Ecopessimism v Ecoeffectiveness

The bad news is that gas prices have dropped. The good news is that the dip provides opportunities. If we don’t cash in, we can create a better future. I have praised high prices, feared a return to cheap oil and advocated better alternatives. Recent experience with high energy prices proves that our economy can prosper in the face of high prices. Now let’s go about the business of addressing global warming.

Al Gore is right about global warming, but wrong about the implications and solutions. He is an ecopessimist. In earlier days, his sort would have been religious puritans. They feel that we must pay an awful price for our gulity past deeds. Their pessimism, however, is counter-factual and counter-productive. Counte--productive because it leads to paralysis: if nothing can be done, why do anything - especially if it will cost a lot. Counter-factual because we have been here before, faced down and overcome similar "existential" threats and come out the better for it.

President Lyndon Johnson warned that we would soon have to use gas masks to survive in our big cities. Read some of the books from that time. Read "A Moment in the Sun", "Population Bomb" or "The Limits of Growth". Make sure you get original additions, not the revised ones and then compare the reality predicted to the one you see. (Actually, go back farther to Thomas Malthus on the population thing.) What about our ozone hole or the dying forests due to acid rain? These WERE real problems. But in every case solutions were not only possible, but easier and cheaper than predicted.

Since 1970, we have reduced air pollution, for example, by almost half, despite solid economic growth. The ozone layer is again thickening and the Appalachian forests are again robust. Challenges are met and overcome and new challenges are revealed. The pessimists concentrate on the problems. On this earth, only the dead have no problems. Optimists call them challenges and know that they make life interesting.

Meanwhile, the pessimists are depressed and depressing. Besides fund raising to keep themselves in business, they accomplish bupkis. They are sure that little good can come from progress and the best we can do is hold onto our ever-dwindling resources. You would think that they would learn from experience, but they don't. In the long run it is true that we are all dead. Until then, pessimism is just not a viable point of view. Read what Gregg Easterbrook says more eloquently than I can about our chances to succeed.

The solution to our problem will be found in human innovation and new technologies. We have lots of options. Government, business and society in general all have a role to play. Government command and control regulation was a necessary and effective tool to force early changes. It is due to regulation that a car made today produces only about 1/50 the pollution of one made in 1970 and why we no longer see smokestacks belching black smoke. But it was private innovation that made it happen cheaply and effectively.

As pollution sources become more diverse and dispersed, the nature of the challenge changes. Government still has a key role, but now it is more to dictate broad goals than methods. We can overcome the global warming problem the same way we overcame smoke, shoot, sulfur and sewerage. Nature has no memory and doesn't hold a grudge. Each day we start with exactly what we have that day. Let Al Gore & the ecopessimists fret about what we humans have done. Smart people worry only about what we will do.

Posted by Jack at September 6, 2006 12:58 AM
Comments
Comment #179339

Jack, the reason we have problems with polution, and short resources is directly related to population growth. When half of America was populated by Buffalo and Indians, no one worried about these issues. My Indian(continental) friends think our country is very clean. China is causing construction materials to rise in price due to their huge population driven economic expansion. I know you have deluded yourself, while wandering through your forest, that there is no problems associated with the overpopulation that is effecting us today. Just remember when your looking at Bambi and smoking the Wildwood weed, The reason that 100,000 Iraqis and 2600 Americans have died, and countless others have been severly injured, is due to this struggle for a single resource.

I’m not a pessimist or saying we’re on a course to doom, just being realistic and speaking facts. It’s good to not live in fantasy.

Posted by: gergle at September 6, 2006 2:04 AM
Comment #179341

The best way to fight higher gas prices is not to use gas.

I work on an oil tanker and it is obvious to me what was going on with the rising price of these refined products. My ship being chartered to BP and carrying gasoline products was more used as a storage facility offshore (waiting for prices to rise) then it was being used to transport refined products from refinery to storage (consumers). We commonly sat at anchor for a week or more right off New York harbor for BP’s decision to accept a bidding price. Figure that charter rates for tankers are running at @ $45,000 a day and you can see the waste. Or in BP’s view the profits by waiting (or driving up) for prices to rise.

If all would boycott these companies and not use their products, they would have no choice but to lower prices and work to regain customers.

BP likes to promote “cleaner and greener” solutions, but in fact the only money they spend to help the enviroment is that which you see on television. BP comercials.

Posted by: Everett at September 6, 2006 2:35 AM
Comment #179343

Everett, Thanks for speaking the truth.
Im so use to the lies about the “free” market that your honesty is refreshing. The free market at work is truely a sight to behold. The corporations are our friends and watch out for our best interest…right? If we just keep de- regulating the corporations every thing will be fine..right?

