Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 3, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

"A SLIGHTLY SLOWER RATE"....A "government employee" who was apparently "frustrated with the slow pace of its preparation" has leaked to the New York Times a copy of the Bush administration's latest editon of the United States Climate Action Report. Here's the bottom line:

According to the new report, the administration's climate policy will result in emissions growing 11 percent in 2012 from 2002. In the previous decade, emissions grew at a rate of 11.6 percent, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

....[White House flack Kristen] Hellmer defended Mr. Bush's climate policy, saying the president was committed to actions, like moderating gasoline use and researching alternative energy, that limited climate risks while also increasing the country's energy and national security. She said Mr. Bush remained satisfied with voluntary measures to slow emissions.

Killer stuff, Mr. President! Reducing emissions growth from 11.6% to 11% really shows you take this stuff seriously.

And remember, this is the same guy who thinks Congress should get out of the mileage standard business and turn it over to him so that new standards can be set in a "flexible rulemaking process." I think not.

Kevin Drum 11:59 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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I'm not sure who is preparing the report, but if they are not able, through their usual fudging, misapplication of science and statistics, and lying, to lower the rate below 11%, I shudder to think of the actual value.

Posted by: Mudge on March 3, 2007 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

"And remember, this is the same guy who thinks . . ."

Believes, maybe. Thinks? Not so much.

Posted by: Joel on March 3, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

So emissions are growing at 11% per decade, while the economy is growing at 3-4% per year. What exactly is the problem?

Posted by: Homer on March 3, 2007 at 1:02 PM | PERMALINK

"Reducing emissions growth from 11.6% to 11% really shows you take this stuff seriously."

It's a heckuva job he's doing.

Posted by: No Longer a Urinated State of America on March 3, 2007 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

We can't strangle businesses with chicken little environmental regulations.
Posted by: American Hawk

sure we can. record profits don't need to be yearly occurences for exxon.

Posted by: Nads on March 3, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see..we are to sit back and wait (trusting private enterprise) in the face of a very possible climatological catastrophe, but your boys (same ones, mind you)do not sit back and wait in the face of nonexistant or reversable threats from Iraq and Iran.

Let's discuss who is really Chicken Little in all this.

Very few technical advances that functionally protect society occur except in the face of regulation. Check it out. There is little economic incentive to develop a more costly but environmentally beneficial alternative unless a regulation makes the otherwise less expensive alternative more expensive. Industry also responds slowly. Check out the research budets of big companies these days. Money that used to be spent on research goes into CEO pockets and profits. If gasoline went to $10 a gallon tomorrow, good luck finding a hybrid car.


To be more concise. On issues like global warming the economic need always arrives too late. Only regulation can spur development of solutions.

Posted by: Mudge on March 3, 2007 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

So emissions are growing at 11% per decade, while the economy is growing at 3-4% per year. What exactly is the problem? -- Homer

Homer, just to name one problem out of many, let me stick to the economic side. In the US, within one hundred yards of the ocean, are properties whose book value is on the order of one quadrillion dollars. You likely don't believe this, but we stand to lose all of these within one century if we don't change our use of carbon dramatically and quickly.

Posted by: Greg in FL on March 3, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

I came too late for yesterday's discussion of energy, but this site that Kevin linked turns out to have a treasure of information.

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2325

Scroll down a little and there on the left is a columnn of hot links to many sources on energy and the environment.

What the president has proposed is only a first step, or more properly, the next step, toward reducing American CO2 emissions and increasing CO2 sequestration. By itself, it's practically negligible. But it should be seen from another perspective: it is the first time that a Republican leader has seriously proposed doing something. Instead of mocking it, we should all take the step, and then propose more.

Consider the synfuels program started by Jimmy Carter. It also was negligible, but had the same rate of investment been continued under Reagan, Bush I, Clinton and Bush II, we would be in better shape today than we are. We probably would not be imporating any oil at all from the Middle East, and our military would not be over there. Halting the synfuels program was exeedingly expensive, way more expensive than continuing it would have been.

We have these sayings in the U.S.: "It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness", and "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step". It is self-destructive constantly to mock the one candle or the first step. It is much more productive to work toward lighting the next candle, and taking the next step.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

always link to the original source: The document, the United States Climate Action Report, emphasizes that the projections show progress toward a goal Mr. Bush laid out in a 2002 speech

2002?

