The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn

January 29th, 2008
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This came out a lot longer than I expected. However, this is also what is becoming an increasingly large portion of this website. Maintaining the environment is a critical issue especially as evidence of accelerated global warming mounts and as energy becomes more of an issue than it has in recent past. Unfortunately, many of those who claim to be working for enviornmental improvements lack an understanding of a few basic concepts which are absolutely critical to accomplishing anything.

I often find myself in arguments over economics versus environmentalism. This becomes a very difficult situation because the immediate accusation is that I care only about money and need to realize that sacrifices must be made for the good of the planet. I am also told that wind or solar is the answer and the costs and reduction of energy output is acceptable. These ideas that it is okay or honorable to make such sacrifices are overly simplistic and lack a true understanding of the forces at work. To use a phrase I have come to like, they are “Not even wrong.”

Thus, the top ten list…

 

10. Go after pollution sources with the highest benefit/cost ratio, not those which are most noticeable – If you are attempting to make a difference in the world, you should start with the largest problems with the simplest solutions and the least cost in remedying.

For example, underground coal fires produce as much CO2 as all the light cars and trucks in North America and most of those in Europe. The cost of developing a method of fighting such fires and implementing it is likely very low compared to the benefit especially in the context of the amount of effort which has gone into reducing the pollution from cars and trucks.

Similarly, aviation accounts only a small portion of CO2 emissions and there are no apparent alternatives to hydrocarbon fuels for aircraft which do not result in huge tradeoffs. The funds spent on attempting to develop and deploy hydrogen fueled aircraft or some other alternative are very high and there would be tradeoffs in the capabilities and economics of operation. Therefore, it is not wise to invest much effort or funds in such a pursuit.

9. It is always best and often vital to utilize existing infrastructure and capabilities when implementing new methods or technologies. – Any concept for producing more environmentally friendly systems must deal with the realities of the currently deployed infrastructure and the existing manufacturing and maintenance capabilities in place. Those which utilize these assets to the fullest will be the most successful and any which require retooling or major upgrades MUST be capable of doing so in an incremental manner which uses established capabilities wherever possible.

This is important in the context of things like transportation. It is entirely unreasonable to expect that there will be widely deployed hydrogen filling stations or other support facilities in the foreseeable future. Even if the ultimate goal is to establish such facilities, it is necessary that any technologies being implemented must be capable of compatibility with what currently exists in the midterm. For example, plug in hybrids which may be a stepping stone toward future electric-based vehicles but work well with existing technology.

Similarly, it is better to work with manufacturing, refining and distribution technologies that are already available as well as the existing skills of workers. It is better to deploy clean synthetic hydrocarbons, for example, than ethanol on a wide scale because ethanol cannot be pumped through existing petroleum pipelines due to it’s tendency to bind with water.

8. “Natural� “Organic� and “Bio� do not mean “good.� - Some of the most toxic substances known are natural. Furthermore there are times when using an artificial or engineered solution to a problem is far better than using a traditional low-tech or natural approach. Using synthetic substances, engineered approaches and technology can often improve the efficiency of an activity and therefore reduce the need for resources and the overall impact.

For example: a farm which utilizes insecticides and artificial fertilizers to grow a given amount of crops on ten acres may be far better for the local ecosystem than a farm which uses organic methods but requires twice the land be cleared. A common organic farming method for pest control is to import predator insects like lady bugs, however, importing large numbers of these insects may be considerably more disturbing to the local food chain and ecosystem than using a measured amount of an artificial pesticide.

�Nature� was not designed to provide mankind with food, energy and other needs in the most efficient, reliable and sustainable manner. Therefore, engineered or artificial approaches may have better overall outcomes.

7. Plans for the future should not be made on the most optimistic predictions and should consider the most pessimistic reasonable predictions – If you are formulating a plan for providing energy you cannot base it on the assumption that there will be an overall decrease in energy usage. Rather, one must assume that energy needs will continue to grow as they always have, if not faster.

Similarly, no plans for the future should ever be based on the assumption that it will be possible to do something better/faster/cheaper than it can now based on future technologies. One cannot, for example, create say “We’ll just have to develop a more efficient solar cell that is ten times cheaper than what we have now.� There is no guarantee that such research and development in such an area will be fruitful.

�Hope for the best but prepare for the worst� is generally the best policy. Any statement like “Well we won’t need to plan for that because in ten years we’ll be at the point where we’ll only need half as much oil� should be viewed with extreme skepticism.

6. Simply attacking an environmentally damaging activity is not effective unless a better alternative of similar or better economics and usefulness is presented – Protesting a coal fired power plant is, in and of itself, useless, because the plant is necessary to provide electricity. It is even worse to oppose coal, oil and hydroelectric because those are all major sources of electricity. If one wants to phase out something like coal there must be an alternative presented. It is always more effective to promote the alternative than to oppose what exists. If the alternative is accepted, the existing activity being opposed will go away on its own.

It is important that the alternative be reasonable, not speculative and capable of replacing what exists with minimal sacrifice in general. Any alternative which provides additional non-environmental benefits, such as cheaper energy, improved capabilities or better performance (in the case of a vehicle) will aid greatly in promoting the alternative. If such benefits can be presented the likelihood of success is extremely high.

5. Taxation, price increases and caps on energy are inherently regressive and cause great damage. – Regressive means that it has a greater impact on the lower classes than the upper classes and also affect upward mobility and general quality of life. Increasing the price of energy does not mean simply mandating a price or taxing it directly. Any measures which limit energy production will cause an increase in price due to market forces. This includes carbon taxation and carbon capping without providing a variable alternative. Mandating the use of energy technologies which are limited in output or are expensive will likewise increase prices.

High priced energy is a huge burden on the lower classes to a degree much higher than the upper class. Energy is a fundamental expense to living, both directly in the form of heating, transportation and electricity and also indirectly in how it affects production of all goods and services. The price makes up a much larger proportion of the spending of those with less. Thus, an increase in the price of energy DOES NOT make all people conserve energy in an equal manner nor does it prevent frivolous use of energy.

Joe billionaire still fuels up his yatch and barely notices that he spent five dollars a gallon on marine diesel instead of two, but poor families go cold because they cannot afford heating oil at twice the price. In the end, those with the money to adopt cleaner and more efficient technology and with the excesses which can be cut are the least likely to do so. The more likely outcome of higher energy prices is a move to alternative energy sources which offer a lower cost, even if doing so results in more pollution instead of less. An example would be the wood burning stove boom during the 1970′s oil crisis or waste oil burners.

This increases the class divide, as any shortage of such an important commodity will. It causes more poverty and limits upward mobility. The overall reduction in quality of life affects nearly all sectors including health and any burden on the economic system will only make government social programs more burdened.

 

4. It is unreasonable to expect the general public will accept major reductions in living standards or comfort and convenience. Simply put, it won’t happen – There is no point in debating the ethics of driving a big car and taking vacations versus making sacrifices to sustain the environment, because history shows that the public has a very limited tolerance for any measures which directly affect their comfort, convenience and other wants. Therefore, if you want people to drive a car which is environmentally friendly, it must not be a glorified golfcart. It cannot lack air conditioning and be small, slow and lacking in capacity. People will not accept that kind of sacrifice in general.

Because they will not move to environmentally friendly options voluntarily, the next thing which generally is proposed is to mandate very strict limitations on the use of anything from incandescent light bulbs to air conditioners to big engines. The problem is that this will not generally be accepted if there is not an equally viable alternative. People will either skirt the regulations or they will put pressure on politicians to change them. In a democracy, the politicians will always be forced to bow to the will of the people on any matter which is universally disliked.