Posted by: j2t2 at September 6, 2006 2:53 AM
Comment #179345

“We have always known that heedless self-interest was bad morals; we now know that it is bad economics.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Posted by: Tim Crow at September 6, 2006 3:26 AM
Comment #179346

I am not against free markets or even corporations per se… but the myth of a huge corporation being in a free market is absurd. The entire reason a corporation becomes huge, is that it dominates it’s market.

This has been my argument about Microsoft. I don’t dispute that Bill Gates made a great contribution to technology when he developed DOS. But from the time that he developed Windows, by stealing ideas from Apple, he stopped being about free markets to market manipulation.

There is no reason that software should cost what it does. This inhibits market growth. Bill Gates has not made major contributions to technology since the time of DOS. Why does the market protect him and make him an ever larger billionaire? That’s not free markets..that’s feudalism. Unfortunately many so called conservatives miss this fact. They become so consumed by the idealology and idol worship, they loose the real economic story and loose my support.

The idol worshipping that goes on about his philanthropy with Warren Buffet is enough to make me puke. These dead horse figure heads deserve a bountiful and wonderful life. They do not need to be diefied and awarded permanent protection from economic markets as they are. Large corporations become not about growth and expansion of markets, but about asset protection and killing competition. These corporations are little more than ponzi schemes built upon suppression of wages, overpriced manipulated markets, outsourcing to foreign slave labor, and legalistic suppresion of creative entrepreneurship.

Posted by: gergle at September 6, 2006 3:58 AM
Comment #179352

My Name Is Roger:

For the first time I clicked on your POSTED BY JACK, just to see who Jack was.

QUESTION: How did you come up with the idea for your REPUBLICAN AND CONSERVATIVE BLOG?

QUESTION: Do you read all of the comments?

QUESTION: If you read all of the comments, how do you fine time to do so, and how do you find time to reply.

QUESTION: This one is kind of personal… do you some times get ticked-off at what people have to say.

JACK…. Your doing a great job, and keep up the good work.

ROGER A Concervative Christian Rupublican

Posted by: ROGER at September 6, 2006 6:48 AM
Comment #179355

You are deluding yourself.

Ironically… it was the environmentalists and the modern environmental movement that pushed and educated the public regarding environmental degradation.

The Rachel Carson’s etc…were the ones that put a light on what was going on in industry. I don’t recall ever seeing an ad by Monsanto or Dow talking about environmental responsibility….

So … sorry.. but you are wrong to put so much faith in the Corporation as being the solution to our ills. They are there soley to make money. It is the environmentalist that is the moral backbone in our society. They are the ones that educate and motivate. Corporations fight them at every turn… Sure… some Corporate CEO’s have seen the error’s of their ways.. but it was through the hard work and persistance of environmentalists that shown a light on the problem…

Posted by: Caelidh at September 6, 2006 7:18 AM
Comment #179362

Never miss a chance to bash Al Gore, right? Too bad you didn’t address what he’s actually written on the subject. Al Gore is all for human innovation and new technology (open up his book and you will see). The trouble is that’s no guarantee that we solve the environmental problems we are facing. One need only look at the specific problems you cite as improvements to see that it took more than just technology:

1. You write “Since 1970, we have reduced air pollution … by almost half…” That happens to coincide with the Clean Air Act, which required that polluters reduce pollution. Government Mandate.

2. You write “The ozone layer is again thickening…” That’s only because we banned CFC’s back around 1990.

I disagree that the “pessimists” are producing “bupkis.” They are raising the issue. If they weren’t, more people would actually believe the BS that says global warming is not a human-induced problem, or the solution to rising oil prices is to drill more.

Posted by: Steve K at September 6, 2006 8:52 AM
Comment #179364

Everett & j2t2

I agree that if we use less gas, the price will go down and that a higher price will decrease demand. It is very simple.

I disagree that laying off shore is somehow nefarious. It is true that they are waiting for the market to turn. This is exactly what you or I might do when selling a home or buying a used car. If you can wait, you can often get a better deal. As you mention, waiting is costing BP a lot of money each day. Those are the constraints and benefits of negotiation.

Gergle

Yes, if we had fewer people we would have less competition for resources. Of course, people are also a resource, so you have to look for balance. I would prefer to have fewer people and maybe harder working ones, but I don’t know how well we will do asking for volunteers to leave. We have to assume we will need to deal with the number of people we have today, plus those “already in the pipeline”.