Even Pres. Bush has progressed beyond his 2002 position, as outlined in his 2006 and 2007 SOTU speeches. Just since 2002 the US has installed several times as much capacity in solar, wind, and biofuels capacity as what it had then.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

American Hawk: All we have to do is sit back and wait.

I believe that is really a parody of the true AH. In case that is the true AH and you are serious, then I have to disagree. What we have to do is remain continuously alert, and continuously press the government to press, press, and press ahead with the work that, as you say, is underway.

Everything that works in the U.S., or has ever worked in the U.S., has been a cooperative enterprise of the government and commerce.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

A plane filled with conservatives was flying across the Rocky Mountains when it was hit by lightning. The engines caught fire, and the plane started to hurtle to the ground.
The flight steward went back to the passenger compartment, where he was surprised to see the passengers all seated, talking in a relaxed fashion.
The steward said,"This is admirable--but aren't you concerned?"
The man nearest to him said "Of course not! The tremendous demand for parachutes will generate a supply!"

Posted by: pbg on March 3, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I appear to be alone here.

Nevertheless,

We'll run out of beer before we run out of oil.

http://www.theoildrum.com/node/2318

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK
…Everything that works in the U.S…. has been a cooperative enterprise of the government and commerce. MatthewRMarler at 2:04 PM
You are confused by the term 'cooperation' in this context. Under our Hamiltonian System, government provides various subsidies to companies whose owners and shareholders thereby reap the financial benefits that the taxpayers so generously given them. In other words, businesses pay off politicians and gain government favors.

Bush may have recognized that he has a Katrina problem and a Walter Reed problem, but has shown no interest in dealing with either in a meaningful way. That is similar to his realization that global climate change is a BFD. He thinks it's better to hand off those issues to the future just like his deficit reduction, Iraq war, oil dependency, the Middle East peace process and many other pressing problems. What he has concentrated on during of his administration have been issues such as tax breaks for the very rich, no-bid contracts for corporate political supporters, and financial subsidies for religious whores. No Republican will ever clean out those temples.

While we will never completely run out of oil, the cost of extraction will become so great that it will cause major disruptions to those members of the world economy that have not made adequate adjustments to their energy policy beforehand. One of those economies is the world's largest. Guess which one?

Posted by: Mike on March 3, 2007 at 2:43 PM | PERMALINK

You are confused by the term 'cooperation' in this context. Under our Hamiltonian System, government provides various subsidies to companies whose owners and shareholders thereby reap the financial benefits that the taxpayers so generously given them. In other words, businesses pay off politicians and gain government favors.

the people who make up the marketplace are also the voters. In different ways, they signal to the entrepreneurs and to the government what they want, and they provide feedback through their purchases and their votes. The result is best described as "cooperation" between government and commerce.

Here is an example: the market invents and manufactures cars, the government writes restrictions on the cars, private companies build the roads, but the roads are planned and financed by the government, the market invents infant car seats and the government requires that they be used.

Another example is the airline indudstry, where the government has financed research, the industry has manufactured planes, the governments have built runways and the air traffic control system, and private companies sell the tickets and operate the planes.

If you look at any large-scale enterprise that works (and most small scale enterprises that work) you will find considerable public-private cooperation.

Everything that works is also accompanied by graft of diverse sorts. That hardly refutes the private-public partnership in what works.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

Mike: the cost of extraction will become so great that it will cause major disruptions

As that happens, the U.S. will increase its extraction of oil from the Rocky Mountains and Canadian shale.

The US is already "adjusting" its renewable energy supplies upwards.

Energy is not the problem. The problem is CO2 accumulation.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Matthew:

The mistake you're making in trying to discuss this rationally is that it isn't really about the economy, energy, or the climate. It's about political power over the private sector, something the Left has been clawing after for decades.

This environmental issue is just the latest wedge to get the control they want over transportation, energy, and other industries.

Look at all the solutions they propose. How many of them do NOT involve increasing the hammerlock of the government on individual freedom of choice, or private industry?

The last thing they want to see happen is for the market to work through this through increased energy prices, or have people believe that's even possible.

To get a clue on motivations, ask someone concerned about climate change about nuclear power. The serious ones will discuss it. The political hacks will dismiss it out of hand.

