Wake-up call duly noted. Now what?

Extreme climate predictions most accurate, report finds, according to a Seattle Times/Washington Post article “ The world could be in for an increase of some 8 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100, resulting in drastically higher seas, disappearing coastlines and more severe droughts, floods and other destructive weather.  Such an increase would substantially overshoot what the world’s leaders have identified as the threshold for triggering catastrophic consequences.”

Response

Ok, so, what do we do? Personally, live a lower carbon lifestyle – dance more, drive less, plant more, purchase less, insulate your home, wear sweaters, vacation near home, skype your distant friends & family, and lobby for policy solutions.. Locally, get institutions to invest in green energy instead of fossil fuels, (see 350.org) and install energy saving technology, tell your friends and neighbors what you are doing and invite them to informational events. Nationally, lobby for a carbon tax and rebate (see Citizens Climate Lobby), for an end to subsidies for fossil fuels, against oil pipelines and natural gas fracking, and for increased government incentives for investment in solar, wind, water, geothermal, wave, and tidal energy, efficiency technology, smart grid, electric vehicles and batteries.
A green energy economy is possible. The Jacobson and Delucchi plan,, explains how investment in solar, wind, water, geothermal, wave, and tidal energy, combined with energy reducing technology, smart grid, electric vehicles and batteries can supply most our needs. They suggest replacing all new energy with these by 2030, and replacing pre-existing energy by 2050, resulting in consumer costs similar to what we are spending today.
The energy from burning oil, coal and natural gas allowed us to build a civilization, with research facilities, and communication devices that allow us to make a transition to safe, affordable clean energy. Those who are afraid that sustainability will not help the economy are misinformed. It is precisely to save our loading docks, airports, highway system, computer capabilities, and the health of people who run this infrastructure that we need to stop investing money in last century’s fossil fuel energy and build American energy industries that will free us from the monopoly of fossil fuels and also save our mountains, trees, agriculture, water supplies and shorelines.
https://greenismoney.wordpress.com

Advertisements

Green Energy Made in America

A columnist  disagrees with President Obama’s decision to add duties to imported Chinese solar panels, claiming that it is “to create an empire of subsidized domestic “green” companies, dub them a “strategic” industry, and ladle out taxpayer dollars and regulatory favors in return for campaign donations.” ‘The Dumbest Trade War…’ by H  Jenkins Oct 12, 2012 WSJ

Response:

The safety of the American people is the primary responsibility of the US government. The 2010 US Quadrennial Military Review says that US dependence on oil is a serious vulnerability, and not just foreign oil, but all oil.  Because the U.S. has only 3% of the world’s reserves of oil and since the U.S. military is the world’s largest single buyer of oil, our foreign policy is subject to pressure from the regimes that sell us $350 billion worth of oil every year.  The big reserves of oil are in Russia, Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Venezuela and more; with every ten cent hike in the price of fuel, those countries get richer. To depend on oil from American territory is not a solution because what we are getting now is increasingly expensive to extract, from under the Arctic Ocean, squeezed out of sand or forced from cracks in rock.

Clean energy is indeed a strategic industry.

Making electricity from solar and wind is now no more expensive in many places  than making it by burning coal or natural gas, and it is getting cheaper.  The cost of installing solar energy, according to Bloomberg’s first quarter Clean Energy Market Briefing was $7 per watt in 2007, $3 in 2010 and is now less than $1 per watt.  Subsidies have helped these industries scale up, but once they are mass-producing the prices drop, and profits increase. In Spain, even after subsidies for clean energy were dropped, the industries continued to operate with 5 to 15% profit.

Using green electricity to replace oil will be increasingly attractive as the price of electric batteries drops. A McKinsey study released in July estimates that mass production and new technology are lowering the cost of batteries and could make the cost of buying and operating an electric vehicles the same as a vehicle running on gasoline within 6 years.  China is promoting swappable batteries, particularly with fleet vehicles as a way to deal with slow charging time, although 20 minute charging is now common.

Almost every car company is now producing electric or hybrid models. They will provide real competition with oil. Most Americans have stopped believing the corporate hype that oil, coal and natural gas are our only options.  Solar, wind and other green technology attracted $260 billion of investors’ funds worldwide in 2011.

Solar panel manufacturers in China used large government loans, by one estimate $18 billion, to buy up domestic and foreign panel manufacturers, drop prices to gain market dominance and plan to set prices higher according to a report in the New York Times.

The  U.S. Commerce Department has responded by imposing 24 to 35% tariffs on solar panels from China.

A better option would be to increase tax credits for purchases of American made solar panels, and help local industries scale up to mass produce, export, and profit from increasing international demand for energy.