Re Gates - his contribution was not so much technical as organizational. Microsoft products are not the best, but we all use them as a common language. He made a fantastic fortune for giving us that. But if you follow Microsoft, you notice that it is no longer the leader it once was. Remember a couple of decades ago when people used to say that IBM was so strong and big that it could control the market forever. Or recall in the early 1970s, when John Kenneth Galbraith wrote that a firm like GM was so powerful that it could dictate supply and demand. A snapshot look at the economy shows impressive strength of the current leaders. A dynamic view shows their weakness.

Of the original Dow-Jones firms, only one - GE - is still there.

Roger

QUESTION: How did you come up with the idea for your REPUBLICAN AND CONSERVATIVE BLOG?

It is not mine. David Remer does all the thinking on that.

QUESTION: Do you read all of the comments?

No. I try to look at most of them, but it depends on how much time I have. I hold down a full time job and have lots of other things. Fortunately, I read & write fast (although not always well).

QUESTION: If you read all of the comments, how do you fine time to do so, and how do you find time to reply.

See above.

QUESTION: This one is kind of personal… do you some times get ticked-off at what people have to say.

Not usually. I find thoughtful comments useful even when they don’t agree. I don’t enjoy personal attacks. I don’t object to partisan points of view, but I do dislike it when people attack my country.

JACK…. Your doing a great job, and keep up the good work.

Thanks.

Steve K

I am happy that issues get raised, but I am a practical person. I want to know what I can do. My perception is that pessimists prefer to describe the problem instead of prescript practical solutions. I also think that some environmentalists enjoy the feeling of righteous indignation and want to punish.

Posted by: Jack at September 6, 2006 9:22 AM
Comment #179366

Gergle,

Bill Gates didn’t write DOS, he bought it. It was initially created by Tim Paterson. And yes, Windows is overpriced compared to other OSes out there, but other OSes are not as user friendly (more secure though) or as universally hardware compatable.

Posted by: SirisC at September 6, 2006 9:54 AM
Comment #179367

Why this insistance that car exhaust is the cause of global warming. Or the if it is eliminated, the problem will be solve. Since there is no proof or connection found yet, don’t you think you are fixing the worng thing. I can not believe a conservative is upset over the market controlling the price of fuel. I have to assume you are engaging in satire.

Posted by: frankxcid at September 6, 2006 10:00 AM
Comment #179368
What about our ozone hole or the dying forests due to acid rain? These WERE real problems. But in every case solutions were not only possible, but easier and cheaper than predicted.

This line could have come directly from Gore in his movie ‘An inconvenient truth’. He says almost word for word exactly the same thing. In it, he’s extremely positive and upbeat.

If you’re going to build a whole thread around a Republican talking point a la an “attack ad” why not include some quotes that prove what a pessimist Gore is? Or even better, how about viewing his movie before unfairly attacking him? In fact, hasn’t it been conservatives in general who have been saying for forever that this problem is not worth fixing? Isn’t that a tad pessimistic and shortsighted?

Posted by: Max at September 6, 2006 10:05 AM
Comment #179369

“The reason that 100,000 Iraqis and 2600 Americans have died, and countless others have been severly injured, is due to this struggle for a single resource.”

Wow, people still beleive that load? I thought you guys were passing out different talking points this time around. Did you miss the memo?

Posted by: Matt at September 6, 2006 10:11 AM
Comment #179371

Max

I am sorry if I mischaracterized Al Gore. I did not know that he acknowleged that the U.S. environment has improved remarkably since 1970 and that it has continued to improve during the Bush Administration. I read his first book, but I admit that I only read about his latest movie. My mistaken impression was that Al Gore seemed to think we were at the brink of a major disaster and it would be difficult and costly to address the problem.

If Gore really believes as you say (and it sounds as I do) maybe he ought to smile a little more.

Frankxcid

The problem we have with oil is that it does not properly account for the external costs. That is the general problem with environmental issues. If I use soft coal to heat my house, I impose costs on you and others, but I reap the benefit of the cheap fuel.

Posted by: Jack at September 6, 2006 10:35 AM
Comment #179382

Yes, despite the characterizations of the right, Al Gore comes off reasonably in the movie. Actually, he’s quite optimistic, which is why he’s been presenting that slide show for so many years.

We can address global warming, and in fact we must, but we should also realize that, to some degree, the damage is already done. How to mitigate the consequences is our goal, now. We need a government that takes the environment and energy issues very seriously — we can’t afford more half-hearted steps.

Posted by: Gerrold at September 6, 2006 11:09 AM
Comment #179389

Jack,

Jump to 1:09, and take a look at this video of Gore presenting to Moveon.org You need only watch for a minute or two. Gore is always a gentlemen, even when presenting to the far left. What a pessimist.