(They want their damn bread and circus and you’d be a fool to try to talk them into living without them.)

3. Depending on continuous heavy subsidies is not sustainable. – Subsidies exist for a reason and are not always a completely bad thing. They are designed to do things like maintain a strategic capability which is not normally profitable or to stimulate a sector which is important to a country and might now develop on it’s own.

However, when it comes to energy and development, a subsidy cannot be a tow-line, but only a jump start. In other words, it must be for the purpose of establishing a capability which will have value and returns on the initial expenditure. Paying to keep something going for years when it has shown disappointing results is a complete waste. It is not economically sustainable and has low benefit.

It also should be pointed out that “creating jobs� is not an economic benefit if those jobs are entirely based on expenditures which do not result in a tangible payback and rely on direct funding to exist. “Creating 1000 jobs� is not a good thing if the way they were created is by paying 1000 people to do something useless. The sustainability and overall effect must be considered.

2. Every little bit does not help. – There is absolutely no point in perusing technologies or methods which do not have the potential for actually making an ecological difference, especially if doing so will expend funds, energy or other resources without any significant return. Even in cases where there is little overall investment, simply harping on the most insignificant overall issues will at least draw attention away from what credible solutions exist.

In the end, it is not really going to matter if there is .00001% les Co2 in the air in a century. Those technologies which have limited potential are best abandoned to cut losses as soon as it becomes apparent how limited they are. Campaigns against things like iPhones are idiotic, considering the massive discharges of waste by other parts of the electronics industry and other industries in general. Putting a solar panel on your roof might make you feel good but that’s about all it does. Saying “someone has to start� or “if everyone would do it� or “every bit helps� does not count for much when you know that everyone *will not* do it and “every little bit� helps a very very little bit.

1. Sacrificing the needs of an economy for the environment will destroy both. - This is overall and far and away one thing which environmentalists seem to entirely lack any understanding of. There are a lot of claims that sacrifices must be made economically or that “the price of damaging the environment cannot be measured in dollars. We need to consider that cheap power has hidden costs to earth.�

The major problem with this is that the economic health of a society affects nearly all aspects of the society. For example, during times of recession, crime rates tend to rise, health generally deteriorates, general public moral is far less. The effects are far reaching both broadly and individually. When the economy does well, more people have good paying jobs with benefits. More people have healthcare coverage and those who do not are generally more able to pay for healthcare. More people go to college and education in general improves. There are more funds for donation to charities and the government has far more of a taxbase from which to spend.

The impact on the environment is also effected by this for several reasons. It has been said that “environmentalism is a luxury� and this is actually true in many circumstances. In a poor country cars blow out more exhaust because owners are not as prone to good upkeep of the engine and exhaust system. Recycling does not exist in such countries because the funds are not available and the demand for more raw materials is lacking, thus making it less financially motivating to recover materials.

In general, people become far less concerned with the environment when they see that their own lives and the lives of those close to them are not very good. A person does not buy highly efficient lightbulbs or a hybrid car in such circumstances. If they cannot afford oil to keep warm, they will not insulate their home but rather are more likely to start cutting down trees for fuel. They may even buy a simple stove and start to burn garbage for fuel.

An economy is not healthy when it is stagnant. It must not only be growing to be healthy, but to be prosperous it should have the highest possible growth rate while maintaining sustainable funds and keeping inflation in relative check. Only under such circumstances will the government and private organizations have the funds and the ability to tackle environmental issues. The flip side of this is that it means an increase in consumption and in consumerism in general. This equates to more potential for environmental impact.

The key, in the end, is to find ways to keep a robust and healthy economy while promoting good environmental policy. Doing so will increase standards of living, decrease poverty, increase environmentally positive projects and benefit all aspects of life and ecology.

Added (2/5/08):
Having gotten a lot of attention on this article I’ve added a couple of follow-up posts which related to this and which I might suggest checking out. You may also want to check other parts of this blog filed under “environment”.

Agree or disagree your comments are welcome and will not be removed – at least as long as the discussion is factual and substantive. Railings, flaming and profanity are not desired, however. However, although descent is welcome, don’t expect not to be refuted, taken to task or otherwise countered. Feel free to do the same. This is obviously a contentious issue. Any discussion, even if heated, is positive if it stimulates thought and education.

Sources of Greenhouse Gas and a Quick Math Lesson
Stuff “Environmentalists” Should be (more) Concerned About
Does Every Little Bit Really help?
“Green Groups” Give Me Deja Vu

Also, since there has been a lot of discussion of nuclear energy resulting from this, here are some previous posts with relevant information:

Ten Myths About Nuclear Energy
Greenpeace On Nuclear Science
A Graphic Illustration of Nuclear Energy Potential

What is Spent Fuel? – I’m most proud of this one as it addresses an issue most people know very little about. The issue of nuclear “waste” and methods for dealing with it.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 29th, 2008 at 11:32 am and is filed under Bad Science, Education, Enviornment, Good Science, History, Not Even Wrong. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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530 Responses to “The Top Ten Things Environmentalists Need to Learn”

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  1. 451
    DV82XL Says:

    The French are not moving away from nuclear; nuclear power plants don’t blow up; it will not mean the end of life as we know it; it is not evil; and you are highly misinformed.

    Please provide references to support your statements from reliable sources.

    By the way I read French, it’s my mother tongue and I follow news from the French nuclear sector, so don’t be concerned if your pointers to articles showing a movement away from nuclear over there are in that language.


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  2. 452
    drbuzz0 Says:

            DV82XL said:

    The French are not moving away from nuclear; nuclear power plants don’t blow up; it will not mean the end of life as we know it; it is not evil; and you are highly misinformed.

    Please provide references to support your statements from reliable sources.

    By the way I read French, it’s my mother tongue and I follow news from the French nuclear sector, so don’t be concerned if your pointers to articles showing a movement away from nuclear over there are in that language.

    I haven’t seen any such articles in English, French or any other language. Well, except for bull****. It’s not my native tongue but I’ve read a lot of it in my day so I can usually see through it pretty well.


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  3. 453
    KLA Says:

    Question, if a greenpeace spokesman expouses his activities on a radio show, is he a “radio activist” and produces radio-activity?


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  4. 454
    Finrod Says:

            KLA said:

    Question, if a greenpeace spokesman expouses his activities on a radio show, is he a “radio activist” and produces radio-activity?

    If so, useful output is not to be expected without the influence of a moderator.


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  5. 455
    KLA Says:

            Finrod said:

    uote comment=”3029″]
    If so, useful output is not to be expected without the influence of a moderator.

    Don’t forget the shielding. This kind of radioactivity is destructive to the environment. But fortunately, it’s half-life does not seem to be longer than a few decades. But, as with all short half-life stuff, the activity at the beginning is stupidly high. And it seems to be a neutron emitter, as it induces activity in simple materials.


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  6. 456
    JGS Says:

    I suppose it’s a bit pointless to add my $.02 after 456 previous comments, but pointless blather is what the internetz are all about, right? (And for the record, I’ve only read a few pages of the comments, maybe all this has been covered before.)

    So, interesting article, some good common-sense points made. “Environmentalism” definitely has its fanatic fringe, and fanatics by definition operate of faith rather then on reason. It should be noted also, however, that bad faith arguments are advanced just as often by the ‘other side’ (e.g. large business interests for whom any attention to environmental consequence is an inconvenient expense) – all of which only serves to further polarize the debate.

