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Fossil fools: OPEC, Australia and USA say global warming doesn't exist

by Jerome a Paris Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 10:43:09 AM EST



OPEC says British climate change report "unfounded"

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A hard-hitting report on climate change published by the British government on Monday has no basis in science or economics, OPEC's Secretary-General Mohammed Barkindo said on Tuesday.



Howard pushes for 'new' Kyoto agreement

Mr Howard dismissed as "pure speculation" Sir Nicholas's more alarmist projections.



White House Nods at British Climate Change Report

In an e-mailed statement, the White House Council on Environmental Quality said, ``The U.S. government has produced an abundance of economic analysis on the issue of climate change. The Stern Report is another contribution to that effort.''


That's fine company to be in: the oil producers' cartel and the closest thing to the coal producers' cartel.



Barkindo told an energy conference in Moscow that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) -- which holds around two thirds of the world's oil reserves -- opposed such research efforts.

"We find some of the so-called initiatives of the rich industrialized countries who are supposed to take the lead in combating climate change rather alarming," he said.

(...)

Barkindo said it was misguided but he did not elaborate on possible solutions to the problem.

"The mitigation and adaptation to climate change can only be accomplished on the principles of common responsibility and respected capabilities and not by scenarios that have no foundations in either science or economics as we had yesterday from London," he said.

In other words: don't stop buying our oil, and please don't start planning for a future when you would not be buying our oil.

Which, coming from a lobbying group, is a bit crude (pun intended), but par for the course.

Same thing for the conservative government in Australia:



"We are going to be absolutely determined to ratify the Kyoto targets; to set real emissions targets; to establish an emissions trading system; to invest in renewables, not in reactors; and to fast-track clean coal technology," [conservative Prime Minister Howard] told parliament.

"We are going to do all those things and be good international citizens and good supporters of Australian industry as a result of that."

In other words: let us continue to produce and burn coal, and let us decide ourselves if what we do is good for theenvironment or not.

Which, again, makes sense if your main industries are resource exploitation, mining, and in particular coal mining, that most of your electricity comes cola-fired plants, and that your industry, thanks to abundant oil and coal, is very energy-intensive and greenhous gas emitting. And that you are a conservative government giving priority to industry over the environment. Profits over people.



In an e-mailed statement, the White House Council on Environmental Quality said, ``The U.S. government has produced an abundance of economic analysis on the issue of climate change. The Stern Report is another contribution to that effort.''

The statement from spokeswoman Kristen Hellmer said the United States is ``well on track to meet the president's goal to reduce greenhouse gas intensity of our economy 18 percent by 2012.''

The problem, said Annie Petsonk of Environmental Defense, is that this goal essentially requires only the status quo.

``This is just business as usual for this economy,'' Petsonk said by telephone. ``The result is no reduction in America's total greenhouse gas emissions.''

The United States is the biggest single source of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, producing 25 percent of greenhouse gases from 5 percent of the global population.

Note, as usual with this White House, the smart parsing of words: the commitment is to reduce the greenhouse gas intensity of the economy, not the greenhouse gas emissions themselves: this means that you only commit to use less energy per unit of GDP, but the absolute amount can increase as GDP grows faster than the intensity decreases.

(Just like with a car: if you buy a higher MPG car but start driving it a lot more, you improve your mileage (intensity), but increase your total consumption in gallons, becuase you've gone more miles, thus worsening emissions).

Energy intensity has been decreasing naturally over the years, as we switch to service activities rather than heavy industry, and as technology improvement and productivity increases allow us to do more with the same quantity of energy. The problem is that this is not enough, and overall energy consumption is increasing pretty rapidly.

Fundamentally, we are in a world where those using energy are not paying for its full cost, and letting is be borne by others in indirect ways (pollution of the atmosphere and of the lands where the resources come from, global warming, the military budget funding the aircraft carriers protecting the trade routes and the expeditionary corps in various oil producing countries, the police and emergency services on the roads, the lost lives and limbs of traffic accident casualties, etc...).

The whole point of carbon taxes, gas taxes and other environmental regulation is to make this price apparent for the consumers directly.

Of course, it increases the price they're used to. But that's not because it's an unfair cost, it's because the existing price is extravagantly, unfairly subsidized by those hurt by pollution, accidents, wars and climate events around the world, who pay with their shattered lived and limbs for our privileged lifestyle.

The governments of Australia and the USA obviously think that they can go on living as they do, letting various countries around the world pay the price of our inaction; after all, it's only invisible thirdworlders (or the occasional Louisiana black) who are dying or being uprooted from their lives.

But the fact remains: our lifestyle is in many ways unsustainable, and it will thus STOP, xwhether we want it or not. That can be done in an orderly fashion, because we acknowledge the issue and organize our societies to cope, and to help those in the least favorable situation, or it will be imposed in a chaotic way by reality.

So, to those that tell me that it is not possible to live in rural Nebraska without a big car and, if you're poor, cheap gas is vital, I say this: I agree. It is not possible, and it will not last. The only question is whether the people that now live there will be helped to move to a more sustainable lifestyle, or if they will be forced brutally to change their lives.

Understand me: I have nothing against rural Nebraska, and I am not saying that you should not live there; but I am saying that living there is steadily going to become more and more expensive, and it will be quite simply unaffordable for those that are not rich. I am not blaming those that live there now:  I am sure it is a wonderful place, and cheap energy has made it possible. But the bill is coming due. A serious energy policy will organise the transition. A lack of policy will condemn those of you that do live in such places to be subject to unpredictable lifechanging circumstances dictated by the realities of the international energy markets.

Calling the messenger arrogant or ignorant of your reality will not change this.