Warning! Watching above video will result in crying, handwringing, and thoughts about how much better we would have been with Gore as president.

Posted by: Max at September 6, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #179391

Jack,
Good blog. You’ve captured the conflict between the conflicting sectors of security. Most people focus on military security but there is also economic, environmental, political, and societal security. Occassionally, different sectors will collide with each other such as the Kyoto Protocal. It would’ve provided environmental security but some feel it would’ve hurt our economic security too much. This paticular type of security conundrum is the reason behind America’s slow start to search for an alternative fuel source. We have to find a balance for ALL the sectors of security to be a truly secure nation

Posted by: Cyntino at September 6, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #179392

Well Jack,

You refer to “pessimist” but the only two names you cite are Lyndon Johnson (who has been out of office for over a year before the first Earth Day), and Al Gore, who displays a great deal of optimism about what people can do.

And with regards to describing the problem rather than present “practical solutions,” again, I recommend you open up Gore’s new book and browse through the last 25 pages or so. It’s filled with practical solutions that everyday people can start doing today. If, after looking through his book (you don’t have to buy it), you still place him in the “pessimist” category, I’d really like to know why.

Posted by: Steve K at September 6, 2006 1:05 PM
Comment #179403

Jack:

Kudos for reacognizing Al Gore is right about global warming. It took him a hell of a long time but he finally convinced a big Republican like you that there is such a thing and it could be bad for us and civilization.

That Gore has remarkable powers of persuasion!

Now about pessimism. If Gore were a pessimist he would not bother to travel all over the world for years informing the world of the problem of global warming. He would stay home and accept doom.

No, Gore is an optimist. Furthermore, he is a trouble shooter. He knows global warming would be horrific so he gets to work to prevent bad things from happening.

You think we can invent our way out of it? Fine. Who made you think about this solution? The man’s name is Al Gore. Thank him.

Posted by: Paul Siegel at September 6, 2006 2:07 PM
Comment #179409
… U.S. environment has improved remarkably since 1970 and that it has continued to improve during the Bush Administration.

Define environment, while studies indicate improvement in certain areas, most of which concerns the visible spectrum. There are other areas that have shown little improvement or worsened conditions. Also, since our environment is intricately linked with the world’s environment. It would be short sighted to only look at certain factors within the boundaries of the United States and feel satisfied.

Furthermore, to believe that government regulation and corporate responsibilities is sufficient to succor an improving environment is naïve. Considering that U.S. corporations compete with foreign corporations that are located in areas that have no restrictive and or costly government regulations. The U.S. corporations being disadvantaged or not (and many have already been doing this for years), move facets of their corporate units to areas in order to maximize profits. Certain governments are intentionally ignoring pollution in order to attract large corporations. Unless there are enacted world accords, which would hold all countries and corporations equally accountable for their pollutants, the U.S. will continually be at a disadvantage. World resolutions are an area of environmental policy, which our administration has shied away from, yet should readdress.

Your above statement also seems to credit Bush and his administration for any improvement in the environment. While most people (you can choose any poll you like) believe the contrary. In fact many people myself included, believe President Bush and his policies has hindered and or retarded any environmental gains we have achieved during his administration.

Posted by: Cube at September 6, 2006 2:54 PM
Comment #179410

Just in case there’s a misunderstanding when looking at my link above skip to one hour and nine minutes. Gore almost word for word says what you say in your post above Jack, minus partisan bickering.

Posted by: Max at September 6, 2006 3:13 PM
Comment #179412

Jack,

I don’t know if I’ve ever read anything by you more pollyanna or straw-man than this. I really don’t understand your picking on Al Gore except it is your natural bias. Al Gore and so-called “eco-pessimists” are pointing out the real dangers that are possible and their probability as well. They are not pessimists but advocate taking the problem very very seriously as they should. If they simply despaired and thru up their hands they would be more extreme. This is not a case of soup de jour by Gore as this has been a strong conern his since his college days. The problem has gotten seriously worse in the past 35 years. What gives?

What is extreme is some uber-faith in the free market avoiding this problem without the mandate of government. The market has a hard time looking past the quarter much less the next century. The examples you cite make the case for the need of right governmental policy to help us avoid potentially huge catastophic and economic changes. Witness California’s step in the right direction. Once serious policy addressing the problem is in place then let the free-market figure out how best to meet that policy as you said. Unfortunately, California and other states and nations will have to sacrifice and work on a less-than-level playing field in order to address this problem since the Bush administration is completely ignoring it (after denying it even existed!). Perhaps they will prove what some seem think that being a leader in this area will actually prove an economic advantage, eventually, but in the short-term I doubt it. That is why a national policy and international agreements are so key, not pessimistic, to actually solving the problem.