    To your points:
    Point (1) makes sense, with the caveat that it’s also important to look at long-term pollution sources (and the damage they cause). Maybe underground coal fires produce as much CO2 as auto use now, but what about in 10 years, or 20 – especially as auto use goes up in the “developing” world? Again, I’m not arguing the numbers here, or the validity of your point – but at the same time, waiting until a problem is ‘as big as’ another (less difficult) problem before acting on it may not be the best policy. Put another way, sure let’s devote resources to putting out coal fires now – but that doesn’t mean auto pollution shouldn’t be addressed in the meantime.

    Point (5) is true as far as it goes. But again, it’s not an argument for not doing it. ANY solution to anything that carries an immediate cost hurts the poor more then it hurts the rich. This needs be factored into a solution, but it doesn’t automatically invalidate that solution – you could, for instance, make sure that a percentage of the money raised by those taxes goes back to the poor (or goes into public transportation, etc.). There’s a more detailed post on this (not by me) here: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2008_03/013268.php

    Point (4) is also true, again as far as it goes. But if you combine points 4 & 5 (‘People won’t change & the gov’t can’t make them) then you have a recipe for total inaction. We might as well just resign ourselves to the Mad Max future… I already have a motorcycle, maybe I’ll pick up a mohawk and chaps on the way home.

    The government (or other organizations, but mostly the government) *can* change behaviors (of individuals and, more importantly, of corporations), by adjusting costs, by raising and lowering taxes, by passing fuel-efficiency standards, etc. True if they mandate everyone get rid of their TV and making their own house out of mud, they’re probably going to be quickly drummed out of power. But there are plenty of *major* changes they can make, especially through the use of things like energy taxes or cap-and-trade schemes, they will make a real difference. Those things will have a direct (and likely regressive) financial impact, which needs to be accounted for and counterbalanced when the programs are designed.

    Or we can just wait until things get so bad that people will have no choice but to accept “major reductions” in living standards, comfort, and convenience. And when that happens, things are bound to get very “interesting.”


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  7. 457
    DV82XL Says:

    Well a number of us have come to the conclusion that we can have our cake and eat it too if we turn to nuclear energy as our primary source, and with that move to electric transportation.

    However the general thrust on the ideas here are that showy ‘Green’ protects that do not, by their own numbers, make an impact, and hand wringing appeals for people to have less of an impact are worse than useless. Also ‘solutions’ that do not take into account economics and broad human behavior will fail.

    You would do well to read through the comments, as many valuable ideas, and good points came up in the discussion.


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  8. 458
    Steve Steiner Says:

    The one aspect of broad human behavior that is ignored here are people’s perceptions of nuclear energy.

    The fact that nuclear energy can be done safely, does not mean it will be done safely. Taking the tact that the safety issue is a perception problem ignores a few issues that first need to be addressed, and are just as important as the ten stated above for practical implementation.

    Most important: Expertise. I went to MIT in the early 90′s. Nuclear Engineering at MIT had about 20 people graduating each year. I saw a job posting for a sophmore to run the Nuclear reactor on campus. They specifically wanted a sophmore so that the student could stick around for multiple years. If what I saw with the lack of new people entering the field still holds it is difficult to believe there s sufficient pool of expertise to fill the engineering posts required for a resurgence in the field.

    Risk: (not in my backyard) The exploding risk obviously must be mitigated, and while I don’t see that as the main problem, the potential lack of practical expertise in nuclear engineering needs to be addressed. Early oil production ramped up via ‘wildcatting’ … nuclear energy simply does not enjoy the luxury of a new ‘wildcat’ phase in the industrialized world.

    The other issue with risk in Nuclear is the “Not in My backyard” sentiment, combined with the doubt about long term invisible harm + high scare factor of radiation exposure. Yes this may be ‘eco-stupid’, but it needs to be addressed, and coining a funny derogatory name won’t solve it. Yucca Mountain is pretty far away from anything, but the effects of Radiation (big-R) in the view of the public makes for a very big ‘Back yard’ to protest.

    That said the important facts are that Expertise can be had from abroad … and the biggest upcoming problem areas for polution (China and India) have Nuclear technology and at least in China a demonstrated government capability to ignore ‘Not in my background’ issues.

    It seems that instead of agitating for change in the US the high leverage strategy is encourage implementation of your plans in India and China. The populations in those countries wish to escape a rural lifestyle. If the approaches you advocate are feasible at all, they should be most feasible in those countries where the infrastructure is being built now, rather than requiring a infill approach to the infrastructure.

    Demonstrated success in providing energy and reducing pollution in those areas would create a climate of support. Also with the Olympics coming up and the current controversies over pollution, there is likely to be a receptive audience for this in China. If only to mitigate the bad press currently happening.

    Yes I see people on this thread wish to point to the French as an example of this approach already working. Fine, point the Chinese to that and get it to work there on the scale necessary for it to apply in US. It will do more to help going forward and might create political pressure here.


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  9. 459
    DV82XL Says:

    While there is some truth in what you say I think you are over simplifying the issues. Nuclear energy is now a mature technology the same way commercial aviation is a mature technology. The high risk phase of development is over. This is not to say safety issues can be dismissed but current designs in use in the West are not capable of exploding, and protocols are now well established for operation that mitigates other risks.

    NIBY issues are true of all major power plants; coal and now wind routinely face opposition when looking to build plants, so nuclear is no less disadvantaged in that area.

    There is a shortage of skilled labor and qualified professionals in the nuclear field, but nuclear is not alone in this regard. North America has been living in a fools paradise believing that immigration would fill the gaps that our disgraceful education system has created in these areas. Unfortunately, quality of live has increased in the countries we were drawing talent from and few now care to leave.

    Industry has been adapting to this new reality for some time now, and while things are not ideal processes are in place that reduces the need for specialized help and utilizes what is there more effectively.

    As for India and China they are moving towards a nuclear power economy as fast as they can. They need no encouragements from us.


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  10. 460
    Roscoe Says:

    I’m an environmentalist.

    I’ve also taken an economics class.

    And I fully realize, even if no one else does, that “economics” and “ecology” both come from the Greek “oikos,” household. They’re not spectacularly opposed, the way most people seem to think.

    There, having insulated myself from offending anyone in the room, LET’S START OFFENDING PEOPLE!

    Environmentalists: The original article is basically right. You are not going to change human behavior, no matter how badly you want too. People will still want to eat at McDonald’s, watch television in the dark, and drive American cars, no matter how disastrous it is to their personal health. You are not going to bend capitalism over the table, if you want to. To try is to damn yourself. You tell me capitalism’s a bitch? Fine. Make her YOUR bitch. Hell, I agree with most of what you say and I still think some of you are just plain ****s.

    Economists: The original article is basically right. You are not going to change human behavior, no matter how badly you want to. People will still be afraid of nuclear power, and still petition for it, or any power source, not to happen near them. They’ll still demand cheap, easy energy anyway. You tell me human irrationality’s a bitch? Fine. Make her YOUR bitch. You’re not going to convert the faithful by yelling at them. Hell, I agree with what most of you say and I still think some of you are just plain ****s.

    I took the time to retype it all, because it applies equally to the both of you. Stop being fundamentalist ****heads and listen to the other party. You, environmentalists, may be logically wrong, for all of your right intentions. You, economics, may be morally wrong, for all of your excellent logic. I’ve seen both of you, in this very thread, violate #7, #6, #4 and #2. Examples will be provided if asked for.

