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Save Earth Get Rich


Henri Matisse Flowers 1907
I sometimes can’t believe I think I must revisit this theme time and again, but here we are. Joe Biden is chairing a virtual climate plan/summit/whatever, and absolutely nothing has changed since the last time I tried to explain why it is nonsense, or all the other times before that. But this is the biggest boondoggle/cheat/trick ever played on mankind, so what choice do I have?

It’s still a bunch of politicians all over the world who are beholden to a bunch of extremely rich people for their cushy positions and claim they intend to save the world hand in hand with these rich people. In other words, our resident sociopaths and psychopaths are the only ones who can save us. But you’re going to have to pay up, or they won’t do it.

It’s all an intensely moronic piece of theater (no, I won’t insult Kabuki!), but since all the media is in on it, who would know that? It’s the biggest show on earth! Your carrots are jobs, profit, and a saved planet for your children. What’s not to like?

Biden’s billionaire political sponsors promise to save you, but of course they do need to make a profit off it. One that is preferably larger than the profits they have been making over the past decades off of the very things they now pretend to condemn, and are still invested in, fossil fuels.

Of course they know that will never happen, but they also know that you do not. So here goes. This intro from the Guardian, written before Ol’ Joe opened Day Two, tries some critical notes, but that’s just to lift the party mode even higher.

Joe Biden To Stress Green Jobs As Key To Tackling Crisis At Climate Summit

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Heal the Planet for Profit – Redux


Giorgione The Tempest 1508
“Mankind’s only chance to not destroy its planet lies in diverging from all other species in that not all energy available to it, is used up as fast as possible. But that’s a big challenge. It would, speaking from a purely philosophical angle, truly separate us from nature for the first time ever, and we must wonder if that’s desirable.”

I wrote that 4 years and 2 months ago today, and I’m still thinking about it. It came to mind again, along with the article it comes from, see below, when I saw a few recent references to climate change, and to how any policy to halt it should be financed. It’s all painfully obvious.

Bill Gates, while on a virtual book tour, says governments should pay. In particular for the innovation needed. We’re going to solve it all with things we haven’t invented yet. That kind of thinking never fails to greatly boost my confidence in people and their ideas.

Overall, Gates’ words feel like a stale same old same old been there done that tone. But one thing is changing. Since Joe Biden became the most popular US president ever, according to his vote count, there is now a climate czar at the US Treasury, and a climate change team at the US Fed. Progress! At least for those seeking to use your money to solve their problems.

Bill Gates: Solving Covid Easy Compared With Climate

Mr Gates’s new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, is a guide to tackling global warming. [..] Net zero is where we need to get to. This means cutting emissions to a level where any remaining greenhouse gas releases are balanced out by absorbing an equivalent amount from the atmosphere…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Energy vs DNA

Energy vs DNA

Rembrandt van Rijn Landscape With the Rest on the Flight into Egypt 1647

Hmm, energy. Is it a good idea I be drawn back into the subject? We used to do so much on the topic, Nicole Foss and I, in the first years of The Automatic Earth, and before that at the brilliant Oil Drum, where we had all those equally brilliant oil professionals to guide us on. So why revisit it? Well, for one thing, because a friend asked.

And for another because things -may have – changed over the past 15 years or so. Not that I think the peak oil idea, which is that we reached the peak in 2005 or so, changed. Yeah, unconventional oil, shale, fracking etc., came about, but that has nothing to do with peak oil. Just look at the EROEI (energy return) you get from shale. You go from 100:1 to, if you’re lucky, 5:1. You can’t build a complex society on that.

It’s not an accident that shale oil firms are going broke all over; even ultra low interest rates can’t save them. But all that still doesn’t come close to scratching the surface of our energy -or oil, for that matter.- conundrum.

I’ve never understood what the idea behind the Extinction Rebellion is. Or, you know, that they know what they’re talking about. Do they know the physics?

