Daily Archive: 08/31/2015

Aug 31 2015

Sunday Train: Can Nuclear and Renewable Energy Be Friends?

There is an ongoing general discussion in the field of sustainable energy that does not carry the risk of the destruction of our current industrial society and economy about variable renewable energy.

Renewable energy includes a range of low or no carbon sources of energy – but not all renewable energy is sustainable, and not all is low or no carbon. And not all low or no carbon energy sources are from renewable energy resources.

Among the sustainable, no/low carbon renewable energy resources, the most abundant involve the harvest of variable renewable energy, with windpower and solar PV being the most notable. So one obvious strategy for a no-carbon-emitting energy system is to base it on collecting as much of these affordable variable renewables as practicable, and then use other no/low carbon sources to fill in the gaps.

However, in some quarters, this elicits a counter-argument. The most “successfully de-carbonized” economies of the world today are either those with a very high reliance on reservoir hydropower … which while very useful in the United States offers nowhere near a large enough economic resource to meet any large fraction of our current consumption … or those with a very high reliance on nuclear power.

Indeed, near the beginning of this month, Stephen Lacy briefly reported on a report from the Breakthrough Institute that raised an alarm that the new Clean Power Plan may in fact oversee a net increase in GHG emissions. The final plan does not include measures to avoid the decommissioning of substantial numbers of nuclear power plants. And the numbers are stark:

  • The 30 nuclear plants at risk by 2030 avoid over 100 MMT of CO2 emissions
  • New non-hydropower renewables are expected to avoid 60 MMT of CO2 emissions by 2030
  • New nuclear plants under construction are expected to avoid under 30 MMT of CO2 by 2030

So where retention of those 30 nuclear power plants would find us over 80 MMT of avoided CO2 ahead, and in a position to accelerate that in the following decade … their closure could leave us over 10 MMT below where we are now.

Aug 31 2015

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Paul Krugman:A Heckuva Job

There are many things we should remember about the events of late August and early September 2005, and the political fallout shouldn’t be near the top of the list. Still, the disaster in New Orleans did the Bush administration a great deal of damage – and conservatives have never stopped trying to take their revenge. Every time something has gone wrong on President Obama’s watch, critics have been quick to declare the event “Obama’s Katrina.” How many Katrinas has Mr. Obama had so far? By one count, 23.

Somehow, however, these putative Katrinas never end up having the political impact of the lethal debacle that unfolded a decade ago. Partly that’s because many of the alleged disasters weren’t disasters after all. For example, the teething problems of Healthcare.gov were embarrassing, but they were eventually resolved – without anyone dying in the process – and at this point Obamacare looks like a huge success.

Beyond that, Katrina was special in political terms because it revealed such a huge gap between image and reality. Ever since 9/11, former President George W. Bush had been posing as a strong, effective leader keeping America safe. He wasn’t. But as long as he was talking tough about terrorists, it was hard for the public to see what a lousy job he was doing. It took a domestic disaster, which made his administration’s cronyism and incompetence obvious to anyone with a TV set, to burst his bubble.

Dean Baker: China stock panic could pop housing bubbles

Chinese economy will likely recover, but drop in commodity prices could have far-reaching effects in wealthy countries

One of the benefits of the massive inequality in the distribution of wealth is that the vast majority of us can sit back and enjoy the show when stock markets go into a worldwide panic, as they have been doing for the last couple of weeks. Despite what you hear in the media, fluctuations in the stock market generally have little direct or indirect impact on the economy. [..]

The price of a typical home in Canada is 13 percent higher than in the U.S., despite the fact that its per capita income is more than 20 percent lower. In Australia, with an average income that is 93 percent of the U.S. level, the median house price is almost twice the U.S. level. Market fundamentals don’t explain this gap; it’s hard to believe that people in Canada and Australia value housing so much that they are willing to pay a much larger share of their income for it.

If the plunge in commodity prices alerts potential homebuyers to the bubbles in their markets, we may see the unraveling of these bubbles, and that will not be a pretty picture.

New York Times Editorial Baoard:

Of all the electronic devices in American homes, the cable box is one of the hardest to use and probably one of the most expensive. A recent survey by two Democratic senators found that consumers spend on average about $231 a year to rent them.