Display:
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/10/31/102445/84

Thanks for your support

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 10:44:52 AM EST
You muckraker you ;-P

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 11:28:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On today's menu we have a choice between believers in magic bullets or the mad-max-civilisation-is-doomed-survivalist crowd.

Depressing.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:09:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is possible that the rural/suburban population in the US faces such a choice.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:10:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Only if they choose not to make any better choices, surely?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:14:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most of the problems in the American suburbs can be dealt with by lowering living standards a bit as rdf suggested. For example putting two families in one McMansion and leaving 50% of the suburban infrastructure to rot. We can't sustain all those roads even today. Both people "for and against" peak oil like to harp on the "unwillingness" of the American public to engage in social change as my above example would require. Of course when economic necessity dictates it change will absolutely happen. Not many Americans are willing to die to save the suburbs.

Actually, in a scenario where oil production is really on the decline, American suburbs in the midwest might not be such a terrible place to be, as they are all adjacent to extensive farmland.

In a centuries-long energy crisis I don't know if I'd prefer to be living in the US or Europe - both face problems that look unsolvable today. If anything I'd prefer to be rich.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:22:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But all that vast expanse of farms require inputs of fertilizer, herbicide, pesticide, and fuel to run, all petrochemical.

Without cheap energy those 1,000 acre (404 hectare) farms are just big weed patches.

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 11:56:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They are most certainly not weed patches - they were farmed long before fertilizer was available. The yield will simply go down.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:32:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They'll need more people though - or much smarter machinery.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:54:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. Ultimately all farming will face the same problem.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 01:13:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's clever (up to a point) about the Stern Report is that it frames the problem as something that will affect rich people.

If you frame it as a problem that's mostly going to affect poor people, expect either very little political traction, or none at all.

As long as OPEC and the rest believe that they will be personally immune from the effects because their wealth will buy them safety, and as long as they can afford to buy Washington, expect no movement on this.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 11:21:21 AM EST
Politicians wouldn't make such stupid remarks if there was any reasonable alternative plan that they could point to. No one is going to take seriously my projection that the US will have to lower it standard of living to about 25% of its current level if it is to be a sustainable society. (This would bring it back to mid-20th century: one car, one TV, etc.)

On the other hand if some public figures started to develop actual communities which existed at this level (I don't mean hippie communes) then politicians would be able to point to this as an example. They don't win by leading, they win by following. Progressives just follow a smaller group than conservatives who follow the status quo.
 

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 11:54:28 AM EST
...how sustainable are the Amish? And how far can we stretch the Amish starting point into a modernly equipped community without losing sustainability? I've always wondered about this...

I can't find a post from DeAnander on this - but she has been philosophising that the only possible way to get traction to a trend of sustainable community building was a combination of introducing self-sustainability coupled to hipness factors, glossed over with I-pod-like smart and sexy coolness. And I agree with that. Even for the communities you suggest, the hippy stigma is a bit hard to shake off and is decidedly uncool amongst Cosmopolitan et al readers.

Public figures can only go so far, I fear. It won't work as long as Neil Young drives around in a SUV - even when it is 100% on ethanol and does not directly contribute to CO2 emission. We hit the intensity vs emission problem again one way or the other. Then again, prince Charles was doing something interesting in his principality, though - perhaps you've heard about this?

by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:24:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Amish are not a starting point because they don't have the technological capacity we have, which is what would make it possible to reduce energy consumption without substantial reductions of quality of life.

It matters not only what the level of income is, but how you got there.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:35:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...what would you consider a good starting point, and what reduction of quality of life would be acceptable? I'm asking as the technological capacity of today is part of that finite consumption model set to be changed. Where to draw the line? I would want to start from scratch using a sustainable community and then build in the elements available without losing the boundary conditions. (The difference between backward and forward modelling, perhaps.)

I'm leaning towards the idea that the "house of the future" needs to be blended with practical (and slick) conservation techniques. If we can get a tv-screen in every room of our house but for the energy of a standard flatscreen television of today would that be workable? How about televisions painted on the walls?

by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is only one starting point available: where we are now.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:06:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's only half the question answered, and the second part is the more important.
by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 03:53:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, but you have to know where you start from.

Now you need to know where we need to get to: what are the constraints? I guess that zero net greenhouse emissions would be nice and there are other resource constraints.

Now, why are you assuming that we have to reduce our standard of living?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 03:58:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But I knitted onwards from Migeru's reply in which the "substantial reduction in quality of life" was broached. Perhaps we don't have to reduce our standarad of living - but if it becomes a constraint, then you may want to consider whether there should be a limit to it. So. In model speak: Take a quality of life reduction of zero, and see whether that's at all feasible to get us to sustainable. (But what's the "quality of life" benchmark?)

I don't think this can ever be put into a model anyhow, but it's nice to wonder...

by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 06:09:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is also the issue of the abysmal lifetime of consumer electronics. In particular computers, where you have to get a new one every couple of years to stay current with the latest, more resource heavy applications. Moving to a sustainable economy would presumably also mean directing development toward longer lifetime products to reduce raw material and energy required for production. How much energy is currently used for the production, moving around of, and disposal of "stuff", and how much could we reduce our energy consumption here without much reduction in "standard of living" simply by having product with longer lifetime?
Not a popular idea since it would cause the selling of less stuff and less economic activity which would not be good for GDP growth...

I frequently dream of a stagnation in standard PC computing power and longer lifetimes. I think it do wonders for software development, where programmers would again have to think a bit about clever resource use and not simply produce the maximally bloated versions that can run thanks to increase in power but have seemingly no more useable features than past, slimmer versions.

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:23:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you need the latest, resource-heavy applications?

