Wrong way of fighting global warming
We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them
When I directed the Solar energy office at the California Energy Commission my staff thought that I should approve every one of their proposed projects. When I explained that the state does not have money to waste, they did not want to hear it. It was difficult to those enthusiastic environmentalists to accept the idea that we needed to focus on our main goal: cut global warming, and that each project was just a potential tool among many. I explained to them that each project should be evaluated for its potential cost and benefits, that we needed to do life cycle costs analysis, etc. before we would proceed. We made our significant contributions in wind energy, when we analyzed the path and potential outcomes well - but that is another subject.
That enthusiasm with minimal thinking is prevailing also now among green supporters, environmental organizations, and our Congress and governments. It is often hard for them to realize that we do not have money and time to waste fighting GW.
Here are just three recent examples of clear thinking that expose highly expensive but illogical national green programs. However, despite the negative facts Congress is continuing with its make- believe solutions. It's support of Corn-ethanol has a highly negative impact now.
It is extremely hard even for good decision makers to control with their emotions. Clear thinking is a rare commodity in our society.
1. The Green Case for Cities
Forget the solar panels and the rain barrels-if you want to save energy, leave the suburbs.
by Professor Witold Rybczynski (The Atlantic October 2009)
....The problem in the sustainability campaign is that a basic truth has been lost, or at least concealed. Rather than trying to change behavior to actually reduce carbon emissions, politicians and entrepreneurs have sold greening to the public as a kind of accessorizing. Keep doing what you're doing, goes the message. Just add a solar panel, a wind turbine, a hybrid engine, whatever. But a solar-heated house in the burbs is still a house in the burbs, and if you have to drive to it, even in a Prius, it's hardly green....
Putting solar panels on the roofs doesn't change the essential fact that by any sensible measure, spread-out, low-rise buildings, with more foundations, walls, and roofs, have a larger carbon footprint than a high-rise office tower-even when the high-rise has no green features at all."
2. A Clunker of a Climate Policy
"The recent car-upgrade program is an example of how not to address CO2 reduction prudently
The Cash for Clunkers program offers a cautionarytale for the future of climate change control. The federal program paid individuals up to $4,500 to replace their "clunker" automobiles with new, higher-mileage vehicles. Part of the purpose was to give a lift to the ailing auto industry. Another part, at least it was claimed, was to mitigate climate change by getting old high-carbon-emissions vehicles off the road. But billions of dollars were spent quickly without clear answers on what we were getting for our "money....
"....Clearly, not every method of reducing emissions makes equal sense. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company has recently published estimates of the abatement costs of various technologies (www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/ccsi/greenhousegas.asp). Highly efficient lighting, appliances and vehicles, along with better insulation and other technologies, can save more in energy costs during their lifetime than the upfront capital for installing them: they are better than free to society...."
3. Biofuels-Reverse Alt- Energy Insanity,
By Paul Rauber, Sierra mag. Nov./Dec. 2009
"Biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel are popular with a lot of people for a lot of reasons. They replace the fossil fuels burned in cars and trucks that account for nearly a quarter of all U.S. carbon dioxide emissions. They reduce our dependence on foreign oil. And--not least--they promise vast new markets for U.S. agribusiness. ...."
"....All of the above make them very attractive to Congress, which has enthusiastically embraced renewable fuels. In 2007, Congress mandated that domestic biofuel production rise each year, reaching 7.5 billion gallons in 2012. For most cars, this means ethanol, largely derived from corn....."
"Sounds great, right? Only one problem: Biofuels from corn, palms, and other vegetation can make global warming worse. Princeton University researcher Tim Searchinger has shown that producing corn ethanol has twice the warming impact of gasoline. Even trendy substitutes like switchgrass can double emissions."
(Emphasis are mine, m.g.)
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