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The 'C'-bomb of politics! - Elf M. Sternberg
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elfs
The 'C'-bomb of politics!
Two days ago, George W. Bush went on national television to implore Congress to open up more US territory to drilling interests, claiming that that would help lower gas prices. As has been pointed out, increased drilling will only immanentize the day when we have to find some other way of manufacturing plastics because we've burned all our hydrocarbons in our gas tanks and won't save you and I a whole lot of money in the process.

Yesterday, John McCain unveiled part of his plan to put a nuclear power plant in every state in the union. The Cato institute wonderfully calls this the Sim City Energy Plan, although I think Mr. Taylor fails to account for the regulatory burden placed on nuclear power since Three Mile Island. The regulations don't account for modern reactor designs like the pebble bed reactor, and create significantly highter costs.

But neither Bush nor McCain used the one word that would really have made a difference: conservation. What happened to it? Why don't the candidates talk about higher CAFE standards, or better public transit, or more appropriate virtual office requirements?

Virtual offices and replacing your lightbulbs with flourescents aren't exactly goverment initiatives (at least, they ought not to be). But our President can lead the way, by example and by exhortation. Our candidates can encourage those of us who haven't figured out what we can do to reduce our gas and electricity usage. But nobody's talking about conservation yet. (Well, okay, FOX News is, but only to remind us that smaller cars kill so you should keep driving your gas-guzzling SUV!)

Why aren't politicans talking about conservation yet?

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Comments
(Deleted comment)
urox From: urox Date: June 20th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I was just about to say... the drive of capitalism is the opposite of conservation.
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mouser From: mouser Date: June 20th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
http://www.nanosolar.com/blog3/


I'm doing some math wrong somewhere: If it's "10 acres of land to serve a city of 1,000 homes", that's about 20x20 feet per house. It might take time, but if you need space for it, it does seem like there should be some type of incentive.

Maybe actual solar roofing would be the thing to do...

jenk From: jenk Date: June 20th, 2008 06:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
Virtual offices and replacing your lightbulbs with flourescents aren't exactly goverment initiatives (at least, they ought not to be). But our President can lead the way, by example and by exhortation.

Especially since the President actually has a shorter commute thatn most employed Americans - he actually lives where he works.

Now if he'd implement a telecommuting plan for White House staffers, or encourage more transit...
yamazakikun From: yamazakikun Date: June 20th, 2008 08:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
OPM does have a government-wide telecommuting program. And the government chips in up to $110 (I think) a month for vanpool or public transportation costs.
darrelx From: darrelx Date: June 20th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Al Gore is talking about conservation... even promised over a year ago that his Energy-hog of a home was being improved to use less energy, and tried to sidestep the issue by talking about purchasing carbon-credits - promoting his own company that manages purchasing of carbon-credits, of course.

But now, more than a year later, his home is using 20% more energy than it was at that time...

Talk is cheap.

What we need is cheaper energy, and letting capitalism do it's thing.

If business are allowed to do what they do best, they will advance our technology and standard of living at the same time as solving problems like finding other sources for hydrocarbons for plastics. Let them profit, and EVERYONE prospers.

Drill in ANWAR. Drill off the coast. Drill in the Dakotas. Build more refineries and Nuclear power plants domestically. That's the short term solution, giving us time for long term solutions.

But if you only focus on long term solutions, you'll never find your way out of the woods... unless you are a socialist and believe that throwing tax dollars at the problem is the way to find a solution... because that is all that will be left if capitalism isn't given the chance to find the long term solutions because it's being choked by too many regulations and taxes.

But no... you'd rather support Jimmy Carter Jr.'s bid for presidency and socialist reform.
gromm From: gromm Date: June 20th, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think you missed the earlier post about how drilling in ANWR will take 7 years to do anything at all, and will only reduce the price of a gallon of gas by 2 cents. The cumulative effects of all your proposed policy changes would probably amount to a reduction of 10 or 15 cents a gallon. And how much will gas cost in 7 years? Oh, probably about double what it is today. Maybe even more, if we have truly hit world peak oil production already.

Conservation however, can start tomorrow and see benefits the next day.

Letting capitalism alone to do its thing however, results in Love Canal and coal mines where miners die every day as human sacrifices on the altar of the almighty dollar. Companies "doing what they do best" without regulation kill people. Their shareholders would *demand* the murder of competitors if it were legal. Your commitment to absolute capitalism sickens me, as it makes you nothing but a short-sighted monster.
(Deleted comment)
tagryn From: tagryn Date: June 20th, 2008 07:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Agreed. I think there's a visceral NIMBY reaction against nuclear on the part of many environmentalists, and I regard it as something of a touchstone for how serious they are about global warming: if they absolutely rule out nuclear, it tells me where their priorities are vis-a-vis global warming.