Economic collapse does effectively reduce emissions. It worked for Russia.

Posted by: hayak on March 3, 2007 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hayak: The mistake you're making in trying to discuss this rationally is that it isn't really about the economy, energy, or the climate. It's about political power over the private sector, something the Left has been clawing after for decades.

Yes, it is in part a desire for power on the part of some people, but so is taxation to pay for the roads that enable the use of privately built and financed automobiles. Besides, global warming in response to C02 accumulation might be real, so it is worth considering what we ought to do about it to forestall the effects now instead of trying to ameliorate them later. It's as prudent as paying a life insurance premium for an illness that may never occur.

Do you have any examples of large scale enterprises that work that are not public-private cooperations?

Would you be in favor of ending the American role of protecting the world's oil supply lines and letting the market handle the problem instead? The US could painlessly withdraw its armed forces from the Middle East and invest the money and labor in synfuels instead. Each is an intervention in the energy market, and I see no reason to favor the one that we are using now. Getting the oil from the rim of the Persian Gulf is in fact a public/private cooperation, and one price that we pay is the Saudi Arabian subsidy of the madrassas that graduate so many violent enemies every year.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Hayak: Economic collapse does effectively reduce emissions.

I hope you are not trying to argue that economic collapse is the only way to effectively reduce emissions, or even that reducing emissions necessarily reduces wealth, because all the evidence is that neither is true.

Much of the goal of regulations reducing emisssions is to ensure that the costs of the emissions are paid for by the people who benefit from the emissions: that is, to internalize the external costs.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

"...Very few technical advances that functionally protect society occur except in the face of regulation. Check it out. There is little economic incentive to develop a more costly but environmentally beneficial alternative unless a regulation makes the otherwise less expensive alternative more expensive. Industry also responds slowly. Check out the research budets of big companies these days. Money that used to be spent on research goes into CEO pockets and profits. If gasoline went to $10 a gallon tomorrow, good luck finding a hybrid car.


To be more concise. On issues like global warming the economic need always arrives too late. Only regulation can spur development of solutions."
Posted by: Mudge on March 3, 2007 at 1:19 PM

A comprehensive federal energy plan that includes a consistent and sustained tightening of CAFE standards would boost private investment in new automotive technologies to meet the standards. There would be reduced risk with those investments because the demand for the technology would be sustained by regulation.

Here is some interesting stuff about air hybrids I came across:

http://www.engineer.ucla.edu/stories/2003/hybrid.htm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kogz4wedwtk

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on March 3, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

All we have to do is sit back and wait.

That might work *if* the costs of global warming were internalized into the market, but they are not. Didn't they offer econ 101 in that shithole you came from?

Posted by: Disputo on March 3, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, it is worse than that. Click here for a far more grim assessment of the harm these bastards are doing to the environment.

I wish the so-called “pro-lifers” were equally concerned about the number of stillborn births, spontaneous abortions and anacephalic (that’s “born without a brain”) children will be caused by these greedy scumsuckers.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on March 3, 2007 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK
As that happens, the U.S. will increase its extraction of oil from the Rocky Mountains and Canadian shale.

The US is already "adjusting" its renewable energy supplies upwards.

Energy is not the problem. The problem is CO2 accumulation.

The two problems are inextricably linked: the additional cost of extracting more expensive to extract oil reserves is largely an additional energy cost; so the use of increasingly expensive oil itself accelerates the increase in energy demand: while in the long term that may result in more viability in the short term what it does is increase prices across the economy with respect to the value of a unit of labor, while at the same time spurring increased use of whatever sources of energy are cheapest and easiest to expand.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK
While we will never completely run out of oil

The only reason we will never completely run out of fuel is that eventually the cost to extract oil will exceed the value of its most profitable use: once that occurs, we have for all intents and purposes run out of oil.

When it takes more energy to pull a barrel of oil out of the ground and refine it than the fuel you produce with will generate when burned, there's no incentive for anyone to pump oil out of the ground for fuel.

Posted by: cmdicely on March 3, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: The two problems are inextricably linked: the additional cost of extracting more expensive to extract oil reserves is largely an additional energy cost; so the use of increasingly expensive oil itself accelerates the increase in energy demand: while in the long term that may result in more viability in the short term what it does is increase prices across the economy with respect to the value of a unit of labor, while at the same time spurring increased use of whatever sources of energy are cheapest and easiest to expand.