The general idea, yeah, but not how they aim to reach their goals. Far as I can tell, it’s about less CO2 -and methane, supposedly- emissions, but I don’t get how they want to achieve that. I’ve read some but not all of their theories, and it’s not obvious. It feels like they want less of various things, only to replace them with something else. Like they think once oil is gone, you can put wind and solar in its staid, and off we go. Tell me how wrong I am. Please do.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Renewables Are Dead

Renewables Are Dead

Gustave Courbet The man made mad by fear 1844

If I’ve said once that those among us who tout renewable energy should pay more attention to the 2nd law of Thermodynamics, I must have said it a hundred times. But I hardly ever get the impression that people understand why. And it seems so obvious. A quote I often use from Herman Daly and Ken Townsend, when I talk about energy, really says it all:

“Erwin Schrodinger (1945) has described life as a system in steady-state thermodynamic disequilibrium that maintains its constant distance from equilibrium (death) by feeding on low entropy from its environment – that is, by exchanging high-entropy outputs for low-entropy inputs. The same statement would hold verbatium as a physical description of our economic process. A corollary of this statement is that an organism cannot live in a medium of its own waste products.”

Using energy produces waste. Using more energy produces more waste. It doesn’t matter -much- what kind of energy is used, or what kind of waste is produced. The energy WE use produces waste, in a medium of which WE cannot survive. The only way to escape this is to use less energy. And because we have used such an enormous amount of energy the past 100 years, we must use a whole lot less in the next 100.

We use about 100 times more energy per person, and a whole lot more in the west, than our own labor can produce. We use the equivalent of what 500 billion people can produce without the aid of fossil fuel-powered machines. We won’t solve this problem with wind turbines or solar panels. There really is one way only: cut down on energy use.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Real New Deal

The Real New Deal

Wassily Kandinsky Succession 1935

While we’re on the issue of the Green New Deal, here’s an article by Dr. D. with an intro by Dr. D., one he sent me in the mail that contained the actual article, and that I think shouldn’t go to waste. I hope he agrees.

Waste being the key term here, because he arrives at the same conclusion I’ve often remarked upon: that our societies and economies exist to maximize waste production. Make them more efficient and they collapse. 

Ergo: no Green New Deal is any use if you don’t radically change the economic models. Let’s see AOC et al address that, and then we can talk. It’s not as if a shift towards wind and solar will decrease the economic need for waste production (though it may change the waste composition), and thus efficiency is merely a double-edged sword at the very best. 

Here’s Dr. D. First intro, then article:

Dr. D: [..] of course there are a thousand things I can say, but I wanted to make just this one point:  that the economy as we know it is prohibited from contracting by its own system structure.  One thing I couldn’t expand on is that I believe it is almost entirely unconscious.  People like AOC, the Aspen Ecological Center, these people have in the back of their minds “What is possible” and “how things are done” and “can I sell this or will people turn away.” 
 
As I say, the idea of saying, “Everything will be perfect, just live like a Zen Monk” is a non-starter.  Why, I don’t know, as it’s very pleasant and quite provable. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Why The Coming Oil Crunch Will Shock The World

Anton Balazh/Shutterstock

Why The Coming Oil Crunch Will Shock The World

And why we need a new energy strategy — fast.

My years working in corporate strategy taught me that every strategic framework, no matter how complex (some I worked on were hundreds of pages long), boils down to just two things:

  1. Where do you want to go? (Vision)
  2. How are you going to get there? (Resources)

Vision is the easier one by far. You just dream up a grand idea about where you want the company to be at some target future date, Yes, there’s work in assuring that everybody on the management team truly shares and believes in the vision, but that’s a pretty stratightforward sales job for the CEO.

By the way, this same process applies at the individual level, too, for anyone who wants to achieve a major goal by some point in the future. The easy part of the strategy is deciding you want to be thinner, healthier, richer, or more famous.

But the much harder part, for companies and individuals alike, is figuring out ‘How to get there’. There are always fewer resources than one would prefer.

Corporate strategists always wish for more employees to implement the vision, with better training with better skills. Budgets and useful data are always scarcer than desired, as well.

Similar constraints apply to us individuals. Who couldn’t use more motivation, time and money to pursue their goals?

Put together, the right Vision coupled to a reasonably mapped set of Resources can deliver amazing results. Think of the Apollo Moon missions. You have to know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there to succeed. That’s pretty straightforward, right?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Chaz Peling: Backup Power Solutions

Chaz Peling: Backup Power Solutions

Be prepared if the lights suddenly go out

Over the past month, the Americas have sustained extensive damage from 3 major Atlantic hurricanes and 2 major earthquakes in Mexico. In terms of destroyed houses and businesses, ruined cars, and lost lives, it has been an extremely costly couple of weeks.

