May 28 2010

Beyond Petroleum – Wind and Solar are better deals

Kal @ 09:30

Offshore oil vs. offshore wind ... who wins?

How many offshore wind turbines could have been bought for the cost of 1 Deepwater Horizon? The answer is enlightening.

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Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Peak Oil | Politics | Solar | Sustainability

May 27 2010

Beyond Petroleum Now

Kal @ 08:59

the problem, ultimately, with driving headlong at a brick wall; you can stop by standing on the brake pedal, or you can stop by hitting the wall, but either way, you’re going to stop.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Peak Oil | Politics | Sustainability

May 26 2010

Beyond Petroleum

Kal @ 12:38

It is time to go Beyond Petroleum.  Way beyond petroleum, all the way to solar.

Start the drums rolling.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Peak Oil | Resource Depletion | Solar | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Apr 22 2010

Is collapse inevitable?

Kal @ 10:39

John Michael Greer has another of his well thought out posts up again at The Archdruid Report titled Economic Superstitions.

Economics is our modern superstition – well, one of them, at any rate, and one of the most popular among the political class of today’s industrial societies. Like any other superstition, it has a core of pragmatic wisdom to it, but that core has been overlaid with a great deal of somewhat questionable logic. My wife’s Welsh ancestors believed that the bowl of milk on the back stoop pleased the fairies, and that’s why the rats stayed away from the kitchen garden; the economists of the twentieth century believed that expanding the money supply pleased – well, the prosperity fairies, or something not too dissimilar – and that’s why depressions stayed away from the United States.

In both cases it’s arguable that something very different was going on. The gargantuan economic boom that made America the world’s largest economy had plenty of causes; the accident of political geography that kept its industrial hinterlands from becoming war zones, while most other industrial nations got the stuffing pounded out of them, had more than a little to do with the matter; but the crucial point, one too often neglected in studies of twentieth century history, was the simple fact that the United States at midcentury produced more petroleum than all the other countries on Earth put together. The oceans of black gold on which the US floated to victory in two world wars defined the economic reality of an epoch. As a result, most of what passed for economic policy in the last sixty years or so amounted to attempts to figure out how to make use of unparalleled abundance.

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Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Peak Oil | Politics | Resource Depletion | Solar | Sustainability

Apr 16 2010

Time to end the two-wage-earner family?

Kal @ 17:36

John Michael Greer has an interesting post up about the economics of both husband and wife working for wages titled A Blindness to Systems. His  basic point is that the US could end the unemployment problem overnight just by having one of the partners in a nuclear family stop working for wages and begin working at home for the common good of the family. The Blindness to Systems aspect is that there are a lot of costs associated with that second income, but that these are often ignored in the decision process of whether or not that second partner should work for wages.

Some of the benefits to the family of one partner staying at home include better cared for children, fewer work and commute expenses,  less time wasted commuteing, better nutrition due to home cooking, possibility of a garden, and home constructed clothing, to name a few.

Some of the benefits to society would be less wasted resources, happier and healthier children, and higher average wages due to increased competition for available workers.

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Tags:

Category: Economics | Employment | Guaranteed Wage | Politics | Population | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Apr 13 2010

The Mainstream Media Is Too Liberal – Boo Hoo

Kal @ 18:39

Conservatives seem to be constantly complaining that The Media is all LIBERAL. That has never made sense to me, as lots of media types are more conservative than I am, but it is such a common complaint that maybe it is true. I wish I could believe it.

Conservatives feel persecuted and left out of a lot apparently. Today in The Atlantic Megan McArdle wrote a piece about how the poor conservatives are under represented in academia, which I came across via Crooked Timber quoting Megan McArdle:

Conservatives are, not to overlabor the obvious, marginalized in the cultural elite, even though they are powerful in the political elite. (At least some of the time, anyway). Obviously there’s been an enormous amount of ink shed about why this is, but my experience of talking to people who might have liked to go to grad school or work in Hollywood, but went and did something else instead, is that it is simply hogwash when liberals earnestly assure me that the disparity exists mostly because conservatives are different, and maybe dumber. People didn’t try because they sensed that it would be both socially isolating, and professionally dangerous, to be a conservative in institutions as overwhelmingly liberal as academia and media.

There was a lot more of course and Crooked Timber pointed out how ridiculous it all is. Lots of comments mostly agreeing for a variety of reasons, but one comment really caught my eye because it is the reason that I have long thought accounted for why so few conservatives are in these professions, if it is indeed true that conservatives are under represented.