I think that's true over the short term - next ten years - but not over the long term - 25 years and more in the future. Consider solar power: the installed base of solar power doubles about every 10 years, and the cost of manufacture is reduced about 10% - 25% per year. While we can't predict the future with any accuracy, it does look like sometime in the near future the electricity for maufacturing PV cells will come from PV cells, and from then on the manufacture of PV cells will not cause CO2 emissions.

A similar case can be made for biofuels. According to a recent Science (I think I posted the date, volume, and issue number already), Brazil has reduced the cost of sugar-cane-based ethanol form more than double the cost of gasoline to below the cost of gasoline, on an energy-for-energy basis. In the U.S., cellulosic ethanol already produces 10 times the energy that it consumes, and that will be increased by research now underway, and the cost will be reduced. As agricultural subsidies are gradually switched from food to fuel, and as military investment in biofuels continues to increase, the cost of biofuels will be reduced to below the cost of petroleum-based fuels (especially if the U.S. military is withdrawn completely from the Persian Gulf, or if the cost of the deployment is paid for by a charge on the tankers that bass through the Straits of Hormuz).

Over time, the goal of R&D is to decouple the energy generation from the CO2 production. Besides, CO2 is an ingredient in industrial processes; if coal-fired plants are required to sequester the CO2, they can then sell it on the market for less than other suppliers produce it.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

11.6 percent to 11 percent? Sounds like too much to me. Just be happy he's decided to throw a few scraps your way.

But of course, you want to implement socialism via zero emissions regulations and fascism. Just like a liberal..

Posted by: egbert on March 3, 2007 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

". . . implement socialism via zero emissions regulations and fascism."

WTF?

Posted by: Joel on March 3, 2007 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

MatthewRMarler wrote: "By itself, it's practically negligible."

The Bush plan is less than negligible. A plan that led to even a slight reduction in GHG emissions over even a relatively long period of time might be described as "negligible".

The Bush plan calls for emissions to continue to increase, at least through 2020 as shown be the graph, and as far as I can tell, indefinitely.

Preventing catastrophic global warming requires a reduction in GHG emissions, the sooner the better. A plan that does not lead to a reduction in GHG emissions, but instead to their continued growth, is not a plan for dealing with global warming, period.

Marler wrote: "But it should be seen from another perspective: it is the first time that a Republican leader has seriously proposed doing something."

That is incorrect. Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has already enacted a plan that will reduce that state's carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 -- a 25 percent reduction from present levels, during the same time period that the Bush plan calls for emissions to grow. By 2050, the California plan will reduce carbon emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels, which is in line with what most climate scientists believe will be needed to prevent atmospheric GHG concentrations from rising to levels that will guarantee catastrophic climate change.

California's Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who became chair of the Senate Environment Committee this year, has proposed that the plan enacted by Republican Governor Schwarzenegger be the basis for national global warming legislation.

Meanwhile in the Congress, several Republican legislators have proposed or are supporting legislation the would reduce national carbon emissions by varying amounts over the same time period during which the Bush plan calls for emissions to increase.

Large reductions in GHG emissions within the next 20 years or so can be achieved, while the economy continues to grow -- and indeed the rapid deployment of energy efficiency and clean renewable energy technologies can be the engine that drives a new wave of economic growth. The American Solar Energy Society published a report in January that projects that the full deployment of efficiency and renewable technologies (wind, solar, biofuels and geothermal) can reduce US carbon emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2030. The Apollo Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmental groups, has put forth a ten-point plan that they say "will create well over 3 million high wage jobs in construction, manufacturing, and industrial machinery by 2015, building new and efficient infrastructure and accelerating the next generation of cutting edge technology. These jobs will add $95 billion of new income to the economy, creating $330 billion in additional economic output."

There is nothing whatever positive about the Bush plan and there is nothing to praise about it. Other Republicans, notably Schwarzenegger, are taking real action and showing real leadership in dealing with global warming. Bush is not.

The Bush plan amounts to doing nothing about global warming -- except the only thing that Bush and Cheney ever do in any sphere of government policy: protecting the interests of their ultra-rich cronies and financial backers in the fossil fuel industry, while pretending to be doing something else.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on March 3, 2007 at 5:04 PM | PERMALINK

Do you have any examples of large scale enterprises that work that are not public-private cooperations?