People should be able to buy cable boxes from any manufacturer and connect them to their cable line or satellite dish as long as they meet basic technical standards. That could save Americans hundreds of dollars; it’s a one-time outlay, and the cost of the technology in set-top boxes, as with other electronics, is falling. Some companies sell them for less than $200.

The virtual monopoly that cable companies have over set-top boxes is reminiscent of the way AT&T used to require customers to rent phones from the company and prohibited them from using other devices. That ended after the Federal Communications Commission forced the company to let people connect telephones, radios and other equipment that were not made by AT&T in a 1968 decision known as Carterfone.

Robert Kuttner: We Are Asking Too Much of the Federal Reserve

There has been obsessive chatter about whether the Federal Reserve will, or should, raise interest rates this fall. At the Fed’s annual end-of-summer gabfest at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the issue was topic A. [..]

The Fed is famous for raising rates prematurely, seeing ghosts of inflation. But there is no inflation on the horizon — the bigger worry is deflation. In fact, the inflation rate is well below the Fed’s own target of two percent. And the Fed is the only game in town.

On balance, I think the opponents of a rate hike have the better argument. But consider for a moment that last assumption — that the Fed is the only game in town.

The larger issue, which is getting submerged in the great debate about raising rates, is that the Fed should not be the only game in town.

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI): To Restore Trust in Government, Slow Wall Street’s Revolving Door

One of our nation’s greatest strengths is that we are governed by each other — what President Lincoln celebrated as “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

But increasingly, Americans’ trust in government is eroding. And a big reason for that is the so-called revolving door between government and the private sector.

Inviting outside voices into government is often a good thing. When public servants have experience beyond Washington, they bring new ideas, new perspectives, and new knowledge to the work of governing this huge, complicated country of ours. Some of America’s most dedicated public servants got their start in technology, business, academia, or other fields. Most of the time, that private-sector experience is an asset, not a liability.

But in some cases, it can affect the public trust — for example, if a public servant’s past and future are tied to the financial industry. That’s when people start worrying that the foxes are guarding the hen house.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT): High Drug Prices Are Killing Americans

All across the country, Americans are finding that the prices of the prescription drugs they need are soaring. Tragically, doctors tell us that many of their patients can no longer afford their medicine. As a result, some get sicker. Others die.

A new Kaiser Health poll shows that most Americans think prescription drug costs in this country are unreasonable, and that drug companies put profits before people. Want to know something? They’re right. [..]

This is not a partisan issue. Most Americans — Republicans, Democrats, and independents — want Congress to do something about drug prices. 86 percent of those polled, including 82 percent of Republicans, think drug companies should be required to release information to the public on how they set their prices. Large majorities support other solutions to the drug cost problem as well.

Aug 31 2015

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: Oil as a social lubricant

By Annieli

Quest for Oil Gamers hunt for the best oil fields in deep water off Qatar and in the North Sea.

And to master the challenge players need to learn and test analytic skills looking for oil on a seismic map.

Once a likely location is assessed, accurate drilling techniques are needed to avert disaster as players test their wits against “an artificially intelligent digital opponent” that is dedicated to making players lose.

             

Imagine if seismic analysis was not applied to the oceans, a more open frontier despite the Law of the Sea but to the task of fracking, what kind of multi-player online role playing game (MMORPG) could be hypothesized – sim occupants fleeing their devalued homes and with real-time strategy you could predict the earthquake or poisoned water using your smartphone apps. The first step has been taken with the maritime giant Maersk with a recent MMORPG. Rather than bullying feminists, now the misogynist Canadian gamergaters could help terrify thousands with digital tar sands CGI simulations, and maybe even add a Call of Duty patch to kill digital inhabitants of oil producing countries.

             

Quest for Oil is a multiplayer online game to help supply globalization not unlike America’s Army in the propaganda battle to continue to resource the shock doctrine and hence maintain global armed conflict.

It raises new questions about what gets to be culturally appreciated as though resource accumulation could be a projectable commodity with few renewable substitutes and oil exploration was somehow something like “boldly going where no one has gone before”. OTOH budding geologists could be enticed to see that their work has no apparent social costs or externalities.



