From the excellent YouTube video series by Kurz Gesagt:
There’s an interesting article over at Forbes by Alex Epstein called “How Fossil Fuels Cleaned Up Our Environment” that posits the use of fossil fuels, and particularly the ability to create cleaner methods of doing so after the 1970 Clear Air Act, made the environment much more clean and healthy.
The immediate response from those snowed by decades of enviro-doomsaying would be a violent “That’s bullshit!”…but one of the points I frequently bring up in my history classes is what life as like in a major city (or even a small town) in the late 1800s. Epstein does a nicer job by taking it back further to the time of Newcomen, the man that invented the steam engine.
Thomas’s reaction would be disbelief that such a clean, healthy environment could exist.
“How is this possible?” he would ask. “The air is so clean. Where I come from, we’re breathing in smoke all day from the fire we need to burn in our furnace.”
“And the water. Everywhere I go, there’s this water that tastes so good, and it’s all safe to drink. On my farm, we get our water from a brook we share with animals, and my kids are always getting sick.”
“And the weather. It isn’t that much different, but you’re so much safer from it. You can move a knob to make it cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold.”
“And you have to tell me, what happened to all the disease? Where I’m from, we have insects all over the place giving us disease—my neighbor’s son died of malaria—and you don’t seem to have any of that here. What’s your secret?”
I’d tell him that the secret was his invention: a method of transforming a concentrated, stored, plentiful energy source into cheap, plentiful, reliable energy so we could use machines to transform our hazardous natural environment into a far healthier human environment.
That isn’t overstating it. Imagine, for a moment, the world of 1880s New York City. The place is a sty, using that in the most pejorative way possible. There has only recently been the creation of the nather Stasi-like Sanitation Corps, with their white military-style uniforms, but they can only do so much…the place is lit with coal gas, or whale oil which throws massive amounts of crud into the air so you can see a few yards from the light source (although the evil Standard Oil Company has been dropping Pennsylvania kerosine prices so quickly that whaling is no longer a real option for lighting…saving whales.) Electricity is still a soul-lifting experiment in the theater district. You heat your place with coal or wood — both of which dump a lot more smoke and filth into the air than a modern coal-fired electrical plant ever could. You get around on foot, or by horse-drawn vehicles. There are more than a quarter million working horses in NYC…and they piss and poop. A lot. The roads are a flood of mashed shit. There are places every few blocks to stable the animals. More pee, more poo. And when a horse “breaks down” (dies), you have a big traffic jam waiting on the butcher to come get the carcass out of the middle of the street.
It’s dirt, smoke, stink, and pestilence.
But within a few decades the quality of life improves thanks to electricity (powered by the Niagara hydroelectric dam or local coal or diesel-fired generators; you get around on electric trams or trains, or gas-powered cars and trucks. “They stink!” cries the twerp whose never lived in worse than modern conditions. “Things were so much better when we all did farming, and lived naturally…” or when we worked from sun up to sundown for almost no money, only to worry if too much or little rain would fall, if it would be too warm or cold, and if we were lucky you lived to your 40s, bent and broken physically instead of dying of some horrific disease we don’t have thanks to Louis Pasteur and vaccinations.
Can we make these power sources cleaner? Yup. Can we find alternatives to them? Yup…but because we have the production infrastructure powered by hydrocarbons now. As solar improves (and it’s becoming a viable alternative source…but it’s much better suited to individual production and use), and other alternative forms roll out, the environment will improve.
Ultimately, however, that’s only possible because we moved away from animal and less energy dense sources to hydrocarbons. So yes…Epstein’s right.
The stupid is lose in teh blogosphere and Face
fuckbook. Republicans are gutting Science! with their new HR1422: EPA Scince Advisory Board bill! Except they’re not. Here’s the link for you people who bother to read the stuff before you crap your pants about the end of the world.
The relevant points are in Section 2 (b):
(2) Each member of the Board shall be qualified by education, training, and experience to evaluate scientific and technical information on matters referred to the Board under this section. The Administrator shall ensure that—
(A) the scientific and technical points of view represented on and the functions to be performed by the Board are fairly balanced among the members of the Board; (B)at least ten percent of the membership of the Board are from State, local, or tribal governments; (C)persons with substantial and relevant expertise are not excluded from the Board due to affiliation with or representation of entities that may have a potential interest in the Board’s advisory activities, so long as that interest is fully disclosed to the Administrator and the public and appointment to the Board complies with section 208 of title 18, United States Code; (D) in the case of a Board advisory activity on a particular matter involving a specific party, no Board member having an interest in the specific party shall participate in that activity; (E) Board members may not participate in advisory activities that directly or indirectly involve review or evaluation of their own work; (F) Board members shall be designated as special Government employees; and (G) no federally registered lobbyist is appointed to the Board.
Here’s the skinny, so far: a rancher named Cliven Bundy has been locked into a two decade battle with the federal government over grazing fees. Bundy claims preemption since his family has been ranching on the land since the 1880s. A recent court decision found against bundy and the Bureau of Land Management decided to jump in SWAT-style on Bundy and round up his cattle on the federal land. But it was the how they did it that spurred the ire of Americans — the use of eight helicopters, for-hire cowboys, and BLM SWAT teams (yes…they have them), as well as local law enforcement to surround the Bundy ranch in preparation for this decade’s Waco standoff. When a video of BLM thugs attacking protesters with tasers and dogs surfaced, that was it — states rights, gun rights, and property rights activists lit up the interwebz, and hundreds converged (many armed) on the ranch to help the old man out.