Cervantes 04.13.10 at 8:18 pm

How about the causal story is backwards? See, what happens is, if you learn a lot of true facts, and you work hard to get good at thinking about stuff and understanding how facts can be established or contradicted, and how probably true facts fit together to create productive explanatory models, you generally end up drawing conclusions that don’t correspond to conservative ideology.

So you were qualified for an academic job first, and not so conservative as a consequence. Maybe you aren’t supposed to say that because it isn’t nice or something, I dunno . . .

One of my very conservative friends accuses liberals, especially me, of “having drunk the cool aid.” Given the “cool aid” definition of “applying known facts to produce rational results”, I am happy to accept the compliment.

Tags:

Category: Politics | misinformation

Apr 11 2010

Permanent High Unemployment – Time to change the game

Kal @ 11:34

In the US somewhere between 10% and 20% of the working age adults are out of work and there are no realistic prospects of this changing any time soon. Many other parts of the world have way higher unemployment rates.

How it works now

To the unemployed individual this is devastating. At first, for the lucky few, there is unemployment insurance providing some fraction of the person’s former wage. After unemployment insurance runs out there is some form of charity, either from the community of from the family.

The unemployed person has had a change of status and in most cases a sever change in the amount of available resources, but these unfortunates do not go away. Many have families dependent on them for support and these support needs continue whether or not the person is working. Someone has to pay the rent and supply the food and other necessities of life.

In times of near full employment the unemployment insurance system works relatively well. The newly unemployed gets enough to get by but not so much as to be too comfortable while finding a new job. Jobs are easy to find and the earnest applicant finds one quickly with only a small disruption to life.

In times like these unemployment insurance really does not work at all. For every available job there are hundreds of over qualified applicants. The government keeps extending the unemployment insurance period, but nothing changes to make finding employment more likely. The working resent those looking for work and those looking can clearly see that the system is not treating them fairly.

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Tags:

Category: Conventional Economics | Guaranteed Wage | Politics | Recession | Sustainability

Feb 19 2010

WEATHER REPORT

Kal @ 18:51

The latest wingnut email. I am still researching this to find out what really happened, not that it would prove anything if it is exactly as quoted. Other than, I suppose, that there was a hot spell in 1922 also.

The Arctic  ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer and  in some places the seals are finding the water too hot,  according to a report to the Commerce Department  yesterday from Consulit, at  Bergen ,  Norway . Reports  from fishermen, seal hunters and explorers all point  to a radical change in climate conditions and  hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone.  Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice  has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes.  Soundings to a depth of 3,100 meters showed the  gulf stream still very warm. Great masses of ice have  been replaced by moraines of earth and stones, the  report continued, while at many points well known  glaciers have entirely disappeared. Very few  seals and no white fish are found in the eastern  Arctic, while vast shoals of herring and smelts,  which have never before ventured so far north, are  being encountered in the old seal fishing grounds.  Within a few years it is predicted that due to the  ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal  cities uninhabitable.

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Tags:

Category: wingnuttery | Sustainability | Politics | misinformation | hoax | Climate Change

Feb 17 2010

Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year

Kal @ 16:09

From Alex Steffen at WorldChanging:

When We Talk Zero, We Sound Crazy. When Bill Gates Does It, Bankers Pick Up the Phone.

On Friday, the world's most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions.

And Friday, Gates predicted extraordinary climate action: zero. Not small steps, not incremental progress, not doing less bad: zero. In fact, he stood in front of a slide with nothing but the planet Earth and the number zero. That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED.

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Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Economics | Population | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Feb 11 2010

U.S – Third World Empire Police State?

Kal @ 12:27

John MIchael Greer lays out a persuasive case that the U.S. is really a third world country, but that our standard of living is so high because we are a military empire.

The US has the world’s most expensive military because, just now, it has the world’s largest empire. Now of course it’s not polite to talk about that in precisely those terms, but let’s be frank – the US does not keep its troops garrisoned in more than a hundred countries around the world for the sake of their health, you know. That empire functions, as empires always do, as a way of tilting the economic relationships between nations in a way that pumps wealth out of the rest of the world and into the coffers of the imperial nation. It may never have occurred to you to wonder why it is that the 5% of the world’s population who live in the US get to use around a third of the world’s production of natural resources and industrial products – certainly it never seems to occur to most Americans to wonder about that – but the economics of empire are the reason.

This is from his article Becoming a Third World Country. 

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Tags:

Category: Morals | Politics