France has an remarkable nuclear program that could be a model for other developed countries. The trick is always what to do with the waste; the Yucca Mountain plan might be the best of poor options.

For the USA, I think the short-term answer lies in some mixture of nuclear and coal (the latter simply because the USA has so much of it) while waiting for further breakthroughs in solar to make it truly affordable/competitive with other sources.

I'd be OK with more drilling if I thought it would make a genuine difference, but I think the current price spike is being driven largely by speculation and lack of refinery capacity (plus increasing demand in China and India) rather than a lack of oil per se.
(Deleted comment)
jordan179 From: jordan179 Date: June 20th, 2008 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why aren't politicans talking about conservation yet?

Conservation is useful, but it is not a long-term solution. As civilization progresses, so does its energy generation. If we try to conserve our way into the future, we will find ourselves generating less and less energy as a percentage of total world energy generation, and hence will slip from our Great Power status (because power is based on wealth which in turn is largely based on energy generations capabilities).

McCain's nuclear proposal is the most intelligent thing I've seen from a national politicians in a long while. At least he grasps that Man's future is a nuclear one, and that America has to stop trying to live in the energy past. It's been our superstitious rejection of atomic energy that has been behind most of our energy problems for the last quarter-century, and the chickens that are coming home to roost in the form of soaring oil prices.

If we'd gone nuclear, as we originally planned to in the 1950's and 1960's, the oil prices would affect us only in terms of motor vehicle operation, and our response would be to rapidly convert our vehicles to electric.
gromm From: gromm Date: June 20th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
As civilization progresses, so does its energy generation.

That's funny, California has managed to keep its energy consumption stable for the past 20 years or so, in spite of a growing population.
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mrf_arch From: mrf_arch Date: June 21st, 2008 12:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Our candidates can encourage those of us who haven't figured out what we can do to reduce our gas and electricity usage. But nobody's talking about conservation yet.

Conservation only gets talked up when there's profit in it. The sales pitch to get people to change from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents comes to mind there. But if there's not an interest to be served that can profit big enough to afford advertising, than that interest isn't going to get pushed, even if it is a good to the public at large.

As for our politicians? Ronald Reagan said "morning in America" and "buy more stuff" and Jimmy Carter preached restraint and conservation, and everybody remembers who crushed whom in that election. It's going to take a much uglier set of economic shocks than this one before Americans are actually hurting enough to listen to politicians who have the nerve to tell them to act like grownups.
From: (Anonymous) Date: June 21st, 2008 07:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Conservation doesn't have to have that huge an impact on lifestyle, so I completely reject the argument that we're bound to need more and more power as time progresses. We're already seeing rises in energy costs, so it makes good sense for equipment to be intelligently designed in order to save power in the future. In time we will probably get better and better at this, and so we could potentially even see a swing to using less and less power over time.

As to solar, microgeneration as I've heard it called is probably going to be a good bet. I know it might not entirely power everything, but if it even provided just 20% of a home's power then it would be a substantial load off the grids which you could use nuclear or other systems to produce the rest. Solar will probably be more viable economically as costs of energy rise anyway, and the more people that buy it the more they can reduce the prices in order to encourage more buyers...
From: qtplatypus Date: June 21st, 2008 10:29 am (UTC) (Link)
In .au we have a green party is there anything like that in the US. My understanding from outside is that your system makes minor parties and independents unsuccessful.
elfs From: elfs Date: June 21st, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's not so much "the system" as simply tradition. We've had two parties forever, and Americans tend to think in polarized directions. The idea of third parties just doesn't work much here.

There is a Green party, but it destroyed its reputation in 2000 when it allowed Ralph Nader, a man with no real "green" history behind him, to ascend to their nominee for president. His legacy was to siphon off enough votes from Al Gore to ruin Gore's chances for the presidency.
rand0m1 From: rand0m1 Date: June 21st, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Why aren't politicans talking about conservation yet?

The answer is really very simple. Conservation requires sacrifice. Use less, take more care, finding alternatives. All of this requires additional effort on the part of the consumer.

Consumers (especially American consumers) don't like sacrifice and additional effort, especially when they don't feel like they'll directly see the benefits in a short period of time.
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