    Environmentalists need a good dose of economics to the head. Well and good, and I’ve seen others working on this. But both sides of the nuclear power debate, at least, need a class or two in any of the following subjects: Anthropology, group psychology, or sociology. If only to hammer home point #4.

    And, last, a favor to ask of the both of you: I’ve had a notion for awhile now that fuel cells and space-based solar power would be an ideal power generation system for all, with the additional bonus of establishing a space-based infrastructure which could be turned around and used to benefit Earth while establishing the Earth biome’s foothold off-planet. Do me a favor and tear holes in this idea, so that I can either abandon it as a bad idea or strengthen it as a good one.


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  11. 461
    DV82XL Says:

    @Roscoe

    First you must keep in mind that the Laws of Thermodynamics are not subject to human desire; they just are, and they win every single time. It’s the same for the other laws of physics and chemistry. What a person believes or doesn’t believe won’t change them. In other words they are morally neutral. They are nether good nor bad they just are.

    The fundamental tenets of economic behavior were established by years and years of direct observation. They have been shown to transcend culture and history, and whether they form the core of economic policy as an ideal or a problem that has to be solved, they cannot be ignored.

    So knowing the above, I have a hard time seeing that those of us that support the ’10 things’ can be morally wrong if we are only stating the truth. The real issue at hand is how can the environment continue to support humankind, and the dispute (and I have followed it from day one) is do we do this by changing human behavior across the board or do we use existing technology to supply energy without creating mounds of waste.

    Those of us that support the ’10 things’ believe in the latter because of what I stated at the beginning: you can’t change the laws of universe, and you can’t change the laws of economics. You can push against them locally, for a short period of time, but they will win in the end. I have not seen any argument here or elsewhere that can refute this. So in other words I cannot see how there are two sides to this debate with some place to meet in the middle.

    —–

    To answer your last question in short. Fuel cells are a chemical converters, they like any other converter need fuel at a higher potential energy that is reduced to a lower energy state making electric current that can do work. In other words they too need a source of energy. They cannot be in and of themselves a solution.

    Space solar power as a source of clean energy on the Earth is scientifically feasible, but not technologically or economically viable at this time. It has three major drawbacks. First, despite fifty years of space flight experience, getting to space is still hard and expensive. It costs thousands of dollars per pound to lift anything into space from Earth. Second, we have no experience assembling and sustaining objects on orbit of the scale that space-based solar power will require. Some designs suggest systems that are literally several square kilometers in size. Finally, although the efficiencies of collecting power on orbit are many times greater than what can be done on the surface of the Earth, there are significant power losses in converting energy and broadcasting energy both in orbit, during transmission to Earth receivers, and from the receiver into terrestrial power grids. Some calculations suggest space solar power can deliver only ten percent of the original collected power.


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  12. 462
    KLA Says:

    As DV82XL stated, it comes down to what is physically impossible, because it violates physical laws, or what is technically impossible, which might or might not be solvable by future developments. I, and many otheres here have studied those physical laws and made a career using them technically. What this web-site is about is to debunk myths and hopes that are not based on those physical laws, but point out ways in which we can solve our energy problems WITHIN those physical laws. Mine, yours and many other peoples tax-money is currently being blows on solutions that CANNOT and WILL NOT work because of those pesky laws.

    As an example:
    I have seen stated by solar cell advocates that by 2050 we will have 50% efficient solar cells if we spent enough on R&D.
    This is physically impossible, but fervently believed.

    Let me explain:
    ANY electrical energy source has an internal resistance. The laws of thermodynamics require it. Envision it like an ideal battery with a resistor in series. The external load is then just another “resistor”. That is the “power” that you see outside. From Ohms law follows that the maximum power possible to draw is exactly reached when this external load “resistor” matches the internal resistance of the source in resistance. In that case 50% of the energy delivered by the ideal “battery” is delivered to the load. That is all that’s possible. The battery supplies 100%, of which 50% are wasted in the internal resistance as heat.
    Now solar radiation is not at a single color, but dispersed across the entire electromagnetic spectrum from radio to UV (on earth surface). For a 50% efficient solar cell the conversion of photons of EVERY energy to electricity MUST be happening at 100% efficiency for the above stated electrical reason. This means every photon of every wavelength, including radio will be used, which is not possible with the elements or combinations thereof in the periodic table, which is all we have to work with. The cell would also have to be the blackest black possible (zero reflection). Glass cover must have 100% transmissivity and so on. All things that are prohibited by natural laws. The best one can hope for, and has been achieved, is about 30% with concentrated light of a custom tailored spectrum. Not sunlight.
    But this is reported as huge breakthrough, with more to follow by people like greenpiss. And the sheep follow.


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  13. 463
    drbuzz0 Says:

            KLA said:

    As an example:
    I have seen stated by solar cell advocates that by 2050 we will have 50% efficient solar cells if we spent enough on R&D.
    This is physically impossible, but fervently believed.

    Even if we could have 50% effeciency what would it matter. At the moment it breaks down to:

    A good solar cell you could buy, brand new and under good conditions: About 20%
    The best bleeding edge solar cells that you might find on a satellite: About 30% (max ideal conditions)
    The highest effeciency ever achieved by a tiny amount of special material in a laboratory setting: 41%

    I really doubt 40% solar cells will become a real world reality suitable for general use and durable and with a decent life span and capable of outdoor use. Certainly not ever affordable.

    Now breaking 50% I think it’s possible. Difficult, and probably not something you could do reliably outside a controlled laboratory setting, but possible.

    For 50%+ effeciency I’d imagine you’d need some very extreme measures. No glass or plastic to cover the cells, but rather some kind of precision optical quartz like is used in astronomy applications. Extreme engineering of the cells with nanotechnologies and the best damn materials for the job (at any price). Probably multiple layers and possibly combining thermoelectric layers to try to squeeze out even some of the thermal loss into energy. And of course, cooled with liquid helium.

    I’m not certain, but I would not be surprised if 50% effeciency could be realized with such extreme measures as liquid helium and astronomical quality optics.

    But what’s the point? Even if you could get that effeciency with easy to make systems, it still isn’t really enough to get the job done. Hell, 100% efficiency isn’t enough!


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  14. 464
    KLA Says:

    BTW, you need to read the fine print on the 41% lab figure. The “net” efficiency of that one, which means what you actually get out, is ~30% because of the mentioned electrical losses. But you are right, even 100% would not be enough.


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  15. 465
    drbuzz0 Says:

            KLA said:

    BTW, you need to read the fine print on the 41% lab figure. The “net” efficiency of that one, which means what you actually get out, is ~30% because of the mentioned electrical losses. But you are right, even 100% would not be enough.

    Yeah but I bet most of that could be overcome if you got it close enough to absolute zero. Of course, that would be kinda hard when you had direct sunlight beating down on it, but I’m sure if you had enough massive compressors and liquid helium or even special liquid helium-3/hydrogen mix (which is even a little colder) then you could get rid of most of that.

    Kinda… defeats the purpose though.


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  16. 466
    KLA Says:

    Not only that, but the semiconductor material has a negative temperature coefficient. That’s where your lossy resistance is. Your conversion effiency goes up, but so go your electrical losses.


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  17. 467
    Elizabeth Barrette Says:

    One thing to bear in mind is that the economy is not in conflict with the environment. The economy is a subset of the environment. If the environment collapses — as has happened in some countries undergoing desertification, field salination, etc. — then it drags down the economy and the level of civilization with it. Aside from some of the historic examples, one of the most dramatic is that of Easter Egg Island. People there indulged in practices that destroyed the island’s ability to support their way of life, and it crashed horribly.