Linux with X will still run acceptably on a 486 if you can get your hands on one, and unless you're doing number-crunching you do not need anything faster than that.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I require Civ IV cyber stalinism to maintain my quality of life. ;)

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:44:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Try freeCiv.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 08:53:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, for example the government could have a series of incentives to build or retrofit houses to have much less energy use. There was a solar power credit in the US for a number of years, but the technology wasn't developed enough at the time for the program to do much.

There could be efforts to have local wind generators for small communities, rather than only focusing on wind farms. (I don't consider personal windmills practical in most cases.) Communities were happy enough to erect mobile phone towers all over the landscape even when opposed by people who disliked the aesthetic impact, so when there is a will there is a way.

Car pooling could be encouraged via meaningful subsidies. For example a person could get a multi-seat van (say 7-9 passengers) for little or no money and then act as a small scale quasi-public commuting service.

On the demand side certain behaviors could be discouraged. For example the bottled water fad is totally senseless. This should be stopped. Aside from those who want water as an individual drink in preference to some carbonated alternative there is no reason for people with municipal water systems to be buying water for the home. Actually the entire soft drink industry is a bad idea. People survived on plain water from a tap for a long time before Coca Cola. How about encouraging this with a program to install public water fountains?

I've always envisioned a commuter vehicle smaller than the Smart Car that would be driven to the local rail station and then onto a special flatbed car. One would  stay in one's vehicle while the train went into the downtown and then drive off to go the last mile.

Bringing back pushcart vendors (except this time with trucks) that drive into an exurban neighborhood several times a week with perishables like milk, butter, eggs and bread would cut down on trips to the supermarket.    The same could be done for vegetables. The popularity of farmer's markets shows that there is a demand.

The cost of disposal of recyclable items should be built into the original price. This might be refunded when the item is brought in for recycling or just used to finance the operation. I know that the EU is working on some ideas in this direction, but mostly for electronics and autos.

Packaging could be redesigned. Only one chain in the US (Costco) doesn't provide shopping bags for groceries. People can bring their own or use the empty boxes that the store received merchandise in.

Much packaging is meant for shelf appeal and gets discarded immediately upon opening the item. Why not one display item and then the take home copies are in a simpler package like a plastic or paper bag (or nothing in the case of things which are already packaged like toothpaste).

If we held a contest to come up with ideas like these I'm sure we would get many suggestions. People know what makes sense they just haven't been asked for their input.  

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...are sensible suggestions and I agree that there are countless many more. A short reply to some of them:

  • Car pooling: For the Netherlands, having one of the most densely mobile populations in the world, numerous initiatives were launched and they all failed. People simply adhered to their own individual car. I'm not saying that car-pooling is a flawed concept, but that push-pull factors need to be really good. And a higher gas price might not cut it - the Dutch gas is one of the highest (if not the highest) taxed.

  • I'm undecided about personal wind generators; I'm still supportive of the idea. It makes sense to create some scale enlargement to some extent - anything to create a certain Energy Aawareness that what comes out of the socket is part your own responsibility and investment.

I'm afraid, though, that many of your suggestions (packaging, the bottled water industry) are dependent on the whims of government and regulation. And that seems a long, long process...

BTW, if you have some links on the EU scheme for recycling, I'd welcome that. It sounds intersting.

by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:53:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just a thought.  I am, if nothing else, a carpooling expert having carpooled for 30 years from the Washington suburbs to 4 different areas in and around Washington, and could probably count on two hands the number of times I had to drive my car alone.
It can work, just needs the right combination of incentives and resources applied.

Ride sharing (aka sluging), an off-shoot of carpooling, is also a great way to commute and it was invented spontaneously and largely maintained by commuters even though occasionally opposed by local governments until they realized the benefits.  Thousands of Northern Virginia residents currently share rides with complete strangers to and from work every day.

Ironically, this marvelous method of commuting may now be threatened by Virginia's decision to turn  high occupancy vehicle lanes (HOV), formerly restricted to carpools and buses, into toll lanes where anyone can drive their single passenger car by paying a toll. Needless to say, the non-hov lanes are hopelessly clogged with single passenger vehicles already.

 

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 11:06:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What about a new kind of public transport, a kind of blend of taxi and mini-bus? The idea is that customers would call (or register via internet) their intended trip with all details, such as number of passengers and time interval. A central dispatcher center would route its mini-busses to pick up the passengers and bring them to their destinations. The routining problem is logically difficult, of course... but now might be precisely the right time to try out this idea. Thanks to mobile telephones and the internet, customers can communicate their trip requests most conveniently and in sufficient detail. Routing problems of similiar kind were encountered with the recent development of the same cellphone technology, and with postal currier services (privatised rather recently in EU).

Gosh, I have a real buisiness plan. You start in a city (like Paris) with offering transfer services to various middle-sized companies: you would bring their employees from home to work and back, you would bring their clients around, and you would serve them in buisiness trip across the city. That might be an attractive service: the client companies would need less cars to buy and maintain; worry less about gasoline prices; and, in our age of squeezing more efficientcy from workers for (frequently) less pay, they could offer their employees "raise" in the form of a convenient transportation. Effectively, overal transportation costs will be cut by you by moving many client travellers at the same time, and at optimized routes. Hence, there will be plenty room for adjusting service price and your profits.

The second stage would be to offer transfer services to  middle class individuals and their families: they would have a fast and convenient means to travel around the city, for their kids as well (to school and back, etc). The bottom line is to target people and families actually using cars (because the public transport is depictable for them, say), but which would be glad to avoid frequent driving in traffic jams, parking problems and excessive petrol costs.

At these two stages, a basic space-time frame of most frequent routes will be established for you, and you could allow full force of occasional travelers to join. Travelling in your minibus would be a quite cousy experience, with few irritating stops and companion changes. The travel-to-work routine might be made pretty enjoyable: paseengers could watch a flat TV screen behind you back; a wireless internet connection might be available. For the buisiness types which need to call or negotiate while travelling, a comfortable "first-class" half-cabin might be established, etc.

