Tag: Energy development

A Real Earth Day

Ah, Earth Day. Usually, I use this space to mock the do-nothing feel-goodism that constitutes the bulk of the environmentalist movement. I’ll point out how they do things like “Earth Hour” where they turn out the lights and light up candles and actually do more damage to the environment in the process.

But this year, I want to do something different. I want to recognize the things that are benefiting the environment and truly making the Earth a better and cleaner place.

  • Hydrofracking and the natural gas boom have resulted in the United States being one of the only countries to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, despite not signing the Kyoto Protocol, the United States easily met its standards … without wrecking the economy (or at least, not wrecking it through environmental policy). By replacing more carbon-intense fuels, natural gas is buying years, possibly decades, to address the problem of global warming. And concerns over contamination of groundwater have turned out to be overblown.
  • Nuclear Power is the only alternative energy that functions on a large scale. It uses 10-100 times less land per kilowatt hour than comparable alternative energy and makes far less of a mess, even accounting for the meltdowns at Fukushima and Three Mile Island. New technology, such as pebble-bed reactors, promise to make this energy source even safer and more efficient. And nuclear fusion continues to make slow progress.
  • Mass transportation and free trade allow food to be grown in environments that are ideal and then shipped all over the world. Because transportation uses far less energy than raising and maintaining crops or animals in imperfect environments, the result, contra the “food miles” idiots, is less energy consumption, less resource consumption and lower food prices.
  • While we’re on the subject, Genetically Modified Organisms are increasing crop yields while using less land, less fertilizer and less dangerous pesticides. And they have yet to produce a single attack of killer tomatoes.
  • Capitalism has made a clean environment a consumer good. Consumer pressure has done more to improve the environment than every United Nations treaty combined. Capitalist countries are much cleaner, much more efficient and much more environmentally conscious than command-and-control economies. If you think top-down economies are better for the environment, I invite you to go to random city in China and a take a deep searing breath.
  • If people really want to do some good for the planet, they can go to school and learn about it. They can learn the laws of physics, biology and chemistry. They can study engineering and develop the technology to produce food and energy at an ever smaller cost to the environment. If they don’t have the ability to do science, they can build businesses to exploit those technologies and bring them to market. And failing that, they can at least align their politics with markets, freedom and technological innovation — the things that have really cleaned up the environment, the forces that have every environmental indicator, apart from greenhouse gases, moving in the right direction.

    Anything else is intellectual masturbation. Turning out your lights for an hour and using recycled toothpaste may make you feel like you’re helping the planet. But the people who are really saving the world are too busy working in labs, classrooms and boardrooms to be bothered with this nonsense.

    Benefits of brown energy are yet to come

    So says IHS’s report on the economic impact shale which has tallied up the benefits coming from shale oil & gas exploration & extraction.

    In their latest report on the economic benefits of the shale revolution, the global research firm IHS makes a number of encouraging findings. IHS estimates that the unconventional oil and gas value chain already supports over two million jobs, is responsible for $1,200 in average additional net income per household and is contributing nearly $300 billion to GDP. The most promising finding for manufacturers is that the best is yet to come. Looking at just one manufacturing sector, the chemical manufacturing sector, capital investments in new plants and expansion at existing plants is expected to more than triple in just four years.

    These estimates are not theoretical; they are largely based on real projects that are already under development, some of which are identified in the report. Similar growth is expected in several manufacturing sectors, which collectively will drive more production, create more jobs and further fuel the economy.

    Of course, the Gaia worshippers want nothing to do with this real economic boon, and keep pretending that the heavily subsidized and failure prone green energy sector is where all the good stuff is. Dreams are just that: dreams. As I told some leftard that kept telling me he wished the green energy sector would show how great it was already earlier today: shit in one hand and keep making that idiotic wish in the other, and see which one fills up first.

    Gassed Out

    I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago about how awesome natural gas is as a source of energy. That doesn’t mean I’m fine with stuff like this:

    In August 2011, the City Council of Boulder, Colorado, referred two ballot measures to voters. One authorized the city to take over (or “municipalize”) the privately owned utility that provides Boulder’s electricity. The second measure imposed a modest tax on ratepayers to finance the takeover and convert the utility from coal to natural gas.

    The initiative passed. Amazingly, the Spectator portrays this as a good thing: that the citizens of Boulder, in the face of an “astroturf” campaign of a company trying to defend their interests, deprived their fellows citizens of their property rights (this isn’t an eminent domain issue; energy is a “public use”). Boulder is also pushing to go 90% renewable. We’ll see how that goes. Forbes warned a month ago that such efforts often massively underestimate the cost and technical problems connected with such municipalization schemes. You can’t just wave a magic wand and cause renewable energy to appear because you want it to.

    We may see more of this in the future as the Left becomes more frustrated with their inability to foist “green” energy on us. And, of course, they’ll find some other industry to blame when these schemes completely fail.

    Frack The Planet

    Now this is interesting:

    A new report discussed in the FT claims that American shale gas production has actually reduced carbon emissions by 450 million tons over the past five years, during which fracking came into widespread use. As the report mentions, gas—mostly obtained via fracking—has grown in usage by 38 percent over the past year alone, while much dirtier coal has fallen by nearly 20 percent over the same time period. The correlation between the rise of fracking and a fall in carbon output is not a coincidence. While greens have spent years chasing a global green unicorn, America has been moving towards reducing its carbon footprint on its own, and fracking has been the centerpiece of this change.

