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Energy Quackery

by Jerome a Paris Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:28:20 AM EST

IN EUROPE, policy packages are like patent remedies: if they promise to cure one or two ills, they might be worth a try; if a dozen, suspect quackery. On January 23rd the European Commission is to unveil a comprehensive energy policy that promises to curb climate change, increase energy security, shield economies from volatile fuel prices and foster new industries in which Europe will lead the world.

Follows a long explanation of how the various measures proposed (clean coal, renewables, biofuels) are criticized by various European politicians or silly or both - with particular scorn, for some reason, for renewable energy support mechanisms. And the "logical" conclusion: "If Europe wants to show the world it is serious about climate change, its leaders need to agree which objectives really matter."

As usual, the goal of that particular column of the Economist ("Charlemagne") is, above others, to mock and demean Europe, so the conclusion, however unsupported, is unsurprising, but the article is depressing in that it shows the fundamental unseriousness of our elites when it comes to energy policy. The goals, as stated above, are absolutely fine - they are, indeed, the right ones, and they are compatible with one another, because there are two easy ways to meet them all at the same time: reduce demand, and build up renewable energy sources. The long catalogue of proposals that is mocked by the Economist is just the result of successful lobbying by existing industries to claim that they fit in these goals, however absurd that may be - with the exception of renewables, which seem to be mocked just because they are not "serious" and are "greenery", thus wacko (ignoring, as is often the case in such ideological editorials, facts published elsewhere by the Economist).

What depresses me to no end is that while there is an increasing awareness of energy (and climate) as a big issue, and of the need to "do something", the debate on this seems to be moving increasingly in the wrong direction, with "competitivity" and "seriousness" driving things rather than what we know actually works (demande reduction and renewable energy). The dominant neolib ideology knows that these solutions are the anti-thesis of what it wants, and thus is happy to play the various lobbies off against one another to ensure that nothing happens and we don't change direction.


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"The dominant neolib ideology knows that these solutions are the anti-thesis of what it wants, and thus is happy to play the various lobbies off against one another to ensure that nothing happens and we don't change direction."

You've summed it up in a nutshell, or in the words of a "Talking Head," "Same As It Ever Was."

The entrenched energy interests which dominate technical civilization have stymied the development of renewables from the first instances of their appearance.  The list is so long i won't go in deeper, except for one example amongst hundreds:  Florida Power & Light (the parent company of amurka's largest wind developer), fighting solar power for decades... in Florida for chrissake.

That renewables have made such a strong global impact already is but testament to the diligent pugnaciousness of those involved.  Such opposition to strong global growth points out that the spread of renewable energy technologies has nothing to do with cost, nothing to do with performance, nothing to do with the ability to scale up.

The fight against renewable energy (and its big sister demand reduction) is, and always was, about social control.  Decentralized, local bad, centralized oligarchy good.  It doesn't matter if you're Tony Bliar or Tony Soprano or Toni Greenpeace, if you want toast in the morning you have to plug in your toaster, and if we control those electrons you're shit outta luck.

Rational argument never seemed to carry the day.  Which is why it will take the global disruptions already occurring to begin to bring sanity to the debate.

What part of cheapest, sanest, most rational energy choices don't these criminals understand?  All, apparently.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:50:41 AM EST
I tis very difficult to know if decentralization is the only thing theya re fighting for.. after... people still ahve a tendency to revolt when sudden changes in living standard happen.

So I would say it is more like  decentralization control... the energy pie is too big and too fudnamental to society to not control the cahnge process to the milimeter (and they know they need to change).

So, soemtimes it also seems that they also want, as  always, get some small group of people very reach in the process (biofuels of first generation anybody?).

The big nightmare of the economist is truning energy into antoher "computer" world where the first appearanceds of a combiantion of gift and meritocracy economy (contrary to capitalsim fundamentals) are beginning to develop.... they want to control that no wacko crazy starts inventing something relaly angerous for their world.

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 02:44:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Countries determined to subsidise expensive forms of greenery (cloudy Germany loves solar panels, for some reason) will be allowed to carry on. This is sold as a punt on EU innovation, keeping a mix of technologies alive while waiting to see which will sell. The model is Denmark, which subsidised wind turbines for years and now makes a mint exporting them--never mind that wind power itself has to be subsidised.

Never mind the tens of thousands of jobs in Germany as well; never mind their own article that points to costs savings for consumers larger than the subsidies thanks to wind; never mind the externalities and direct subsidies to existing energy sources; never mind that wind power prices are capped (they will not go up!) for the next 20 years, something which cannot be said of gas or even nuclear...


The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, complains that if EU policies drive heavy polluters to countries with laxer carbon regimes, that would be "neither efficient, nor fair, nor economically sustainable". To France, it is "indispensable" to fight back with import tariffs on goods from countries that resist binding curbs on greenhouse emissions (trade war, anyone?).

It's not because Sarkozy says it that it's true. It's efficient (cf the guarantee with wind that prices will never be higher than the inital price; it is a lot more economically sustainable than relying on increasingly expensive and rare hydrocarbons.

And we impose safety requirements on all the goods we use (locally manufactured or imported), so that they are not toxic, dangerous or polluting - how would a carbon content norm - or tax - be any different? How is that agaisnt trade if it applies to all? Quite the opposite, it is fair to apply it to imports as well.


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

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:11:22 PM EST
Jerome a Paris:
And we impose safety requirements on all the goods we use (locally manufactured or imported), so that they are not toxic, dangerous or polluting - how would a carbon content norm - or tax - be any different? How is that agaisnt trade if it applies to all? Quite the opposite, it is fair to apply it to imports as well.

How is this different to applying Irish minimum wage laws to our Chinese imports - taxing them at the difference between Irish and Chinese wage rates for the labour content proportion of the product?  One regulation promotes public health, one promotes sustainability, and another promotes equity and avoidance of labour exploitation.  Surely trade is all about exploiting such "competitive advantages" at the expense of the environment or workers.  Or is it that we don't care about the Chinese sweatshops, but their pollution is now harming OUR environment as well?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 02:46:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good idea. Except we should probably apply the tax at some kind of purchase parity thingi. Otherwise, good idea. Traditional protection of the labour market. Not a very new concept, just fallen out of favour by the ones that make money hand over fist in the new model.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 03:39:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's an interesting interview with Philip Pullman (His Dark Materials aka The Golden Compass)

The interview promotes a new book ' Do good lives have to cost the Earth?' to which Pullman is a contributor.

More about atheist Pullman here and here.

Warning: he does drive a large Mercedes


You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 04:00:54 AM EST


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