Recently in Energy & Environment Category
August 9, 2009
I would rather see the White House and Congress work on a pro-growth and pro-jobs agenda first and foremost that would include lowering, not raising taxes and less, not more intervention in private industry. While I feel better about the short term than I did six months ago, since we were then facing the possibility of Armageddon, I am now more pessimistic about the long-term outlook.
Here's the unabridged version:
I think many in Silicon Valley would like to see the administration pursue more pro-growth policies. The start-up, angel investor and venture capital industry has helped build companies that have created a huge amount of jobs and with unemployment moving towards 10% it's an industry that should be encouraged and supported. While the Obama campaign said it would eliminate capital gains taxes for start-ups, instead the industry is looking at substantial tax increases on business, income, capital gains, and carried interest -- not to mention the energy and healthcare taxes now being debated in Congress -- and the administration has suggested it might force VC funds to register with the SEC. This is not what the Valley needs in order to resume being an engine of job creation.
There is real concern here that spending has been excessive and not been used wisely, and may in fact be crowding out private investment. I've heard anecdotes of companies in the telecom, energy, and healthcare industries holding off on investments because they are waiting to see if they can get bailout money.
On the issue of free trade, the "buy American" provision of the stimulus bill was probably unhelpful to the cause, and I'm concerned that agreements with the likes of Colombia and South Korea may be stalled. When it comes to the issue of H-1B visas, this is still important to the Valley, but with such high-unemployment I doubt there will be any political will to raise caps.
My concern is that while we may have avoided the worst of it, unemployment keeps rising and the danger of a double-dip still looms. It seems as though the Obama Administration has moved on from the economy and is focusing more on its healthcare and energy agendas. While those are important issues, I would rather see the White House and Congress work on a pro-growth and pro-jobs agenda first and foremost that would include lowering, not raising, taxes and less, not more, intervention in private industry. I am very concerned that the tax and spend policies of this Administration will result in very slow growth for the foreseeable future. While I feel better about the short term than I did 6 months ago, since we were then facing the possibility of Armageddon, I am now more pessimistic about the long term outlook if the heavy taxing, spending, and intervention into private industry doesn't abate.
April 4, 2009
Beyond the specific points of factual dispute, Dyson has said that it all boils down to "a deeper disagreement about values" between those who think "nature knows best" and that "any gross human disruption of the natural environment is evil," and "humanists," like himself, who contend that protecting the existing biosphere is not as important as fighting more repugnant evils like war, poverty and unemployment.Lost in much of the discussion about climate change and energy policy is a true accounting of the benefits of low cost and plentiful energy from the humanist perspective. We may take plentiful energy for granted in the West, but others around the world, such as the Chinese who are confronted with need to lift millions out of poverty, simply cannot afford to do the same.
March 4, 2008
The world is not running out of oil anytime soon. A gradual transitioning on the global scale away from a fossil-based energy system may in fact happen during the 21st century. The root causes, however, will most likely have less to do with lack of supplies and far more with superior alternatives. The overused observation that "the Stone Age did not end due to a lack of stones" may in fact find its match.
The solutions to global energy needs require an intelligent integration of environmental, geopolitical and technical perspectives each with its own subsets of complexity. On one of these -- the oil supply component -- the news is positive. Sufficient liquid crude supplies do exist to sustain production rates at or near 100 million barrels per day almost to the end of this century.
Technology matters. The benefits of scientific advancement observable in the production of better mobile phones, TVs and life-extending pharmaceuticals will not, somehow, bypass the extraction of usable oil resources. To argue otherwise distracts from a focused debate on what the correct energy-policy priorities should be, both for the United States and the world community at large.
May 20, 2004
fool me twice, shame on me. From WSJ.com: Paul Ehrlich has never been right. Why does anyone still listen to him? Excerpt:
[Ehrlich] is a reverse Cassandra. In "The Illiad," the prophetess Cassandra makes true predictions and no one believes her; Mr. Ehrlich makes false predictions and they are widely believed. The gloomier he is and the faultier he proves to be as a prophet, the more honored he becomes, even in his own country.