In this confrontation, BLM drove into a 58 year old woman…twice. They knocked down a pregnant woman. They sicced a dog and tased one man without provocation.
Faced with an influx of armed patriots sick of the encroachment of Progressive politicians on their lives and those of others, the BLM returned most of Bundy’s cattle and fell back (mostly, it seems due to a lack of local law enforcement officers wanting to back them up and get shot int he process…)
But it’s not over. There is still a three mile wide no-fly area over the ranch, more materiel has been moving into the vicinity, and Harry Reid — whose involvement in the BLM’s actions has been questioned due to his son, Rory’s, shilling for a Chinese energy concern (ENN) looking to build solar farms throughout the area…including near to the area in dispute. Additionally, the new head of the BLM is Neil Kornze, a long-time Reid staffer
Here’s the odious Reid speaking on the matter:
Even more humorously than Reid the Elder’s comments is his son’s quip, “We believe in a country in which we are subject to laws and you can’t just ignore the laws we don’t like…” (Like Obamacare, the 2nd Amendment, border control, immigration law, election law…)
And here’s Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association:
Unfortunately for the BLM and local law enforcement, it looks like Bundy’s supporters didn’t fall for the strategic withdrawal and go home — as many as 500-800 are anticipating the return of the police in force, and are ready to meet it.
Kaner Lab researcher Maher El-Kady painted sheets of graphene an atom thick on a plastic surface and bombarded it with controlled laser light (he used a DVD burner.) The result: a stunningly thin supercapacitor which could store up a large amount of electricity in minuscule time frames. A battery made of this material could charge your cell phone for a full day’s use in two seconds, and is much lighter than current metallic batteries.
That is, of course, the average — which means it’s more if you have to use your car a lot, or need a truck or van for work or hauling kids. Explains the huge increase in popularity of motorcycles and scooters in urban environs.
Last time gasoline sucked up this much of the household budget was 1983, when the nation was still recovering from the gas crisis.
But then again, he told you energy prices would “necessarily skyrocket” under his plan.
Yet another example of how the would-be aristocrats view the world… MSNBC talking head Chris Hayes, a man who instantly looks the part of weasel, let us know that energy prices are just too low!
Here’s the transcript of this Hayes creature and Dan Dicker from CNBC playing the court jesters and aping their aristocratic betters:
Chris Hayes: We’re talking about the massive, extractive energy boom happening in America right now and how it’s transforming our politics and how that can be made to work with a sane climate policy, which is really the difficult question. Before the break I left the question on the table about the price of energy being too low right now. Basically we see this massive amount of supply has come onto the grid thanks largely to natural gas. The price has come down, and I think we generally think, “Oh, lower prices are better.” But it seems to me there’s a lot of problematic stuff about the price coming down sharply as it is right now in terms of incentives for efficiency and et cetera.
Dan Dicker: You would want the prices to go up a lot because it would drive the next stage towards renewables, and make that at least cost-effective. Algae fuel, we talk a lot about that…
C.H.: Some people talk about that.
D.D.: Yeah. The cost is about eight and a half to nine dollars a gallon compared to gasoline as it is now. You want the prices to go up to make these a little more cost effective. Drive the technology into them. Unfortunately it’s actually going quite the opposite. You talk about increased supply here in the United States. In fact, overseas demand is dropping. We are still in the midst of an economic problem in Europe. Chinese growth is going down. Indian growth seems to be going down. In this country we’ve done better in terms of efficiencies and our demands are starting to drop, so in terms of what economically you can expect, you will expect the opposite, or at least I do over the next several years, that oil prices will in fact go lower. Natural gas you can – because we have a futures market, we look forward to the future and see what people are betting the price is going to be. That doesn’t go over 5$ an MCF until 2020 according to the futures markets. So although you might want… we have to drive the renewable argument some other way, because price doesn’t look like it’s going to do it.
Frances Beinecke: Look, the only thing that’s going to change that is if we finally put a price on carbon.
F.B.: The externals of all the fossil fuel development are not incorporated in the current price, so the environmental effects, the health effects, the consequences to communities, none of that is factored in. We have to change that, get a price on carbon, drive it up so we can promote renewables and efficiencies first and foremost.
Darn it, low prices mean we can funnel money from the people to our favored industrial cronies in green energy!
But at the heart of this progressive rant, is the notion that people simply won’t behave and consume in the manner proscribed by these wannabe aristocrats. Damn it, don’t we realize how smart they are? Do things our way! After all…if we can’t find ways to tax people and make their energy less affordable, the people would be able to do things like feed their kids, drive to work, light their homes — all things that serfs shouldn’t have! Damn it, that’s for rich folks like us!
After a fashion…
So let’s recap — we’ve blown over a trillion on “green energy” and what has the result been? In addition to Compact Power, the Heritage Foundation has a list of the other boondoggles your tax money when to:
The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:
*Denotes companies that have filed for bankruptcy.
Currently 1900 different investigations are open into the fraud that surrounds the green energy sector, and 600 convictions have already happened. I think, if the investigations are allowed to continue unimpeded we’ll find a substantial portion of these monies were washed through the failing companies for the elected and appointed officials that siphoned to these companies.