    In fact, America’s drop in carbon emissions is greater than that of any other country in the survey. Greens have often praised Europe and Australia for their foresight in adopting forward-thinking carbon-trading schemes, while chastising America for its reluctance to do the same. Yet the numbers are out, and America has actually performed better than its carbon-trading peers. From an empirical standpoint, fracking has a much better track record at reducing emissions than the current green dream.

    Cutting CO2 emissions was not the intent of fracking and shale gas, but that has been a pleasant side effect. It is a simple fact that natural gas gets you much more energy bang for the CO2 buck than coal. In fact, I would not be surprised if it does better than many of the “green” fuels we are being force-fed. Moving to natural gas isn’t a permanent solution. But 450 million tons is a massive reduction: more than the reductions produced by food miles and cap and trade combined. That’s progress — the sort of progress that can buy time while more long-term solutions like fusion are worked out.

    I’m not going to pretend that fracking does not come with its own basket of environmental concerns. I live in central Pennsylvania, where a lot of fracking is going on (uh, that wasn’t supposed to sound that dirty). While the concerns are a bit overblown, they are not zero. But even then, fracking may still be better than coal, which can involve such things as mountaintop removal. Moving to natural gas is a positive in almost every way.

    The Green’s reluctance to acknowledge this does, I think, undercut their claims to be pure-hearted environmentalists. Anyone who really cares about global warming would say that, while switching to gas isn’t a perfect solution, it’s a massive improvement. But the environmentalists have set a currently impossible goal of no CO2 emissions (the politicians, by contrast, have set goals of reducing CO2 emissions fifty years from now when they will all be dead).

    What’s astonishing is that the Americas are rapidly becoming the world’s energy epicenter. Fracking, shale and deep water are quickly sidelining the Middle East as an increasingly minor player in the global energy market. I predicted this … Lee predicted this … years ago when oil prices first began to spike. That was a signal that we needed more energy and industry has responded. If we had imposed price controls like many Democrats wanted to, we’d not only be out of oil, but not exploiting these newer greener energy sources.

    Here’s a quote from Lee. Expand it to fossil fuels in general and you’ll see, as in all things, that he was a fucking prophet:

    The difficult argument is to explain to people, calmly and rationally, the situation with oil. The easy thing to do is terrify people into thinking that, just like sucking on a milkshake, one day we’re just going to run out. As I’ve said before, technological advances will make oil obsolete long before we ever actually run out of it. If oil were actually in any danger of running out any time soon it would be $500,000 a barrel instead of $100. (That’s freshman economics, folks. Everyone should understand that.)

    Oil will never run out. Ever. There is too much money to be made in the technology industry for the world to keep relying solely on oil. We don’t need nightmares, we don’t need screaming histrionics, we don’t need end of the world scenarios. What we need are smart people taking the problem seriously, and finding workable, reasonable solutions to transition the world from a petroleum economy into the next generation.

    Fracking and shale are the technology that is bridging us to the future. They are what will keep our economy going while we develop ever more efficient and less fossil-dependent energy sources. And by exploiting them, we are reducing our carbon footprint, reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reducing our environmental impact. It’s not all rainbows and sunshine — not by a long shot — but it’s certainly a lot more rainbowy than the alternative.

    So the question to fracking opponents becomes this: why do you guys not care about the environment?

    (PS – In finding that Lee quote, I dug up a lot of old posts. Here is another good one. I miss that guy.)

    Update: Spain’s heralded green energy industry is collapsing without massive subsidies. I don’t want to play this up too much since the fossil fuel industry gets subsidies too — although at a far lower rate per Gigawatt of energy produced. But no one doubts the fossil fuel industry could survive without subsidies.


    Now that energy secretary Chu admitted during testimony to congress that this administrations actually understands what they are doing is going to jack up energy prices and will do nothing to mediate that, can we stop pretending that these people want high gas prices?

    COMMENTARY | President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Energy Stephen Chu uttered the kind of Washington gaffe that consists of telling the truth when inconvenient. According to Politico, Chu admitted to a House committee that the administration is not interested in lowering gas prices.

    Chu, along with the Obama administration, regards the spike in gas prices as a feature rather than a bug. High gas prices provide an incentive for alternate energy technology, a priority for the White House, and a decrease in reliance on oil for energy.

    Yahoo is trying real hard to put a positive spin on this revelation, and Chu was forced this morning to recant on that admission, but those of us paying at the pump that are stuck with the pain, while our credentialed elite jet set and live large, now have proof we where right that was the plan from the start. Look, the left wants us off fossil fuels and dependant on the unproven, unreliable, and incapable of producing the needed energy technologies that their green bullshit initiatives will produce, while making these of them part of that insider lop – that’s people like you Al Gore! – stinking rich. We can now stop arguing if what they are saying means we are going to have to pay a lot more for energy, because in a candid moment we have the guy leading the effort to bring us these sky high prices admitting that’s the plan.

    This is more of the same from the WH that claimed they had a “jobs” policy, only that policy seems to have been about protecting democrat constituents and their power. We need to do away with these people, and do so fast, unless we are content to have them set the standard of living for all of us not part of their special circle to tat of Bangladesh. Stop trying to get us off oil and making leftist investors in green energy rich, and give the people a damned break already. They are not doing this for our own good. Don’t believe that lie. This is so these poverty pimps can make astronomical amounts of money and gain even more intrusive and absolute power over the people. That’s the real driver here. It’s what’s behind all this green shit.