This might be a good way to grow an economically vibrant buisiness of "half-public" transportation. (Hey, can partnerships be made here?!) The service might be very valuable for public good as well: Since the initial target groups are car-using companies and individuals, the service would effectively reduce car traffic in the city, with positive consequences regarding traffic jams and pollution. This means that local politicians should be interested to support you.

by das monde on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 03:15:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always envisioned a commuter vehicle smaller than the Smart Car that would be driven to the local rail station and then onto a special flatbed car. One would  stay in one's vehicle while the train went into the downtown and then drive off to go the last mile.

Yeah, it's called a bicycle. Or, for those unwilling or unable to pedal, a moped/scooter.

As for "the last mile", it's a 15 minute walk so why not walk it? And if we're talking about the last 5 miles, buses should be fine. After all, we're assuming people are commuting by rail into a high-density urban area.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:08:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would want to start from scratch

Huh?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:18:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...this is going just too hypothetical... I was thinking of the Apollo 13 movie - have you seen it? There is a scene where the NASA engineers need to pull an electronical trick without crossing a certain volts (or watts?) threshold. I was just moulding a similar thought experiment.

This is what I wonder: if you take away all of the advantages of the fossil fuel society since the Industrial Revolution - you end up in a world that would probably resemble the Amish communities quite well. I believe that the Amish are practically self-sustainable - I still have not confirmed whether they truly are, but let's assume just that.

So. Boundary Condition:
1) Self-sustainable

Parameters:

  1. Ecological Foot Print of X
  2. Carbon emissions of Y
  3. Others

You take that as your basic structure, then add chunks of our modern society into the Amish "model" and track at what point self-sustainable turns into unsustainable. It's merely a thought experiment of finding the breaking point of sustainable communities.

By taking the modern world as starting point at the premise of being unsustainable, you'll have to take stuff away to get to your sustainable society - eg, you model backward. I would like to know what stuff of the modern world can be slotted into a working sustainable model - modelling forward. That's "working from scratch".

I just realise that the phrases forward and backward modelling may be just typical earth scientist expressions... I've never seen it in other literature. Anyone here to contradict me?

by Nomad on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 06:34:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is what I wonder: if you take away all of the advantages of the fossil fuel society since the Industrial Revolution - you end up in a world that would probably resemble the Amish communities quite well. I believe that the Amish are practically self-sustainable - I still have not confirmed whether they truly are, but let's assume just that.

...

By taking the modern world as starting point at the premise of being unsustainable, you'll have to take stuff away to get to your sustainable society - eg, you model backward. I would like to know what stuff of the modern world can be slotted into a working sustainable model - modelling forward. That's "working from scratch".

Except that the "modern world" has a knowledge base and a technological infrastructure which allows you to do things that would be impossible from the Amish starting point. But I get your point: assume you start from just an undeveloped plot of land [but in contact with the modern knowledge and technological base] and see where you can get.

I just found this:

The Japanese experience of complete self-reliance in the Edo period demonstrated the sustainability of more than 0.3 hectares per capita given for agriculture, even though the country was not very rich. With less than 0.1 hectare per capita it would be very difficult to maintain even the minimal nutrition level. Note that the world average has decreased from 0.25 hectares per capita in the 1950s to 0.15 hectares per capita in the 1990s, which may be critical for a sustainable level in the future.
Does that mean that you can get away with 1/3 of a hectare per person? I seemed to remember something like 2.5ha were necessary to sustain one person. The world's population density is indeed equivalent to 2.3ha per person. The EU's population density corresponds to .87ha per person (wiki).

Anyway, Barbara and I have this concept we call ETopia, which is basically the 150 most active ETers and their immediate families on enough land to support everyone. If you have 500 hectares of land, €5M of capital and 150 ETers of human capital, can you build a sustainable community for 600 people somewhere in Europe?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 07:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That idea has legs. It's the first time I see the concept here; have you or Barbara written about this before?  

Except that the "modern world" has a knowledge base and a technological infrastructure which allows you to do things that would be impossible from the Amish starting point.

Well, otherwise it wouldn't be possible to "upgrade" an Amish community! I agree that the technological infrastructure is something off a cheat; it would need rethinking. (How do the Amish get their asphalt anyway?)

by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:31:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, we've been hashing the idea around and thinking about writing a diary about it.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:35:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you could reach for a solution for the agonising inferior kiwi problem too?
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:43:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the most productive [yield per hectare] sustainable technique for growing crops, and how tasty are they?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:48:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Growing in New Zealand?
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:26:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You have a narrow definition of "crops".

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:40:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only for kiwis.
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:47:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One also has to think of economies of scale, or rather of limitations imposed by small scales. There are technologies that simply cannot be deployed by a community below a certain size.

My point is that the technological infrastructure is not a cheat, it's precisely what allows you more control of the way to get there from here, and it may be what makes it possible to begin with.

I mean, suppose the Amish wanted to build a wind turbine. Are the turbine blades going to be made or wood, or wrought by an ironmonger? Where do you get advanced materials from?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 04:45:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On available infrastructure - it's the one I was going to blithely ignore to avoid instant headaches, but you've me cornered now. Like your turbine question, the same is applicable for plugging in televisions, radios, washing machines, etc - you'll need materials, facilities, transport. It relentlessly enlarges the perspective - perhaps to the point it's actually realistic to integrate the community within an equally sustainable society. But that's too much for my bookkeeping skills...

