Tag Archives: oil

Thomas Friedman wants you to pay more for energy

I can’t say it any more clearly than that.  Watching Meet-the-Press, he advocated that government should mandate a certain percentage of electricity be generated from renewable sources.  The only reason that they would need to be mandated is that they are more expensive, which power companies would avoid in order to reduce their costs*.  If renewable sources were more cost-effective, then energy companies would already be using them (or moving to them) to displace dirty-dirty-coal energy.  In fact, this is the case in some areas, namely where hydro-electric power is a big contributor.  Which raises the question — why doesn’t anyone talk about hydro-power anymore?  Now it’s all solar and wind farms… did Hydro cease to be a renewable, clean, technology?  Just curious.

Did anyone tell Friedman, or the rest of the alternative-energy loving population, that we’re in the middle of a financial and economic crisis?  If McCain claims that the economy is ‘fundamentally sound’, they’ll rip into him for being out of touch.  How is this any different?**

Anyhow, as long as mandates are driving adoption, you’re only going to get the minimum amount of ‘alternative’ energy sources to meet the mandate.  Above and beyond that, power companies exist to make a profit, and for the most part consumers are going to choose the least expensive energy option.  (Of course, there are some outliers who will pay more for alternative energy our of some sense of duty, guilt, or piety.)

Friedman’s hope is likely that by forcing enough power to alternative energy sources, there will be some innovation in alternative energy production that will radically change the game.  I’m not sure if there are any examples of this working in the past:  MPG mandates on automobiles have not encouraged innovations that created huge gains — even hybrids are barely enough to keep entire manufacture fleets above their EPA standards.  If federal mandates magically pushed us through these types of barriers, we’d all be driving 100 mpg (likely 100% internal combustion, since hybrid’s are more complicated than they’re worth) cars.  Or electric cars that go farther than 40 miles per charge…  Seriously, how that dinky little Smart car gets less than 100mpg, I’ll never understand.

OK, so MPGs was only one example — if anyone has an example of a federal mandate spontaneously causing leaps in innovation, I’m all ears.  And no, the government never mandated anything related to TCP/IP adoption…

Friedman: “What I say is if climate change is a hoax, it’s the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the United States of America.” (which I thought was a Jesus reference, but now Google seems to be betraying me and not indicating the original source of the phrase; only recent antecendants).  He made this reference as though it was proof that global warming is real (after all, it couldn’t be an elaborate hoax!), completely oblivious to the fact that many reasonable people think otherwise.

“Because everything we would do to get ready for climate change, to build this new green industry, would make us more respected, more entrepreneurial, more competitive, more healthy as a country.”  Respected for falling for an elaborate hoax?  Entrepreneurial for developing solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist — and that in the end nobody is going to want to pay more for?  More competitive by investing more in basic scientific research? — OK, that might actually be valid, but if global warming is a hoax and we fund science aimed at solving global warming problems (ie. a level or two above basic science, like building a better hybrid-engine) then we miss the boat on that.  More respected?  Do you think the truly poor in the world have a huge amount of respect for us, while they starve, knowing that we’re spending discretionary dollars on wind-generated energy instead of dirty coal?  Do you think they’re thinking, “gosh, I’m hungry today, but at least American’s are treating the planet better”?  I’m guessing they’d rather have a full belly.  Better to buy dirty energy, send our savings to Africa, and sustain a young life that might solve some entreprenurial problems closer to his own home; and which might spill over to the rest of the world.

[quotes from Meet the Press transcript]

* let me state this another way:  if alternative energy sources were already more cost-effective, power companies would be turning to them en masse to reduce their energy costs and extract more profits from consumers.  the fact that this is not so is proof that alternative sources cost more (fully-loaded, lifecycle costs; not marginal costs)

** I know, I know; just as they’ll call for alternative energy mandates, and at the same time call for subsidies or exceptions so the poor won’t have to bear the burden.  so the Rich will pay all the alternative-energy excess…  and in their eyes it couldn’t be more fair than that.



Filed under debunking, dumbfounded, economics, energy policy, global warming, if you aren't outraged you aren't paying attention, pick any two, politics, reasons to homeschool, stupid government, whatnot


I thought the exact same thing when Hillary said it last night, and Matt Welch caught it too [Requiem for the Clintons; the ALL CAPS was his contribution].

And what the heck is a “Green Collar Job”?  A job that has no carbon impact?  A job planting trees?  If I hear that phrase again this week, I’m throwing something at the TV.


