Give Thanks to Fossil Fuels

Was the power on in your house this morning?


Was the power on in your house this morning?

If so, thank fossil fuels!

A few parts of America do get energy from other sources. Washington state has fast-flowing rivers that allow Washingtonians to get most of their electricity from hydroelectric power. Iowa now gets about 40 percent of its electricity from wind.

But most of us get power from the much-hated fossil fuels, primarily natural gas and coal.

Burning them does pollute, although government-mandated (yes, government has done some useful things) controls like scrubbers in smokestacks have nearly eliminated the dangerous pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide.

But fossil fuels do still emit greenhouse gasses, and that probably increases global warming. Yes, I know some scientists doubt that man's activities contribute much, but I'll go with the large group that says we do.

Now, Black Lives Matter protesters say fossil fuels create "environmental racism" because black neighborhoods are often located in low-lying floodplains or are close to refineries and other energy infrastructure. Activist Jane Fonda recently joined them to say, "The fossil fuel industry will have to pay!"

But I suspect Fonda and other anti-fossil fuel protesters have no clue about where the electricity that powers their electric cars comes from.

Today, Americans still get 81 percent of our energy and 62.7 percent of our electricity from fossil fuels. Oil fuels about 91 percent of all transportation.

Without fossil fuels, much of the world would freeze in the dark. We just don't yet have enough alternatives.

One country almost does: Iceland.

Iceland has hot springs, so geothermal power provides 25 percent of its juice, and hydropower provides most of the rest.

But even in Iceland, that's not enough. Iceland still burns oil.

The protesters ought to watch the new documentary, Juice: How Electricity Explains the World. My new video this week is a short (4 minute) version of it.

"Electricity doesn't guarantee wealth," says energy journalist Robert Bryce, "but not having it almost always means poverty. The defining inequality in the world today is the disparity between the electricity-rich and the electricity-poor. Three billion people in the world today use less electricity than what's used by my kitchen refrigerator. To empower the low-watt world, we're going to need a lot more juice."

Hate coal all you want, but it still accounts for about 38 percent of global electricity production. Even Japan, home to the Kyoto Protocol, plans to build 22 new coal-fired power plants.

Pitiful and expensive American "green" mandates won't dent the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Americans take electric light for granted, but Bryce's film reminds us: "Electricity allowed us to conquer our oldest foe: darkness. For millennia, the cost of having well-lit spaces at night was so high, only the very rich could afford it."

That's still true in much of the world. About 300 million people in India have no access to electricity.

Many cook and heat their homes by burning cow dung. It's why about 1.3 million Indians die from indoor air pollution each year. Cooking with cow dung, Bryce says, "is akin to burning 400 cigarettes an hour in your kitchen."

Pollution like that is a much bigger threat to disadvantaged people than greenhouse gasses American activists complain about.

"Darkness kills human potential. Electricity nourishes it," says Bryce.

But what about climate change? I'm told that's why we must move to renewable energy.

Renewables, Bryce replies, simply cannot supply "the enormous amount of electricity the world needs at prices consumers can afford."

Environmental activist Michael Shellenberger points out that he hears environmentalists say: "People must reduce energy consumption! (But) the only people in the world who say that are rich people."

"Energy poverty vs climate change. There is no easy, one-size-fits-all solution," concludes Bryce. "But there are about three billion people in the world without adequate access to electricity…and they will do whatever they have to do to get the electricity they need."


NEXT: Trump’s Naked Megalomania Continues a Bipartisan Trend

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  1. Ok then. I agree but the assholes who run this site think Biden is better. TDS is rampant. Green new deal is in.

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  2. Activist Jane Fonda recently joined them to say, “The fossil fuel industry will have to pay!”

    As she straddled an oil derrick.

  3. Renewables, Bryce replies, simply cannot supply “the enormous amount of electricity the world needs at prices consumers can afford.”

    Renewables help, but will never be enough. Only nuclear can replace fossil fuels.

    1. “Only nuclear can replace fossil fuels.”

      In places like China and North Korea, sure. But Americans aren’t going to reject CO2 only to embrace Pu239.

      1. According to who? A bunch of wild-eyed activists, or average people?

        1. According to the American population since 1977. Unless you prove EXACTLY what is going to change, then nothing is going to change. And instead you are just the usual stupid DeRp energy politics that in fact never does anything but merely pretends.

          1. Because of a disinformation campaign by environmentalist funded mostly by the fossil fuel industry because they saw nuclear as their biggest threats. So they used the anti-nuclear environmental movement as useful idiots. This is well documented.

          2. Lots of things have changed in the nuclear industry since 1977. And fuck you.

            1. You still need operators. And they are error prone. That has always been the case.

              1. Not very error prone, especially considering compared to other types of energy production. As for operators, not a single energy production method exists without the need for operators and maintenance. Solar and wind actually require a lot of maintaining, much higher than conventional and nuclear energy production.

                1. “Solar and wind actually require a lot of maintaining, much higher than conventional and nuclear energy production.”

                  The stakes are much higher with nuclear accidents. The Chernobyl disaster resulted in a large exclusion zone which will remain uninhabitable for hundreds if not thousands of years. It’s also thought to be indirectly responsible for the downfall of the regime.

                  1. Chernobyl was a bad design, built in the 1950s and was known to be unsafe. Bringing it up is a red herring. That design is no longer used, and newer technologies, such as Molten SALT reactors are not physically capable of melting down.

                    1. It was more than just a bad design. The accident could have been avoided had the nuclear program been more open and less secretive. You can’t blame the design of the reactor for the ass covering endemic to the bureaucracies that inevitably spring up around such enterprises as Chernobyl. Face it, people make errors, whether out of tiredness, vanity, laziness, desire for promotion, taking unnecessary risks, and all sorts of other reasons. As long as people are involved, mistakes will be made. Look at Fukushima. The engineers designing the place studied centuries of data and determined that an earthquake bigger than mag 8.6 was impossible. So they built it to withstand the effects of a mag 8.6 earthquake. Any stronger would be unnecessary and costly. Unfortunately it was hit by a mag 9.1 earthquake. That’s no design flaw. Fukushima’s reactors were as strong as they were designed to be. The error is human. Poor forecasting.
                      Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise is a good resource.

              2. I’d tell you to live in the dark, but it appears you already are.

                1. If you’re afraid of the dark, grow up, is my advice.

                  1. If you don’t understand how the lack of electricity leads to perpetual poverty, you are fairly stupid.

                    1. I’ve spent time with people with an extremely impoverished choice of available breakfast cereals. Far far less than we wealthy electrified folks have. They somehow manage to have healthy, happy productive lives, nevertheless. You shouldn’t underestimate people’s abilities to adapt and thrive under circumstances you’d find intolerable.

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  5. As Mr. Stossel notes coal produces only 38% of the energy in the world. Less in the US which has access to alternative energy. The US is not building new coal power plants we are shuddering them in favor of wind and solar. Fossil fuels will be around for a while but they are on there way out and we need to look to the future. Elan Musk’s recent success with Space X is spectacular, but what impresses me most is the number of Telsa vehicles I am seeing in my community.

    1. we are shuddering them in favor of wind and solar natural gas.

      1. No most coal plants were shuddered and replaced with natural gas plants. Today remaining coal plants are being replaced by large scale solar and wind farms. Read the newspapers, Milwaukee Journal 05/26/2020, “Alliant Energy announces six solar power projects”, this includes taking down the Pleasant Prairie plant.

        1. You mean shuttered?

          past tense: shuddered; past participle: shuddered
          (of a person) tremble convulsively, typically as a result of fear or revulsion.
          “I shuddered with horror”
          (especially of a vehicle, machine, or building) shake or vibrate deeply.
          “the train shuddered and edged forward”
          (of a person’s breathing) be unsteady, especially as a result of emotional disturbance.
          “he drew a deep, shuddering breath”

          Maybe you did mean “shuddered.”

          1. Maybe it was earthquakes?

        2. Perhaps trends have changed. From peak coal use in 2008 to the latest data in 2019, gas use has increased by more than coal use has dropped and has not peaked.

          1. Shale gas is the only source of gas production that has increased – and it is not actually profitable. The production required a few trillion of subsidized debt – and the debt is not being paid down. Which means that the debt will have to be rolled over and this time it won’t be rolled over at subsidized interest rates.

            1. “Shale gas is the only source of gas production that has increased – and it is not actually profitable”

              Totally true. All of those rigs in Marcellus and Eagle Ford and a bunch of others, are all there for tax losses.

              You’re even sillier about this than you are about epidemiology.

        3. “…Today remaining coal plants are being replaced by large scale solar and wind farms…”

          Wind and solar cannot possibly ‘replace’ coal generated power.

    2. Last quarter Tesla lost $100 million on electric cars but reported a profit because of $400 million in gifts (mandated by the government) from other car makers – those makers are buying fuel-economy credits.

      1. Automakers are buying credits because they are choosing not to invest in low emission vehicles and to avoid fines. This is cap and trade an approach developed in the 1980 by environmentalist and free market capitalist working together.

        1. Ford is offering an F-150 that is supposed to go 400 miles on a single charge and tow the same as it’s conventional engines. Not to mention Ford and Chrysler have invested heavily in upping the gas milage of their conventional engines and have improved fuel efficiency over 50% in a decade. Once again your counterarguments are contrary to what is actually happening. Most major auto manufacturers have offered small electric vehicles but few buy them. Ford is betting that a full sized truck, capable of doing the same work as a conventional engines, will be a larger seller than small electric vehicles. They also have reduced costs so that it will retail at around the same price as their conventional engines, something Tesla still hasn’t been able to do.