Therefore I thought to simplify: I'd start by ignoring all of the above, and just begin with everything that's presently available. From iron wind turbines, to chemical toilets, just assume you've a giant stockpile of everything at hand, Community SimCity 2000 with unlimited funds. Then, move on to the larger perspective and see how sustainable the community can actually stay.

On scale: Also very valid, and in connection to the above point. Adapted to a simplified community, lifting on the technological advantages of the modern world, I'd use scale for at what point modern techniques can be adopted for a community. Say, greenhouse techniques, or housing. At what point could your community cook on poop? 500 people? 1500?

Anyone interested in programming SimCommunities 2000?

by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 05:24:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At what point could your community cook on poop? 500 people? 1500?

According to professor Nomad of the Netherlands, never

There, the waste material is brought to normal air pressures and a yeasting reaction starts - producing methane and CO2 which can be used to produce electricity. The first estimates predict that about 10 percent of the houses (so 3 out of a total of 32) can be sufficiently powered this way.
So 50 people can cook out of the poop of 500?

Or are you wondering how large a community has to be before it can build the infrastructure necessary for 10% of its energy to come from poop?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:03:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes to your question - What's the minimum limit of people in a community to get a 10% return? If we take the Sneek example, some 32 families (100-120 people?) now forms the lower limit.

But also: Is there a point (scale) that the return gets larger than 10 percent? If we have 500 people, do we get a larger return, say 15%, or will it always be 10%? I've learned in Sweden that a follow-up for some 500 houses in Sneek with the same sewage system is practically go, so we might actually get an answer on that question - in a few years.

by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:21:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no practical competences whatsoever. What would you want me for in your ETopia?

Stuck on a pole as a target for pagan non-ceremonies?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:12:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could be the mayor.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:17:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If instead of 600 people and on 6 Km^2 I give you the whole of France, are you of any use?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you could come up with some complicated mechanism for financing it?
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:19:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And how many practical competences do you think I have?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 08:52:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by Nomad on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:26:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Come now. Your job is: produce kiwis so good you forget all about NZ kiwifruit. And ETopia eats wonderful kiwis all winter.

Signed: Kolkhoz Manager.

(Well, kibbutz? Kommune?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:33:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Amish communities vary in their use of technology.  Example: all shun electricity in their homes some allow it in work areas.  My Amish neighbors, in Iowa, all used the same petro-chemical inputs, had the same corn (zea mays) and soybean (soyabean) duo-crop rotation, and sold their produce through the same grain elevators as my non-Amish neighbors.

Their personal life style is more sustainable in that they  don't have telephone or electricity run into their homes and tend to raise much of their own food. (Believe it or not, most farmers in the US buy their groceries from the grocery store.)


Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot

by ATinNM on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 12:13:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much power could we produce from wind and other unreliable renewables if we had a smarter energy grid that could prioritise energy use a bit better?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:20:53 PM EST
Do you have detailed land use statistics so we can begin to consider how much wind power can be generated?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the issue I was wondering about: I'm thinking of the oft quoted 20% from wind/wave bit. How much is actually available is another matter, and not important if we can't use it.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:37:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think enough is done to make electricity more expensive at peak times in order to encourage power-intensive industry to operate outside the peak. This could be done on daily, weekly, and yearly cycles.

But anyway, where does the 20% figure come from?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 12:47:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have no idea. I am sure I read it somewhere, but whenever I google it, it leads me back to things I've written myself.

But surely, some grid operator must know these things.

Anyone happen to know one?

One possible explanation is that wind is 15-20 % of all power in Denmark (no. 1 wind country), and I read somewhere (can't find the source) that they had to build new coal plants to deal with all the wind (or really to free up gas power from baseload duty to use the gas for load balancing).

Still, the 20 % number derived from Denmark doesn't make much sense as some magic rule of maximum windpower share as the Danish situation is very special, with acess to massive amounts of highly flexible Nordic hydropower.

It's all rather foggy I'm afraid.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:00:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not sure of the details: paging Jérôme.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:00:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See this diary by Jerome based on EU Energy factsheet (pdf) where renewables are given at 13.74% of EU (production or capacity, that I can't make out) in 2004, with 21% as the target for 2010.

The 20% figure always seemed to me to be a target not yet reached.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 02:41:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I got the impression, as said below, that's it's considered a limit for some reason.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 02:52:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, no my 20% refers only to wind, not including the other renewables. A lot of hydro would actually make it easy to deal with more wind as it is easily switched on or off on demand, and can even be used to store power by pumping water back up.

The 20% for wind has been reached in Denmark and northern Germany.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:49:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I found some more on this subject.

Warren Frost, vice-president for operations and reliability at the Alberta Electric System Operator, said studies done over the past couple of years showed there can be problems when wind contributes more than about 10 per cent of the province's electricity -- about 900 MW -- because of the chance the wind could stop at any time.

[...]

There are a number of ways to allow wind power to make up a greater proportion of the electricity supply, but they require more study, Mr. Frost said. First, he said, the province can develop more sophisticated ways of forecasting the wind so the power it generates is more predictable.

The province could also build more plants that can quickly respond if the wind dies down during a peak period, for example. But building new gas-powered plants merely to help handle the variability of wind is certain to raise the ire of environmentalists.

The province could also increase its connections to other jurisdictions, where it would buy surplus power when needed. Alberta is already looking at links with some northwestern U.S. states, including Montana.

[...]

Mr. Frost, of the Alberta system operator, said European countries such as Denmark and Germany have been able to maintain a high proportion of wind power in their electricity systems mainly because they have multiple connections to other countries' power grids. That gives them substantial flexibility to import or export power to compensate for wind fluctuation.

Germany, for example, has 39 international interconnections, he said, making variable wind conditions much easier to manage.



Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 10:18:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That sounds coherent with what I wrote. 9,000 MW is a pretty small system and it's not surprising that it would find it slightly harder to cope with intermittence. Also, I suspect that seasonal swings of demand in Alberta are pretty massive for weather reasons.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:26:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, if we start forcing energy intensive industry to pay for power depending on demand they'll just build their own power plants to avoid the hassle and volatility.

And even if we could install all that fancy metering equipment people wouldn't like it and buy fixed price contracts anyway.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:03:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, if we start forcing energy intensive industry to pay for power depending on demand they'll just build their own power plants to avoid the hassle and volatility.
That's a problem?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:04:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, not generally, but it would be in Sweden as all power plants are owned by a handful of oligopolistic power companies (private and state owned, all evil) while new power plant construction in practice is illegal.
 

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 01:07:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's  effectively how the new Finnish nuclear plant is built - with long term supply contracts with several energy intensive industrialists (pulp and paper mills and a couple others).

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 02:14:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, they are on the same market as we are as there in effect is no Swedish power market but only a Nordic one.

Or well, it's not really long term supply contracts is it? Isn't it more like owning the shares gives you a certain power quota? 10 % of the shares gives 10 % of the generated power (about 1,3 TWh) and any power not consumed by the shareholder is sold on the market. And the big industries own all the shares of this in effect not-for-profit nuclear plant.

By the way, it would be great if it would be open to small investors. What a great way to hedge against rising power prices, just buy one millionth of the shares of the new reactor and get power for free, so to speak. Any surplus power is sold on the market.

A one time payment of maybe €3000 (=13 MWh per year as long as you hold the shares) and no more power bills for me. And then you also get value if shares prices rise, as they are bound to do due to peak oil.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 03:19:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And of course you can always sell the shares later if you'd like.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:00:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
regularly, because it comes form the experience of Denmark and northern Germany, where that level has been reached, and where the system copes (with the help of Scandinavian hydro, which is connected to the same regional grid).

Most grid operators say the same thing - that this is the level that can be reached with minor investments in the existing systems, with more requiring new investment to be made.

In the worst case, you force the wind producers to pay "balancing costs" to the network (i.e. a penalty that you pay if you deliver a volume of production different from what you announced a day or so before). The UK system works that way; what happens is that windfarms sell to utilities that manage the balancing requirement within their wider portfolios - the utilities get a cut for that service.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 02:12:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So could a smarter electricity distribution system allow for a higher proportion of unreliable alternative power generation?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 02:53:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you by "smarter" mean "more hydro, pumped storage and gas", then yes. If you with smarter mean smart metering, then I have no idea.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 03:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking smarter demand management - there's lots of domestic things that could be turned off when the power isn't there. Phone chargers for instance, heating, things like that.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 03:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think pumped storage is a good way to get around the intermittency of wind and solar.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:24:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as it goes, I agree.

It doesn't scale very well though - not enough sites.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 09:29:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you mean? You can build a pumped storage facility next to each renewable power "plant". Who tells you you have to "pump" water? All you have to do is store the energy into easily recoverable mechanical form. Imagine a spring-loaded electromagnet or something like that [this is where I, not being an engineer, reach my limitations]. Also remember that typically you only need to store one day's worth of power.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 09:54:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may need to stor for more than a day. Wind actually often has pretty strong seasonality, with one half of the year producing close to 2/3 of yearly power, and the other half the rest. Monthly variations in some sites can be 3:1 between the best month and the calmest. So to have smooth production over the year (admittedly a tougher requirement than may be needed in practice) might require a couple months' worth of storage.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:29:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How does that seasonality correlate with the seasonality in energy demand?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:37:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends. (sorry, no better answer)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:51:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We could always learn to arrange our life around the seasonality of renewable energy. Tapping into pumped storage must have a price, different from just using the energy as it is produced. Making that price explicit would "teach" us to adjust our behaviour appropriately.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:54:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I own a small apartment building in Canada. I have been keeping a bit of an eye on hydrogen fuel cells. Ideally we would like to install and heat hot water with a fuel cell, recharging it off the grid in non-peak time.  Probably it will take a very long time before it becomes financial feasible. While the cost of electricity is discounted for non-peak times, the cost of transmission (and all the other sub-charges) are not discounted - radically diminishing the advantages of arranging to use off peak power.

We recently needed to replace our flat roof. There were a number of choices, but when analyzed financially, only two really made sense. The short term $10,000 membrane roof with an expected life between 10 and 15 years and the Cadillac long term $30,000 roof with an additional R12 of insulation with an expected life between 40 and 50 years. Given the way small apartment buildings turn over, the first choice is often the most financially desirable. That needs to change. (By the way we went with the Cadillac. Even though it is somewhat unlikely we will hang on to this building for another 10 years.) Oh - our building is heated by electric baseboard.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 09:54:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Understand me: I have nothing against rural Nebraska, and I am not saying that you should not live there; but I am saying that living there is steadily going to become more and more expensive, and it will be quite simply unaffordable for those that are not rich.

I think that Jerome a Paris possibly underestimates the problem. Almost all of North America has been built on the assumption of car transport and unlimited land. This includes urban and rural areas. The cost to provide environmentally friendly anything is prohibitive except in the biggest of cities, and even there...

Compare Barcelona with Toronto - for example. Toronto is an environmental - urban sprawl nightmare (not to mention that all the interesting buildings have been destroyed in the name of progress). Toronto has 3 times the population - too bad it has maybe 20% of the subway system. Look at the buildings in Barcelona - 5-7 story multi res. everywhere. Compare that to the huge number of single family dwellings of Toronto. The reason for the sorry state of mass transit in Toronto is immediately obvious. That - and the fact that Toronto has built the last 3 subway lines in the wrong place or in the wrong way... very expensive mistakes that provide short term gain.