One common factor present in the aftermath of each of these disasters has been the loss of electrical power. Harvey knocked out power for 250,000 people. Irma topped 4 million. Maria has deprived 3.5 million people of electricity in Puerto Rico alone. The earthquakes in Mexico City and Oaxaca resulted in blackouts for well over 5 million.

Without electricity, our capability to conduct our modern way of life becomes immediately and severely curtailed. Communication instantly stops. Food quickly spoils. Sundown puts an end to all activity. Air conditioning and water well pumps no longer function.

And as prolonged blackouts often go hand-in-hand with gas shortages, disaster victims are often truly forced into a “dark ages” lifestyle.

This week, Chaz Peling, founder of Sol Solutions, joins the podcast to share his expertise on residential backup power options. The good news is that recent technology advancements offer more robust and affordable solutions than ever before. The bad news is, you have to invest the effort to procure an install them in advance ofthe next crisis for them to be of use.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Dynamics of Depletion

Paul Klee Ghost of a Genius 1922
The Automatic Earth has written many articles on the topic of EROEI (Energy Return on Energy Invested) through the years, there’s a whole chapter on it in the Automatic Earth Primer Guide 2017 that Nicole assembled recently, which contains 17 different articles.

Still, since EROEI is the most important energy issue there is at present, and not the price of oil or some new gas find or a set of windmills or solar panels or thorium, it can’t hurt to repeat it once again, in someone else’s words and from someone else’s angle. This one comes from Brian Davey on his site CredoEconomics, part of his book “Credo”.

It can’t hurt to repeat it because not nearly enough people understand that in the end everything, the survival of our world, our way of life, is all about the ‘quality’ of energy, about what we get in return when we drill and pump and build infrastructure, what remains when we subtract all the energy used to ‘generate’ energy, from (or at) the bottom line.

Anno 2017, our overall ‘net energy’ is nowhere near where it was for the first 100 years or so after we started using oil. And there’s no energy source that comes close to -conventional- oil (and gas) when it comes to what we are left with once our efforts are discounted, in calories or Joules.

The upshot of this is that even if we can ‘gain’ 10 times more than we put in, in energy terms, that won’t save our complex societies. To achieve that, we would need at least a 15:1 ratio, a number straight from our friend Charlie Hall, which is probably still quite optimistic. And we simply don’t have it. Not anymore.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Heal the Planet for Profit


Parisians duck down to evade German sniper fire following Nazi surrender of Paris, 1945
If you ever wondered what the odds are of mankind surviving, let alone ‘defeating’, climate change, look no further than the essay the Guardian published this week, written by Michael Bloomberg and Mark Carney. It proves beyond a moonlight shadow of a doubt that the odds are infinitesimally close to absolute zero (Kelvin, no Hobbes).

Yes, Bloomberg is the media tycoon and former mayor of New York (which he famously turned into a 100% clean and recyclable city). And since central bankers are as we all know without exception experts on climate change, as much as they are on full-contact crochet, it makes perfect sense that Bank of England governor Carney adds his two -trillion- cents.

Conveniently, you don’t even have to read the piece, the headline tells you all you need and then some: “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change” really nails it. The entire mindset on display in just a few words. If that’s what they went for, kudo’s are due.

These fine gents probably actually believe that this is perfectly in line with our knowledge of, say, human history, of evolution, of the laws of physics, and of -mass- psychology. All of which undoubtedly indicate to them that we can and will defeat the problems we have created -and still are-, literally with the same tools and ideas -money and profit- that we use to create them with. Nothing ever made more sense.

That these problems originated in the same relentless quest for profit that they now claim will help us get rid of them, is likely a step too far for them; must have been a class they missed. “We destroyed it for profit” apparently does not in their eyes contradict “we’ll fix it for profit too”. Not one bit. It does, though. It’s indeed the very core of what is going wrong.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Solar on the roof taxed as income

Solar on the roof taxed as income

But the cost of a solar system can be written off over a period of years

The solar panels on Mike Brigham's roof in Toronto allow him to sell power back to the grid. He says solar provides power when Ontario most needs it — when the sun is hot and air-conditioners are pushing up power demands.