          1. If it can hold up to a Northeast Montana winter, I even want to buy one. We’ll see what it charging capacity is when it’s minutes 20 F for a month on end, with 10 to 20 MPH winds.

            1. Hell this is why I don’t go diesel, because even diesel isn’t as reliable in these conditions, especially if you park where you can’t plug it in. And conventional gas also becomes more problematic. But the cows still have to be fed, and ice still has to be chopped (even my electric water tank heater isn’t a match, but it does make the ice thinner).

              1. Army vehicles had engine blankets, glowplugs, and arctic heaters for normal cold. When it got real cold (-50 was the worst I was in), we would keep vehicles in the field running with only short breaks each day to check fluids. Anything more than a few minutes, and it won’t start without a swingfire heat pump.

                1. The Humvees also had an ether injector. Yeah, if it got cold we just leave them running all night. Hell, most people do the same here. You don’t even shut off to fuel up, unless you want to piss off everyone behind you when your vehicle won’t restart.

                  1. Ether injectors must have been added after I left the cold.

                    I remember refueling in the field while running. We normally did it from cans, but occasionally from a tanker. The tankers could refill a HMMWV in under 10 seconds. They didn’t have a back pressure switch like a fuel pump. Someone watched the fuel gauge and yelled stop when it was full.

                    The problem with running stationary vehicles for extended periods in extreme cold is it produces a haze, or a fog in extreme cases, that is visible from a distance.

                    1. Yes. We had ether injectors, the tanks were under the drivers seat because having a highly flammable gas stored inside the cab makes sense only to the Army. I am not sure how standard they were. But they were on the vehicles I used in Washington and Virginia.

          2. The only good money rolling in for electric cars is from rich people deliberately overpaying to show off their Veblin Goods. Once the $7500 US rebate is removed, this truck will get shut down like the Volt.
            I got $10k back from taxpayers for my $30k plugin hybrid Clarity. Now I just fill it with cheap gas.

      2. Tesla has never made a penny of profit on its cars. It is a money-laundry for taxpayer subsidies.

        1. Agreed.

    3. What’s actually happening much is coal is gradually being replaced by natural gas (also a fossil fuel, but certainly a cleaner one than coal) much more than it is being replaced by renewables.

      It gets no attention whatsoever from our media, but the United States is currently in the midst of one of the biggest domestic energy booms since the early days of oil discovery. We’re extracting so much natural gas we’re even exporting a lot of it. But under Trump, the media has an ongoing blackout of good news of any kind whatsoever.

    4. Where do you think the electricity that charges all those Teslas comes from?

      Wind and solar do make up a rapidly growing share of the US energy budget but that’s because they are growing from almost nothing. So far, they are up to a tiny fraction. And even at that tiny fraction, we are already seeing signs that wind and solar are approaching the point of diminishing returns. Wind and solar alone will never be able to meet energy demand.

      Hydro is great but we’ve already dammed up essentially every usable source. Hydro has been at diminishing returns for decades. Biofuel’s got potential – if you don’t mind the environmental and economic devastation of diverting food to fuel. Nuclear is … off limits for irrational reasons.

      1. Could you elaborate on the diminishing returns of solar and wind? I see no signs. I note that more houses are getting photovoltaic panels and companies are establishing solar farms.

        1. If you are basing your analysis solely on retail-scale installations, a) you are biasing your analysis by including those who install wind and solar for non-economic reasons and b) your analysis is functionally irrelevant to the scale of energy generation necessary for national-scale solutions.

          Large-scale wind power makes sense only in those areas where the prevailing wind patterns are conducive. For the most part, wind farms have already been built in the best locations. A few years back, the city of Cleveland commissioned a study. (Despite the reputation of Chicago as “the windy city”, Cleveland’s position on the southeast edge of Lake Erie gives it much higher average wind speeds than Chicago.) The study concluded that even Cleveland’s conditions were barely above break-even. Certain mountain ranges in various parts of the country have positive returns – until you include the cost of transporting the energy. Population centers and large industry are generally not located where wind power is easy and cheap.

          Solar suffers the same problem. It makes great sense in Arizona where skies are usually clear and the angle of incidence is low. It makes no sense in Buffalo where skies are frequently overcast and the angle of solar incidence is higher. Solar is also widely inefficient at land use. A solar farm requires several hundred times the acreage of a fossil fuel facility of the same wattage even under ideal circumstances. That land usually comes out of fragile wilderness areas.

          1. To elaborate on solar land use, remember that it can’t come out of farmland. You still have to grow crops and they need the sun. They won’t grow in the shade under a solar panel. It can’t merely be on the rooftops of homes, apartment complexes and factories. First, those facilities don’t have that big a footprint. It takes more square footage of panels than are available on the rooftops. Homes and factories can supplement their energy consumption with rooftop installations but (except for a few rare cases) they can’t entirely meet it with rooftop alone. Second and more importantly, those environments tend to be significantly dirtier, requiring regular cleaning the solar array to maintain efficiency. Rooftop installations are too varied to allow for efficient maintenance of the solar arrays.

            Where does that leave? You could roof over the parks. But that kind of defeats the whole purpose of going outside. You could roof over the roads. See above about maintenance costs (plus, the total area really isn’t all that large).

            Or you can pave over some cheap wilderness. Which is what essentially all utility-scale installations have to do. Along the way, they destroy vast swaths of habitat – usually desert habitat which is especially fragile.

            All that’s before considering the environmental consequences of mining, processing, transporting and disposing of the vast quantities of heavy metals necessary to solar arrays. How any intelligent environmentalist can consider solar to be a net good boggles the mind.

            1. You could go orbital, and beam the power down. But that was hideously expensive, and likely will remain that way even after we start taking apart the Moon and asteroids for building material.

              Photovoltaics are ‘clean’, if you carefully don’t look at China, or anywhere else they’re manufactured.

              1. I line orbital solar. It has huge potential. Cost is a problem, but I think as civilian manned space travel becomes more common the price component will decrease.

                1. I say this because one of the main space construction costs, besides boosting material into space, is the fact that so few individuals are trained to operate in that environment, and almost all of them are government employees. And the government, at least in the US, tends to only train scientist to be astronauts. Civilian space construction will surely not require an advanced degree in physics or biology, but will require welding skills, construction skills etc.

                2. There’s also the problem of beaming the power back down to earth. You can collect huge quantities of cheap solar power in orbit but do you really want to be setting up what are basically huge lasers pointed at our population centers? Anyone think that might be a problem when the satellite alignment slips by a half-degree?

                  1. Go look at the SBPS proposals from the 70s. The power density in the beam is not as intense as you might think. Course, the rectennas on the ground weren’t small either…

                    A tight beam microwave beam or maser, with a few hundred square miles of collecting surface, could certainly sting though.

                  2. Microwave transmissions generally solves much of the energy transmissions. Also, the collectors would be best located away from urban areas. High geocentric orbit answers the solar shadow problem and allows around the clock energy production and transmission.

                    1. As with any energy production it has some negatives.

                    2. SBPS was a pretty big shibboleth for Jerry Pournelle, back when he was still with us. He was a huge proponent of spending the money we were spending to keep the MidEast ‘peaceful’ on developing our own sources of energy, SBPS being one of them. That would especially appeal to a scifi writer. I think chaos manor is still extant. You might have to wayback for individual pages though.

                      Fracking wasn’t even a twinkle in people’s eyes at the time, though the energy content of oil shales was certainly well known.

            2. What I have noticed is increasingly more installations in residential area on roofs (even in Wisconsin). Asking my neighbors with photovoltaic panels who report that the panel don’t supply all there electrical power but they have seen significant decreases in utlity costs. One neighbor reported that it supply all power for spring and fall. So more residential solar would decrease demand on large power plants. More electric cars would increase demands, but this is offset by smaller carbon footprints for electric vs cars. I see the future in the potential for non fossil fuel energy.

          2. Yes population and industrial centers are not where the wind and solar are. Which merely means that the US is no longer capable of understanding comparative advantage within the US. We will move industrial centers halfway around the world (to support a reserve currency) – but are incapable of moving energy intensive industries to say the high plains (where the wind is more intense than most places on Earth).

            1. We are more than capable of moving industry whereever it makes economic sense. It doesn’t even take government orders or incentives to do so. Companies do things that make economic sense out of their own self-interest all the time. It doesn’t make economic sense to move energy intensive industries to those remote high-winds areas.

              But you are free to prove us all wrong, JFree. Start up your own steel mill (or other energy-intensive company) and build your own wind farm. If your hypothesis is correct, you’ll have a huge cost advantage over your competitors and will make a windfall (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun) profit. Put your own money up and show us it can be done.

            2. Land is cheap and we have access to major railroad routes and freeways in central Montana along the Rocky Mountain Front. We also have copious amounts of wind. We have lots of wind power but surprisingly very little manufacturing. We also have fairly low taxes, and a low cost of living. A great university system. BTW, we actually have to much wind a lot of them time for the wind farms to operate.

        2. ” I note that more houses are getting photovoltaic panels and companies are establishing solar farms.”

          Never-mind it’s solely due to guns forcing idiotic regulations and guns stealing other peoples money to pay for 1/2 the price.

          If you truly believe the crap you read/spill – I highly suggest you and all others go buy your “dream power” system WITHOUT any gun stolen money ( actually you can’t even find that anymore since even their creation is SUBSIDIES to the wall ) and see for yourself what an awesome power solution it is.