US cities are the same. Forget about rural Nebraska. The rural population will be the least of the world's problems. The very poor will continue to live and die in third world misery in rural America. That will not change. The cost and difficulty of rectifying the urban problems of North America will probably mean that North America will continue to be part of the problem when it comes to global warming. Even things that should help will be done wrong.

Having recently walked the Camino de Santiago - it became extremely clear to me that Spanish cities were made for walking. North American cities were made for cars. The life that it is possible to lead in Spain is very different than the life that it is possible to lead in North America in general and the US in particular. It will not be as simple as embracing mass transit and driving smaller cars, or even moving to the city. Depopulating rural Nebraska of the poor will not happen.  In particular the poor will be shafted, and will not participate if they can at all help it, as they have no obvious stake - and far more pressing immediate concerns.  In any case, the United States will probably have to lose Florida before people stand up and take notice - and then they will blame the Democratic Party and the Liberals.

This is not just a North American problem. Spanish factory trawlers are helping to turn our oceans into deserts - with the active support of the Spanish people.

aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:04:43 PM EST
I think that Jerome a Paris possibly underestimates the problem. Almost all of North America has been built on the assumption of car transport and unlimited land. This includes urban and rural areas. The cost to provide environmentally friendly anything is prohibitive except in the biggest of cities, and even there...

People have been telling Jerome this for forever.  I really do think he's going to have to pack up and move here to fully comprehend the scale of the problem.  But I don't see that happening, so I wish he would just take our word for it.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:21:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This always sounds to me like saying that because the problem is big it's not worth trying to fix.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought we weren't going to read things into each others' comments now?

It's not a reason to not fix the problem, but understanding the scope of the problem better might go a loooong way toward understanding why Americans are so hesitant and intimidated by thought of tackling it.  You are literally talking about radically changing the basic infrastracture of the 3rd largest country in the world.  It can and should be done.  But you are going to have a hard time convincing people if it seems you don't really have a good grasp of what you are proposing.  

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:52:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What part do you think he doesn't seem to understand?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:56:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The failure to fix the problem is so huge as to make the loss of Florida the least of our problems. We can not afford not to fix the problem - but that is just what I am afraid will happen.

Talking about mass transit without talking about fundamental shifts in urban planning and even fundamental shifts in our personal goals and life style is not going to go very far. The idea of the white picket fence two cars and 2.2 children - large lot on a dead end street in a suburb carefully designed to maximise the dead end streets is not viable - environmentally or economically.

We must understand what it means to say that this neighbourhood - (and the 500-1000-5000 whatever number of people who live in it) need to be redesigned so roads are friendly to mass transit. That the population density needs to be at least tripled to encourage economic activity and mass transit. We must deal with the mess we have now - intelligently. Sticking busses on the road and watch them drive around all day without any passengers on them will not make things better - and that is just what happens in the small city - large town that I live in.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem is so big it's hard to imagine where to start fixing it. In involves very basic attitudes to quality of life.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:31:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd wish you'd make up your mind whether I should come because I underestimate the problem or because I underestimate it...

Maybe, just maybe I'm aware of the situation and trying to write nuanced stories, you know?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:44:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you mean to say "overestimate" once?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:48:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pure "underestimating".  You underestimate how wacked out the Right is, how Euro-style liberal some on the left are, and how much people rely on their cars. :)

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 04:55:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm just hoping that everybody will actually read what I wrote?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:42:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think they do.  I hope they do.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire
by p------- on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 05:46:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To get back to the topic of US exurban and rural populations. Everyone thinks this is an un-fixable problem because of the magnitude. But, actually the exurbans only comprise at most 10% of the population.

In the past single generation cities in the Rust Belt have declined by 50% in population (Detroit, Buffalo, etc.) so social and economic forces can cause a rapid shift when conditions are right.

Sprawl is the end stage of wasteful development, but the majority still live in fairly compact regions. The problem comes with the supply chain which even for food now stretches over 1500 miles on average.

Will people be willing to buy local, seasonal food when they have gotten use to peaches in January? How about substituting dried and canned foods instead of fresh and frozen?


Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 06:52:19 PM EST
The American transportation problem is grossly overstated. Electric trains are superbly suited for transporting food and for long-distance travel. Electric trolley-busses can solve America's local transportation problems with little real change in lifestyle, and the capital cost is not all that high. (Fewer Hummers does not equal "real" change, if you ask me, although others may not agree.)

Where does all the electricity come from? I think coal, but also possibly nukes or wind or your-favorite-renewable-resource.

What is understated is the effect of climate change, which might eliminate snowfall in the Rocky Mountains, making it impossible to live here or irrigate crops in California and Arizona (both fed largely by Rocky Mountain water). Of course there is desalination, and a big desert nearby...

The real problem is not in America, but in the Third World, where the economic resources to react to climate change and more expensive energy aren't available.

by asdf on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 10:24:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
America still outputs 25% World's CO2, more than the whole Africa (unless funghi and livestock are counted as a part of Third World's CO2 problem, I suppose). Here is a nice map.

I am curious how USA could solve the surburban transport problem. The infrastructure is so inappropriate, isn't it?

by das monde on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 02:09:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree about the U.S. putting out far more than its share of CO2.

The existing transporation infrastructure is almost entirely based on automobiles and airplanes. The railroad system in the Northeast carries a substantial fraction of the commuter traffice, and much of the railroad infrastructure built during the second world war is still in place so we could fairly easily implement a 1945-scale railroad transportation system. But even during the depression, most people had cars.