Posted by: Chris2x at September 6, 2006 3:19 PM
Comment #179415

SirisC, Hmmm well, I at least thought he accomplished that. What was it he sold to IBM?

As for Windows wide platform compatability, I agree, but wouldn’t open source/architecture be as widely compatible if Microsoft didn’t enter into anti-competitive agreements with it’s users and retailers? I’m not convinced that Microsoft did us any favors by standardizing Windows in PC’s.

My point is that, large corporations are by definition anti competitive and restrictive to markets. I just get tired of hearing free market arguments being used to defend aggregious abuse of markets. It reminds me of the Israeli’s talking about autonomy of the Palestinians and return of their territory, while building and expanding settlements subsidized by American money.

Or the wonderous decision by the Supreme Court that money equals speech. As Bob Dylan said,
“Money doesn’t talk it screams,” as he is whisked away in his Limo.

Posted by: gergle at September 6, 2006 3:27 PM
Comment #179424

A couple thoughts on how the word pessism is being thrown around lately:

Optimism in the face of the daunting challenges of these times can be as debilitating as pessimism — shielding us from the obligation to become active agents for a better outcome. If recent disappointment in leadership is robbing Americans of their optimism, this might actually be a step in the direction of cultural maturity. It’s not that President Bush has robbed America of its optimism, but that he tried to replace it with delusion.

Posted by: Max at September 6, 2006 4:05 PM
Comment #179425

A couple thoughts on how the word pessism is being thrown around lately:

Optimism in the face of the daunting challenges of these times can be as debilitating as pessimism — shielding us from the obligation to become active agents for a better outcome. If recent disappointment in leadership is robbing Americans of their optimism, this might actually be a step in the direction of cultural maturity. It’s not that President Bush has robbed America of its optimism, but that he tried to replace it with delusion.

Posted by: Max at September 6, 2006 4:06 PM
Comment #179459

Paul et al

I gave a lecture about global warming in 1986 and wrote about it more than 20 years ago. I know it is a problem and have consistently supported the solutions of higher energy prices, alternatives and nuclear power.

Picking on Al Gore was not my main point. My point was to be confident that things have gotten better and that we can solve this problem too. I have not checked all the past posts I made on this subject to see if anyone here commented, but when I have talked about these things before, I have been told how bad things are (and how much worse they have become since 2000), how nuclear power is not an answer, how high energy prices are unjust and unacceptable and how only very drastic action will solve the problem.

So let me be clear about this. Gore and I evidently agree on these main points:

1. he U.S. environment is significantly healthier than it was 30 years ago.
2. We need to continue to shift to incentives to develop alternatives.
3.Prices on energy will (and must rise). We should do nothing to lower energy prices.
4.Nuclear power will supply an increasing amount of our power in the short and medium term.
5.Technology will be the solution to our problem.
6.Biotechnology will help us adapt to what changes are already on the way.
7. An efficient market with government incentives and penalties setting general directions will solve our current problems faster than large scale government intervention dictating details.

If this is what Al Gore says, I have no trouble with him and he would have no trouble with me. In broad terms, this does not differ from the Bush agenda?

Maybe we are all fighting over nothing.

Posted by: Jack at September 6, 2006 7:14 PM
Comment #179478

Actually, Al Gore is against nuclear power, as am I. Currently we have 104 commercial nuclear plants that supply about 19 percent of the electricity generated by power plants. The cost of nuclear plants has skyrocketed since the ones built in the 1970s. By the late 1980s, the cost was around $5 billion. Now you can say that much of this cost has to do with safety regulations, and you may be right, but considering the potential risk, we do not want to cut corners.

At any rate, do the math. One hundred more plants to get the electricity percentage up to 40 percent would cost half a trillion dollars. That still wouldn’t eliminate imports, because our consumption is projected to increase despite the current level of investment in renewable and clean energy. The Bush administration now is talking about subsidizing a few plants, and of course favors subsidizing oil companies — and as Jack indicated earlier, the true cost of this subsidization is much greater than the actual dollars promised in loan guarentees and cost overruns.

Nuclear power could have a role, but it’s not going to be a major one. The true action on this front is two-fold: cutting demand through increased investment in energy efficiency, and replacing oil with the whole range of clean and renewable energy sources, including local production via solar, wind, geothermal, etc.

Coal is this country’s huge fossil fuel, and continued investment in clean generation plants is necessary.