          I myself have done this with both solar and wind ( minus manufacturing subsidies )… I may (but highly doubt) my solar will actually pay for what I wasted on it. The wind has no hope at all. I need a touch-less solar system for 20+ years just to break even of which I ALREADY had to waste on a broken inverter (in less than 2-years). Buy hey; I get a lot of cheer-leading around for my wasted labors so oh well who cares if it’s a stupid investment right?

          1. Guess I should’ve been “smart” and used the gun-forced government to make OTHERS waste all their labors for my toy (i.e. Slavery)…. Then it wouldn’t look as-bad on paper…

      2. The US Energy Information Agency provides a list of utility scale electricity sources for 2019.
        Natural Gas: 38.4%
        Coal: 23.5%
        Nuclear: 19.7%
        Wind: 7.3%
        Hydropower: 6.6%
        Solar: 1.8%
        Biomass: 1.4%
        They also mention small scale solar is equivalent to <1%.

      3. That is simply horseshit. Wind and solar both produce magnitudes more energy than is used. The reason it ‘fails’ in the US is because the market structure for decentralized generation is very different than the existing utilities system.
        I doubt the US will change. Too many existing barriers to change. But everyone else already is changing and figuring it out. The US will gradually become an energy tech backwater.

        1. That is why Germany is buying a large majority of it’s electricity from coal plants in Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland. They figured it out. Build solar and wind in their country but buy electricity from neighbors who use reliable sources. And than complain that their neighbors are so dirty while they are so clean.

          1. BMW has moved a lot of foundry work to China, but ‘only for local products’ (hint, hint, nudge, nudge).
            Seems they’d prefer that when they flip the switch, they’d like the lights to come on.

        2. JFree
          August.5.2020 at 1:08 pm
          “That is simply horseshit. Wind and solar both produce magnitudes more energy than is used…”

          It’s amazing that you are full of shit on such a wide range of subjects!

          1. The ‘shale gas isn’t profitable’ crack did it for me.

            1. Golly. Maybe that’s why 230 US producers have filed for bankruptcy since 2015. Because they’re just fucking rolling in profits – and the shit hasn’t even hit the fan yet because the debt in that sector doesn’t roll over for a couple more years
              Shale’s bust shows basis of boom – debt

        3. JFree — What are you waiting for then??? What a great time to get wildly ‘rich’…. GO DO IT… Oh what’s that; You’re full of horsesh*t.. Ya, we know because we don’t work full-time as cheerleaders of destruction.

  6. Without fossil fuels, much of the world would freeze in the dark.


  7. With each new piece, I become more and more grateful but also amazed that a libertarian like Stossel is still around.

    The only thing I can figure is that he must have gotten a long-term contract, and Mango probably has an app that counts down the days until she can finally get rid of him.

  8. Jane Fonda on the screen today
    Convinced the liberals it’s okay
    So let’s get dressed and dance away the night

    While they kill kill kill kill kill the poor
    Kill kill kill kill kill the poor
    Kill kill kill kill kill the poor tonight

    1. Earlier we did get the live rendition of let’s lynch the landlord man

  9. Most people in the party of Science have a hard time with math, let alone technology. And of course they suspect if not detest “profit”.

    Couple that with typical urban ignorance about energy production (electricity comes out the wall socket, silly), and we have a corp of essentially useless idiots.

    The best lesson might indeed come from letting or even helping a few leading areas get their wish: deny them any power made from dirty fuels. The true believers might enjoy righteous suffering on windless, cloudy days but I bet the average people, even the black ones, will not be amused.

    1. “Most people in the party of Science have a hard time with math, let alone technology. ”

      It’s a myth that scientists need math and technology to do their work. Einstein flunked math and his stint in the Swiss patent office made him disdain technology. He came across his greatest insights through gedankenexperiment, German for ‘thought experiment. He thought about what it would be like to chase a beam of light. No maths, no tech, only the most significant scientific breakthrough of the century.

      1. He found that if the speed of light is a constant, then time must be the variable. If light

        Then WITH A SHITLOAD OF MATH he actually proved it.

        The idea goes like this. c is a constant. No matter what, when you observe light it will be travelling at the same velocity. Say you’re travelling at half the speed of light relative to someone else. You both observe the same light. You both conclude it’s travelling at 3*10^8 m/s. How can that be? Shouldn’t it be half as fast in your observation? No. c is a constant. So the explanation is that time must be moving slower for you than it is for the other observer if you’re both going to get the same measurement.

        Or something.

        But it’s meaningless unless the math works.

        1. “But it’s meaningless unless the math works.”

          Math played no role in the original insight that lead to his discovery. Math and technology and science are three different things. This means that you, even black people, can do science without math or technology.

          1. Wrong. Massively wrong. The popular reports that Einstein “flunked” math are related to what we would call elementary school. A review since suggests that he was bored – a common problem for gifted students. His grades in later schooling show that he was a very accomplished mathematician.

            His insights into relativity were deeply embedded in a deep understanding of and analysis of the underlying math. His gedankenexperiment would have made unachievable without that background.

            1. If math bored Einstein, that probably helps to explain why he became a scientist and not a mathematician. Math helps to explain a lot of science, but they remain totally different fields and Einstein’s original thought experiment was not mathematical but an inspirational insight.

              The ‘hard problem’ that faces today’s scientists is understanding the nature of consciousness. It’s philosophical speculation and Einstein like thought experiments that are breaking ground in this field, not math and not technology, though brain scanning equipment has shown some interesting results.

              1. School period bored him. And he excelled at math, he didn’t do so well in zoology.

              2. And according to all records and even his own writing he loved calculalus because he loves solving problems. He became a physicist, which requires daily use of calculalus. The difference between a doctorate in physics and one in math is not that great. Most physicist have minors in mathematics.

                1. ‘Calculus’ is the word you are looking for. Einstein’s breakthrough insights didn’t come from an application of mathematics, but a kind of philosophical speculation he called gedankenexperiment (thought experiment in German.) It seems to be close to the heart of the creative process in physics, math, literature and pretty much any human endeavor. It seems you are intent on downplaying it.

                  1. So my spell correct fucked up. You so disproved my point. I concede I didn’t notice that autocorrect misspelled a word. Fuck off. And his breakthrough would not have been possible without math. And even in your description of the philosophical principle, math was still important. You just keep digging.

                    1. “So my spell correct fucked up.”

                      No, you fucked up. Three times, at least.

                      “And his breakthrough would not have been possible without math. ”

                      You are confusing the issue. It wouldn’t have been possible without his native German language skills, either. The breakthrough was the thought experiment, which I’ve already explained. It was more philosophical speculation than mathematical analysis.

                    2. I’m still shaking my head at the idea that Relativity proofs don’t require math. Or that Einstein didn’t like math.

                      The little I had got introduced to with General Relativity math was way more than I needed to know a major in Physics was not for me.

                    3. Yes, autocorrect works like that. It is a predictive algorithm that predicts what word you are going to use. If you use the wrong word, it will continue to do that everytime you start to type it. The fact that I repeated it is proof that it was a function of how autocorrect works. Thanks, you attempt to disprove my assertion once again strengthens my assertion.
                      As for his philosophical leanings, yes they inspired his love of physics and calculus, but that doesn’t mean he did his science without math. I mean, I have a degree in animal science. I went into animal science because I worked on a ranch in high school and fell in love with agriculture. But my working on the ranch in high school, while it inspire my chosen path of study, was not responsible for me publishing on the effects of homofermentative lactic acid bacteria and exogenous fibrolytic enzymes on the the ensiling characteristics of different forages.

                    4. “the effects of homofermentative lactic acid bacteria and exogenous fibrolytic enzymes on the the ensiling characteristics of different forages”

                      Did it have something to do with alfalfa?

                    5. Alfalfa was just one of the forages we tested, yes.

                    6. And based upon that information, I am sure you can find the article and have a pretty good idea who I really am.

                    7. Your secret is safe with me, friend.

                    8. SM76, Firstly, I just want to say I’ve been reading Reason comments for about ten years and you are one of my favorite commenters on this site.

                      Based upon your previous comments and this thread I was able to definitively identify you along, with a photograph. You may want to remove this thread due to the plethora of crazies that haunt this comments section.

                    9. Being able to definitively identify me isn’t really difficult, since my job is pretty public and my faculty picture is widely available.

                    10. And Reason doesn’t allow you to erase a comment thread. I flagged it for removal but probably won’t happen.

                  2. Your not even remotely close to reality.
                    Reading your statements is equivalent to listening to someone who would honestly say “my dog is originally a space traveler from europa, and that’s why green jello cures cancer”

                2. I’ve got a degree in computer science and it came with a math minor by default. I could have gotten a physics minor as well but didn’t want to take an applied calculus lab.

              3. “Math helps to explain a lot of science, but they remain totally different fields…”

                Technically mathematics is an art while science is, well, a science.

                Math is a tool. It’s a means. You can have math without science, but you can’t have science without math.

                Ever studied any science in college? I’m thinking no. Because if you did, you’d have had to have taken a fuckload of math as well.

                1. Oh I think he took a science in college. A remedial 100 level or 000 level, designed for humanity majors that generally produces only a superficial understanding of a subject. His mistakes are ones I’ve seen quite commonly with humanity majors (and sadly high school science teachers). I am betting be was a humanities major, thus his obsession with grammar, spelling and sophistry, rather than a STEM major.

