May 5 2013

Solar replaces utilities

Kal @ 18:25

On May 2 Avedon posted this interesting bit about the disruptive effect of cheap solar and other forms of alternative energy:

"To keep the lights on, Oslo needs to import trash from the U.S.: Did you know that the city of Oslo is powered by garbage? Amazing and true. The Norwegian capital, home to about 650,000 residents, operates two enormous incinerators which supply the city with about 1.5 terawatt-hours of power." I've always wondered why nobody did this, and now it turns out that somebody is, but we're not hearing about it. I know why we're not hearing about it, of course - the energy industry we have is dependent on our not pursuing alternatives. That's why they work so hard to kill renewable projects like solar power. In fact, they recently released their own report (quietly - and the press didn't seem to notice) saying that they expect to be put out of business by renewables: "Just the other day, Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers said, 'If the cost of solar panels keeps coming down, installation costs come down and if they combine solar with battery technology and a power management system, then we have someone just using [the grid] for backup.' What happens if a whole bunch of customers start generating their own power and using the grid merely as backup? The EEI report warns of 'irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects' of utilities."

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Solar

Apr 13 2013

Lawrence Lessig on US election corruption

Kal @ 20:53

Bipartisan equal opportunity corruption.

There is a corruption at the heart of American politics, caused by the dependence of Congressional candidates on funding from the tiniest percentage of citizens. That's the argument at the core of this blistering talk by legal scholar Lawrence Lessig. With rapid-fire visuals, he shows how the funding process weakens the Republic in the most fundamental way, and issues a rallying bipartisan cry that will resonate with many in the U.S. and beyond.

Tags:

Category: Politics | misinformation | Morals | Climate Change

Apr 4 2013

Texans fear the term ‘climate change’?

Kal @ 23:11

Rebecca Leber in Climate Progress Texas Conservatives Start Fund To Battle Impacts Of Warming-Driven Droughts, But Won’t Mention Climate Change.

txdrought-300x195 Whether Texas lawmakers want to admit it or not, they are already planning for the effects of climate change.

Much of Texas has suffered a prolonged drought that has drained reservoirs to some of their lowest levels — this year could be even worst. The situation is so dire that the GOP-led Texas House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a long-term “rainy day” fund that invests in water infrastructure to prepare for the more frequent droughts in coming decades, although they did not acknowledge the connection to climate change.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics

Jan 28 2013

The New York Times Recognizes Climate Change

Kal @ 18:30

The Climate Change Endgame by Thomas E Lovejoy:

WHETHER in Davos or almost anywhere else that leaders are discussing the world's problems, they are missing by far the biggest issue: the rapidly deteriorating global environment and its ability to support civilization.

The situation is pretty much an endgame. Unless pressing issues of the biology of the planet and of climate change generated by greenhouse gas emissions are addressed with immediacy and at appropriate scale, the matters that occupy Davos discussions will be seen in retrospect as largely irrelevant.

This week, in Bonn, out of sight and out of mind, international negotiators will design the biodiversity and ecosystem equivalent to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A full eight years have passed since President Jacques Chirac of France acted as host at a meeting in Paris to create this "Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services."

Progress has been painfully slow. Only now is the "platform" and its work program - to assess status, trends and possible solutions - being designed. In the meantime, rates of extinction and endangerment of species have soared. Ecosystem destruction is massive and accelerating. Institutional responsiveness seems lethargic to a reptilian degree.

Environmental change is happening rapidly and exponentially. We are out of time. Only three generations back - in the same decade as the original scientific publication of the greenhouse effect - my great-grandfather chaired the commission that designed the New York subway system. How was he to anticipate the sea-level rise that contributed in part to the impact of Hurricane Sandy?

How will things look just two or three generations ahead? Can we avoid the greatest intergenerational environmental injustice of all time?

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Politics | Resource Depletion

Dec 6 2012

Which side of the “culture war” are you on?

Kal @ 10:24

Read the article:

Remember, the recent election was not the core event, but a sideshow to the main battle. A "culture war" that was not chosen or started by those who side with science and reason and evidenc-based thinking But it has becomes clear, that kind of thinking -- and a civilization that supports it -- is fighting for its life. And as the great historian Arnold Toynbee said. When a society turns its back on its "creative minority"... that is when most kingdoms, nations, empires and commonwealths fail.

. . ...a collaborative contrarian product of David Brin, Enlightenment Civilization, obstinate human nature... and http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/ (site feed URL: http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/atom.xml)

Tags:

Category: Politics | Science

Dec 2 2012

It’s the economy, stupid! Is it about to crash?

Kal @ 19:35

In this post Our Collapsing Economy and Currency we learn:

Is the “fiscal cliff” real or just another hoax? The answer is that the fiscal cliff is real, but it is a result, not a cause. The hoax is the way the fiscal cliff is being used.

And a bit later:

The US economy has two serious diseases, and neither one is too much welfare spending.

One disease is the offshoring of US middle class jobs, both manufacturing jobs and professional service jobs such as engineering, research, design, and information technology, jobs that formerly were filled by US university graduates, but which today are sent abroad or are filled by foreigners brought in on H-1B work visas at two-thirds of the salary.

The other disease is the deregulation, especially the financial deregulation, that caused the ongoing financial crisis and created banks too big to fail, which has prevented capitalism from working and closing down insolvent corporations.