Bipartisan Support for Carbon Tax

Bob Inglis, Former Republican Congressman from South Carolina, and Art Laffer, formerly an economic adviser to President Reagan are promoting a revenue neutral tax swap. Through the Energy and Enterprise Initiative, they are calling for an end to subsidies on all fuels, attachment of full  accountability including health, productivity and environmental costs to all fuels, and revenue neutrality. They see this as a campaign to unleash the power of free enterprise to deliver the fuels of the future and to mitigate the risks of a changing climate.

George Shultz, Secretary of State for President Reagan, has expressed confidence that conservatives will support a carbon tax, because all forms of energy should bear their full costs, and not make society bear the burden of their side effects. . He is leading a group studying  threats to national security and how our energy use affects the climate.

Shultz enjoys driving an electric car powered on sunlight from the solar panels on his house that have long since paid for themselves. In an interview,  he quips, “Take that, Ahmadinejad.” He says, “It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of fact that the globe warming. That’s why we should be looking at ways to lessen our dependence on oil at all.” “I have three great-grandchildren, and I have to do what I can to see they have a decent future. If we let this go on and on.. they’re not going to have one. “

Tax credits for wind production

In the middle of a drought that has affected half the country, the worst since the 1930s, with scientists saying that the likelihood of drought is greatly increased by warming emissions from fossil fuels, oil, coal and natural gas, the Republican presidential candidate is supporting continued tax breaks for these fossil fuels, but opposing tax incentives to help the developing wind power industry.

Response:

It appears that some Republican Senators disagree with candidate Romney and several of them joined Democrats in a 19-5 vote in the Senate Finance Committee to renew tax credits for wind power. 81% of  installed wind power plants are in Congressional districts that are represented by Republicans, such as Iowa and South Dakota.

A one year extension of a production tax credit for wind would be a step in the right direction if Congress approves it, even though it is tentative, tiny, and late. According to testimony before a Subcommittee last December by a Congressional economic analyst,  tax incentives for wind energy has been mostly temporary, extended 7 times since 1992, and allowed to lapse three times. The uncertainty of these provisions discourages investors. There is usually a 3 to 4 year period of planning, siting and permitting before wind equipment is ordered. A tax credit that may expire before it can be used is marginally useful.    The credit should be extended for at least 5 years to allow investors and producers some consistent support as the industry scales up.

Wind energy has huge potential for growth and is growing fast, – over 31% last year, providing over a third of all new power generating facilities. Analysts believe that the US can increase the share of electric power coming from wind from 3% now to 20% in 18 years. South Dakota and Iowa are already at about 20% each. Germany now gets 25% of its electricity from renewables.

Consumers will see the cost of solar and wind technology drop as research improves them and increased production reduces prices.  Bloomberg analysts estimate that the cost drops 7% for each doubling of wind energy installation.

Oil, coal and natural gas are mature industries that have become powerful with the help of subsidies which have been permanent features of the tax code for over 50 years and have been much larger than the subsidies to renewables according to congressional testimony.  Exploration credits, depletion credits, and royalty relief reduce costs and raise profits for the petroleum industry.  The Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated continued direct subsidies for oil and gas or $74 billion over the next couple years unless Congress changes these laws. $75 billion is the average yearly profit of Exxon-Mobil between 2008 and 2011.

It is time for consumers to get some government help for the development of competitive energy production without fossil fuels.

Government should support green energy projects

A Washington Times editorial says the government burns cash by supporting green energy projects.

Our response:

The real burning of cash is the $350 billion that the US sends to foreign countries every year for oil purchases. It is the $600 billion of our taxes that are used to defend shipments. It is the $120 billion in damages to health, crops, timber and other things in 2005 from electric generation by coal and natural gas in Hidden Costs of Energy by the National Academy of Sciences. It is the $110 million/year oyster industry threatened by acid oceans according to a NOAA study.

The cost of continuing our reliance on oil is a quantum greater than the cost of encouraging the entrepreneurs, inventors, salespeople and investors of America to create a new green energy economy, powered by solar, wind, geothermal, batteries and other low carbon technology.

Shrinking from defense of our civilization against the ravages of global warming is not what I think of as American.

Image

Green energy jobs

Light rail construction in Seattle, CHS blog

Media report of slower job growth.

Response:

A growing clean energy industry is the best way to increase job growth.

The petroleum industry requests for permits for more oil and natural gas pipelines state that they will spur employment.

Likewise, wind turbine manufacturers claim the same thing. Wind industry growth from 2004-9 prompted creation of 75,000 U.S. jobs and several thousand U.S companies according to John Regan of TPI Composites, Inc,, a manufacturer of wind turbine blades. John Purcell, a VP of the Wind Energy division of Leeco Steel said in a congressional hearings that extension of the wind tax credit would mean preservation or creation of 37,000 jobs.

An independent analysis of job creation at UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group found that renewable energy would create more jobs per unit of energy than coal or natural gas. They estimate that combining aggressive energy efficiency measures and a 30% renewable portfolio standard could generate over 4 million full time jobs years by 2030.