                  1. good point

                  2. or rather, good observation

                    1. Thanks. My pet peeves is when people say it’s just a theory, when they actually mean it is just a hypothesis. Theories require testing and repeatability. Hypothesis are educated “guesses”.

                2. “commie education” has little to do with reality or progress of life and the world. Commie Math and Commie Physics is but a tiny speckle of intro of what one will need to be a success in any competent Math or Physics field yet “Commie Education” will spend DECADES “teaching” that tiny speckle of intro.

          2. https://history.howstuffworks.com/history-vs-myth/did-einstein-really-fail-math.htm
            He didn’t ever flunk math, that is an urban legend pushed by people like you who obviously don’t understand how important math is to every science past remedial sciences. Genetics, biology, chemistry and especially physics is at some point almost nothing but math. We don’t sit around mixing things in tubes to see what explodes (because mostly our forefathers already have done that). We do math, we model using statistics, we use equations to predict the outcome or develop equations to explain the results. No scientist, even in the late 19th and early 20th century, could be as advanced as Einstein and not also be fluent in calculalus. Fuck you just demonstrated you complete misunderstanding of how science works. Once again proving that your worship of science is completely superficial.

            1. Science is about observing nature. That’s different from math. It’s also different from technology.

              Math is undoubtedly important in explaining science, as you point out. But math relies ultimately on natural languages like English or Chinese. That doesn’t mean that math and language are the same field of study or that calculus (or physics) is ‘nothing but language.’

              1. Science is about developing and understanding natural processes. This requires observing, asking a question, developing a hypothesis, testing and reevaluating your hypothesis. Observation is only a portion. Without testing, which requires math, you aren’t doing science. Your understanding of science is so superficial. BTW, I’ve published multiple peer reviewed scientific material. So just maybe I have a better understanding of scientific principles than you, who stopped at only the first step.

                1. * developing an understanding and explanation of natural processes.

                2. “Without testing, which requires math, you aren’t doing science.”

                  You can test without math. Simply repeat the experiment and see if you get the results you expect. What you mean is measuring. You can’t measure without math. Or maybe you can. Is it math to say that something is bigger (or faster or whatever) than something else?

                  “Observation is only a portion.”

                  It’s the all important first step. I don’t know why you seem compelled to deprecate it. The breakthrough insights often come in a flash as if inspired by a higher power. The mathematical and laboratorial gymnastics that go into testing, proving and justifying the insights are often just busy work to be filled in later. I’m not trying to minimize the role of experiments and mathematical analysis in this endeavor, just that inspiration, the results of thought experiment or the creative process, leaps over the experimental and mathematical ground, so to speak.

                  1. You can’t even calculate the results to know if they match without math. Fuck you are stupid. You can’t test without math because you can’t explain the results nor even be able to compare results without statistics.
                    The eureka moment doesn’t actually happen. That is a Hollywood invention. Observation is not the all important step. None of the steps are any less or more important.
                    As for your false distinction between measuring and testing. Any scientist will tell you testing is measuring, and measuring is testing. Just stop, you are giving me a headache with your ignorance. You don’t even understand testing is measuring.

                    1. “You can’t test without math because you can’t explain the results nor even be able to compare results without statistics.”

                      Testing and explaining results are two different things. And you can’t do any math without the required facility in natural language, so ultimately it’s natural language rather than math you should be arguing for. If you pause to meditate on the matter for a while.

                      “The eureka moment doesn’t actually happen.”

                      Sure it happens. Dreams, psychedelic drugs and meditation have all played a part in the advancement of science, math or any other human endeavor that is creative. I don’t understand why it’s so important for you to downplay it.

                    2. No, eureka moments don’t happen in real science in dreams etc. That is completely a Hollywood creation. No, Newton didn’t discover gravity when hit in the head with an apple. Natural Philosophers (which was what scientist were labeled at the time) had been trying to explain the downward attraction of objects to the Earth for millinea. Newton’s ideas weren’t even original, he was just the first to be able to prove that his explanation was better than all the others, by using math. Darwin also didn’t have a Eureka moment, natural philosophers again had been trying to explain how evolution occurred for centuries. His explanation just proved better than his predecessors. And again, his observation required measurements and math to confirm them.

                    3. If there is anything resembling an eureka moment it usually occurs during a literature review and is the result of studying past scientist works. And it isn’t sudden, it is generally a gradual process of analyzing their methodologies, results and analysis. You either find a hole in their work, or a mistake and you form a hypothesis based upon this and then you design a test and model to confirm your hypothesis.

                    4. “If there is anything resembling an eureka moment it usually occurs during a literature review and is the result of studying past scientist works. ”

                      Or having a few bottles of wine while trying not to break up with his girlfriend. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kary_Mullis Though Mullis did a shit ton of preparatory work to be able to put that insight to use.

                      Lot of dead ends in science. Eureka comes usually only after having tried the other 99 ways of making the damned thing work.

                    5. It was the result of his prep work, knowledge and experience. The arguing with his girlfriend simply allowed his brain to make new connections. This isn’t what I imagine MTrueman means by Eureka moments. It was the years of study and research, painstakingly done that allowed him to make the connection. It wasn’t a completely out of the blue event. And even then, he had to test it and that required measurements and calculations. MTrueman seems to be under the impression that science can happen without math and that the observation is enough. And I wouldn’t be surprised if others had proposed use primers, but hadn’t had success or had not published.

                    6. “Darwin also didn’t have a Eureka moment”

                      Darwin got or shared his ideas with Wallace, who did have a Eureka moment. Wallace was a far more romantic figure who suffered the class prejudices that still plague England.

                      “He was in a little village, wracked by malarial fits. During this illness, Wallace was really thinking about natural history and the distribution of plants and animals in space and time. The notion was that species changed, one into another, through time. And for whatever reason, ping, yes, there was his “eureka” moment. Wallace realized that basically, there’s constant death and struggle in the natural world. There’s finite resources, therefore competition, so who’s going to win that competition? Well, the best-endowed. And this provided a mechanism driving evolution: natural selection. If you want a “eureka” moment, that’s pretty “eureka”-rey. Famously, as soon as he’s capable of holding a pen, he writes out his manuscript. Because he knew that Charles Darwin was interested in evolution, he posted the scientific essay off to Darwin.”

                    7. Wallace was thinking hard on the subject, e.g. studying it, he was taking Darwin’s observations and applying rationale thought. It wasn’t the result of some sudden inspiration but the result of rationale, disciplined thoughts on Darwin’s observations. It wasn’t some random neurons firing in some sudden inspiration but deep, rationale thought.

                    8. ” but deep, rationale thought.”

                      If you are confined to your bed with malarial fever, deep rational thoughts are the last thing on your mind. More likely are delirium, hallucinations, and worse even. It’s not all that different from the dreams and drug experiences that have lead to the other break-throughs I’ve discussed.

                      Do you also think that musicians, mathematicians, poets, gardeners etc don’t have these inspirational moments of creativity, or is it only scientists who don’t have them? I can’t understand why you insist on downplaying them.

                  2. “I’m not trying to minimize the role of experiments and mathematical analysis in this endeavor, just that inspiration, the results of thought experiment or the creative process, leaps over the experimental and mathematical ground, so to speak.”

                    Um, no. The inspiration and creative process doesn’t matter if the math doesn’t work. The math isn’t just busy work that some creative genius passes off to grad students. It’s what creative geniuses do to get equations named after themselves.

                    1. I don’t mean to imply that every creative leap will bear fruit. ie sometimes the math doesn’t work. But sometimes it does.

                    2. Science is not driven by leaps of creative imagination but via long processes. Just stop it. Everyone can see your only actual experience with science is via Hollywood.

                    3. “Science is not driven by leaps of creative imagination ”

                      True enough. But scientists are, sometimes. Science is a field of study. Science can’t have dreams. Scientists, as people, can and do have moments of creative inspiration. I really don’t see why it’s so important for you to deny it. Perhaps you perceive a lack of creative spark in your own work, and feel it necessary to deny it in others. Not the most admirable motive, I’m sure you’d agree, but I’m just guessing here.

                  3. For example, if I am doing feed trials on a cannulated cow, collecting samples is only part of the testing. To measure proteins and VFA I will run them throw some form of spectrumetry, generally a Mass Spec, because it is cheap. But all this does is give me a graph with peaks. Now to measure the actual amount of these peaks requires me to develop an equation from known constants. This equation is developed, usually I do it using a computer, from Calculus. Now to compare multiple readings I use a statistical model to analyze my results. Then I use research into precious literature to explain my results. This previous literature used the same methods I just described. Most people don’t understand that the methodologies section of a scientific paper is just as important as the introduction, results and discussion section.

                    1. Reproducibility (sp?) is the most important part of science (and why climate “science” is mostly bunk), so of course the methodologies section would be important. It’s probably the most important part. Your work is useless if someone can’t repeat it.

                    2. Exactly! If it can’t be repeated it can’t be called science. This is why the social sciences aren’t true sciences.

                    3. Hell, the reaction of a number of social scientist to the reproducibility crisis was to try and downplay the importance of reproducibility.

              2. Holy fuck, you’re doubling down on that silly observation, trueman.

                There’s no point in discussing this with you.

                1. Would it improve your impression of me if I blamed my spell checker?

                  1. If you admitted that great ideas don’t matter if the math doesn’t work then you might gain a bit of respect. It’s ok to admit being wrong. Digging in your heels when you’re wrong only makes you look like an idiot.