    Let’s not repeat that mistake planetwide.


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  18. 468
    DV82XL Says:

            Elizabeth Barrette said:

    One thing to bear in mind is that the economy is not in conflict with the environment. The economy is a subset of the environment. If the environment collapses — as has happened in some countries undergoing desertification, field salination, etc. — then it drags down the economy and the level of civilization with it. Aside from some of the historic examples, one of the most dramatic is that of Easter Egg Island. People there indulged in practices that destroyed the island’s ability to support their way of life, and it crashed horribly.

    Let’s not repeat that mistake planetwide.

    You are absolutely right Elizabeth. This the crux of the argument being made here. Tilting after windmills, and running about on fool’s errands, however will not help the situation. Solutions are available that will reduce human impact on the environment without causing a collapse in the economy, but they are not being implemented due to fuzzy and ill-informed thinking.

    You will note that this idea is stated in the main article as the number one proposition: 1. Sacrificing the needs of an economy for the environment will destroy both. However you are correct that it works both ways.

    Facts, and facts alone are the only thing that can be used in deciding what needs to be done – not ideology, especially an ideology based on belief in unworkable solutions, like renewable energy. This has been the biggest tragedy of recent history in the energy sector; all of the renewable technologies that have been given the task of reducing carbon and providing a secure supply of energy have failed to deliver as promised. Some, like biofuels are causing more problems than they are solving largely because of desperately optimistic and criminally shortsighted cost-benefit analysis done at the start.

    This is why ultimately we must turn to nuclear energy – in the end it is our only choice.


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  19. 469
    Vonz Says:

    A pretty good list, but I think there is one other item I would put on or near the top. Free people in countries run with representative governments have by far shown the best ability to balance conservation/environmental concerns with economic ones. If you really want to see that comparison dramatically demonstrated look at the differences between West/East German at reunification. From the same starting point, with essentially the same type of population, and 45 years later one was a rich country that had a much better environment and the other was poor and polluted roughly 10 times as much even though it had a much smaller economy.

    Totalitarian governments may pay lip service to anything, but in the final analysis all they care about is their own power and concerns for the environment do not fit into that equation.

    The sad part is, I think the green/red left knows this, but it doesn’t matter. For most of the leadership getting control of the economy is the goal and environmentalism is just the cause of the day to attain that end. They are preaching the same fixes they were 40 years ago. Since it has been proven they don’t work as advertised economically, they are looking to sell socialism as an environmental fix. It won’t work in that way either.


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  20. 470
    DV82XL Says:

            Vonz said:

    The sad part is, I think the green/red left knows this, but it doesn’t matter. For most of the leadership getting control of the economy is the goal and environmentalism is just the cause of the day to attain that end. They are preaching the same fixes they were 40 years ago. Since it has been proven they don’t work as advertised economically, they are looking to sell socialism as an environmental fix. It won’t work in that way either.

    Truer words were never written.


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  21. 471
    mj Says:

    Where to start?

    How about with: “An economy is not healthy when it is stagnant. It must not only be growing to be healthy, but to be prosperous it should have the highest possible growth rate while maintaining sustainable funds and keeping inflation in relative check.”

    The second word in the quote should be “capitalist”. The assumption that this is the only possible kind of healthy economy takes my breath away.

    I would ask you “WHERE is the economy located?” If it is inside the earth’s environment then growth has obvious limits.


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  22. 472
    DV82XL Says:

            mj said:

    Where to start?

    How about with: “An economy is not healthy when it is stagnant. It must not only be growing to be healthy, but to be prosperous it should have the highest possible growth rate while maintaining sustainable funds and keeping inflation in relative check.”

    The second word in the quote should be “capitalist”. The assumption that this is the only possible kind of healthy economy takes my breath away.

    I would ask you “WHERE is the economy located?” If it is inside the earth’s environment then growth has obvious limits.

    Show me just ONE WORKING example of an economic system that isn’t Capitalist. That doesn’t mean a theory, or one that is practiced on a single community scale, but one that drives a whole nation.

    The whole point of the list is that nobody will take the environment seriously unless the economy is healthy, and I can provide a depressing list of examples that bear this out.

    As for your contention that the economy is located in Earth’s environment, you should note that the Physiocrats had their theories dismissed as overly simplistic almost two centuries ago.


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  23. 473
    drbuzz0 Says:

            mj said:

    Where to start?

    How about with: “An economy is not healthy when it is stagnant. It must not only be growing to be healthy, but to be prosperous it should have the highest possible growth rate while maintaining sustainable funds and keeping inflation in relative check.”

    The second word in the quote should be “capitalist”. The assumption that this is the only possible kind of healthy economy takes my breath away.

    I would ask you “WHERE is the economy located?” If it is inside the earth’s environment then growth has obvious limits.

    Well the issue is that there are limits, yes. Capitalism does not mean no controls whatsoever and it does not mean you let the free market decide everything. There need to be some reasonable regulations to insure that everyone plays fair and no one company becomes powerful enough to be anti-competitive. Also, there need to be regulations on emissions and discharges and use of resources.

    The problem is that every one of these regulations has a cost and thus you want to try to do it in a way that offers necessary enviornmental protection while not doing it to the point that the economy is badly hurt by it. The idea situation is to have a manner of controlling resources and pollution which has minimal or no economic consequences.

    A fast growing economy tends to benefit the lower classes a lot because there is a more competitive labor market and more competition to provide goods and services at lower costs. There is also more venture capital. This is why lower middle class people can afford to own a cell phone when it was a toy of the rich in the early 1980′s. The faster things grow the sooner these items are distributed. And it’s not only lifestyle items, but also health care, better living standards, education, nutrition and so on.

    How can this be achieved? The best manner is to provide alternatives that do not have large enviornmental footprints for commerce and do it in a manner that is financially beneficial to use them. This creates a win-win situation and you also end up with more capital to push things even further.


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  24. 474
    CtrlAltDel Says:

    What about China? I mean aren’t they technically Communist still? They say they are. I am reminded of this cartoon which was out on this page long long ago and I just found again:

    http://depletedcranium.com/?p=154


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  25. 475
    Green Is The Color Of Life Says:

    Well I want to ask something and that is what if capitalism is the only system that has worked? Maybe it has but it is such a horrible system for people and the environment maybe we need to get something else to work.

    Yes, I admit that Marx was wrong on some things. I have studied Marx and where he thinks a big worldwide society is the way to do it, he was wrong. Communal living, however, is right. The difference is it needs to be on a local scale and we need to do away with our reliance on big societies and big technology. We should have technology, yes, but we need to change how we think of success. Capitalism might have a small place but basically we need to move back to small villages and small regional cities with limited trade when needed. We need to redefine success and be more modest and less materialistic.

    It’s not communism. It is more like multiple communical minimal localisms. It is the best of all worlds and it’s fair, modest and human and earth centered. We need to change the way we think and I already see it happening. More organics, more local farms, more agriculture, less oil, less energy, less consumption. More community and more family. Lets think of terms like ‘clan’ and ‘village’ as the basis.

    Does this mean no electricity? No, of course not. Think of electricity generated in your little village by burning biomass and used only sparingly for small lights and that kind of thing. We need technology but we don’t need so much. We need as little as we can possibly get by with.

    This system is what we should work for and I believe if we all work hard enough we can do it.

    So what if we save the environment with nuclear power and technology? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose! It’s just more of the same. Less modesty and less restraint. This needs to be about how we change the way we live and define our lives!


