Monday, December 1, 2014

Eight Pitfalls in Evaluating Green Energy Solutions

Our Finite World: "Green technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries, have pushed resource use toward minerals that were little exploited in the past. If we try to ramp up usage, current mines are likely to deplete rapidly. We will eventually need to add new mines in areas where resource quality is lower and concern about pollution is higher. Costs will be much higher in such mines, making devices using such minerals less affordable, rather than more affordable, in the long run."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

EU biofuels policy bad for Indonesia, bad for #climate, bad for humanity.

Friends of the Earth Europe: "EU biofuels policy currently requires 10% of transport energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, but almost all of this is biofuels from food and oil crops mixed into the fuel sold at the pump, which is in turn helping to drive deforestation, land grabs and climate change. And it is impacting Indonesia particularly hard by driving the expansion of palm oil. Since 2006, palm oil imports into the EU for direct use as biofuels have increased by 365%."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wood pellets worse than coal for environment

Monday, August 18, 2014

Humans will cook the earth regardless of fuel used. Unless #degrowth

Free Public Transit: Exponential Economist Meets Finite Physicist | Do the Math: ""Alright, the Earth has only one mechanism for releasing heat to space, and that’s via (infrared) radiation. We understand the phenomenon perfectly well, and can predict the surface temperature of the planet as a function of how much energy the human race produces. The upshot is that at a 2.3% growth rate (conveniently chosen to represent a 10× increase every century), we would reach boiling temperature in about 400 years. [Pained expression from economist.] And this statement is independent of technology. Even if we don’t have a name for the energy source yet, as long as it obeys thermodynamics, we cook ourselves with perpetual energy increase.""

Monday, May 26, 2014

Vaclav Smil - a wind turbine is a pure embodiment of fossil fuels

Congestion pricing, bureaucratic nightmare

Congestion pricing is unfair, but we can solve unfairness with computers, right?

The Urbanist: "But there’d be a negative equity effect because congestion charges, like taxes and prices, don’t distinguish between buyers according to their income. Congestion charging would make driving in the peak less affordable for those on lower incomes; they’d consequently find it more expensive to access important opportunities like employment.

That’s a very important issue that must be addressed. Now that the practical constraints have largely been overcome by technology (e.g. transponders), the impact on drivers’ pockets (and not just the poorest ones) is the main practical factor limiting implementation of congestion pricing."

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Minimum wage fight is old economics, will fail even if won.

Cheap oil has peaked. Debts will not be repaid, but interest mostly will. What does that mean? That means that the rich will bleed the system until it crashes. There's tons of cash hidden, but that will stay hidden because there are no customers, so nowhere to invest.

Senate Nears Minimum Wage Vote, Defeat Likely: "WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats and Republicans grappled Wednesday over which party is truly helping American families as the Senate neared a vote on a Democratic election-year bill increasing the federal minimum wage, a measure that seemed all but certain to be defeated."
But there is low-hanging fruit. Autosprawl. A vast amount of money and energy is being wasted on the autosprawl system. This should be the first target of degrowth.

Electric cars solve nothing

Planetizen: : "Regardless of the energy source for cars in your community, the biggest mobility challenge in cities is about the massive amount of space that cars demand. Space to drive in, and space to park in. Space for cars even when the cars aren't using it - dedicated space for "potential cars." It's staggering really, how much of a city is set aside for cars, and how unwilling we often are to even share that space with other uses and users.

Electric cars do nothing to address this space issue."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why the renewable-energy solution is so dangerous

Renewables have low net energy. Many people assume that development of renewables will be combined with degrowth and reduction of demand for energy. But that is not the plan of capitalism. Capitalism cannot degrow, so it will create energy apartheid, wasteful life continuing for a minority, and starvation for millions of poor people. In fact, that is exactly how capitalism has operated for the short couple hundred years of its life. But now it's going to get a lot worse, because there are 4 billion people who are expecting a better life and will be getting a worse one, much worse.

Honest people who advocate renewables should do a thorough thermodynamic analysis of the systems they are advocating. The same should be done for energy-saving technologies. Otherwise a lot of activist energy is going to be wasted.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

IPCC gets the problem right, the solution wrong

“The IPCC’s position on bioenergy is confused: They acknowledge concerns that large-scale bioenergy can increase emissions, destroy livelihoods and damage the environment. Yet they still class it as ‘low-carbon’ and even refer to bioenergy with carbon-capture and storage (BECCS) as a credible means of removing carbon from the atmosphere which they deem essential to meeting stabilization targets. It is a shame they put so much stock in something that would make things worse rather than better.”

