack by providing a few with a lot of publicity.

    2. That, as I understand it, is a large component of Obama’s argument for encouraging green energy industry in the US as a path to more jobs at home.

      Yes, and that is the worst part of all of this: The richest nation on the planet is leading the charge toward the future by, on one hand, subsidizing its own green energy and, on the other hand, strongly encouraging governments abroad to tax and subsidize in order to purchase green energy.

      It’s transferring wealth from the poor to the rich, and it’s revolting. The developing world would be much better off simply using the cheapest fuels of the day.

      For a more local example of this effect, see the venture capitalists in California lobbying to get their investments subsidized.

      1. The whole Kyoto fiasco (which, by the way, will slow down the (not entirely proven) global warming by 6.5 days*) would also devastate the economy in developing countries. While mass use of fossil fuels is arguably a bad thing, they are overall cheap, transportable, and easy to use, all three of which matter in developing countries without infrastructure. It’s only in countries with power to spare that anyone thinks about “green” energy.

        1. Forgot to note: *Numbers come from the June 2008 issue of Wired Magazine. If these are out of date, please let me know.

        2. Of course, Kyoto only slowed down the economy by zero days. Something is better than nothing.

          And fossil fuels aren’t cheap. They just put a large portion of their cost on the backs of third parties.

          1. Chad|2.8.11 @ 9:45PM|#
            “Of course, Kyoto only slowed down the economy by zero days.”

            Prove your claim, asshole.

          2. *If* it were applied to developing countries, it would slow down their economies a whole lot. Their access to electricity and transportation would be severly hampered, which means: they would take much longer to, or never, complete the industrialization/modernization process necessary to transition to “green” energy, or serious alternatives like nuclear and geothermal.

            “And fossil fuels aren’t cheap. They just put a large portion of their cost on the backs of third parties.”

            Explain.

        3. What are you talking about “devastate the economy in developing countries”? The main excuse the US is giving for blocking these treaties is that they would exempt developing countries and that’s apparently ‘not fair’!

          1. I don’t know why the US is blocking the treaty, I just know that it’s a bad idea, both because of unintended consequences and it’s inability to solve the problem of “global warming.”

    3. —“Because there is an increasing market world wide for these technologies, the economy of the nation that becomes a net exporter of those technologies will benefit”—

      It’s just too bad that for profit companies can’t see the OBVIOUS potential to reap huge profits, and won’t invest in this new technology. Only the government has sufficient foresight.

      1. “It’s just too bad that for profit companies can’t see the OBVIOUS potential to reap huge profits, and won’t invest in this new technology. Only the government has sufficient foresight.”
        Looks like you’ve answered the question; it’s *not* a market.

        1. Please adjust sarcasm detection meter.

        2. “It’s just too bad that for profit companies can’t see the OBVIOUS potential to reap huge profits, and won’t invest in this new technology. Only the government has sufficient foresight.”
          Looks like you’ve answered the question; it’s *not* a market.

          Yeah. No market. That’s it. You realize, of course, that there ARE lots of private companies investing heavily in these technologies, right?

          1. “Yeah. No market. That’s it. You realize, of course, that there ARE lots of private companies investing heavily in these technologies, right?”

            OK, so which of your statements is a lie?
            That there is a market, which would mean no need for the goverment?
            Or that there’s a need for the government, since there’s no market?

            1. That there is a market, which would mean no need for the goverment?
              Or that there’s a need for the government, since there’s no market?

              False dichotomy.

      2. I think you missed this part:

        “Also, some of the “green jobs” are, actually, just things that need to get done to upgrade our infrastructure. Those are usually low tech, labor intensive, and local, so they have the potential to create jobs here.”

        Wind and solar only work when and where there’s wind and sunshine. That means making a lot more than you need and storing it somehow as well as rebuilding the entire nation’s power grid to be the as yet designed “smart grid” to move power around the country where and when it’s needed. Labor intensive indeed. Not to mention inefficient and hideously expensive.

        And this bit:

        “one thing I don’t see mentioned is the market in other countries for actually green, efficient energy production technologies.”

        That’s because one of the big problems with green energy is that it’s not efficient. That was part of the point of the article. Green energy has potential but it’s not ready for prime time and pouring money into implementing the existing technology on a large scale may create jobs but that doesn’t make it a good idea or one that others will want to buy.

        1. That’s because one of the big problems with green energy is that it’s not efficient. That was part of the point of the article.

          I mention that there is a growing market for efficient green energy and your reply is that “green energy” is not efficient? The idea here is to develop those technologies that are efficient. Efficiency itself is one source of green energy. Because fossil fuels are so cost efficient, we have developed habits where we waste a lot of the energy available in those fuels when we use them. Recapturing that energy or developing processes that don’t waste it in the first place is the cheapest current avenue towards green energy.

