Al Gore foresees a revolution in small-scale electricity producers for
replacing coal, likening the development to what the Internet has done
for the exchange of information. Russell Roberts reminds us that similar projects have already been tried.
I haven't heard a whole lot made of this today, but oil prices did a pretty good imitation of a collapse -- closed in the $55/bbl range. I, for one, blame Bush. By the way, where are the all the numbskulls that were sure dropping oil prices were an election year ploy?
Here's something out of Australia I haven't read in the US press, though I can't imagine the situation will be any different here. In fact, given what we know about the cost of expanding the Tonawanda power station, I guess we knew it already.
THE switch to "clean green" energy sources will cost households up to 40 per cent more on their power bill, Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has said.
Mr Macfarlane said it was inevitable there would be "big jumps" in power bills, but said most people were unaware of the looming increases.
"I don't think the consumers fully understand the price tag associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions," he told The Courier-Mail in an exclusive interview.
"There is no doubt that if we are going to lower greenhouse gas emissions then electricity is going to cost significantly more – for consumers it will be anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent."
Mr Macfarlane said the price rise would occur during the next decade as the nation moved to cleaner, but more expensive energy sources such as clean coal technology.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to hear an American politician stand up and say that? Hey, maybe Australia can do what New York does -- have the government pay for it. Then the public will be spared the extra expense! Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.
Two designers have come up with an unusual way of escaping a flash flood: a dining table that can quickly be converted to a life raft.
The table, entitled Either Oar, has removable legs that convert into paddles and a built-in buoyancy tank. It is part of a series of designs created "as a response to climate change and natural disasters of recent times," an apparent reference to crises such as Asia's tsunami in 2004 and last year's Hurricane Katrina in the United States.
The table will be on display as part of the Design Museum's Design Mart exhibition, which opens in London on Sept. 20 and celebrates new talent.
The "Climatized Objects" range was designed by David Cameron and Toby Hadden.
Other dual-purpose devices include a vase that switches to an emergency flashlight if knocked from its ledge, and a series of picture frames that turn into flashing navigational aids.
"We've always wanted to do a project that translates the way people in emergency situations use everyday objects in innovative ways in order to stay alive," the pair said in a statement.
"The effects of climate change can leave us facing dangerous situations in our own home, where we are affected by destructive elements such as flooding and earthquakes. Rather than shy away from these negative processes, our ideal was to offer functional solutions in these increasing times of crisis."
How about ashtrays that turn rainwater into hydrogen as an approaching tornado's low pressure compresses water molecules into its component parts? I haven't quite figured out where to store the results but I think the fish tank may provide an answer.
Now, many of you might think that, given my mocking of the alleged tourism-drawing capacity of windmills in Lackawanna or my low opinion of global warming alarmists that I'm dismissive of finding energy alternatives to oil. Not true.
I'm skeptical only because I think that political attempts at energy policy may point us in the wrong direction and that government subsidies could disguise inefficient technologies as viable solutions. In truth, I'm fascinated by new energy developments. The hand-cranked radios that were introduced several years ago make excellent sense, and that the concept is being expanded to laptops for third-world countries is pretty exciting.
I really do think that ethanol might one day significantly reduce our dependence on oil imports, but there again we should get rid of the taxpayer subsidies to find out if it's really economically sensible.
Yuanhui Zhang has smelled the future of oil, and it stinks.
The pungent, earthy scent emanates from swine pens that professor Zhang's graduate students visit regularly at the University of Illinois. Holding spades in gloved hands, they collect buckets of moist pig poop and carefully drive it to a lab on the edge of campus.
Inside a white metal building nestled among fields of corn and soybeans, the students pressure-cook the messy muck until it becomes thick, black, energy-dense crude oil remarkably similar to the stuff pumped from deep within the earth.
Wow. And now, for some reason, I can't get Tina Turner out of my mind.
If you thought those silly emails calling for us to boycott this oil company or the other had been debunked, think again. Here's what results when we elect economic idiots to office.
This week, Bee County became the first in the state, possibly the
country, to pass a resolution asking motorists to boycott fuel pumps
beginning Monday. County elected officials said they would ask others in the state to follow suit.
"Hey, the American people are tired," Martinez said. "What we did is we
simply took action instead of complaining. "We're offering our residents a beacon of hope."
like to be messed with, especially in this rugged South Texas county
not far from some of the state's major independence battlefields.
So, it was only a matter of time before Bee County Judge Jimmy Martinez
said someone had to stand up to tackle a national epidemic striking at
the heart — and pockets — of local residents: Rising gas prices.
A boycott of gasoline, imagine that -- but it's not a complete boycott -- no, it's targeted at one particular company.
But the boycott
call is targeted only at Exxon Mobil gasoline until retailers agree to
drop the price to $1.30 a gallon. Martinez said he's especially miffed
about reports that former Exxon Mobil CEO Lee Raymond received a
retirement package worth $400 million.
Let's pretend for a minute that the good people of Bee County embrace the boycott of Exxon-Mobil and switch their purchases to its competitors. Those other stations would see such an increase in business that their tanks would quickly go empty -- inviting them to raise prices to slow down the avalanche or simply shut down until the next shipment arrives.
Meanwhile, the Exxon stations, now the only places in town with gas, would experience a sudden rush of business -- and given their now-monopoly on gasoline would probably have to raise their prices, too. It's all so silly.