                  2. If you actually understood spell checker and if you actually understood science.
                    Also, as a lot of scientist do, I don’t really focus on spelling and grammar when I write, I focus on process and research and explaining my results. I usually send everything I write to someone who majors in English, to double check if I made a mistake. I also do the same with my statistics. I have several statitacians look over my results, despite five semesters of statistics at University, because they are the experts. I also work closely with them in developing the models I use to test/measure my experiments (FYI testing is measuring, FFS the fact that you tried to differentiate these is just mind boggling). So, your attempt at shaming me because I had a misspelled word is just juvenile. Also, it demonstrates you don’t understand how a predictive algorithm (auto correct, especially on a smart phone) works. Autocorrect is more likely to result in a word being misspelled multiple times, using the same spelling. If the word is misspelled multiple times, but has different spellings each time, it was probably not autocorrect. I typed in the first couple of letters and selected the one that looked closest to the word I meant to use. Spelling isn’t my strongest suit, mainly because it bores me, as does grammar. And it really doesn’t seem important, I can have someone edit my professional writings. So obviously, autocorrect chose the wrong word, I didn’t realize it, and autocorrect continued to predict that this was the word I meant to use everytime I started to type it. Now it is possible in the past I had misspelled calculus and autocorrect predicted this misspelling and supplied it this time. So what?

                    1. My phone is weird. When I put in “good” it corrects it to “food” and vice versa.

                    2. I am lazy when it comes to spelling. Like a lot of scientist I know, it seems less important, so I rely on autocorrect and others to fix my mistakes.

                  3. I get it now! You’re trying to say that because you flunked math you’re a genius like Einstein! Derpidy doooo!

      2. Thought experiment is step one.

        A fuckload of math to prove it is step two.

        1. What sarcasmic said. I mean, it’s not even worth a LOL at something so silly. I tapped out at Diff Eq, and it got way more intense for the physicists after that.

          You should go kick the ass of whoever taught you that, trueman, for leading you astray so greatly.

          1. I never took that course. Two semesters of calculus and linear algebra (which was actually kinda fun, didn’t do well in calculus) was enough for my major so I stopped there.

        2. You are not disagreeing with me. I said thought experiment, or inspiration, comes first, followed by math, experiment, rationalization etc.

          1. Thought experiments? You mean literature reviews, painstaking observations years of research and study and education? Because it isn’t so much sitting around meditating but lots of hard drudge work gaining as much information as possible, building an understanding of what you are studying. It isn’t banging two sticks together to see what happens. It isn’t smoking a bowl and saying “gee, I wonder what would happen if I mixed A with B”. It is understanding the properties of A and the properties of B, using this knowledge to make an educated prediction as to what their reaction will be. And none of this can be done without understanding the math needed to make the predictions. Your eureka moment, your inspiration is years of painstaking preparation and education.

            1. ” It isn’t banging two sticks together to see what happens.”

              I agree, but sometimes it comes from a dream, as it did for the 19th century chemist Kekule, who dreamt of ouroboros (snake eating its own tail) and was finally able to solve the benzene ring. Until then, the structure of benzene had been a puzzle for years.

              And Crick, DNA and LSD. Its structure is a double helix, something that became clear to Crick only when he was batfinked on acid.

              Archimedes in the bathtub. Just giving himself over to the delicious feeling of being immersed in warm water, and BANG! Eureka!

      3. Einstein flunked math

        Another well-known fact that isn’t true.

        1. A well-known fact that is true:
          If it’s a trueman post, it’s bullshit or sophistry.

      4. “It’s a myth that scientists need math and technology to do their work…”

        Your cite for that astounding pile of bullshit fell off.

        1. Because his example is a urban myth that only the barely educated still believe. It has been debunked by multiple sources yet people like him continue to believe it because their understanding of the science they claim to worship is superficial.

      5. Einstein did not flunk math. His failed the entrance exam to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School because of non-math subjects. Albert Einstein by Albrecht Folsing

        The negative outcome was due mainly to the verbal descriptive subjects; otherwise, the examiners’ suspicion that they were dealing with a “child prodigy” was confirmed. Professor Heinrich Friedrich Weber was so impressed by the mathematical and physical knowledge of the young candidate…

      6. “It’s a myth that scientists need math and technology to do their work”

        Ummm maybe in the days of the Greek philosophers but that is a completely absurd statement if applied to today

        1. And even then they developed the math we used today to help explain what they were observing and testing.

          1. Geometry specifically, which was the forefathers of calculus.

            1. Newton invented calculus to explain gravity.

              1. Yes, because geometry and algebra, both if which he was well versed in, was not adequate. Calculating the area under the curve without calculus is an extremely time consuming process. You can calculate Newtonian physics with just algebra, but that is only because people have taken the calculus and adapted it algebraic math. And it isn’t as accurate as using calculus.

                1. You need calculus to derive the algebraic equations. That was the difference between the science courses I needed for my major vs other majors. Mine were calculus based. We had to derive the equations before we could use them. They wanted us to understand the whys in addition to the hows. I enjoyed it.

                  1. That was what I was trying to state. Calculating Newtonian physics wasn’t possible with out calculus. To develop the equations needed to solve it algebraic requires calculus. I may not have been as clear as I meant to be.

                    1. No worries. It can be difficult to turn concepts into words. I fumble at it all the time.

                2. Area under the curve, but also rate of change. If velocity is constant then the math is easy. If velocity is changing, like with gravitational acceleration, you need calculus to predict what will happen next.

                  1. Yes. Or in chemical reactions, calculating the rate of reaction (which is just rate of change) as it approaches equilibrium requires calculus. Actually, the more advanced you get into any science the more you realize that it is almost all physics and chemistry (and chemistry is mostly physics at the highest levels) and thus calculus. Take enzymatic reactions. These are generally the result of weak bonds such as disulfide and Hydrogen bonding. Now, understanding why mammals can digest starch and not cellulose, despite them both being just long chains of glucose is because of the difference in fibrolytic enzymes and amolytic enzymes, and the ability of the enzymes to bond to the molecules and insert hydrogen and hydroxide molecules into the bonds breaking the bonds. The formation of these bonds and the breaking of these bonds, using a hydration reaction, is based upon the affinity of the atoms and the attraction to each other. And this is all observed using math. This is the shit Mtrueman can’t even seem to understand. To him, he probably thinks ruminants are able to digest cellulose, because he doesn’t the processes. But it isn’t the ruminants but the ruminal microflora that actually “digests” cellulose. The byproduct is short chain, volatile fatty acids which are absorbed through the ruminal wall and then used by the tuminant for energy production, storage (fats) and gluconeogenesis (which produces sugar for both storage as glycogen and energy production). We could only understand these processes because we were able to measure and model them, both of which required an understanding of physics, chemistry, and importantly math.

                    1. Interesting. I didn’t realize that cellulose, like starch and all sugars, is a chain of glucose molecules. I have a very meager understanding of what you said because I used to make beer. By controlling the temperature of the mash (malted barley and water) you can control enzymatic activity. One enzyme chops starches in half while the other nibbles glucose off the ends. The problem is that the nibbler poops out at warmer temperatures where the splitter is happy. Warmer mash means more sugars that they yeast can’t digest, which means more “mouth feel.” On the other end you get a very “thin” brew. I never did the math, but I figure there’s calculus involved.

                      So what you’re talking about is how enzymes break down cellulose into digestible sugars, but on a molecular level?

                    2. I’d read the paper but besides being behind a paywall, I’d probably only understand 5% or so.

                      For mtrueman, 5% means .05, one in twenty, or in layman’s terms not very much,

                    3. Yes, mostly bacterial though we are finding that protozoa play a bigger role than we thought in the process, produce enzymes to break the cellulose bonds and then either those bacteria or others then utilize fermentation to derive energy. The byproduct is short chain fatty acids. For cattle the important ones are propionic, butyric and acetic acids. In ensiling, lactic acid is generally the most important and butyric is considered detrimental. Acetic and propionic are better preservatives but result in greater dry matter losses.

                    4. To further complicated the issue in ensiling you can have heterofermentative, homofermentative and obligate homofermentative lactic acid bacteria (generally abbreviated LAB). Also some literature label them as homo or heterolactic bacteria. They are classified by the proportion of lactic acid production to acetic, propionic, and fumaric acids produced. I spent three years of grad school studying this. And I am by no ways an expert on it.

                    5. I also home brew. I just bottled my first attempts at mead. Cider is my next project.

                    6. That’s really cool. This is all happening in the animals’ digestive tract, right? How do preventative antibiotics come into play? Those are injected rather than ingested by my understanding, so I imagine they play a small part. Think I answered my own question as I thought it out.

                      I need to get back to my xhtml, SQL, Java, and other fun stuff.

                      I chose my major because, while working in restaurants, I saw many people finish college and stay at the shop. Why? They studied environmental science, or English, or whatever. People who did anything related to engineering disappeared. So I chose computer science. If I thought I could have gotten a job doing chemistry I would have studied that instead.

                    7. Ah, cider…

                      Get some potassium sorbate. That will allow you to sweeten it a bit without starting a secondary fermentation. Otherwise it’s so dry that the tannins pucker you up. The best one I made I beefed up the specific gravity with malt extract, can’t remember what yeast I used, and then kegged it. When I kegged it I added the potassium sorbate to halt the yeast, and sweetened it a bit with honey. Then force carbonated it. Holy shit. That was some of the best stuff I ever made.