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  26. 476
    Johan Says:

    And how do you fit the soon to be 9 billion people on earth into small widespread communities?
    How will organic farming produce enough food for 9 billion people?
    What would the environmental consequenses be if 9 billion people burn biofuels to produce energy?(hint 2 million people already die each year because of biofuels).

    Your idea would mean mass starvation and the death of a very large fraction of the human population. The idea that widespread communities are more environmental friendly than large cities is missguided.


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  27. 477
    DV82XL Says:

            Green Is The Color Of Life said:

    Well I want to ask something and that is what if capitalism is the only system that has worked?
    So what if we save the environment with nuclear power and technology? Doesn’t that defeat the whole purpose! It’s just more of the same. Less modesty and less restraint.

    This needs to be about how we change the way we live and define our lives!

    You know fifty years from now in 2058, when the dren has already hit the fan, people will be looking back on these feeble ideas and how ideology stood in the way of making the sort of decisions that were needed then, and you and your kind will be judged most harshly.

    You may wish to live in the Dark Ages, the bulk of the population doesn’t ,and solutions to our problems have to take this into account.


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  28. 478
    drbuzz0 Says:

    How about this: We also get the population to stop growing by telling people not to have so much sex and generally favor abstinences?

    It is about as likely and credible a plan as the idea of convincing everyone to live in small communes of mud huts.


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  29. 479
    Jack Celliers Says:

    Interesting and full of common sense… but unfortunately I believe we need a little bit more than common sense when it comes to big and complex issues.

    It si true: many environmentalist are lacking hosts of information, nevertheless we ARE facing an energy crisis.

    One point not to ignore is about those interests around the already established energy sources, mainly oil. It is pretty logical to think that if there are a lot of people making megabucks thanks to the oil, they will try to block any initiative to switch to other energy sources.

    So it is not only common sense, there are interests in the middle. Reasonably behaving, we should start to prepare for the switch and make it as smooth as possible, trying to gradually replace oil with some other thing, studying which “some other thing” it could be (solar, steam, electricity, you name it) and requalifying all industries involved in those energies to drop, so that they can become new energy industries.

    But then what are we doing with those guys from Shell, Exxon, etc? No matter how smoothly you plan it switching to an alternative energy source will obviously cost money; and we must do it, so… who’s gonna pay?

    Old question.


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  30. 480
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    But then what are we doing with those guys from Shell, Exxon, etc? No matter how smoothly you plan it switching to an alternative energy source will obviously cost money; and we must do it, so… who’s gonna pay?

    Old question.

    The people who want to switch to an alternative energy source will pay for it.

    And if their source is better, they will make a profit.


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  31. 481
    DV82XL Says:

            Jack Celliers said:

    Interesting and full of common sense… but unfortunately I believe we need a little bit more than common sense when it comes to big and complex issues.

    ‘We need more than commonsense’ has always been one of those buzz-phrases that sets off my B.S. detector. It usually means ‘I have a plan, but you have to suspend commonsense to buy into it.’ Given that the commenter is an unrepentant Marxist-Leninist, I can imagine what that plan would be.


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  32. 482
    Jack Celliers Says:

            Michael Ejercito said:

    The people who want to switch to an alternative energy source will pay for it.

    And if their source is better, they will make a profit.

    Could be. Sadly you need money to invest, investment in a good idea which will go against powerful interests.

    I’m not saying it is not possible, I only think that the energy crisis needs to become much more serious to make anyone run the risk.


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  33. 483
    Jack Celliers Says:

            DV82XL said:

    ‘We need more than commonsense’ has always been one of those buzz-phrases that sets off my B.S. detector. It usually means ‘I have a plan, but you have to suspend commonsense to buy into it.’ Given that the commenter is an unrepentant Marxist-Leninist, I can imagine what that plan would be.

    Well, that comment before this one was at least a rational answer. But this one is not a rational answer. In fact it’s not an answer at all. It’s simply a B.S. detector buzzing (and you know: that needs no rational justification) and pointing to the unrepentant Marxist-Leninist.

    So you know: if an unrepentant Marxist-Leninist says something (“it’s raining”, for instance), you don’t even have to think wether he’s right or wrong, less to prove anything. Just say your infallible B.S. detector is buzzing! That will solve the problem.

    You know, with this kind of “answers” I will hardly ever repent about being a Marxist-Leninist.

    Cheers!


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  34. 484
    DV82XL Says:

    Yes, well we have seen how effective Marxist-Leninist theory has been in dealing with these issues in the past, so you will excuse me if, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I don’t see it as providing any novel answers now.

    I repeat what I said up thread; any set of solutions that require the suspension of commonsense I find suspect, irregardless of whatever the ideological roots.


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  35. 485
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Could be. Sadly you need money to invest, investment in a good idea which will go against powerful interests.

    I’m not saying it is not possible, I only think that the energy crisis needs to become much more serious to make anyone run the risk.

    What sort of crisis existed when Thomas Edison sought alternative forms of illumination in defiance of the candlemaking interests?


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  36. 486
    DV82XL Says:

            Michael Ejercito said:

    What sort of crisis existed when Thomas Edison sought alternative forms of illumination in defiance of the candlemaking interests?

    A small correction Mike…it was gas interests that were impacted by electric light. By the time of Edison’s 1879 lamp invention, gas lighting was a mature, well-established industry. The gas infrastructure was in place, franchises had been granted, and manufacturing facilities for both gas and equipment were in profitable operation. Perhaps as important, people had grown accustomed to the idea of lighting with gas.

    Although they did at the beginning, work to suppress this new invention, they were smart enough to see the advantage of supplying several forms of energy. This is how the New York Gas Light Company, Manhattan Steam Company, and Edison Electric Light Company became the Consolidated Edison Company.

    Capitalism found a solution. One wonders what the outcome would have been in a command economy.


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  37. 487
    Jack Celliers Says:

            Michael Ejercito said:

    What sort of crisis existed when Thomas Edison sought alternative forms of illumination in defiance of the candlemaking interests?

    None, that’s precisely the point.

    The problem in late capitalism is that you have huge amounts of money concentrated in small portions of population. USA is by far the most energy-consuming country. When something as vital as energy is at stake it is not so easy to avoid colliding with some interests.

    Edison introduced a new way of dealing with energy, but at the time the energy sources where not almost monopolized by a few countries/companies.


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  38. 488
    Jack Celliers Says:

            DV82XL said:

    Yes, well we have seen how effective Marxist-Leninist theory has been in dealing with these issues in the past, so you will excuse me if, in the absence of any evidence to the contrary, I don’t see it as providing any novel answers now.

    I repeat what I said up thread; any set of solutions that require the suspension of commonsense I find suspect, irregardless of whatever the ideological roots.

    You are bringing something that has nothing to do with the point, so that to prove you wrong I would have to branch too far from the main subject. Not interesting I guess.

    To shorten up: common sense tells you that the Moon has a small coin’s size. Apparently true, but false in fact. So let’s say a Marxist-Leninist (and anybody with a hint of rational thought) will make you notice that common sense is OK for common life, complex issues require to go beyond.

    You talked already about Marxism, my secret plans to rule the world, your special buzzer… why not Aquaman? Anything but the point.


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  39. 489
    Jack Celliers Says:

            Jack Celliers said:

    None, that’s precisely the point.

    The problem in late capitalism is that you have huge amounts of money concentrated in small portions of population. USA is by far the most energy-consuming country. When something as vital as energy is at stake it is not so easy to avoid colliding with some interests.