Now, that does not mean that the consumer is powerless. Far from it. We can, if we really think action is necessary, reduce our gas consumption altogether. Combine trips, walk to the corner store or (gasp) take the bus. A drop in gas consumption by even 1% or 2% would send gas prices falling. Just please don't listen to the politicians!
They care a lot less about actually fixing problems than they do about making you feel good.
Popular Mechanics has a very good comparison of the current state of alternative fuels. It's well worth the read to get past the hype for this fuel or that energy-source. The magazine's conclusion:
Today, many families have several cars--often more cars than they have
drivers. So before we see our national fleet running on hydrogen, we
believe that many households might have an electric or plug-in hybrid
for short trips, an E85/electric hybrid sedan, SUV or minivan to squire
the whole team, and a diesel pickup fueled by B30 or B50 to haul most
anything else. All will reduce greenhouse gases and use renewable
resources that come from inside our borders. By pursuing these multiple
pathways, we can reduce our dependence on any single energy
source--something we haven't achieved with petroleum.
But don't discount the appeal of gasoline too quickly.
David E. Cole, chairman of the Center for Auto Research, says, "If
gasoline prices get too high and we look to other fuels--like
hydrogen--you can expect that oil-producing nations will reduce our
fuel costs. They want to continue to pump oil out, pump dollars in, and
they could see the hydrogen economy as a threat."
Clearly, our energy future is anything but simple. But the
proliferation of energy options and surge in research hold
promise--even if no single alternative fuel can replace imported oil
Sensible. There's no reason to hold off for perfection in the form of hydrogen fuel-cells -- if you're to believe one group -- or to limit ourselves to ethanol -- if we're to listen to the farm lobby. And the magazin'es point that the price of oil will drop as the world begins to shift away from it is well-taken.
At least one of member of the Buffalo News editorial staff is, um, unsatisfied over Bush's proposed fuel mileage standards.
But loose CAFE standards don't just affect
global temperatures. Pollution fuels public health care costs. Tougher
fuel-efficiency standards also would go further toward weaning America
off its addiction to oil and its back-breaking defense and security
price tag. The new fuel economy rules are projected to save 10.7
billion gallons of gas and their pollution over the lifetime of
vehicles sold from 2008 through 2011. But that's how much oil America
now consumes in about 11 days, or the gasoline that drivers go through in a single month.
“We took a good, close look at automakers’ plans, examined new technology
that is in use or under development – like hybrids and the latest generation of
diesel-burning engines – and decided that we could ask more of the manufacturers
than we proposed last August,” Mineta said. He added that the new standards
mean that some light trucks will now have to meet a fuel economy target of 28.4
milers per gallon, which is higher than today’s standard for passenger cars.
The Buffalo News (and the entire environmental establishment, I'd wager) aren't happy with that. So, let's imagine that the Bush administration had imposed requirements that doubled the mileage reduction. Bush proposed an 11% reduction -- let's go 22%. Light trucks would now have to get 26.4 miles per gallon and we'll assume that even more trucks would be included in the regulations. With that proposal, we'd be projected to save 21.4 billion gallons of gas along with its accompanying pollution.
That would make everyone happy, wouldn't it? Nah! How much do you want to bet that the same editorial writer would have written this?
The new fuel economy rules are projected to save 21.4
billion gallons of gas and their pollution over the lifetime of
vehicles sold from 2008 through 2011. But that's how much oil America
now consumes in about 22 days, or the gasoline that drivers go through in two months.
And we could go on and on and on. At some point, say quadruple the new rules, we'd only save 44 days of gas and the earth will still burn up.
Just admit it. If you don't like Bush, you'll never be satisfied with anything he does. Stop trying to justify it by statistics as silly as these and just go vote. If enough of you can figure out how to punch the hole in the ballot, you might have a chance at winning one day.
I've posted articles that deride the use of ethanol because it takes more energy to produce it than it ultimately provides. Now I've taken such claims on faith of course based on the credibility of the authors cited. But it does make sense -- Forbes, however says that's all bunk -- it's profit that matters.
According to this theory [energy return on energy invested] it can never make
sense to burn two units of energy in order to extract one unit of
energy. The Eroei crowd concedes, for example, that the world has
centuries' worth of junk oil in shale and tar sands--but they can also
prove it's irrelevant. It takes more energy to cook this kind of oil
out of the dirt, they argue, than you end up with in the recovered oil.
And a negative Eroei can only mean energy bankruptcy. The more such
energy investments we make, the faster things will grind to a halt.
Eroei calculations now litter the energy
policy debate. Time and again they're wheeled out to explain why one
form of energy just can't win--tar sands, shale, corn, wood, wind, you
name it. Even quite serious journals--Science, for example--have
published pieces along these lines. Energy-based books of account have
just got to show a profit. In the real world, however, investors don't
care a fig whether they earn positive Eroei. What they care about is
dollar return on dollar invested. And the two aren't the same--nowhere
close--because different forms of energy command wildly different
prices. Invest ten units of 10-cent energy to capture one unit of $10
energy and you lose energy but gain dollars, and Wall Street will fund
you from here to Alberta.
So the question of the worth of ethanol made from corn should be judged on how much consumers would pay for it minus the huge subsidies that Congress has created to subsidise midwestern farmers. If its high enough to overcome the cost of the energy it takes to create it, then it might have a future. Makes a lot of sense; though I doubt the greens will like it.