Look around you. Think complexity, not just size. How many things that you use in everyday life are privately produced? Do you have any idea what level of organization it takes just to get a banana to a grocery store, never mind create a computer or a cell phone system?

The problem with governments trying to force markets in directions that they don't want to go is that the end results aren't always what you'd want.

Ask yourself what America's rail system might look like today if taxes hadn't subsidized the highways.

That's not to say that government should never be involved. Unfortunately, it tends to be the first place people turn to in recent years, and frankly, as far as efficiency and results go, government programs have not had a stellar record.

Posted by: hayak on March 3, 2007 at 5:18 PM | PERMALINK

Ask yourself what America's rail system might look like today if taxes hadn't subsidized the railroads.

Posted by: Dave Howard on March 3, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

Chickenhawk: "All we have to do is sit back and wait."

Yeah, you and Poland in the summer of 1939.

Posted by: Kenji on March 3, 2007 at 7:20 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: But of course, you want to implement socialism via zero emissions regulations and fascism. Just like a liberal..

Secular Animist, you should ally yourself with me against idiots like that.

Hayak: Look around you. Think complexity, not just size. How many things that you use in everyday life are privately produced? Do you have any idea what level of organization it takes just to get a banana to a grocery store, never mind create a computer or a cell phone system?

I don't know about where you live, but where I live the groceries are carried to the store on tax-supported roads. The organizations of the cell phones are mostly created by engineers whose educations were paid for at public expense. Substantial amounts of the research that supported their creation was tax-funded. You seem to have the impression that I have claimed no role for private production. That is false. What I have claimed instead is that everything that works is a result of private-public cooperation, and both of your examples illustrate that.

And Dave Howard already pointed out that there was substantial public support for the creation of the American rail system, both federal and state subsidies.

Secular Animist: That is incorrect. Republican Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has already enacted a plan that will reduce that state's carbon emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020 -- a 25 percent reduction from present levels, during the same time period that the Bush plan calls for emissions to grow.

As other people have noted (though not on this thread), the Schwarzenegger plan can't reduce CA CO2 emissions without moving them to other states. Not least because CA imports most of its consumer goods from other states. His plan is, in fact, not financially secure enough to do even that for sure. It is, at best, another small step. The president's plan to increase biofuels will reduce CO2 more than Schwarzenegger's plan. As for extrapolating to 2050, if you can believe that, you can believe the extrapolations of solar, wind, and biofuels expansion already underway and get total American energy independence by then with no CO2 emissions (According so Science, the rate of growth is 30% per year -- it's a simple compound interest problem). At present rates of expansion, PV cells will be producing more electricity in 2050 than the whole world produces now. I believe that you seriously underestimate the potential of the plan that Bush outlined in his 2006 SOTU.

However, I will agree that Bush's 2006 and 2007 proposals have been overtaken by the Democrats' Clean Edge Initiative and PACE acts. But he is the most senior Republican to have come over to the idea of enhancing renewables and reducing CO2. His agreement with China, Japan, Australia et al in lieu of Kyoto (2002? or thereabouts) was a better agreement than Kyoto, less formal though it was.

I'll repeat a point I made above. KD started this thread with a Bush plan from 2002, and even Bush has moved beyond that since he proposed it.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

A last comment about extrapolating trends already underway. Biofuels production is doubling annually in the U.S. Wind energy production is doubling every 18-24 months. Solar energy production is doubling every 3 years.

There will be 32 times as much biofuels production in the US as there is now in just 5 years.

There will be 32 times as much wind energy production in the US as there is now in just 10 years.

There will be 32 times as much solar energy production in the US as there is now in just 15 years.

There are known resource and financial constraints (e.g. copper and aluminum for the windings in the wind turbines), but there are no reliably known reasons why these factor of 32 increases can not be achieved. The only practical problem is that increasing too fast will lead to short term increases in CO2 production, which we probably want to avoid.