    Edison introduced a new way of dealing with energy, but at the time the energy sources where not almost monopolized by a few countries/companies.

    Simply to clarify, let’s try to see if we agree in this point: candlemaking interests were certainly easier to defy at the time than oil-investors interests.


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  40. 490
    Jack Celliers Says:

            DV82XL said:

    A small correction Mike…it was gas interests that were impacted by electric light. By the time of Edison’s 1879 lamp invention, gas lighting was a mature, well-established industry. The gas infrastructure was in place, franchises had been granted, and manufacturing facilities for both gas and equipment were in profitable operation. Perhaps as important, people had grown accustomed to the idea of lighting with gas.

    Although they did at the beginning, work to suppress this new invention, they were smart enough to see the advantage of supplying several forms of energy. This is how the New York Gas Light Company, Manhattan Steam Company, and Edison Electric Light Company became the Consolidated Edison Company.

    Capitalism found a solution. One wonders what the outcome would have been in a command economy.

    Sorry, did not see this one, which is a very interesting point.

    Nevertheless, I thing it lacks data. I wonder if for instance, gas prices were at the time as volatile as oil’s are being today, if they had the same impact in overall economy and prices, if gruesome wars were carried on for gas, etc. I don’t think so. I think it was a well-established industry, of course, but with much lower economic impact and concentration, and more important: in a different stage of economic and technical development.

    Today’s economy is far more interdependent than yesterday, and more highly globalized. Today oil’s production is being bought in advance to speculate, there are funds able to move much faster. Simply the news about oil prices rocketing up make them rocket up, why? Because oil moves almost all. Thus it has a much larger impact on prices. Gas was used mainly to heat up, that’s only a very little part of what’s oil used for today.

    That’s why I think it’s not an accurate instance.


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  41. 491
    DV82XL Says:

    @Jack Celliers

    For someone that claims to be part of a worker’s movement, you have a poor grasp of its history. Gas in the days of Edison, was a manufactured gas that went by several names was made from coal feedstock. Coal was the fuel of the age, and yes wars were fought, at the pithead by the miners in what was the real beginning of the labor movement in the West.

    Keep in mind that the motive power of choice for electrical generation was hydro at the time, consequently electricity was a real threat to coal’s supremacy in some areas, so the parallels are not that far off. The difference was that this was a time where Capitalism was considered an Ideal in its own right, and governments did not feel they had a duty to take a hand in directing the market.

    As for a Marxist-Leninist being right time to time, what can I say except a stopped clock is also right twice a day.

            Jack Celliers said:

    The problem in late capitalism is that you have huge amounts of money concentrated in small portions of population. USA is by far the most energy-consuming country. When something as vital as energy is at stake it is not so easy to avoid colliding with some interests.

    You really have no idea at all where the largest concentration of capital is in the US right now. If you still think it is in the hands of a few rich people, you are, (like all a Marxist-Leninists) a century out of date.

    I don’t debate with communists as a rule – yours is a passè ideology that has been shattered on the wheel of history, and therefore no longer is a enough of a threat for me to bother wasting time on.

    I will not be responding further to you sir.


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  42. 492
    drbuzz0 Says:

            Jack Celliers said:

    The problem in late capitalism is that you have huge amounts of money concentrated in small portions of population. USA is by far the most energy-consuming country. When something as vital as energy is at stake it is not so easy to avoid colliding with some interests.

    Well, that’s an interesting take on it. I happen to live in the USA and I am not exactly “rich” yet I own a car, a computer, a cell phone and even some purely entertainment items. Actually, almost everyone I know has a cell phone, and no they’re not all rich. Actually, being “poor” in the US usually means you own a television, which is, strictly speaking, a luxury item.

    Not only that, but even the low income have electricity and between charities, food stamps and other social programs nobody here actually starves because of lack of food or money to buy it. The very idea that you could be “low income” in the US and still own a car, a cell phone and a television would likely leave many in other countries very confused.

    Do you see bread lines? No. Food riots? No. Warlords hording bags of UN-issued rice? No.

    now how about the idealist Marxist economy? Oh wait. They always seem to have that kind of crap going on.

    Actually, here in the US there is a lot of talk about building a “fence” or “wall” to keep people out. That’s getting to be an issue that people worry about: All the people trying to get in here. Not from just Mexico either.

    There actually was a pretty good border wall that they had in Germany for a while. Very effective. People died trying to get over or under or through it. That wall was not to keep people out of a country though, it was to keep people IN.

    So say what you will about capitalism, but we don’t have walls here to keep our people from escaping.

    When was the last time you heard of Cuban coastal patrols finding Americans clinging to rickety boats to get into the communist paradise there? No, I didn’t think so.


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  43. 493
    Jack Celliers Says:

            DV82XL said:

    @Jack Celliers

    For someone that claims to be part of a worker’s movement, you have a poor grasp of its history. Gas in the days of Edison, was a manufactured gas that went by several names was made from coal feedstock. Coal was the fuel of the age, and yes wars were fought, at the pithead by the miners in what was the real beginning of the labor movement in the West.

    Keep in mind that the motive power of choice for electrical generation was hydro at the time, consequently electricity was a real threat to coal’s supremacy in some areas, so the parallels are not that far off. The difference was that this was a time where Capitalism was considered an Ideal in its own right, and governments did not feel they had a duty to take a hand in directing the market.

    As for a Marxist-Leninist being right time to time, what can I say except a stopped clock is also right twice a day.

    You really have no idea at all where the largest concentration of capital is in the US right now. If you still think it is in the hands of a few rich people, you are, (like all a Marxist-Leninists) a century out of date.

    I don’t debate with communists as a rule – yours is a passè ideology that has been shattered on the wheel of history, and therefore no longer is a enough of a threat for me to bother wasting time on.

    I will not be responding further to you sir.

    “I don’t debate with communists as a rule”

    Funny statement after starting a debate! Thanks, I feel flattered about your breaking your rule so many times.

    I simply point out that the energy map and the market situation at that time was very far from today’s, we are talking about more than one century. For a capitalism supporter you have a poor grasp on economy.

    “You really have no idea at all where the largest concentration of capital is in the US right now. If you still think it is in the hands of a few rich people, you are, (like all a Marxist-Leninists) a century out of date.”

    Funny you think I’m talking about USA, I’m talking about the whole world, not only USA.

    The rest is simply personal statements (“you have no idea” “your ideology is passe”, bla bla bla) leading nowhere.

    Have a nice day.


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  44. 494
    Jack Celliers Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    Well, that’s an interesting take on it. I happen to live in the USA and I am not exactly “rich” yet I own a car, a computer, a cell phone and even some purely entertainment items. Actually, almost everyone I know has a cell phone, and no they’re not all rich. Actually, being “poor” in the US usually means you own a television, which is, strictly speaking, a luxury item.

    Not only that, but even the low income have electricity and between charities, food stamps and other social programs nobody here actually starves because of lack of food or money to buy it.

    The very idea that you could be “low income” in the US and still own a car, a cell phone and a television would likely leave many in other countries very confused.

    Do you see bread lines?

    No.

    Food riots? No. Warlords hording bags of UN-issued rice?

    No.

    now how about the idealist Marxist economy?

    Oh wait. They always seem to have that kind of crap going on.

    Actually, here in the US there is a lot of talk about building a “fence” or “wall” to keep people out.

    That’s getting to be an issue that people worry about: All the people trying to get in here. Not from just Mexico either.

    There actually was a pretty good border wall that they had in Germany for a while. Very effective. People died trying to get over or under or through it.