The solar panels on Mike Brigham’s roof in Toronto allow him to sell power back to the grid. He says solar provides power when Ontario most needs it — when the sun is hot and air-conditioners are pushing up power demands. (Mike Brigham)

Mike Brigham got interested in solar power by accident in 1985 when he bought a tiny island in Georgian Bay with a quaint cottage with no electricity.

After learning he would have to pay to up to $15,000 to bring in electricity via cable and pay a bill year-round despite using the cottage for only a few months, he decided to install his first solar panel.

Since then, he’s upgraded the system at the cottage several times and when he went looking for a lot in Toronto in 2008, he sought out one with ample access to the sun’s rays.

‘When solar generates the most is on summer days when days when aircon loads are really driving up the peaks and the cost of power in the middle of the day goes way up.’–  Mike Brigham, Solar Share Co-op

He now has a 5.8-kilowatt solar system on the roof of the home he built in Toronto and sells the power back to the grid under Ontario’s MicroFIT program.

And like every homeowner and farm property owner who has taken advantage of Ontario’s FIT, or feed-in tariff, program for solar, he has to pay income tax on the cash he earns from selling power back to the local utility.

Solar and provincial incentives

It’s not just Ontario where small operators are dealing with the tax implications of small solar projects.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Clean Energy Finance Corporation: Tony Abbott defends decision to axe wind, solar from renewables spending

Clean Energy Finance Corporation: Tony Abbott defends decision to axe wind, solar from renewables spending

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says it is “no secret” he wants the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) abolished, but while it is still in place it should be as useful as possible.

The Opposition and the Greens have accused the Government of trying to get rid of the taxpayer-funded authority by stealth, by issuing a new directive to stop the CEFC from investing in wind farms and household rooftop solar projects.

“The Parliament set up this corporation with a very expert board and very expert staff to make these decisions free of political interference,” Opposition environment spokesman Mark Butler said.

“What we see now is Tony Abbott trying to nobble this corporation for his own ideological purposes.”

But Mr Abbott says it is not useful for the CEFC to invest in established technologies that can easily attract private funding.

“The best thing that the Clean Energy Finance Corporation can do is invest in new and emerging technologies, the things that might not otherwise get finance,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve got this draft direction there.”

The Government has twice tried and failed to win parliamentary support to shut down the statutory authority, and Mr Abbott has previously described the wind turbines as “visually awful”.

The directive on wind and solar stems from the deal the Government struck with crossbench senators earlier this year to reduce the Renewable Energy Target.

Part of that agreement said the Government would write to the CEFC to ensure “significantly” increased uptake of large-scale solar, emerging renewable technologies and energy efficiency.

 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

 

2014 biggest year ever for solar, but oil price threat looms

2014 biggest year ever for solar, but oil price threat looms 

In 2014, record low prices for solar panels fueled a solar boom. The U.S. alone installed 30% more solar photovoltaic capacity than in 2013, making last year the biggest ever for solar PV, according to the 2014 Year-in-Review Solar Market Insight report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

solar increase

Industry analyst Tam Hunt argues that in a few years, economics of energy alone will lead the world to achieve the “solar singularity”:

The “solar singularity” will, by my definition, occur when solar prices become so cheap that solar becomes the default power source based on cost alone. We aren’t there yet, but we’re probably just a few years away from that point, particularly since energy storage costs are already declining strongly.

The main reason why solar will become cheaper than other options for power? It’s the falling cost of solar panels, according to Hunt, following an established rate of decline. “Swanson’s law, named after the founder of SunPower, states that the price of solar panels generally drops by 20 percent with every doubling of shipped panels.”

Interestingly, Hunt notes that Swanson’s Law may not be 100% reliable if past performance is any guide. “From the mid-1990s until 2008, solar costs declined by relatively little, primarily due to stubbornly high silicon prices against a backdrop of increasing commodity prices across many markets, until the crash of 2008.”

– See more at: http://transitionvoice.com/2015/03/2014-biggest-year-ever-for-solar-but-oil-price-threat-looms/#sthash.F457M3uv.dpuf

 

 

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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