Obviously, these extrapolations are not accurate predictions of what our energy supplies will really be exactly. They are very good approximations to the scale of the solutions that are already in development. The work is being financed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, by GE and Siemens, by Exxon-Mobil, BP and Shell, by Conagra and ADM, and by your state, federal, and local governments, and even by a company that was founded by Al Gore (Generational Investment Management, or something like that.) It isn't magic, as people have charged. It is, as Bush might say, "hard work by many people." It is work that is being done.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

from a site linked by Secular Animist: AB 32 requires the California Air Resources Board (CARB) to develop regulations and market mechanisms that will ultimately reduce California's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020. Mandatory caps will begin in 2012 for significant sources and ratchet down to meet the 2020 goals.

the law is OK, but it doesn't even start to have an effect for 5 more years. Furthermore, it can be interrupted any time the governor decides that the adjustment is too hard for the state.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 9:39 PM | PERMALINK

Let me also endorse the Apollo Alliance, noted above by Secular Animist.

www.apolloalliance.org

A small solar detail. People write about the space requirements for solar electricity. consider the electrical generating capacity of Hoover Dam. A field of current-generation solar panels generating the same maximum power would cover half the area of Lake Mead. It could only work in the daytime, but it soulnd't require emptying the lake either.

Incidentally, I read once that the turbines and generators were going to be removed from Hoover Dam. does anybody know whether that actually happened?

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

Get someone to run their program using worst case growth, then using best estimate control, and see how much difference it makes, just in their program output. Then decide whether it is worth trashing the world economy for that.
And someone tell me whether they are willing to sacrifice Exxon profits even if it makes gas cost more.

Posted by: Walter E. Wallis on March 3, 2007 at 10:13 PM | PERMALINK

Walter E. Wallis: And someone tell me whether they are willing to sacrifice Exxon profits even if it makes gas cost more.

That is an intriguing thought. You ought to spend a few hours reading the stuff at the apollo project, at spider's Technology Review, and at the AAAS journal Science that I am always citing. You don't seem to know the actual cost of the transition that Secular Animist and I are discussing.

Anyway, Exxon is indeed investing some of its profits in alternative energy sources: solar, wind and biofuels. If their entire profit for last year were invested in alternative energy, that would probably drive down the price of gasoline faster than anything else that they could do with the money. Unless maybe they invested the money in fuel-efficient trucks and SUVs. On the whole, however, Exxon prefers a higher price for gasoline.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 3, 2007 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK

...All we have to do is sit back and wait.

Posted by: American Hawk on March 3, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

May be someone would like to expand this argument. Someone who has more historical and anthropomorphical knowledge.

I believe that Easter Island became what it did because the people continued their prior behavior until the consequences hit, cutting down all the trees. Also, the fertile crescent of Tigris-Euphrates boomed until, it is thought, less rain and more irrigation salted the land and led to food loss and the decline of the empire. In the mid-west USA we continued farming to the point of the dust bowl. The surface level of the farming plains is now several feet below what it was before white people got here. The people of Venice kept pumping water out of their wells long after it was known that the depressurization of their aquifer was sinking their city.

Today, acid rain will strip marginal areas, such as the boundary waters, of all the dissolvable Ca (Calcium, dummy) so that there could be no further renewable tree growth if there is clear-cutting.

Actually there is no end to "man's" hubris and belief that he can dominate the environment. In the end he will be proved wrong, in the sense of preserving the world.

American Hawk, if you are a good Christian, I suggest you get onboard with those that wish to preserve God's Earth rather that destroy the life and diversity He created.

Why do you hate His work so much?

Posted by: notthere on March 3, 2007 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I still think that the "human caused" aspect of the bullyingly over-blown global warming crusade is going to turn out to be complete humbug. But, bowing to the furious wind-bags, as even George W. Bush has been forced to do, I am planning my newest purchase--a Chevrolet 1500 series pickup truck which can burn either 85% ethanol or compressed natural gas, which I can buy at two convenient filling up stations, one ten miles distant and the other fifteen. If I get a little richer (damn stock market!) I can buy a home compression pump and fuel my truck off the house natural gas supply.

Of course, this won't much affect my carbon input into the atmosphere, so if algore is elected president I will have to patiently wait and see what my carbon ration will be and decide whether it makes more sense to sell my credits to the highest bidder, etc. But if algore does not succeed with his whole zealous program, I will be able to pull my light weight RV all over the U.S.A. quite soon.