Quest for Oil

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CJBusKBWhttps://agenda.weforum.org/2015/06/how-oil-flows-in-and-out-of-every-major-region-around-the-world/?utm_content=bufferf794e&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=bufferEAAefmv.jpg:large

The Middle East leads the board in crude exports with 850.1 million tonnes shipped out in 2014. It’s followed by Russia (294.8), West Africa (213.9), and Canada (148.6).

In terms of product exports, like gasoline and diesel, the US is No. 1 with 179.9 million tonnes, closely trailed by, again, Russia and the Middle East.

On the flip side, Europe is the biggest importer of both crude (446.9) and product imports (173.5). The US, China, India, Japan, and Australasia are also major consumers of both crude and refined product.

This map also serves as a pretty good tool for seeing who benefitted from the lower oil prices, and who suffered from them.

….the reappearance of structural scarcity in the realm of energy enabled the OPEC countries to multiply the price of oil by ten in the 1970s, i.e. to have it determined by the oilfields where production costs are the highest, thereby assuring the owners of the cheapest oil wells in Arabia, Iran, Libya, etc. huge differential minerals rents.

Marx’s theory of land and mineral rent can be easily extended into a general theory of rent, applicable to all fields of production where formidable difficulties of entry limit mobility of capital for extended periods of time. It thereby becomes the basis of a marxist theory of monopoly and monopoly surplus profits, i.e. in the form of cartel rents (Hilferding, 1910) or of technological rent (Mandel, 1972). Lenin’s and Bukharin’s theories of surplus profit are based upon analogous but not identical reasoning (Bukharin, 1914, 1926; Lenin, 1917).

some links:

http://climateandcapitalism.co…

http://www.jstor.org/stable/12…

https://books.google.com/books…

https://books.google.com/books…

Aug 31 2015

The Breakfast Club (Plans)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgThey change.

I find myself suddenly having to cram 2 weeks into one so blogging will be much suckier than usual.

Entertainment

Sport

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.

Aristotle

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

Aug 31 2015

On This Day In History August 31

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour a cup of your favorite morning beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 31 is the 243rd day of the year (244th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 122 days remaining until the end of the year.

I am very hesitant to make the death of Princess Diana the prominent story of the day but her death was a tragedy on so many levels that it is not surprising that the world nearly stood still for 6 days until her funeral. There are many things that we remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when they happened, like 9/11 and, for those of us old enough, JFK’s assassination.

I was living in Paris then not far from the site of the accident. I had been out to dinner that evening with my then ex-husband, Dr. TMC, when we heard the crash, it was that loud, and shortly after the sirens of emergency vehicles. Not unusual in Paris, so, we continued on to our destinations. It wasn’t until very early that I heard that the Princess had died and where. Paris was stunned. The site became a instant memorial.

We all sat glued to the TV for days waiting for the Queen to say something. The Queen badly underestimated the admiration that was held her former daughter-in-law.  The day of her funeral Paris froze, the only time I have ever seen the city this quiet was on 9/11.

After being criticized for failing to satisfactorily match the grief of the British people, the royal family arranged for a state funeral to be held for Diana at Westminster Abbey on September 6. Diana’s coffin was taken from Kensington Palace to the Abbey on a horse-drawn gun carriage, and an estimated one million mourners lined the route. Diana’s sons, William, 15, and Harry, 12, joined their father, Prince Charles; grandfather Prince Philip; and uncle Charles, the Earl of Spencer, to walk the final stretch of the procession with the casket. The only sound was the clatter of the horses’ hooves and the peal of a church bell.

The service, watched by an estimated two billion people worldwide, sacrificed royal pomp for a more human touch. Workers associated with Diana’s various charities represented 500 of the 2,000 people invited to attend the funeral. Elton John, a friend of Diana, lent a popular touch to the ceremony when he sang “Candle in the Wind,” accompanying himself on piano. After the service, Diana’s body was taken by hearse to her family’s ancestral estate near Althorp, north of London. In a private ceremony, she was laid to rest on a tree-shaded island in a small lake, securely beyond the reach of the camera lens.

Since the death of Princess Diana, Althorp, which has been in the Spencer family for over 500 years, is now a popular tourist attraction that offers tours to the general public.

I still light a candle in her memory on this day.

Blessed Be.