Articles tagged with "environment"
This is a guest post by Charles Eisenstein, an author and faculty member at Goddard College in Vermont.
When theorists approach the peak oil problem from the perspective of finding a substitute that will allow us to maintain our present energy infrastructure, their conclusion is one of despair. There may be many substitutes for oil as a concentrated form of storable energy, but none of them are nearly as good as oil itself. Those invested in the status quo would, quite understandably, like to maintain it, but it is becoming apparent even to the most highly invested that the status quo is doomed; that it can be maintained only temporarily, and at a rapidly accelerating environmental cost. The transition before us is not merely a transition in fuel types. It is also a transition in the whole energy infrastructure, both physical and psychological; a transition away from big power plants, distribution lines, and metered consumers; away from capital-intensive drilling, refining, distribution, and consumer fueling stations. More broadly, it is a transition away from centralization, concentration, and all the social institutions that go along with it.
Like many of you, I am often unhappy with our political leaders. One thing that annoys me the most is that many will say or do just about anything to get elected. By now, you have surely heard the news that Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann has promised a return to $2/gallon gasoline if she is elected president:
NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- President Michele Bachmann has a promise: $2 gas.
"Under President Bachmann you will see gasoline come down below $2 a gallon again," Bachmann told a crowd Tuesday in South Carolina. "That will happen."
"The day that the president became president gasoline was $1.79 a gallon," Bachmann said. "Look what it is today."
Below the fold is a reposting of an open letter I wrote to newly elected President Obama 20 months ago (posted here as Yes We Can But Will We?). The essay touches on principles of natural capital, debt, and human demand drivers and suggested some ways forward for the then President-elect. In retrospect, I didn't understand the intricacies of our debt crisis at that time (as I now believe debt deflation and or currency reform are clearer and more present threats than resource depletion or environmental damage in upsetting the social applecart), and that large scaling of wind turbines (as I recommend below) may in many ways be counterproductive unless that plan is accompanied by an entirely different economic system and expectations. I don't think Obama, 20 months in, has done much, but I still think he will be able to, even after a mid-term election setback, accomplish more than any likely successors might as far as radical positive steps. Though only a small % of our population understands the details of what has brought us to this place of angst and limited options, many if not most sense there is something unsustainable and undesirable about our current trajectory. The below perspective may never be articulated in response to that angst, but should at least be considered.
I should point out that after the fact, there are errors and things I no longer believe written below and even a few things that 20 months on are embarrassing to see that I wrote. And as a side note, as confident as I was about the below text at year end 2008, I am now equally confident about currency/finance as the weakest link on the horizon, which makes me wonder what I'll be confident about 20 months hence...
I have been asked to submit a video question on ethanol policy that will be potentially answered in a video blog by someone who is very well-known in the energy business. I will keep the details quiet for now, including the question I did submit.
I really had to brainstorm on exactly which question I would ask. I made a short list, and finally honed it down to one that I think is fair, but tough. But I had a number that I decided not to ask, either because I already knew how it would be answered (even if I disgreed with the expected answer) or the questions/answer to the question was so complex that it couldn't be answered in a short video clip.
Posted by Ugo Bardi on March 9, 2009 - 9:59am in The Oil Drum: Europe
Tags: climate change, environment, global warming, original, peak coal, peak gas, peak oil [list all tags]
Carbon dioxide emission scenarios according to IPCC (from http://www.globalwarmingart.com). "Peaking" of the major fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal, could radically change these projections.
Posted by nate hagens on January 15, 2009 - 12:49pm
Tags: barack obama, bold, cabinet, conspicuous consumption, demand, environment, net energy, obama energy advice, original, paradigm change, supply, theoildrum, tradeoffs [list all tags]
The below post/letter is very important to me, as it brings together much of what I have worked on the past few years. We are at a major crossroads in the history of our nation and our world - the juncture where financial capital no longer can function as an effective marker for real capital. The crisis we face is the product of our own success - therefore it is highly unlikely to be fixed with the same policies and thinking that steered us to the present precipice. There are dozens if not hundreds of salient aspects of our supply and demand situation, each with its own cheerleaders, opponents and unaware. Unless one casts a wide boundary net, myopic focus on any particular issue runs the risk of creating more long term harm than good. In this letter, I attempt to highlight our situation's most critical components, not claiming other issues are unimportant, but that the following principles likely trump/supercede the others:
1) It is energy, not money, that powers our economies. Money is only a marker for real capital and the divergence is large and growing at an accelerating pace.
2) All energy is not equal- each energy investment entails different input costs, and has different output quality, often not recognized by the market system, nor by many environmentalists. We are at peak oil globally and are likely approaching the net energy cliff for the USA
3) We can likely deal with energy decline, but our current economic system of claims and wealth distribution cannot. It is likely that collective policy responses to resource depletion (more debt) will create another form of bottleneck in the form of currency dislocations or social reactions to jubiliee.
4)The highest odds for arriving at a better energy future lie in exploration of, understanding of, and ultimate jettisoning of our cultural addiction/habituation to conspicuous consumption. Ends and then means.
Tomorrow we continue looking at the IEA WEO 2008. Tonight there is a press release by the Sierra Club. (Hat tip Jerome)
In a move that signals the start of the our clean energy future, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) ruled today EPA had no valid reason for refusing to limit from new coal-fired power plants the carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming. The decision means that all new and proposed coal plants nationwide must go back and address their carbon dioxide emissions.
|This is a guest post from Cutler Cleveland. It provides an excellent big picture overview of what variables we need to consider as we transition away from fossil fuels. Professor Cleveland previously wrote "Energy From Wind - A Discussion of the EROI Research", and "Ten Fundamental Principles of Net Energy" posted on theoildrum.com. Cutler Cleveland is a Professor at Boston University and has been researching and writing on energy issues for over 20 years. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Earth, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopedia of Energy, the Dictionary of Energy and the Journal of Ecological Economics.|
Prometheus chained to Mount Caucasus. Source: Pieter Paul Rubens: ''Prometheus Bound,'' 1611-1612, Oil on canvas, 95 7/8" x 82 1/2". (Philadelphia Museum of Art: The W.P. Wilstach Collection) Click to Enlarge
A few days ago, someone here posted a link to a story about skyrocketing farmland prices in the Midwest. It really made me angry to think about the inflationary chain reaction and the vicious chain of events our politicians have set into motion with these ethanol mandates. It made me even angrier to think that the few who benefit from these policies defend their right to siphon money from the rest of us and into their pockets. (I will be the first to say that surging energy prices are a big component of surging inflation, but with the ethanol mandates we are throwing jet fuel on an already raging fire).
This all started out innocently enough. Oil prices were climbing. Our energy production was shifting to an ever greater extent to countries that are hostile to the U.S.
So, Step 1 in the chain is to propose a solution:
1. The government should subsidize ethanol production to encourage production of home-grown fuels, which will enhance energy security and create jobs in the Midwest.