          1. I see what you’re saying but you specifically said “actually green, efficient energy production technologies” and I think most people would view making more efficient use of fossil fuels as conservation rather than green energy production. Conservation is good and certainly has it’s place but the law of diminishing returns limits the energy savings and cost effectiveness. Much has been done in recent years to make coal cleaner and more efficient but we’re decades and many billions of dollars away from anything approaching truly clean coal. The article said that the President wants the federal government to “invest” in “clean energy technology”. That generally means renewable energy and California is requiring electricity generators to produce 20 percent of their supplies using renewable sources by 2010 and 33 percent by 2020. With that in mind, I stand by my statement that unless the goal is job creation then green energy technology is terribly inefficient.

            1. I think most people would view making more efficient use of fossil fuels as conservation rather than green energy production.

              Conservation is one thing. I am also, however, talking about actually recapturing waste energy to generate electricity. Seems more like production to me.

          2. Here’s an example of efficient green energy generation. Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2009 there were 1436 coal fired generators in 594 plants across the nation running at an average of 63.8 percent of their maximum capacity of 338,723 megawatts for an average capacity of 230331.64 megawatts. The wind turbines at Cape Wind off Martha’s Vineyard that the Kennedy family so vigorously opposed because it obstructed their view are each 440 feet tall, occupy roughly .185 square miles, and have a maximum capacity of 3.6 megawatts with an average capacity of just under 1.31 megawatts. To replace the 230331.64 megawatts produced by coal with wind would require 176136 wind turbines occupying some 32517.41 square miles. Talk about spoiling the view.

        2. Labor intensive indeed. Not to mention inefficient and hideously expensive.

          If they need to get done, they need to get done. Pushing those costs into the future doesn’t always make sense.

          1. “If they need to get done, they need to get done.”
            Not shown; your preference means nothing to me.

            “Pushing those costs into the future doesn’t always make sense.”
            And in this case?

          2. The “smart grid” is only needed to balance the regional and intermittent nature of green technologies like wind and solar. That’s one of the advantages of nuclear, no need to rebuild the entire infrastructure.

      3. Well in Europe there are people reaping huge profits, the only problem that they were criminals (check out the carbon exchange scandal that happened in Europe recently).

    4. NM: As the Gulen article points out we can’t ALL be net exporters. Gulen notes there are already 80- 120 wind mill manufacturers around the world (all subsidized BTW).

  24. Sarcasm, it’s what’s for dinner.

    1. Threaded comments!!!

      That was to Sevo

  25. Solar, wind, wave energy – all nonsense mainly. Takes fossil fuel energy to manufacture them, to install them, to maintain them. After taking all this energy invested into account, you’ll scarcely make any energy back in profit. You’ll be better off just burning the oil directly.

    Of course that begs the question – what will come after fossil fuels if these renewables don’t cut it? Hydro? Mostly tapped out. Nuclear? Too expensive and fissiles are running out too.

    The future doesn’t look too bright.

    1. Conservation and local generation. As much as 1/4 of power generated can be lost by sending it hundreds of miles over transmissions lines. Proper insulation and CFL bulbs can make a serious dent in residential energy demand. Switching to mass transit for most trips would also help greatly. Environmentalists have been saying the answers to these kinds of questions for years, but who cares what those hippies think, right?

      1. “Proper insulation and CFL bulbs can make a serious dent in residential energy demand.”
        Insulation, yes. CFLs, maybe.

        “Switching to mass transit for most trips would also help greatly.”
        Prove it.

    2. What do you mean fissiles running out? Uranium oxides represent more resources than all fossil fuels put together, and we’ve barely tapped thorium, which is even more prevalent and cheaper to boot.

      Fusion with Helium-3 from Luna and the Gas Giants is also a good idea, which is why Congress will ban it.

      1. Pie-in-the-sky fantasy. Once fossil fuels become so hard to get they aren’t worth digging up, modern industrial civilization is finished with, over, done.

  26. Petro fuels still provide biggest bang for the buck, is that really that hard of a concept to understand. It also has low ratio of eviromental hazrard compared to the amount of engery/benfits it provides. So far all disasters, production, and usage byproduct/effect have been able to be cleaned up to a moderately exceptable degree by society at large. This is why the consumer demands it. No one wants to live in a toilet and if the hazards become evident over the benifits then this statement will change and the market will reflect that more than not. This is also what makes the consumer nervous about nuclear, it’s disaters, by products have some pretty lasting effects that are not easily disposed of. Markets reflect this more or less to a degree.