We aren’t fighting over nothing. The fight is to get our government to fully recognize the danger and to take appropriate steps. The current administration doesn’t really get it. Consumption and importation of foreign oil will continue to increase according to EIA projections even with the current level of investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. In terms of automobile emissions, the United States is well behind many other nations, yet just this year the Bush administration caved to the automobile lobby and didn’t increase CAFE standards.

The fact is, the people who have been talking about this for so long have been characterized by the right as environmental wackos and nut cases.

I seriously recommend you see Gore’s movie, Jack, and view it through a non-political lens. The facts are very powerful even without partisan spin.

Posted by: Gerrold at September 6, 2006 9:02 PM
Comment #179479
In broad terms, this does not differ from the Bush agenda?

Jack,

We’ve seen no significant investment from Bush in new technologies only lip service and broken promises. Does “an efficient market with government incentives and penalties setting general directions” translate into doing nothing? Am I really supposed to “credit” Bush for higher gas prices, when they are not the result of taxing or any kind of policy, but the result of a horribly mismanaged war gone wrong?

Is Gore’s suggestion, for example, that this country ask car manufacturers to decrease CO2 emissions to what China’s were in 1983 too interventionist? Would it not be in our interests to help ratify something like the Kyoto agreement, which every single country was willing to sign but us? These steps are minimal. If these steps sound too radical to you, then I would say that your real disagreement with Gore is that you don’t take the problem seriously. You pessimistically don’t think this country can and should do the minimum to correct the problem.

Posted by: Max at September 6, 2006 9:05 PM
Comment #179488

Jack

It’s the old addage of preferring to see the glass half empty rather than half full. The doom and gloom party is only capable, it seems, of seeing it half empty - in everything. The awareness and improvement in the environment and related issues has grown tremendously since I was young. There’s been and continues to be progress with what we HUMAN BEINGS are capable of and wish to continue to do to preserve what we have. However, there are limitations to what we can have mastery over.
There are many potentially cataclysmic events in nature which are just simply BEYOND our
control. We live on this Earth dominated by nature and environmental extreems due to volcanic activity, chemical reactions and movement taking place in the depths of the Earth and in the depths of space…causing the eruption of Mt. St. Helens or Crakatowa. (Pompey and its entire civilization was wiped out in the blink of an eye) Real events in nature which are unpredictable, unstopable and no more the fault of humanity than the extinction of the dinosaurs.
Jack, you’re very much a realist…and an optomist it seems. This negativity in the ‘blame America…blame Bush…blame humanity’ crowd gets incredibly difficult to take. It’s like a drumbeat that they just keep pounding out day after day…week after week…month after month and I don’t know how they can continue to go on living day after day feeling the way they do. It’s downright depressing.
What we need more of is an attitude of hope and optimism to keep us upbeat during these incredibly difficult times we’re experiencing now….with subversion coming from without and from within /negativity all around…we have to beat the drum for the real JOY of life itself, as imperfect as it may be.

Posted by: linda at September 6, 2006 10:33 PM
Comment #179489

Jack,

This is a great post if you cross out “Al Gore”.

You actually have made a very eloquent argument against the conservative position on climate change. Apparently you haven’t noticed that the new conservative position is that climate change is happening, but there’s nothing we can do about without wrecking the economy.

I’m glad you want to actually do something about climate change. You are now officially a radical leftwing environmentalist.

Posted by: Woody Mena at September 6, 2006 10:37 PM
Comment #179502

Gerrold & Max

There is not carbon decrease w/o more nukes. France produces 78% of its electricity with Nukes. In this case we can learn from the French.

We don’t need the government to spend big bucks on energy. Last time they did that (Carter’s Synfuels) it was a debacle. And it is really good it DID NOT work, since most of those technologies would have created more CO2, considered at the time of global cooling to be harmless.

In one of my reference article is information about energy intensity. If you look at it, you will find three big eras. Pre 1973, where our effective use of energy grew very slowly. 1973 until the mid 1980s when it got better very fast, and middle 1980s until the recent price rises when improvements slowed. During those periods we had Democrats and Republicans in the White House and in Congress. It was all the same. In fact, it got worse during Clinton. Why? Price of energy. The price dropped and so did efficiency. SUVs sold best during the Clinton (and Gore) administration.

So we need high energy prices and nuclear power to address the problem.

RE Café standards, you can go out and buy a hybrid today. Any type of car available in Europe could be available in the U.S. if anyone wanted to buy it. High gas prices are the best incentive.

I don’t CREDIT Bush with high prices. I just think high prices work. That is what experience shows.