    That wall was not to keep people out of a country though, it was to keep people IN.

    So say what you will about capitalism, but we don’t have walls here to keep our people from escaping.

    When was the last time you heard of Cuban coastal patrols finding Americans clinging to rickety boats to get into the communist paradise there?

    No, I didn’t think so.

    It’s really strange, as I stated above, to stumble on such a primitive way of thinking: “In USA you can live well, in Cuba people seeks to go to USA. Cuba is Marxist, USA is capitalism, so USA beats Cuba and you are so, so wrong!”

    Let’s see: I said USA is by far the biggest energy consumer in the world, right? Then I am recognizing USA is a rich and powerful country. And of course many poor people want to go there… what a new! I wouldn’t paint USA in such a colorful way though: being a very rich country, the social gap is still much wider, and life standards are certainly lower than in less rich countries, let’s say Scandinavian ones (which have not a Marxist, but an aggressive social-democrat government, with high taxes and a state that actively regulates the market).

    Still I can point out the way oil is managed in Norway, it is a very interesting policy about it.

    But capitalism, alas, is not only USA. Are you familiar with the term “banana republic”? It was not created by any Marxist, but by an American humorist. It refers to the United Fruit Co., which simply put and took off governments in Honduras, as CIA put and took off governments all over the world.

    So capitalism is also Honduras, and Mexico, and El Salvador, and Brazil, and many other countries in which hunger is an everyday issue. I’m only saying that in those countries the social gap is by far wider than in Cuba, a place I know pretty well, with a lot of infrastructure problems, economically tangled by USA (you can sell or buy from any state in the world, no matter if it is a dictatorship or not, but nobody can carry on any kind of commercial activity with Cuba and expect to do the same with USA. Try to buy Cuban cigars and go to the States).

    So USA is a powerful country… really? Didn’t notice it! Can you tell me all the points in the world’s map in which USA’s army has been involved in some kind of war? I think more than any other country. Is Irak a place in which USA has something to do with government? Oh… certainly, that’s why you can live so well in Irak! Is Saudi Arabia an ally that supports USA strategy in the region? Of course, a model of democracy. Was Saddam Hussein a good friend of the USA, armed by the USA? Yes he was. Are the Talibans and Osama Bin Laden those good guys who fought the Soviets, and were not so long ago armed and trained by the Americans (and praised in every stupid war movie, like Rambo III?).

    But it’s OK, don’t you ever worry as long as you have your TV, which as you said, in many places in the world is a luxury item.


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  45. 495
    drbuzz0 Says:

    I’m starting to wonder if I should even continue this discussion because this is supposed to be a post about the methods for improving the enviornment and reducing emissions by targeting the sources with the most effective solutions. Yet communism keeps coming up and other various political discussions which are totally unrelated to the science, engineering and general enviornmental policy issues which was supposed to be the focus of this.

    Anyways, I suppose the argument could be made that communism has less of a class divide. It’s been said that capitalism is an unequal distribution of wealth but communism is an equal distribution of poverty.


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  46. 496
    Michael Ejercito Says:

    Simply to clarify, let’s try to see if we agree in this point: candlemaking interests were certainly easier to defy at the time than oil-investors interests.

    How so?


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  47. 497
    Doctor Strangelove Says:

            Jack Celliers said:

    It’s really strange, as I stated above, to stumble on such a primitive way of thinking: “In USA you can live well, in Cuba people seeks to go to USA. Cuba is Marxist, USA is capitalism, so USA beats Cuba and you are so, so wrong!”

    But capitalism, alas, is not only USA. Are you familiar with the term “banana republic”? It was not created by any Marxist, but by an American humorist. It refers to the United Fruit Co., which simply put and took off governments in Honduras, as CIA put and took off governments all over the world.

    Okay, but what you’re talking about is not an issue of capitalism. You’re talking about a big country artificially going in and taking over or pressuring a government to grant favoritism to a business. This would be an example of the USA deviating from free markets and is NOT inherent to the capitalist idea.

    It’s ironic though, because the US and any capitalist society on its worst day cannot even hold a candle to the Soviet Union for exploiting countries, taking over and using them to their advantage. The Soviets turned all of Eastern Europe into one huge block of puppet governments. They took over Kazakhstan, exerted influence and supported regimes in Africa, the Middle East and fought a bloody war for control in Afghanistan.

    So USA is a powerful country… really? Didn’t notice it! Can you tell me all the points in the world’s map in which USA’s army has been involved in some kind of war? I think more than any other country. Is Irak a place in which USA has something to do with government? Oh… certainly, that’s why you can live so well in Irak! Is Saudi Arabia an ally that supports USA strategy in the region? Of course, a model of democracy. Was Saddam Hussein a good friend of the USA, armed by the USA? Yes he was. Are the Talibans and Osama Bin Laden those good guys who fought the Soviets, and were not so long ago armed and trained by the Americans (and praised in every stupid war movie, like Rambo III?).

    No. The Taliban and Osama Bin Laden were never the good guys. The fact that any of the bad guys received any alliance or aid from the US or any other country in the West has to do with the fact that there was a much worse danger who had to be opposed and for this reason uneasy alliances were formed with those who were never liked.

    There was once a time when the Soviets were an ally too. That was for the same reason. No, the US knew the Soviets were communist scum, but the fact that the Nazis posed a greater threat forced an alliance.

    What’s so funny is you think people want to get into the US because it’s the most powerful country in the world. Power has nothing to do with it. The power of the country does not sit on the top as it does in communist countries. The Soviet Union was a superpower as well, and they had to keep their people in.

    Other countries are far less powerful than the United States, countries like Brittan are less economically and militarily powerful, Canada has far less direct influence and little military by comparison, and the same with Australia. Yet people line up to get into Canada, Australia, Brittan and much of Europe. Why? It is simple. High standard of living. The opportunity to make good money. Good jobs. Stability. Safety.

    If you look at the world you will find, almost without exception, that political corruption and a government that fails to protect liberties and promote enterprise is the reason why areas are economically depressed. This may be for a number of reasons, like internal war, but it is often the direct result of communism which universally and with zero exceptions will always degenerate to a fanciest oppressive system that destroys the lives and economic freedom of a nation.


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  48. 498
    Jack Celliers Says:

            drbuzz0 said:

    I’m starting to wonder if I should even continue this discussion because this is supposed to be a post about the methods for improving the enviornment and reducing emissions by targeting the sources with the most effective solutions.

    Yet communism keeps coming up and other various political discussions which are totally unrelated to the science, engineering and general enviornmental policy issues which was supposed to be the focus of this.

    Anyways, I suppose the argument could be made that communism has less of a class divide. It’s been said that capitalism is an unequal distribution of wealth but communism is an equal distribution of poverty.

    To think that a discussion involving a vital resource directly related with the economy should be a mere matter of “science” is ludicrous. If you want to develop an energy solution you certainly need investment. Taking into account how energy is consumed in the world, the huge rates consumed by the few rich and the tiny if ever part consumed by the many poor, you cannot avoid falling into politics. At least you have a good reason to.

    “Anyways, I suppose the argument could be made that communism has less of a class divide. It’s been said that capitalism is an unequal distribution of wealth but communism is an equal distribution of poverty.[/”

    Any other valuable and deep cliche?


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  49. 499
    Jack Celliers Says:

    Sorry: not “At least” but “Unless”.


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  50. 500
    Jack Celliers Says:

            Michael Ejercito said:

    How so?

    Serious question?


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