And finally:

The Republicans are determined to continue the gratuitous wars and to make the 99 percent pay for the neoconservatives’ Wars of Hegemony while protecting the 1 percent from tax increases.

The Democrats are little different.

No one in the White House and no more than one dozen members of the 535 member US Congress represents the American people. This is the reason that despite obvious remedies nothing can be done. America is going to crash big time.

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Recession

Nov 6 2012

Will Texas be a climate/podcar leader?

Kal @ 17:54

From The Alcalde

13. Create a futuristic transit system.

Texas’ capital city ranks among the country’s most gridlocked, 2012 could be the costliest year ever at the pump, and our carbon footprint grows ever larger.

The chairman of UT’s Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department, Tad Patzek, proposes a solution: podcars.

Podcars are driverless vehicles that run on electricity-powered guideways suspended over existing highways. The concept may seem futuristic, but such cars have already been launched in countries like Sweden and England.

“Podcars cost 10 times less to operate and are 11 times more energy-efficient than today’s vehicles,” Patzek points out. “Also, photovoltaic panels can be installed on the guideways to augment power supply.”

Patzek is moving the concept forward in the U.S. by collaborating with Ron Swenson, one of the scientists leading the charge on podcar development. They both serve on the board of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil, which examines the issues around fossil fuel production.

Podcars are already transporting people at one of the world’s busiest airports, Heathrow in London. Given that, Patzek says, “there is no reason why they couldn’t move people between the main UT campus in Austin and the Pickle campus 10 miles north. This would be a convincing demonstration project for the city.” Katharine Grieve

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | PRT | Peak Oil | Sustainability

Nov 6 2012

Its later than you think!

Kal @ 17:38

From Climate Progress:

A new report by PricewaterhouseCoopers finds humanity has its foot on the accelerator as we head toward a cliff. The only hope is very rapid deployment of  carbon-free technology starting ASAP.

If Romney wins we appear to be done for. If Obama wins the chances are somewhat better, but I would not go so far as to call them good.

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Climate Change | Sustainability

Nov 4 2012

Why Mitt Romney Lies

Kal @ 14:03

According to The Baffler Newsletter it is how Mitt gets them to see him as one of them. It is a somewhat long and interesting read. Thanks to Dan Gillmor for bringing this to attention.

the_baffler_subscribe_tout

In part the New York Times had it right, for as much as it’s worth: Romney’s prevarications are evidence of simple political hucksterism—“short, utterly false sound bites,” repeated“so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth.” But the Times misses the bigger picture. Each constituent lie is an instance pointing to a larger, elaborately constructed “truth,” the one central to the right-wing appeal for generations: that liberalism is a species of madness—an esoteric cult of out-of-touch, Europe-besotted ivory tower elites—and conservatism is the creed of regular Americans and vouchsafes the eternal prosperity, security, and moral excellence of God’s chosen nation, which was doing just fine before Bolsheviks started gumming up the works.

A Romney lie in this vein is a pure Ronald Reagan imitation—as in this utterance from 2007: “In France,” Romney announced on the campaign trail, “I’m told that marriage is now frequently contracted in seven-year terms where either party may move on when their term is up.” And just as Reagan was found to be reciting film dialogue and jump-cutting anecdotes from his on-screen career into his pseudobiographical reminiscences on the stump, so it turns out that Romney picked up the marriage canard from the Homecoming Saga, a science fiction series written by Mormon author Orson Scott Card. (Another reason for students of Romney’s intellectual development to queasily recall that he told interviewers during that same 2008 presidential run that his favorite work of fiction was Battlefield Earth, the sci-fi opus by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, a consummate shakedown artist in his own right.)

Closing the sale, after all, is mainly a question of riding out the lie: showing that you have the skill and the stones to just brazen it out, and the savvy to ratchet up the stakes higher and higher. Sneering at, or ignoring, your earnest high-minded mandarin gatekeepers—“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,”as one Romney aide put it—is another part of closing the deal. For years now, the story in the mainstream political press has been Romney’s difficulty in convincing conservatives, finally, that he is truly one of them. For these elites, his lying—so dismaying to the opinion-makers at the New York Times, who act like this is something new—is how he has pulled it off once and for all. And at the grassroots, his fluidity with their preferred fables helps them forget why they never trusted the guy in the first place.

Tags:

Category: Politics | misinformation | wingnuttery

Nov 3 2012

Are you better off now?

Kal @ 13:48

David Brin had a number of important points in this piece:  Last Minute "Big Picture" Political Snips & Snarks

== Abandoning a Sinking Ship ==


David Stockman – yes, Ronald Reagan’s budget director and top economic advisor, who now helps lead a rising movement to take back conservatism from the monstrous path it has been taken by Rupert Murdoch, shows how – from an entirely conservative perspectivePaul Ryan’s so-called budget-balancing plan, that has the backing of the entire GOP, is loopy to the point of jibbering incoherence.

I don’t agree with all of Stockman’s counter recommendations… he is, after all, a Reagan Conservative and I would argue with him over many of his proposals.

But I acknowledge them to be sane conservative proposals worth discussion by adults. Of the sort that Barry Goldwater or William F. Buckley might have made. Back when top conservatives believed in intellect, in science and facts. And negotiating like adults.

Tags:

Category: Politics | misinformation