Re Kyoto, Kyoto is just a PR exercise. The countries that signed on to Kyoto are not doing better than we are. The EU’s CO2 emission actually went up by more than ours in the years since Kyoto was negotiated. It is a deeply flawed document and may be worse than nothing if people think it will solve the problem.

Woody

I think this is an important issue. Conservatives (at least the business oriented ones) are embracing the solutions. We can make money. We can do well by doing good for the environment. I am personally very enthusiastic about ethanol or methanol from cellulous. And when we get interested in something, things actually happen. I believe that all the hot air about global warming has probably melted a couple of glaciers.

BTW - my first love was always nature. That is how I came to be conservative. Nature more or less functions on the basis of supply and demand as well as competition. I believe humans must rise above nature in our societies, but we still have natural constraints imposed on us. There are limited to what we can or should expect.

To all

I am going to be away for a few days and not computing. I am not ignoring all of you, but I will not be blogging again until Sunday night. It is not that I do not enjoy all the banter, but I will be working on a building a bass pond.

Posted by: Jack at September 7, 2006 12:03 AM
Comment #179507

Jack:

So let me be clear about this. Gore and I evidently agree on these main points:


4.Nuclear power will supply an increasing amount of our power in the short and medium term.

No, he definitely disagrees with you on that. Check it out here. or here.

And, he’s right. You’re wrong. If you were really the free-marketer you claim to be, you also would discount nukes. Why? Nuclear power is not economical in a free-market sense, it is only economical with enormous government subsidies such as they have in France.

Posted by: Crazy_joe_divola at September 7, 2006 12:29 AM
Comment #179536

Crazy_joe_Divola,

I agree there are problems with nuclear energy, but I for one disagree with Al Gore on this point. There is no real connection between nuclear energy and nuclear bombs. The major cost has been legal costs, not engineering. This requires political solutions and education to resolve.

The nuclear genie has been out of the bottle since the fifties. We don’t own the technology, and cannot limit it. This is a myth of politics. Unless we are willing to bomb every nuclear nation into the stone age, which will result in us being bombed into the stone age, we will never control the spread of nuclear weapons. Our “ally”, Pakistan has spread the technology. Since they will not go after Osama, do you think Osama might tap into that source? Terrorists WILL get a nuclear bomb someday. The issue is civil governance and dispute resolution. Perhaps we should have invaded Pakistan rather than Iraq. Sadly warfare is the mode in which many issues are resolved. Even the US had it’s own civil war. People don’t blow up what they participate in. Perhaps we need leaders with some vision beyond warfare. I’m not being naive here, just dissapointed with an administration that seems more interested in pre WWII power games and political points than in serving American interests.

If an foreign power begins bombing nuclear plants, we will have much bigger problems than just worrying about the release of radioactive compounds. Flying a jetliner with fire suppressant systems into a building or nuclear plant will not cause catastrophy. Why won’t the FAA require these known fire suppressants to be installed in jets? Cost? How much have the current subsidies to Airlines cost us?

I have always thought that sending nuclear waste into space is something that we should evaluate. Launching a rocket over oceans or the artic to minimize impacts from a failed launch. An accident could occur, but I suspect that the odds could be lowered significantly with failsafe systems, and logistics to minimize the impact of a failure.

Perhaps if we’d funded the Supercollider project, we’d be able to develop Fusion reactors. There is a dearth of Plasma studies in the US. Steam and deisel power changed the shipping industry. Investing in oil is like investing in sails.

Posted by: gergle at September 7, 2006 6:11 AM
Comment #179555

Gergle,

Sell probably is the wrong word, he licensed DOS to IBM so they could include it with all their PCs. And yes, there would be much better interoperability if open standards were used, but the actions of Microsoft seem to be a bit off topic to the way this thread is going.

Posted by: SirisC at September 7, 2006 9:33 AM
Comment #179556

Linda,

First you slam the democrats as being pessimistic and doom and gloom, and then in the next breath say that global warming is too big a problem for us to solve?

Jack,

Enjoy your pond. Sounds nice.

Posted by: Max at September 7, 2006 9:41 AM
Comment #179625

Jack,

Well, perhaps we will see wide-scale construction of new nuclear plants. I think we will see some, but not in enough numbers to really solve the basic problem. Besides, that wouldn’t affect oil consumption and importation that much — oil accounts for a tiny fraction of the electricity produced in his country. To offset coal consumption, nuclear plants make some sense, but we have the technology now to extract energy from coal with vitually no release of CO2. At any rate, oil prices are not projected to dramatically rise within the next twenty years, and coal should continue to be relatively cheap, so it’s hard to see the economics of large-scale nuclear plant construction.