On the other hand, it would take no change to the roads to run busses. And electric busses powered by overhead wires are practical and not too expensive, so that would be a pretty easy step to take to cover transportation in the exurbs. Truly rural areas are more of a problem, but there aren't many people living in rural areas anyway.

by asdf on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 11:56:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I heard that many surbubs are build on purpose without any public transport connection. Since you wouldn't put a bus stop by each gate, the switch to bus services would be far from elegant. And then you have shopping malls and all other services completely in other places. Reverse evolution of the sprawls might be very interesting... though hardly pretty.

In a parallel thread, I have an intermediate transportation proposal, where clients would submit their travel requests, and a transportation company would route its cars or minibuses to satisfy those requests. It is like taxi, but with different passengers served together. The idea is simple, actually, though possibly not implemented anywhere, due to complexities of routing and request communication. But with modern technologies of wireless communication and the internet, these problems can be handled. I believe this system could be acceptable to regular car users right now, and it would help to reduce traffic and its emissions substantially. Don't you think that this system can be viable somewhere in the US?

by das monde on Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 02:02:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On a positive note:windfarming in Alaska is growing.

Isn't this lovely, Jerome?

by das monde on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 09:26:03 PM EST
Wind power enthusiasts should check out the movie Wonderful Days. The images of thousands of stalled wind turbines are quite shocking...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wonderful_Days

by asdf on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 10:35:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Australian cities without water, or flooding Bangladesh must be more shocking, I guess.

Anyway, if we get to Korea, let's visit Taiwan as well. They are having solar power boom.

The latest proof that solar power is ready for prime time: Taiwanese entrepreneurs see a market.

On Oct. 26, MEMC Electronic Materials, a silicon wafer manufacturer headquartered in St. Louis, announced a 10 year deal to provide "solar grade" wafers to Taiwan's Gintech Co. The agreement is expected to generate 2-3 billion dollars of revenue for MEMC.

Gintech is one of a half-dozen Taiwanese solar cell manufacturers that are rushing to cash in on renewable energy. The leader of the pack is Motech, the ninth largest provider of photovoltaic cells in the world. Few things are certain in this world, but if Taiwanese high technology companies are betting on the future of solar power, then consumers can expect that prices will drop, fast. If ever there was a country whose citizens operated as if disobeying Moore's Law was punishable by death, it would be Taiwan.

In retrospect, a Taiwanese presence in the global solar power industry is a natural development, given the island's strengths in the closely related field of semiconductor manufacturing. Gintech's executive team include former execs at the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and according to its own account, is also looking for ways to promote the domestic solar power industry -- in particular by encouraging the domestic production of polysilicon, which is currently in global short supply due to the voracious appetitite of both the solar and chip industries.

Which leads one to wonder. Gintech didn't come up with its own manufacturing technology -- it bought a "turnkey" solution from Germany's Centrotherm. Germany has been aggressively promoting the development of renewable energy technologies through government incentives and subsidies for years. Looking for proof, not just that solar power is coming of age, but that it pays to think ahead and prepare for the future? Try Germany. Or Taiwan. Or California. Hmm. What's missing here?

by das monde on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 01:56:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the turbines in your picture look to be at least 20 years old. I hope they're building more modern versions...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:13:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
While John Howard has continued to say alarming things which suggest that global warming may not be serious, his Government has started to move in response to public opinion.  We have had a slew of recent announcements, although some of them are merely the announcement of projects under pre-existing programs.

Howard is the ultimate pragmatist, and will take further action to reduce carbon emissions, promote alternative energy etc in the run-up to the election he faces by the end of 2007.  This will happen because climate change has ignited as a political issue here, according to a range of recent polls.

One thing the Australian Government has relied upon to defend its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to UNFCCC is that Australia was, in any event, going to meet the extremely generous (108% of 1990 levels) emissions target for the 2008-2012 First Commitment Period.  While there is now apparently some danger that we will exceed this target, I gather Australia will come far closer to meeting Kyoto obligations than many EU countries and the US.

The Australian Government has a reasonable point that Kyoto is not the answer.  We need far deeper cuts to carbon emissions than Kyoto implies, and we need a system that is binding on China, India, Brazil and the other economies who are exponentially increasing fossil fuel use.  Howard is right that imposing restrictions on our economy while major economic competitors have no restrictions will hurt our economy.  Unfortunately, he (and the electorate until now) has been blind to the far bigger cost of inaction, possibly because it is well beyond his political lifetime.

I agree that ratifying the Kyoto Protocol is symbolically important as a demonstration of acceptance that there is a problem and that we are prepared to take domestic action.  But we need to focus on a post-Kyoto regime that will make deep cuts to global emissions.  An Australian official is co-chair of the UN process that is trying to secure agreement on the possible architecture.

by canberra boy (canberraboy1 at gmail dot com) on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 10:14:25 PM EST
Luckily, we will all be saved by you ecologically sound Europeans!

NOT.

U.S. Automakers Invade Europe  
Hummer off-roaders plow new inroads

By RICHARD YARROW

AutoWeek | Published 10/24/06, 9:48 pm et

On the eve of the recent Paris Motor Show, 15 miles south of the city center, General Motors was making a little piece of history. Europe's first Authentic Hummer Center officially opened for business, and other are set to follow in London and Rome, supported by a network of smaller dealerships.


 http://autoweek.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061025/FREE/61024001/1024/rss01&rssfeed=rss01


by asdf on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 at 10:15:09 PM EST
Saw one the other day in Dublin. Pure conspicuous consumption: can you imagine what it costs to fuel one at €1.05 a litre, even on diesel?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 02:56:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yeah, the Hummer store in Paris is 5mn (walk) away from where I live.
This is the inevitable consequence of our governments stopping to increase gas taxes in the mid 90s. Gas prices have steadily gone down (relatively speaking) since then, and car sizes have gone bigger.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 at 06:15:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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