    When petro fuels or variations of them become too expensive compared to the amount of energy they deleiver be it for competeing markets’ demand, access to it etc then research and development into alternative markets for power will develop further, and lo and behold these alternatives will become cheaper as markets compete over there chance to deleiver these effectively.

    In the event something better comes along before or if this all happens, well guess what, it’s better and the markets will be falling all over themselves to be the one to deliver this product/service.

    Conservation is a misnomer if it cost more to do than it’s benifits are worth. Things are conserved when value of such out weighs it’s usage of it. Be that either a monitary or ethical matter.

    Not hard concepts, so easy a caveman can do it. Oh wait they did do it, the natural order of things have always dictated most effective usage of resources till necessity has given rise to alternatives.

    1. You view (at least appears) to ignore the value of long-term thinking. Just because something is cheap now doesn’t mean it always will be. And just because hydrocarbon fuels are cheap now, doesn’t means we shouldn’t convert to nuclear or geothermal and save the hydrocarbons for the chemical industry, which is a much more efficient use. So many things we love come from fossil fuels…and we just burn them.

      1. You view (at least appears) to ignore the value of long-term thinking. Just because something is cheap now doesn’t mean it always will be. And just because hydrocarbon fuels are cheap now, doesn’t means we shouldn’t convert to nuclear or geothermal and save the hydrocarbons for the chemical industry, which is a much more efficient use. So many things we love come from fossil fuels…and we just burn them.

        Present value.

  27. Liberal democracy is a myth, DK.

    What really exists, and always will exist, is monarchy, imperialism, and feudalism.

    You may as well grow up and get over it.

    1. Amusing. Seeing as democracy did pretty well in America, I presume that you are demostrating that free market capitalism could exist, but hasn’t been tried.

  28. 1. Why shouldn’t the construction jobs count? We count housing construction, should we not count energy construction now?

    2. Energy conservation is often cheaper over the long term than not, the costs are just more upfront, which means a lot of times it’s missed. IE, spend $50 more for the energy star appliance, but save $200 in energy costs over the life of the applicance.

    3. Without investments in energy the rest of the economy won’t run.

    1. “2. Energy conservation is often cheaper over the long term than not, the costs are just more upfront, which means a lot of times it’s missed. IE, spend $50 more for the energy star appliance, but save $200 in energy costs over the life of the applicance.”

      Conservation does have it’s benefits, and people in general are not dumb. People do weigh these factors when making choices. But it has more to do with personal cost saving vs desired performance of a product. As well most consider an ethical value associated with such, but that is all factored with and against value and performance. There’s and endless amount of ways to give examples of this and if you just consider your own everyday choices this becomes more than evident. Everyone will conserve in one area of there life to shift or balance expenditures they wish to make in another area of there life.

      “3. Without investments in energy the rest of the economy won’t run.”

      I’ll agree with this. Which makes it even worse that we allow an ideology of misconstrued beliefs to stifle the energy market to pursue ineffective and inefficient means to solve these issues. Rather than allowing the markets to address these long and short term problems. When a third party involves itself by misdirecting funds in away that does not reflect the natural order of things, then unintended consequences will be the order of the day.

  29. I just paid full attention to the title of the article:

    “Will investing in clean energy harm the economy?”

    By “the economy” you mean “perpetual economic growth”. Perpetual economic growth in its current form isn’t possible in this universe, unfortunately, so the question is irrelevant.

  30. Hey, I support drilling in Alaska and off the coast as much as the next Libertarian but I don’t think green is a dirty word either. If opportunistic entrepreneurs want to go into developing green and alternative energy they have my full blessing too.

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  32. oh vey,
    Any disruptive new technology will disrupt the existing economy in some way. Reason repetitively argues that you should not trade 10 jobs in the current energy sector (carbon) for lets say 5 jobs in a green energy sector. Or whatever the ratio is. While there is a small economic argument to be made in that respect, Reason continually fails to broaden its analysis beyond that incomplete analysis. What about the economic multiplier effect of recycling the money that is paid to locally (or at least nationally) generated energy? Yes, I know we arent going to create jobs when the manufacturing occurs because it is all overseas. But what about the economic multiplier effect, what about externalized costs from carbon fuels: military expenditures, health costs (days of work missed), real estate depreciation, business loss (gulf shrimpers…), environmental impacts (can I have a glass of that fresh frac water?)

    So the carbon industry will just have to ADAPT? Like the agriculture industry in the last 100 years. Are you going to argue that we should all go out and work on a farm even though the farm has evolved beyond the need for so much labor?

    Reason gets so much right. But your stunted analysis of the entire energy sector, both your short sighted analysis of renewables, and your love affair with Chevron, Exxon, and BP, and Gazprom, will obscure the good work that you actually do.

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