Raising gas prices. Why that method? Why not cap imports? That would raise the price of oil and give every industry incentive to be more energy efficient and/or seek alternate fuel sources.

We do have hybrids now, but I fail to see your point. Are you against regulation mandating improved fuel efficiency and lower emissions? The world has shown that industry can respond to these challenges; why should we assume we can’t?

I don’t think massive new government programs are required, but we do need government to challenge industry by setting rigourous standards in the pursuit of national priorities.

Posted by: Gerrold at September 7, 2006 2:21 PM
Comment #179690

Ecopessimism? Ecoeffectiveness?

Who do you think you are fooling?!!!

The thing Iliked most about Gore’s movie was the optimistic can-do attitude he ended it on. He pulled no punches. He gave it to us straight and then he explained how we can handle it. He even reminded us of how we have successfully handled the CFC problem and its effects on our ozone layer.

So…

I get two things from your post:

1: You would do or say anything to attack Gore or the Democrats regardless of what was said or who was right or wrong. It’s about labels for you. You know, like the kids who bought Guccu bags in the 80’s. Crappy plastic purses that all looked alike and didn’t last but they said: “Gucci.”

2: You are clearly of the opinion that sweeping the facts under the carpet and denying the effects of global warming and the patterns that are completely OUTSIDE the normal natural cycle…constitutes ECOEFFECTIVENESS.

I’m saddened. If the truth cannot ring true with you, what hope is there?

The power of pride and ego and political labels are working mighty bad things. We need to RECOGNIZE the problem. Then we can find and do the right things to rectify it.

Posted by: RGF at September 7, 2006 7:57 PM
Comment #179701

RGF, how do you know what is the normal, natural cycle? We have infered temperature data from soil and ice strata. We have reliable temperature data only since the 1970’s and later. Carbon dioxide is another infered bit of data. The only trends that I have seen are based on a precision that doesn’t exist.

The mistake that Al Gore and those concluding that global warming is a “real” event is the unreliabilty of the data and the modeling of future projections. We know that there is an apparent accumulation of carbon dioxide. But much like the Ozone hole, we don’t have reliable data as to it’s history or what the exact mechanisms are. Heard anything about that ozone hole lately? Was there anything wrong with that “science”?

I think it is wise to reduce our carbon profiles for largely economic reasons, and if there is some validity to the warming idea, although I don’t think it rises to the level to justify major economic disruptions based on it. Secondly, the major producers are going to be the developing nations of China and India. We don’t control their behavior.

Let’s not shoot ourselves in the foot, running about shouting like chicken little.

Posted by: gergle at September 7, 2006 8:33 PM
Comment #180195

gergle,

There is a long chemical chain reaction that takes place between Chloro-fluoro carbons and Ozone. I am guessing you don’t have much of a science background, do you? We have had 20 years of shifting away from using CFC’s and it has had a positive effect. That would seem to support the idea that it was the CFC’s that were the source of the problem, would it not?

If you think the ice-core data is merely ‘infered’ and somehow unreliable, you don’t know the science. Neither have you seen the movie, or else you know what you are arguing against, and clearly, you do not.

The carbon dioxide in our atmoshphere is going to reach levels in our generation that were not present in the entire history of LIFE on this planet!

Further, if you look at the cycle and see how previous spikes in warming have coincided with cooling and with mass-extinctions as a result of climate shifts, you realize that even if this were just an unusually strong but nonetheless natural shift…if we do nothing, we will surely allow an end to civilization as we know it, and maybe even to mankind, to take place.

Is that not enough for you to sit up take notice and do something about it?

Posted by: RGF at September 9, 2006 10:01 PM
Comment #180547

RGF your correct on our great efforts here in the US to remove The CfC’s And replace them with safer Refregerants.starting back in the 1970s with the removal of Cfc’s from Aerosol cans.and there is still more to do on that front because most all of the Existing commerical and large Equipment Still run on R 12 and will for many more years. the safer Refigerants don’t remove as much heat as the older Ones, so Everything must be replaced from the ground up. condensers, evaporators and even the cooling towers. And even the Duct Work must be Enlarged . Mega money! and the huge Problem is All the third world Countries Produce R11 and R12 and R22. because it is so cheap to make and it’s there refigerant of choice. and there still are millions and millions of cars and trucks and other sources of transportation Running on r12. and the black market for r12 is huge. I still can buy R12 R 22 and R11 right over the internet with my License from my 19 years in Engineering in the HVAC Industry.

Posted by: Rodney Brown at September 11, 2006 7:51 PM
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