                    8. It happens in all anaerobic environments, ensiling is anaerobic process, as is ruminal fermentation. Interestingly enough cattle, sheep and goats aren’t born with a ruminal microflora they get that from their mothers milk and interaction with the environment (feces and via feed). So no two cattle have the exact same microflora composition.

                    9. And antimicrobials do change fiber and starch digestion the same as in humans (you get diarrhea from antibiotics because it changes the microbiome of your large intestine). Sometimes, as in the case of ionophores we use this to promote certain types of bacteria while suppressing others. And in other cases it can be detrimental, therefore we use these only selectively.

                    10. “they get that from their mothers milk”

                      Which explains why cheese from unpasteurized milk is so….

                    11. Now you’re just showing off with the big words. I really do understand some of what you’re saying. I know why antibiotics give me the trots, I know what some of those acids are (like vinegar), I know that brewing is an environment without oxygen, and some of the other stuff. But I don’t know jargon or names of acids I’ve never used.

                      This was a fun conversation. Thank you. It made my day.

                    12. Didn’t mean to show off. :-). It was an example of something my major professor used to tell us in grad school. When you graduate with a bachelor’s you think you understand everything. When you get your master’s you realize you don’t understand anything. And when you get your doctorate you still don’t understand anything but you know how to get the answers.

  10. “Many cook and heat their homes by burning cow dung. It’s why about 1.3 million Indians die from indoor air pollution each year. Cooking with cow dung, Bryce says, “is akin to burning 400 cigarettes an hour in your kitchen.”

    I had an acquaintance who worked on this problem in Nepal (a country sandwiched between India and China) as a volunteer. He was installing special low smoke stoves and improving ventilation in peasant homes. He returned a few years later to find the original stoves were back in place. Apparently the smoke was the only thing that kept the homes free of mosquitoes and malaria they carry. The moral of the story is unintended consequences.

    1. No, the moral of the story is:
      ‘do-gooder busy-bodies are often too stupid to accomplish much of anything’.

    2. The moral of the story is that idiots like your friend think they know what those people need more than they do. If they had equipped the place with reliable electricity, the village could have food security (most food insecurity is a local issue created by lack of refrigeration meaning they can’t store food for long periods of time), air conditioning. Closing the doors and windows would keep the mosquitoes away. In the tropics closing doors and windows without air conditioning or at least electric fans or swamp coolers is asking to suffer heat injuries. So your argument once again demonstrates your paternalism and white savior complex. Rather than giving them reliable electricity you try to explain your friends false altruism’s failure as some quirk of the locals. If your friend had asked would they rather have electricity or the stoves, I am almost certain they would have chosen electricity because it would solve a lot of their problems. But no, some rich Westerner didn’t ask and their solution wasn’t what the people needed but what he thought they needed. This is why progressives are dangerous, because their altruism is not really altruism. It is forcing their opinions on others.

      1. “If they had equipped the place with reliable electricity…”

        … there would be no unintended consequences.

        1. Some, but less than what you described. And a good number would be positive. Yellow fever and malaria both go down dramatically, as do parasitical infections of the GI tract, rodent born illness when people acquire access to electricity and refrigeration. So, for the most part the unintended consequences tend to be positive on the whole. Literacy also increases and school attendance for females, and working outside the home for females also increases because food preparation becomes much more reliable and much less labor intensive. Gee thanks, you attempt to ridicule my remark allowed me a chance to elaborate even more on how reliable electricity has positive add on results. Thanks for helping me prove my point with your Luddite attitude.

          1. “Thanks for helping me prove my point with your Luddite attitude.”

            I’m pretty sure you mean that I fear or hate technology, but you are wrong. I like it. The original Luddites were people who made thing like hats and stockings some 200 years ago. They were probably among the most technically adept people among the population, as they were responsible for making and repairing the tools they needed to do their work. The Luddites were about having and maintaining their control over the technology they used in their work. Not a fear of technology per se (by itself). Modern Luddites can be found in the open software movement, and I’ve been using Linux now for going on 20 years.

            I know from previous discussions that you favor centralized authoritarian solutions like nuclear, where control is vested in various communist governments and the end user, the peasant in this case, has no control over the energy source. This is not my style and true Luddites want the freedom and independence to control technology ourselves rather than relying on some commie central committee to do it for us. It’s an ideal, of course and even the original Luddites had to rely on others for whatever, medical or other specialized knowledge. But to me the idea of independence and freedom are an attractive goal.

            1. Gee, I thought he meant you’re dumb as a mud fence.

            2. You maintain nuclear is Communist but you haven’t ever actually proven that point. You say the same thing about orbital solar. Again, you make assertions but don’t back it with facts. and yes you do fear technology, because you just proved it once again by stating nuclear power would be more authoritarian. There is nothing inheritintly authoritarian about nuclear power. Except luddites like you who opposed it created laws and regulations to hamper the industry and place it under government control. This doesn’t need to be the state of nuclear power. A true libertarian would understand the problem is not nuclear power but the government’s asserting control over nuclear power. They will do the same with solar eventually (actually they already are).

              1. “You maintain nuclear is Communist but you haven’t ever actually proven that point.”

                Nuclear is centralized and authoritarian by nature. I shouldn’t have to explain why communist countries have taken such a shine to it. I will explain though if that’s what you want, but I’d only be repeating myself.

                1. Guilt by association? No, nothing in nuclear is centralized, especially with mini-reactors.

                  1. China is not making ‘mini reactors.’ It’s the world’s most active nuclear program and they measure the output of their power plants in gigawatts.

                    1. So just because China isn’t proves exactly zilch. Micro-reactors have been proposed for a number of smaller cities and communities within the US.

                    2. “Micro-reactors have been proposed for a number of smaller cities and communities within the US.”

                      Let me know when China starts building hundreds of tiny experimental nuclear reactors.

                    3. Why do you keep brining up China? It is a non-sequitor.

                2. By repeating yourself you mean unfounded assumptions based upon a static interpretation of current realties without being able to imagine different possibilities. And large scale solar farms (which produce most solar energy and would be even more necessary for solar to be the main energy production methods) suffers from the same centralization effect. Even more so because they require huge amount of land compared to nuclear power plants and they’re efficiency is much more impacted by location than nuclear.

                  1. “suffers from the same centralization effect”

                    No, the sun falls on the planet more or less equally mutatis mutandis (making necessary adjustments, ie for latitude). This makes sunlight decentralized. Power from nuclear comes exclusively from nuclear power generators, making it centralized.

                    Networks can be tree like, or centralized, or rhizomic, like a potato or crab grass. These are decentralized networks. You can cut down and kill an enormous ancient tree in a matter of a half hour. Getting rid of crab grass can be the frustrating work of a life time.

                    1. You just proved you don’t understand how solar works. Solar farms are the only way to produce large amounts of electricity. Roof panels don’t produce very much and require some form of back up. The Sun doesn’t fall on the Earth equally and it is inefficient, as many have explained to you, to build solar farms outside of the mid latitudes. Northerly and southerly latitudes, solar isn’t very efficient and unreliable.

                    2. And in no way does the sun fall equally. That would only be true if the Earth’s axis of rotation was 0 degrees as opposed to 23 degrees. Once again you prove you scientific illiteracy.

                    3. You seem to be missing the point. Solar energy can be exploited where the sun falls, which is pretty much the entire surface of the planet. Lichens grow in the polar regions thanks to the solar energy they receive. Nuclear power comes from nuclear power stations and nowhere else. You can’t get any more centralized than that.

                    4. Lichen grow because of a complex symbiotic relationship that evolved over billions of years. Solar doesn’t work in the artic, it’s been tried numerous times and isn’t efficient or reliable. And most solar comes from solar power plants. And nuclear reactors can be built very small (e.g. mini-reactors) that can be used to power a single village. They are more reliable and more efficient. They require less maintenance and for 6 months out of the year the sun doesn’t shine or only shines for short periods of time in a good portion of northern latitudes. Anchorage in December has only about five to six hours of indirect sunlight. And that is usually covered by clouds. Fairbanks has even less, under four hours of indirect sunlight. Phoenix Arizona gets almost ten hours of more direct sunlight. Barrow Alaska gets exactly zero hours in December. And your example is also wrong. Cutting down many trees doesn’t actually kill them, suckering trees like poplars can propagate from there roots. Russian olive is especially hard to get rid of because of its ability to repopagrate from it’s roots. And actually a treelike network is still a centralized network. An Aspen forest is generally only one single tree with multiple suckers. A single redwood is a single, centralized organism. These aren’t networks. The biological network is the entire forest or grove. Once again your example shows the shallowness of your scientific literacy. A solar farm is no more a network than a nuclear reactor. A network would require multiple solar farms. Which would also be a network of nuclear reactors. In highly populated areas multiple reactors or solar farms, linked together makes the most sense. In remote, rural areas a single reactor might make more sense. Again your argument about nuclear being more centralized doesn’t pass the basic logic test.

                    5. Plants still manage to grow in northern regions thanks to the energy they receive from the sun. There is even a forest in Greenland, I recently learned. A good deal of the earth’s surface is covered with plant life which exploits the sun’s energy. This is not centralization unless you consider the sun the center.

                    6. Plants do not equal being able to produce electricity from solar energy efficiently. God, the shallowness of your scientific literacy is just simply astonishing. And even more astonishing is the fact you don’t even realize it.

                    7. “Plants do not equal being able to produce electricity from solar energy efficiently.”