Why do that? Well, have you ever seen the microbe horrors that show up when they really test a "clean" motel room? I really like sleeping in my own bed with my own mattress and bed spread (no, most motels do not change the latter every occupency.) I also like preparing my own meals, but I won't tell you the horror story behind that preference.

And, truth to tell, I really won't be putting out that much carbon compared to my workaday commuting life. Retirement isn't about beating the highways every day, only picking up and moving when you get damned tired of one spot.

But should algore win and really go crazy, then I will be forced to buy 160 of the last cheap acres in the world (bad water, -40 degree F. in the winter, 112 degress in the summer) and build the log house. I anticipate being able to pee off the front porch and sight-in my magnum hunting rifles off the back porch on steel targets a thousand yards out.

Heck, I don't figure on drinking that much water and most of us get it in plastic bottles at the store anyhow.

Posted by: mike cook on March 4, 2007 at 12:05 AM | PERMALINK

more good news on GHG reductions from GE:

http://home.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/?epi_menuItemID=989a6827590d7dda9cdf6023a0908a0c&epi_menuID=c791260db682611740b28e347a808a0c&epi_baseMenuID=384979e8cc48c441ef0130f5c6908a0c&ndmViewId=news_view&newsLang=en&div=946895406&newsId=20070223005120

It is a press release, not a peer-reviewed journal article, but GE has a good record on this over the last 20 years, as do Phillips and the others.

Mike Cook: I still think that the "human caused" aspect of the bullyingly over-blown global warming crusade is going to turn out to be complete humbug.

Do you skip on buying life insurance because you expect to live beyond your need for it? Or do you believe it prudent to reduce your wealth by the amount of an annual life insurance premium so that your wife and kids will be ok in the unlikely event that you die too soon?

This is what the debate is about: some prudent investments now to reduce the likelihood of a preventable catastrophic event later. Should the earth cool off, we'll have lots of fuel to warm it up.

If your E85 is made from cellulosic ethanol, you are indeed reducing your CO2 footprint, because the growing of fuel sequesters C in the soil.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 4, 2007 at 12:22 AM | PERMALINK

LEDs are still the best bet for the future, it seems now, but it's always better to have multiple technologies competing.

good night all. We'll return to discussions of energy soon enough.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 4, 2007 at 12:47 AM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure exactly where you are coming from on these issues MatthewRMarler, but throwing up a few windmills does not solve our energy problems. One of the biggest hindrances to plugging renewable energy sources into the "grid" is transmission lines. Building transmission towers and power lines, not to mention acquiring the land to situate them on, is proving to be one of the costliest and thorniest issues facing green developers in the Upper Midwest. Land rights, easements, right of way, etc. are difficult things, made more difficult by intransigent landowners, litigious lawyers and clueless bureacrats. Perhaps you can enlighten us on how you will solve these problems. Thanks,

TCD

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on March 4, 2007 at 6:26 AM | PERMALINK

throwing up a few windmills does not solve our energy problems.

I am not advocating windmills alone, but all renewables and, on other occasions, nuclear power and, for a time, synfuels. And not a "few" windmills but "many" windmills.

Perhaps you can enlighten us on how you will solve these problems. Thanks,

The installed base of wind power is growing all around the U.S., because people in many localities are in fact solving the problems. They will keep solving the problems, as Americans always have.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on March 4, 2007 at 12:41 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, I once served as an officer in a fairly large landowner protest group against the construction of a huge, extremely high voltage power transmission line to stretch from Colstrip, Montana, to Seattle. I fell into the protest world when BPA informed me that one huge tower would have to be situated on my land, about 30 from my back steps.

As I really got into anti-power line politics, I looked at a map of proposed line as it passed through our area and was astounded to see that the projected route was actually several miles too long. This was remarkable not only because the longer route would cost millions of dollars more to construct, but because energy loss rates due to electrical resistance increase as a function of line length and easily add up to millions of dollars in expense over decades of operation.

So, I sat at my kitchen table with a ruler and re-drew the powerline route with a ruler and compass. Today that is where the line stands, like I drew it. It turned out the BPA had drawn up its proposed route in order to avoid a footprint on Burea of Land Management forest and the BPA did not want to get bogged down with the BLM on a lengthy environmental impact statement!

Posted by: mike cook on March 5, 2007 at 5:10 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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