Resistance Begins at Ohm!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Does Climate Change Matter?

In response to an interview between Climate Skeptic and Esquire Middle East, which is the subject of Reader Opinion Day at the Air Vent. The questions posed by Esquire Middle East are so blatantly biased that disingenuous doesn't begin to cover it. 

My frustration with the whole issue is that the first assumption seems to be it is the only issue. And everything else gets spun according to the requirements of the one issue. For example, deforestation and pollution - it isn't the same problem. Lumping pollution in with the global warming agenda is validation that the warmists don't feel it is a problem worthy of its own analysis. There are far more effective ways to reverse the accumulation of plastic trash in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre that attempting to outlaw oil.

My issue isn't with whether global warming exists or doesn't exist. My issue is that in context, relative to other issues, it does not warrant the level of economic commitment and human suffering that the proposed solutions will entail. The purveyors of the issue wail that if we don't have an earth to live on, then everything else doesn't matter. That is a hysterical argument. If one is willing to accept a qualify of life accorded to the population of say, Afghanistan, then sure, the price can be paid. Energy has consequences, good and bad. Eliminating energy or satisfying ourselves with what can be produced through wind, solar and hydroelectric are unlikely outcomes. Since we simply are not going to find enough members of the global population to willingly go there, taking the argument to its emotional extremes is a waste of time.

In the scheme of things, where does this problem fall on the list of priorities including:

Pollution, environmental destruction, amelioration and reversal of the current state;
Disease and health care, and better delivery systems to populations lacking basic care and prevention;
Food, clean water, population health and nutrition (which is related to disease prevention, and axis of health care);
Human rights - everything from genocide to female excoriation;
Affordable and available energy, since it is the foundation of productivity (without means of economic productivity, how will populations ever achieve self determination)?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

An energy idea at least worth civilized discussion

This comes from a Scientific Alliance newsletter. Hats off to Prof Phillip Stott for sharing. Get it from the professor, it is a lot easier to read. The newsletter title is What priority for climate change at a time of European crisis?
The proposition is basically this: Give electricity to the people who don't have it. Tax it.

(So, we aren't really giving it, they are going to pay for it. Somehow). This actually makes some sense because energy is the "master resource" upon which wealth is built. In other words, without energy (electricity), plowing fields, carrying coal out of mines, hauling goods to market with your ox cart, just isn't going to make you competitive. Energy is a multiplier of work. The more work, the more the economic rewards, and the better those markets are for buying products and services from other markets.

Along the way, because more energy is being made, the unit price of energy will go down. 

I'm not actually convinced this will happen. Electricity doesn't flow out of the ground. Behind it is oil, natural gas, coal or nuclear, the first three being highly volatile to supply and demand issues. Can't argue that expanding electricity into new markets isn't going to have major impact on that. And Solar and wind are not economically viable, they require too much government subsidy to even exist in the market place, let alone compete. They are just too inefficient  and unreliable to represent a primary resource now or in the future. Kind of like corn-gas, it doesn't take a nuclear physicist to figure out the numbers don't add up.

But the idea is that with the expansion in electricity "manufacture," the unit price goes down, making a tax bearable.

Even if it is not bearable, using government subsidies to bring energy where it isn't is a lot more efficient use of that resource than pouring it into the endless hole of subsidies for nonviable energy solutions at home.

Use the tax revenue to fund energy research.

Way to go Germany/Merkel

Chancellor Merkel basically unilaterally outlawed naked trading. While simplifying the description is always risky, it basically amounts to this: Trading in shares that you don't own. It gets more twisted, but the scenario that she wants to eliminate is where traders bet that the price of a stock will go down based on short-selling shares that they don't have. It has made markets furious. And there is a lot of sturm and drang about how this will have serious down side consequences. And the Chancellor is not garnering any applause in Germany.
But she has my applause and here is why: At the base of the practice, there is an economic/financial gain to be had based on -- nothing. The trader has not increased some net worth because he didn't have any worth to begin with. The transaction garners income with no equity or assets. The trader has no skin in the game, so to speak.
Imagine going to the casino and placing bets with money you don't have. And betting that the bet will lose. And making money off that transaction.