Filed under politics

I bet the Germans have a word for it

I’ve been overcome with this emotion, or sensation, many times.  and due mostly to the election campaign, it’s been happening more frequently.

it’s the urge, when presented with an argument (or reasoning that seems particularly forced)*, to want to go above and beyond the other person’s worst fears — often to the point of absurdity.  it can be summed up by the quote from Fight Club:

“I felt like putting a bullet between the eyes of every Panda that wouldn’t screw to save its species. I wanted to open the dump valves on oil tankers and smother all the French beaches I’d never see. I wanted to breathe smoke.”

actually, it’s more like that quote than I realized — this feeling has recently (and repeatedly) been brought on by people who drone on about not drilling for more offshore oil, and the related argument to not drill in ANWR.

my position on ANWR is that drilling should be permitted.  my understanding is that the footprint for the facilities and environmental impact can be quite small.  I may have been horribly misled by the oil barons, but that’s my angle.  I really don’t wish any harm on the local habitat or animals.

but when I hear extremists go on about the horrible consequences of drilling, of the evil cabals that are orchestrating the arctic’s demise — it makes me want to go up there, pump as much oil out of the ground as quickly and destructively as possible, and just flood the whole 19 million environmentally sensitive acres with 6 to 8 inches of crude.  just to spite them.

thinking globally and acting locally, it was the same reaction when the local radio station used to go on and on about global warming — I swear I would subconsciously reach for the air conditioning and crank it up, accelerating for no apparent reason — but possibly to spite them.

that feeling… I bet the Germans have figured it out, after all the invented schaedenfreud.

if anyone knows the word for it, I’d love to know.

* or really any argument I disagree with, for whatever reason.

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Filed under angry, lies, rant

get out of my dreams, get into my electric car

she wants a 100 mpg car too, and thinks electric is the way to go.  like I said before, I don’t care how I get 100 mpg equivalent (let’s say $0.04/mile, where right now my commute costs $0.14/mile), I’d just like to get there sometime soon.

moblogic.tv seems to have an interesting vlog each and every day, with a libertarian bent (though they never come right out and get preachy about it).  if the hostess looks familiar, it’s because she stars in Crest Whitestrips TV ads where she has a smile so bright it makes mere mortals look like a spokesmen for Hedley & Wyche.  she’s also in an ad that, for about 15 seconds, actually made me want to have four periods per year.  (when Logical is doing all the research and web-surfing, I felt I could really relate.  and when Emotional is dancing around; well don’t we all want to feel that carefree?  seriously, she’s that good.)

unfortunately, she’s looking to Detroit for a solution.  good luck getting anything innovative out of them, I’m still looking towards Silicon Valley…

here’s moblogic’s inaugural post with a brief introduction:

Vodpod videos no longer available.


Filed under energy policy, freedom

not so, smart

Some responses to my last post recommending looking at a smart fortwo.  from smart’s web page:

What is the gas mileage of smart?

Engineering and testing continues to take place on the vehicle that will be produced for the United States. The vehicle is designed to achieve 40 city/45 highway mpg according to 2007 EPA standards and 33 city/41 highway mpg according to 2008 EPA standards. The mpg rating for all vehicles will decrease in 2008 due to new calculation methods that the EPA has adopted.

So the mileage is barely better than a Mini, which is a real car and a blast to drive and gets 28/37 mpg (2009 model).

And what’s the deal with mpg standards changing to decrease EPA stated values?  I mean, if congress passed that 35 mpg law last year (did they? or did it get vetoed?) this means that it’s now going to be that much more improbable that automakers to reach the threshold.  I mean, the city mpg for the smart decreased by over 17% when they used the new measures…

I’m doing my part

I used to get about 360 miles out of a 15.5 gallon fill up.  My onboard computer would report 23.5 mpg.  I used to think that was pretty good, as it was combined city/highway driving (about 80% highway) and the EPA mpg estimates for this car was only 16/24.  So I was at the top end of the spectrum, right?

I remember not so long ago when I cut the speed back a little bit and got 400 miles out of a single fill-up.  I actually took a picture of the tripometer with my phone to capture the occasion (also because I rolled into the gas station with the remaining range reading “0” miles*).  That was a little under 26 mpg.

The last three fill-ups, I’ve kept it over 29 mpg, flirting with 30 mpg.  I now roll past 400 miles and the Range reports 70 more miles.  Unfortunately, the estimates are a bit aggressive, but it was really cool to hit 450 miles the other day.

The extra five or six miles per gallon is 20-25% improvement, resulting in $650 in savings per year on my 20,000 miles of commute.  I’m sorry, I just will not drive a Prius — this is me doing my part.

The secret?  Hypermiling.

* yes, I’ve gone past zero/0… it reads “—“


Filed under energy policy

why did I quote that?

No one likes $125 a barrel oil. Last year, we paid an average price of $64 a barrel for imports.

I’m not sure why I let that quote stand — it seems to imply that we pay different prices for imported oil vs. domestic oil.  or maybe he thinks we don’t pay for domestic oil at all.

I’m not sure about you, but I don’t buy barrels of crude oil very often.  but imagine that I did — do you think domestic oil producers would charge me significantly less than the world-market prices that a foreigner would charge?

OK, he didn’t explicitly state that there is a difference, but why would he use the word imports instead of oil?  combined with the anti-immigration bent at the end of his article, maybe he has another agenda — one I probably don’t endorse.

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Filed under oil