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

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

Oct 10 2012

Is man-made capital a substitute for nature’s capital?

Kal @ 19:15

Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan and was one of the main proponents of his supply-side economics. I thought those policies were totally ridiculous at the time and paid him very little mind. For the past couple of weeks I have been reading his blog, PaulCraigRoberts.org. He has strong opinions and he knows a lot about economics. At least some of what he says is spot on. On Friday, 5 May he published the text of an interview by World Affairs Monthly. He talks about the evil of offshoring jobs and suggests something that could be done to alleviate it. Good stuff.

He then goes on to talk about the limits of growth, a topic rarely discussed by mainstream economists.

A more fundamental problem than economists’ ingrained misconceptions about jobs offshoring and free trade is the Solow-Stiglitz production function that is the basis of modern economics. The Solow-Stiglitz production function assumes that man-made capital is a perfect substitute for nature’s capital. This assumption means that there are no ecological limits to economic growth. When we run out of natural capital, man-made capital simply takes its place.

As Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen demonstrates conclusively, this assumption, which is the basis of modern economics, is “a conjuring trick.” Man-made capital and natural capital are complements, not substitutes. Production transforms resources into useful products and into waste products. Natural resources are what are transformed, and labor and man-made capital are agents of transformation.

What is happening in today’s world is that nature’s capital is being exhausted, both the resources and the waste sinks–the places that the waste products from production can be deposited. The air, soil, water, and oceans themselves are being polluted by the waste products of economic activities. As these “external costs” from pollution are not included in costs of producing GDP, economists have no way of knowing if an increase in GDP is worth more than its cost….

There is a lot more food for thought in the interview. Give it a read.

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Employment | Politics | Steady-State Economics

May 3 2012

Clip Art for Sale

Kal @ 16:34

There is a new source for Clip Art, prices are reasonable.

http://www.clipartforholidays.com/ClipArt/Illustrations.aspx. Not everyone needs Clip Art, but if you do this is a good place to find it. Mother's day is almost here; do you need to make a card?

Tags:

Category: Economics | Stock Images

Jan 21 2011

Has collapse already arrived?

Kal @ 12:32

 

Lots of food for thought in the latest post from John Michael Greer, The Onset of Catabolic Collapse.

Empires are expensive:

That America is a prime candidate for catabolic collapse seems tolerably clear at this point, though I’m sure plenty of people can find reasons to argue with that assessment. It’s considered impolite to talk about America’s empire nowadays, but the US troops currently garrisoned in 140 countries around the world are not there for their health, after all, and it requires a breathtaking suspension of disbelief to insist that this global military presence has nothing to do with the fact that the 5% of our species that live in this country use around a quarter of the world’s total energy production and around a third of its raw materials and industrial products. The United States has an empire, then, and it’s become an extraordinarily expensive empire to maintain; the fact that the US spends as much money on its military annually as all the other nations on Earth put together is only one measure of the maintenance cost involved.

More...

Tags:

Category: Sustainability | Resource Depletion | Economics

Oct 7 2010

Back Yard Sea Level – Your back yard

Kal @ 11:54

Click to view full size

Information is Beautiful puts some things in perspective. Sea rise due to Global Warming, for instance.

Two meters higher wipes out Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Hamburg, and St. Petersburg. Large parts of San Francisco and Manhatton are also submerged.

That is a lot of nice Real Estate that will be going to waste.

Tags:

Category: Climate Change | Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Population | Politics | Sustainability

Oct 7 2010

Numbers can be interesting

Kal @ 11:28

Click to view full size

Information is Beautiful puts some things in perspective.

The big block in the upper right is the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The small rose bar in the bottom row is US Foreign aid payments.

Tags:

Category: Economics

Oct 4 2010

Physics Trumps Money

Kal @ 10:31

George Mobus  writing in Question Everything - When what is happening in your world doesn't make sense, when it doesn't conform to your beliefs about how things should work, it's time to ask hard questions.

Work, Exergy, the Economy, Money, and Wealth -- A Sort-Of Tutorial

This is something of a tutorial on the relationship between energy and the economy. I have been dismayed by how often people express their lack of knowledge about that relationship. Such expressions come in the form of beliefs that money is what drives the economy. Or the belief that human desire to accumulate monetary wealth is the motive force for economic growth. Indeed I doubt that most people ever think of physics when they think of the economy. But the reality is that the economy is very much a physical process that requires energy to continue operating. All of the money in the world will not suffice to maintain the motivation of the wheels of industry unless it can be used to exchange for energy flow. Here is a guide to how the real wealth of nations is created and a more concise look at the nature of energy flow needed to do so.

More...

Tags:

Category: Accounting | Conventional Economics | Economics | Resource Depletion | Steady-State Economics | Sustainability

Aug 6 2010

Net Neutrality Jeopardized – Google, don’t be evil!

Kal @ 20:16

We have internet access, but for how long?

According to news reports, Google is about to cut a deal with Verizon that
would end the Internet as we know it by allowing giant corporations to
control what websites load quickly and easily on the Internet and dump
everyone else onto an Internet slow lane.

I signed a petition urging Google to kill the deal with Verizon. Can you
join me at the link below?

http://pol.moveon.org/google/?r_by=22338-420032-5s_XeZx&rc=mailto

 

Image courtesy of aberenyi at www.featurepics.com.

Tags:

Category: Economics | Politics

Jun 30 2010

Beyond Petroleum – The disaster continues!

Kal @ 18:17

From Population Growth Must Stop by Gary Peters

As Kenneth Boulding noted decades ago, "Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."

Tags:

Category: Beyond Petroleum | Economics | Peak Oil | Population | Sustainability