May 6, 2004
Nice to see Terry Anderson paying homage to the late Julian Simon in both name and principle in this column in The Sun News. Anderson, who heads PERC, makes the case for how markets can lead to rapid environmental improvements--and reminds us that prosperity is the friend, not the enemy, of the environment in many ways. There is also a caution in here about sacrificing economic growth for the sake of envuironmental protection--the net effect may be more harmful than helpful. Excerpt:
Hansen ends on an optimistic note, saying "the [new technologies] required to halt climate change have come into being with remarkable rapidity." This statement would not have surprised economist Julian Simon. He saw the "ultimate resource" to be the human mind and thought it to be best motivated by market forces.
Because of a combination of market forces and technological innovations, we are not running out of natural resources. As a resource becomes more scarce, prices increase, thus encouraging development of less-expensive alternatives and technological innovations. Just as fossil fuel replaced scarce whale oil, its use will be reduced by new technology and alternative fuel sources.
Market forces also cause economic growth, which in turn leads to environmental improvements. Put simply, poor people are willing to sacrifice clean water and air for economic growth. But as their incomes rise above subsistence, "economic growth helps to undo the damage done in earlier years," said economist Bruce Yandle. "If economic growth is good for the environment, policies that stimulate growth ought to be good for the environment." ...
Global-warming policy analysts agree that greenhouse gas regulations such as those proposed at Kyoto would have negative effects on the economy. Therefore, as McCormick warns, we should take great care that regulations in the name of global warming "not kill the goose that lays the golden eggs."
April 23, 2004
Before Global Warming, Evan's Journal reminds us, there was Global Cooling. Climate change fears aren't new--just the specifics. Excerpt:
A generation ago, scientists warned us against global cooling. Now they're ringing the alarm bells about global warming. Think about that next time the media hypes The Next Great Crisis.
April 14, 2004
Here's a cool new blog by Mike Millikin called Green Car Congress: Technologies, issues and polices for sustainable mobility. It's full of interesting data and analysis in the "sustainable mobility" area. So let me be one of the first, if not the first, to reference a story on Mike's blog. And let me challenge the POV a bit. Mike makes the point in this post that energy dependence is a security issue. In fact, there is not much argument to support this, presumably because this is something many people take for granted. The line of think seems to go: because how much oil we use (well beyond our domestic capacity) we are dependent on foreign suppliers of oil and so we are at their mercy--and this is a danger. This issue is exacerbated by the notion that oil is a finite resource and so our dependence--and the security risk--will only increase. As Mike puts it:
Oil is a finite, non-renewable (at least in our timeframe) resource. Production of such a resource follows a curve, and after you hit the peak of production, you begin declining. It doesn’t precisely mean that you are running out – it means that our ability to extract it – to produce it – diminishes as the resource itself is depleted – to the point where it is too expensive or impractical for other reasons.So let me quibble with this.
February 13, 2004
It's great news that most Americans now identify themselves as environmentalists. Unfortunately, a small number have embraced environmentalism with religious fervor, basing their beliefs more on faith and dogma than on science and data.
Not unlike fundamentalists engaged in a jihad against unbelievers, these radical environmentalists pursue an agenda that has less to do with protection of the environment than with antipathy toward business, profits, and certain products and technologies. Ironically, their efforts to achieve their own narrow vision of what constitutes a "good society" often are inimical to protection of the environment -- a variation on the admission by Peanuts cartoon character Linus van Pelt, "I love humanity; it's people I can't stand."
January 7, 2004
I want to save the birds, but we live in a world in which we often need to make rational trade-offs. Who would choose to sacrifice millions of human lives to save thousands of birds? Environmentalists, that's who. I'm in favor of rational environmentalism, but irrational environmentalism can be quite deadly.
See this piece in Reason. Excerpt:
In Silent Spring, Rachel Carson asked, "Who has decided--who has the right to decide--for the countless legions of people who were not consulted that the supreme value is a world without insects, even though it be also a sterile world ungraced by the curving wing of a bird in flight? The decision is that of the authoritarian temporarily entrusted with power."
Banning DDT saved thousands of raptors over the past 30 years, but outright bans and misguided fears about the pesticide cost the lives of millions of people who died of insect-borne diseases like malaria. The 500 million people who come down with malaria every year might well wonder what authoritarian made that decision.
Despite showing some integrity for reporting the vindication of Lomborg, as well as the campaign against him (unlike the Washington Post), the NYT has clearly show bias by running this piece (Study Says Global Warming May Spark Mass Extinction) from the AP without so much as a faint whisper critical analysis.