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to be "green" by exporting your pollution

The Ecologist: "In other words, companies had declared using vast quantities of Dutch used cooking oil in biofuels and it would have been quite impossible for Dutch people to eat enough chips to end up with that much waste vegetable oil."

Monday, March 3, 2014

Machines Making Machines Making Machines

SunWeb: "Solar and wind capturing devices are not alternative energy sources. They are extensions of the fossil fuel supply. There is an illusion of looking at the trees and not the forest in the “Renewable” energy world. Not seeing the systems, machineries, fossil fuel uses and environmental degradation that create the devices to capture the sun, wind and biofuels allows myopia and false claims.
Energy Return on Energy Invested (ERoEI) is only a part of the the equation. There is a massive infrastructure of mining, processing, manufacturing, fabricating, installation, transportation and the associated environmental assaults. Each of these processes and machines may only add a miniscule amount of energy to the final component of solar or wind devices. There would be no devices with out this infrastructure."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Green Capitalism: The God That Failed

Green Capitalism: The God That Failed: "The results are in: No amount of "green capitalism" will be able to ensure the profound changes we must urgently make to prevent the collapse of civilization from the catastrophic impacts of global warming.
The following is an updated version of an article that originally was published in the Real-World Economics Review. We consider Richard Smith's article foundational to understanding the world we live in. Given its length, several sittings or a printout may be required to complete reading."

Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Are Louisiana's Forests Being Sacrificed to Fuel Europe's Biomass Boom? "The white domes aren’t the pellets' final destination. After being packed into containers the wood is shipped to Europe, where power companies will burn them in an effort to meet the European Union’s stringent renewable energy requirements.

This is known as biomass energy. The problem is, not everyone thinks burning wood is green.

Environmentalists in Louisiana are crying foul over European corporations using Louisiana’s forests for their profit, and perhaps polluting the planet in the process."

'via Blog this'

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Minimum wage is wrong fight

We should choose our battles carefully. Just because a goal is justified does not mean that a direct path to it will get you there. Why are wages low? Simple. High unemployment. But no responsible company will hire people unless they have orders for their product or service. But demand is low.

There is a lot of offshore cash, and a lot of unsustainable debt. The debt principle mostly will never be paid, and the cash will never be taxed. So default is good but only affects which billionaire gets hurt, not the system itself. And demanding fair taxation is good, but the federal government is too easy for billionaires to control.

But there is a pot of gold that no one is looking at. Waste. Yes, waste. The auto and sprawl system wastes money and energy like there is no tomorrow. Here is where we should put our efforts. And we can work locally.

Join your local public transit advocacy group. Call for public transit to be fare-free. This is not a radical idea. Pumping more carbon into the air is the radical idea. Free transit is like a minimum-wage hike, but better. It addresses the economy, energy, and climate all at once. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Thermodynamics: Why Technology Won't Save Us

csrwire: "The idea that technology will allow us to do ever more with ever less is a delusion.

It is vital to understand that technology is not a source of energy. That is, it is not a fuel in its own right, only a means for putting fuel to work or for transforming one resource into another.

Thus, for example, coal can be converted into gasoline—but at a high thermodynamic price, because much of the potential energy in the coal is lost in the process. Or technology can make the conversion of energy more efficient—but, as we have seen, only up to a point. Similarly, technology can make new energy resources available—but only by first expending energy to find and exploit them."

'via Blog this'

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Solar car will burn coal and oil and extend the life of sprawl

Ford to Show Solar-Powered Hybrid at CES - Digits - WSJ: "Ford Motor plans to roll out a solar-powered version of its C-Max hybrid compact car during next week’s International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas."
  • Burns coal when battery is recharged because that's what creates electricity
  • Burns oil because the oil it doesn't burn goes to China with less price pressure, so more used
  • Extends the life of sprawl by keeping the subsidized road/suburb system alive

In addition, you will probably subsidize the buyers with your tax dollars. Poor people will not be able to afford them even though they will pay for subsidy and any infrastructure development or maintenance. In other words, no change to current system.