                      I never claimed they did. They have different ways to exploit solar energy. If you’re an agronomist, you should know better than I do. There really is a forest in Greenland, according to my Internet sources. Plants there exploit solar energy just as they do in equatorial zones.

                    8. Animal scientist nor agronomist. But they have different strategies than equatorial plants. They have different methods of surviving long periods of storing energy when sunlight is not present. And can tolerate cooler temperatures. Equatorial plants often are C4 plants while northerly plants are C3 plants. An entirely different way of fixating carbon.

                    9. And reading about the forest, it’s a remnant from when Greenland had a warmer climate. It is located in a very specialized microclimate, a mountain valley far enough removed from the ocean and surrounded by mountains that protect it from the usual cold temperatures of Greenland. It is very low plant diversity.

                    10. ” It is located in a very specialized microclimate, a mountain valley far enough removed from the ocean and surrounded by mountains that protect it from the usual cold temperatures of Greenland. It is very low plant diversity.”

                      I never meant to imply otherwise. I would love to see it. I never knew it existed until last week when I was reading about Svalbard (aka Spitsbergen). It’s an archipelago half way between the north pole and Norway. It’s home to the famous seed repository. It’s almost tax free, a demilitarized zone, and residence has no visa requirements. A very cosmopolitan atmosphere which I appreciate. Everyone carries a rifle in case of polar bear attacks.

                  2. Plants grow to a degree in northern environments but again it took billions of year of evolution. These plants have developed very specific mechanisms to take advantage of long summer days, and developed processes to survive long, periods of no sun during the winter. They tend to grow fast and reproduce fast. Their seeds can survive long periods of dormancy. They tend to have very deep roots that store large amounts of sugars. This is not evidence of the suitability of these regions for solar power. Your argument still lacks scientific understanding.

                    1. ” Your argument still lacks scientific understanding.”

                      And my spelling? I suppose you’d love to criticize that, too. Go ahead, make my day, to coin a phrase.

            3. Oh and I could play you silky gotcha game and point out that in your last paragraph i think you meant libertarians not luddites. And my point about nuclear is exactly what you describing, controlling the technology ourselves not the Government. Thanks once again for proving my point for me.

              1. “i think you meant libertarians not luddites”

                No, I meant Luddites. The original Luddites were not Libertarian. They just wanted control over their workplace and its tools. Much like the modern day open source software movement. They didn’t hate technology nor were they Bonapartist spies, despite the slanders of their opponents.

                “controlling the technology ourselves not the Government.”

                The chapati cooking peasants are not going to have any control over the nuclear power stations that provide them with electricity. That will remain in the hands of distant technocrats and bureaucrats.

                A chapati is the Nepali version of a tortilla, made from wheat.

                1. No, but if they have cow dung they can use a biodigester to make methane. This can than be burned to produce electricity. The dry portion of the digested feces can then be used to fertilize their crops. And all more efficiently than solar.

                  1. And also cleaner than burning undigested manure. And carbon dioxide us four times less potent GHG than methane, which is produced by manure anyhow.

                  2. “No, but if they have cow dung they can use a biodigester to make methane. ”

                    Now you’re thinking like a Luddite! Aren’t you going to miss those armies of armed guards and the miles of electric fences that come with nuclear power?

                    1. You keep misrepresenting what nuclear is and how is using biodigester to harvest methane as a fuel a source for electricity production anti-technology? You entire argument is unscientific and illogical.

                    2. “how is using biodigester to harvest methane as a fuel a source for electricity production anti-technology?”

                      It’s not anti-technology. Rather it’s Luddite. Luddites were artisans from a couple of hundred years ago. They were weavers and hat makers and so on. They were not anti-technology, they were in fact quite technically capable and made and maintained their own tools and equipment. They were conservative, too. They wanted to keep control over their own working conditions and not leave those important decisions in the hands of strangers.

                      So a Luddite would appreciate your methane biodigester, especially if s/he could operate it and maintain without having to rely on others. The fuel is readily at hand for most peasants. The same is simply not true for nuclear power plants. For a start, the uranium it requires, can’t simply be picked up from the ground as we can with cow dung. Uranium has to be mined, milled, and subjected to all sorts of processes before it is ready to be used as fuel. We can’t do these processes ourselves but have to rely on distant technocrats and bureaucrats who attach themselves like leeches to the nuclear industry. Thanks, but no thanks, says the Luddite.

                    3. Google mini-reactors. They require maintenance and refueling only once a decade. Yes this requires someone with expertise to conduct the maintenance and refueling, but the same is true of solar farms. And the mini-reactors require it far less often than solar farms do. Roof top solar panels are good for only limited electricity production and also require maintenance and some form of expertise. They also require mining of rare Earths and heavy metals, plus refining.

                2. And actually if you understood mini-reactors and how they work, they actually could control local energy production. Mini-reactors are being proposed for rural western Alaska as a means to provide reliable energy to Native villages. The reactors can be buried for ten or more years without maintenance and run completely automated. The risk of meltdown, especially if they use molten SALT (still under development, but India is one of the main developers and close to fielding a commercial design) is negligible and even if it did happen being buried under 20-60 feet of soil, gravel and concrete has almost no risk to the environment. A mini-reactors would actually be a great solution for small villages in Nepal. And give them more autonomy from the government.

                  1. While I was in Tibet, actually not TAR proper but Yushu county of Qinghai province, I was working as a technical advisor to a family of Tibetan treasure hunters. It was in May but I still had to burn yak dung to heat my room. It wasn’t so uncomfortable as you might imagine. There was also some very nasty charcoal blocks that were widely used in cooking, which I never used directly. Sometimes I’d buy goat dung if I wanted to treat myself. It was more expensive and didn’t last long, but burned hotter. There were no nuclear power stations, experimental or otherwise, in evidence.

                    1. Because they didn’t ezxist you conclude they can’t exist. What a fucking joke you are.

                  2. Yeah, right in the water table? Out of sight out of mind?
                    I actually tested safety systems on BWRs, and saw how the entire industry is a terrible and costly mistake.

                    We have none of the allegedly-safe systems. It is all vaporware.
                    As for cost I can show you renewables with 1/7th the cost of the power expected from the new Vogtle nukes in Georgia.

                    1. Depends on the location as to if it is in the water table. And mini reactors are not boiling water reactors, nor are molten SALT reactors.

                    2. Not traditional BWRs. You anecdote is worthless.

                    3. “…As for cost I can show you renewables with 1/7th the cost of the power expected…”

                      Oh, goody! Power when conditions are right and only twice as expensive once the taxpayers get pissed supporting your tree-hugging fantasies!

  11. I figured out that I could create enough energy for my house using 650 squirrels, acorns, and hamster wheels.

    I tried a prototype. Problem is you get enough squirrels together and they lose interest in the acorns and spend the rest of the time making baby squirrels.

  12. In the event of some cataclysmic disaster, the only humans likely to survive are those who rely on energy from the sun. Specifically, nomadic peoples like those of Tibet and Australia. Those dependent on fossil fuels will certainly die out quickly once their supplies run out.

    Bruce Chatwin, once an appraiser of fine art for the Southeby auction house, until failing eyesight forced him to seek another line of work, wrote a wonderful book about his encounters with Australian nomads. It’s called The Songlines.

    I spent some time in Tibet, though not the official TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region) and admired the nomads I came across. They don’t have the choice of 500 breakfast cereals we measure our freedom by, but they love their weapons and are tough mothertrumpers.

    1. mtrueman
      August.5.2020 at 5:15 pm
      “In the event of some cataclysmic disaster, the only humans likely to survive are those who rely on energy from the sun…”

      Uh, how about if the sun quits shining? That sort of a ‘cataclysmic disaster’?
      Are you posting here to prove how fucking stupid a lefty shit can be? You’re doing a very good job.

      1. “Uh, how about if the sun quits shining?”

        Cloudy days are not the sort of disaster Chatwin had in mind. You can read the book yourself if you feel the urge to learn more.

        “You’re doing a very good job.”

        Thanks, but don’t just read my comments. I beg you to read the books and other materials I cite. You need to broaden your horizons.

        1. “Cloudy days are not the sort of disaster Chatwin had in mind. You can read the book yourself if you feel the urge to learn more.”
          Either by stupidity or willful ignorance you assume that is the issue to which I refer. It isn’t, you fucking idiot.

          “Thanks, but don’t just read my comments. I beg you to read the books and other materials I cite. You need to broaden your horizons.”
          Well, I’m sure the adventures of Australian nomads somehow relate to global energy production if you are to ask a fucking lefty ignoramus.
          You need to get a brain implant.

          1. “Well, I’m sure the adventures of Australian nomads somehow relate to global energy production”

            You haven’t read the book yet, I see. Let me know your thoughts about me once you have.

  13. Being a former engineer for a large power company and having earned a Master of Science in Energy and the Environment, I had PV panels installed four years ago, with my estimated payback of 15-17 years, . . the right thing for an eco-freak to do. Before they could be installed, we acquired a VW e-Golf electric car. The savings in gasoline alone took the solar system payback down to 3 1/2 years. So, we added a used Tesla Model S, P85, and that took the payback down to less than three years, which means we now get free power for household and transportation.
    But that is not all: We do not need to go to gas stations, we fuel up at home at night with cheap baseload power. During the daytime, the PV system turns our meter backwards powering the neighborhood with clean local power, which we trade for the stuff to be used that night. If we paid for transportation fuel, the VW would cost us 4 cents/mile to drive, and the Tesla would cost 5 cents/mile at California off-peak power prices.
    No oil changes are a real treat along with no leaks. And since it has an electric motor, it needs NO ENGINE MAINTENANCE at all. We do not go “gas up”, or get tune-ups or emissions checks, have no transmission about which to worry, no complicated machined parts needing care.

    1. Now try and use it to farm with, ship refined goods with, etc.

      1. Sure. In process. There are already large electric trucks, and California Oregon and Washington are building high-speed charging stations for 18-wheelers every 50 miles on US 5.

        Do you still go gas up? Get emissions checks? Oil changes? Tune-ups? Transmission work? Muffler repair? Any engine maintenance at all?
        Not us.

        1. You’re welcome.
          /s/US Taxpayer

    2. There’s the problem right there —> “Master of Science in Energy and the Environment”… I don’t even have a Masters just a Bachelors in BSEE and I can tell you right now your full of B.S.

      Freight trucks run 425hp; That’s 320KW * 11hr work-day is 3520KWH.. At CA wildly expensive rate (due to their green energy gun-bullies) of $0.25/kwh = $880/day electric fuel charge..

      Solar in dead heat of a cloudless noon-summer day makes 80% of tag-rate (highly efficient example). To create 320KW with 250W(80%-to-200W) panels would require !!!– 1,600 –!!! Panels.. Now show us how to get 1,600 panels on a freight truck that all point right at the sun and that’s with the best sun and most efficient panels one could EVER get.

      1. Now show us how to get 1,600 panels on a freight truck that all point right at the sun

        Solar is still aways from working well – but what is already obvious re transportation energy is that solar infrastructure will be part of the ROAD – not part of the vehicle.

        1. Sounds like a good plan – so long as government stays out of it short of right-a-way access.

  14. I think many here are not aware the cheapest and cleanest power available to power companies is now wind and/or PV plus battery storage.
    Yup it has gotten cheaper than nukes, gas and coal.

    1. Yes, with enough taxpayer subsidies, any number of things can be ‘cheap’.

        1. Don’t bother shoveling that bullshit to intelligent people, parasite.
          Quoting bogus numbers in comparison to ‘the defense budget’ may salve your guilty conscience, but it’s bullshit none the less:
          “Debunking Myths About Federal Oil & Gas Subsidies”
          “…Now let’s analyze what the oil & gas sector pays in taxes. In 2012 the top two corporations paying federal taxes in the US were ExxonMobil and Chevron paying a combined total of $45.2 billion. On average, the industry pays a 45% tax rate when all state, federal, and foreign taxes are totaled up. By comparison the Healthcare Industry pays a total rate of 35% and the Pharmaceuticals pay an estimated rate of 21%. Based upon these numbers it’s hard to believe which business sector is criticized the most for “subsidies”.

          Lefty bullshitters get called on their bullshit.

          1. “Called” how? You don’t appear even to be contesting the claim.

            1. I think you’re mixing up, “pays in taxes” to “subsidies” which are very literally opposites.

            2. ElliottCB
              August.6.2020 at 9:48 am
              “…“Called” how? You don’t appear even to be contesting the claim.”

              Did you read the linked article? I didn’t think so.

              1. The “article” is worthless: An opinion piece by a lobbyist who right from the offset retreats to a dictionary definition to attempt to define away subsidy by non-payment of taxes and which only looks at one country while speaking about a globally-traded commodity. He doesn’t even mention the $2 trillion-odd that the US spent on the second Iraq War alone, waged solely to put US corporations in control of Iraqi oil assets.

                Just click-bait designed to attract those seeking confirmation of their beliefs. Try reading credible sources like that posted by GKAM.

                1. Awe the Iraq War — The war fought to stop Iraq from burning up billions of gallons of raw oil and dumping it into the Environment.

                  It’s really quite funny to see those pretending to be ‘clean’ environmentalists find someway to complain about stopping the burning of oil fields. I guess it really is all about the $ and nothing to do about the environment really.

                  “credible sources like that posted by GKAM” — now that’s some funny stuff there… I see “credible” must be anyone with an Environmentalist commie degree who learned how to cherry-pick the narrative from truth.

        2. NOTICE —> “Global”… That’s NOT the U.S.! The USA doesn’t subsidize anything BUT solar/wind.

          Other countries subsidize EVERYTHING because they have a communist economy.

          What an utterly idiotic way to try and mislead and be completely deceptive about the topic at hand. Plus; Go get ‘rich’ off your solar and wind B.S. — I’m so sick of people cheer-leading propaganda instead of reality… You really believe that crap about solar/wind and want to advertise it… WHY AREN’T YOU DOING IT????!!!!??? One would think such “trade secrets” which supposedly would guarantee riches and monopolize the entire power industry wouldn’t want to be advertised like nobodies business. Oh yeah, that’s right; the more B.S. it is the more it has to be advertised. Repeat the lie long enough and it becomes the “useful idiots” truth.

          1. Even if that were true, what’s the relevance? Oil and coal are globally traded. Fossil fuels are, globally, the most subsidised commodities on Earth, and yet still so expensive that even fracking has become economically viable. Renewable energy dropped below the price of fossil energy in recent years, and continues to drop precipitously. Fossil fuel for electricity generation is a dead man walking. If the costs of generation alone determined the market coal plant would already have closed. The lack of market elasticity is mostly political, as states struggle to keep open plants in which past investment was so great and from which they believe votes can be won, and introduce laws restricting private parties from feeding excess capacity back into the grid; partly infrastructural, as storage capacity and load-balancing have not caught up. Chemical fuels for transport will fall to renewables in turn, just as soon as processes come on-line to convert electricity into chemical energy.

            The USA is getting left in the dust as even African and Indian villages make a leap straight from off-grid to solar-powered lighting and cooking.

            1. Believe whatever you want…. Just don’t lobby for gun-forced legislation to FORCE others into it… (of which solar/wind has been doing)… There’s a serious problem with people using governments gun-forces to force others into their own ‘life choices’ and its complete and utter B.S. dictation. You want solar GO BUY IT; don’t expect me to buy it for you! Don’t steal away my choice to buy fuel at a FAIR (free-market) price… If what you say (which is a lie) really is truth; I’ll buy solar WHEN I FREAK-EN SEE it’s worth buying.

              Problem is in most situations it isn’t worth buying that’s exactly WHY it won’t sell without gun-forces trying to force people to buy it. That’s the whole BS of the entire discussion.

  15. They get the subsidies.
    Can you read?
    Everybody legitimate pays taxes.

    1. “They get the subsidies.”

      Assertions by lefty bullshitters =/= arguments or evidence. That steaming pile of shit you linked made claims regarding amounts without ANY evidence that the amounts were other than some lefty fantasies.
      You claim to be an engineer? And you accept bogus numbers absent any cites? Not only are you a lefty parasite, but you’re either the worst ‘engineer’ the world’s ever seen or, more likely, a fucking lefty liar.
      Stuff it up your ass, parasite.

      1. As GKAM is posting his sources and your only attempt at a counter-argument is childish name-calling, I’d say GKAM carries this one without contest.

        The fact is that even a brief search shows that the subsidies for fossil fuels remain huge, even using conservative estimates from the most serious sources. The IMF estimates them at $4.7 trillion in 2015, for instance. (First link.)

        As you say, with sufficient public subsidy anything can appear “cheap”. If you wouldn’t spoil it with childish ranting when you are told where the public subsidy is going you’d have the beginning of some learning.


    2. SCreationism – As GKAM is posting his sources and your only attempt at a counter-argument is childish name-calling, I’d say GKAM carries this one without contest.

      The fact is that even a brief search shows that the subsidies for fossil fuels remain huge, even using conservative estimates from the most serious sources. The IMF estimates them at $4.7 trillion in 2015, for instance. (First link.)

      As you say, with sufficient public subsidy anything can appear “cheap”. If you wouldn’t spoil it with childish ranting when you are told where the public subsidy is going you’d have the beginning of some learning.


  16. I love Stossel, even though on occasion he oversimplifies, but not in this case.
    People don’t really get how the whole energy thing works, and they are fools to think we can just step away from fossil fuels without destroying our economy, and radically changing our day to day lives. In addition, developing nations want the same goodies that developed nations already have, and power production is the backbone to that transformation.
    I do believe in Global Climate change. That is why I am pro nuclear, though not for geologically active areas, like California. I am also for developing other non fossil fuel solutions, but these are currently expensive. We can do this! But it’s going to take decades.

    1. I believe nuclear power to be a white elephant. If we had gone for it in a big way decades ago it might be a different matter, but it takes 30 years to commission a plant. We need tens of thousands, and at a time when grassroots resistance has never been greater. Moreover, the more affluent the homeowner the greater the resistance to being near a plant; these are not kids and hippies that the state can just bulldoze out of the way.

      The capacity of renewables is orders of magnitude greater than industrial society needs, and the price is dropping so fast that nuclear plant will be economically inviable before it can come online. Work on new designs to consume waste and hedge our bets, certainly, but renewables have already won the race. The question is whether they won fast enough to save us from the worst of AW.

      1. …Right… After close to a Trillion dollars of subsidies for solar we get a whopping 1.8% of our energy from it… Wow, it’ll take over all power sources, yep, cheer, cheer, cheer… You team still sucks.

  17. In my opinion trillions of dollars have been wasted due to this unplanned and non incentive based mechanism to brought emissions down. Since kyoto protocol we have a incentive based model then why aren’t any of these “developed” nations doing anything to implement it well ? Why Carbon trading model or emissions trading is being implemented as seriously as it should be.

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