America Leads

This month’s issue of the Sierra Club magazine has an article on our energy future. It looks at 3 scenarios for energy usage in the U.S.: Business as Usual, Best Current Practices and “America Leads”, an intensive effort on conservation and renewable sources:

AMERICA LEADS In the third scenario, our country embraces not only today’s best practices but also tomorrow’s opportunities. We approach global warming as if our survival were at stake, constructing a “war effort” like the Army’s Manhattan Project. The entire country embraces policies that go further than any state’s have yet. For a transition period, we continue to drill existing oil leases and burn coal. At the same time, we use energy more efficiently than ever–significantly reducing our need for fossil fuel. We steer clear of new nuclear power plants and invest in safer alternatives: wind, solar, oceans, and biomass. We proactively slant subsidies to favor renewables. We get prices right: The high cost of pollution is reflected in how much consumers pay for their energy. Suddenly getting your power from a coal-fired plant costs a lot more than using wind or even solar power. As renewable energy becomes cheaper than fossil fuels, change happens fast. We dramatically reduce our carbon dioxide emissions, bringing them down to the levels scientists say are necessary to prevent the worst effects of global warming: 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

Only this scenario offers future generations a road map to a brighter future. It requires major changes, but many of them provide multiple social, economic, and environmental benefits. Americans have gotten ourselves out of tough jams and overcome big obstacles before. We cured polio, put a man on the moon, and ended segregation. If we set our minds to it, we could also meet the enormous challenge of global warming. We already have the know-how. Unleashed, American ingenuity could build cars that get 100 miles per gallon. It could produce energy from wind, the sun, and green plants to power millions of homes. It could make machines and buildings that run on a fraction of the energy they use now. As stewards of the planet, caretakers of creation, and responsible parents, how can we do otherwise?

Why shouldn’t we lead?

13 Comments

13 Responses to America Leads

  1. jim karlock
    January 2, 2007 at 3:20 am Link

    As stewards of the planet, caretakers of creation, and responsible parents, how can we do otherwise?
    Because it costs too much. That means something else must be sacrificed in order to pay for it. Should that sacrifice be school lunches? More teachers? More police? Or maybe we should pay for those thorough higher taxes. Then the sacrifice will the person who has a choice of losing his home for non payment of taxes or feeding his kids.

    Perhaps we should spend a BILLION dollars creating a walkable community like the North Macadam, so expensive that it will be mainly populated by millionaires? Now all Portlanders will suffer higher taxes or lower services to pay for this minor (if any) energy saving.

    The first thing that must be done is get the energy usage numbers and COSTS correct and INDEPENDENT of political influence. For instance, it appears that we could save energy if we all got small new cars, instead of switching to transit.

    Thanks
    JK

  2. Ron
    January 2, 2007 at 4:04 am Link

    Costs too much? Have you seen insurance industry projections for potential losses caused by rising see levels and increased storm activity due to global warming (yes, anthropocentrically induced global warming)? Tax shifting (read green taxes) is one way to get the “costs correct” as you put it. Any action producing more CO2 will be more expensive while we have a concurrent and revenue neutral reduction in payroll taxes benefitting the working majority in the process. Perverse incentives such as the small business SUV tax break will of course go away along with a host of other idiotic measures. What about a ‘feebate’ for your precious auto Jim? Polluters pay a graduated fee while gas sippers get a rebate. Again, revenue neutral… who is hurt besides the troglodytes that continue to build giant oversized vehicles and the rubes that buy them? There are literally thousands more things we can do to make conservation easy and second nature while making ourselves energy independent in the process. It’s good for business because prices will be much more predictable. Everybody wins when we conserve (except loosers!).

  3. Ron
    January 2, 2007 at 4:16 am Link

    As evidence that many insurers are taking this seriously, check out the linky: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39474/story.htm

    $2 trillion worth of real estate is at risk in Florida alone! I’m not that good at math, but that sounds like some serious lettuce to me.

  4. Ron
    January 2, 2007 at 5:18 am Link

    I’m sorry for the multiple posts but I just can’t leave this alone…

    “The first thing that must be done is get the energy usage numbers and COSTS correct and INDEPENDENT of political influence. For instance, it appears that we could save energy if we all got small new cars, instead of switching to transit.
    Thanks
    JK”

    What is it with you and cars Jim? Everytime I see you post something it’s like the car is your “chicken in every pot.” This isn’t the 1950s. We have 300 million people in the country and 6.5 billion worldwide. Where are the resources going to come from to build all those cars, the asteroid belt? Not to mention the fuel and the pavement for them to drive on.

  5. Adron
    January 2, 2007 at 1:20 pm Link

    Forget JK’s car comment, he states the obvious fact, it costs too much.

    We can arbritrarily set prices (like our recently passed President Ford & Nixon did) and have problems like 20% inflation. We can raise prices on everything so only the rich can afford to live, the poor begin to die off and the equilibrium is acheived by a mass holocaust.

    America could lead. We could set clean policy, regulate, and allow the Government to do what it has always been setup to do – act as overseer. Not as an entire industry (transportation), now as caretaker (social security), and not as charitable hand out (welfare). But as long as the Government eats up 40% of American income and we only get a return of the Government employing about 2% of the entire workforce, we’re in deep shit.

    Fact of the matter is, the Government can step back and guide, and we can all hope we get it right.

    OR

    The Government can continue a mixed mode economy where as man of it’s industries and manipulations that is puts upon society do as much or more damage than industry itself.

    On another note, cars are a big problem with pollution. It is rarely mentioned that farming is a HUGE polluter too. Considering this it would be easier to decrease that pollution than to further manipulate the auto industry – which at the rate things are going, will reduce pollution on its own. It’s been doing a far better job than any mandated Government act.

    The biggest problem for this entire scenario is, who and how will America pay to get real change. As it is we’re in debt or broke, and our Government is in an even worse situation assisting in the devaluation of the dollar on a daily basis.

  6. jim karlock
    January 2, 2007 at 3:31 pm Link

    Ron Says: Costs too much? Have you seen insurance industry projections for potential losses caused by rising see levels and increased storm activity due to global warming
    JK: Apparently you are still being suckered by the Al Gore version. The upcoming IPCC report is currently circulating in draft form. It, reportedly, has reduced the sea level projection from 34 to 17. Oh, BTW, that is cm, NOT feet. 17 cm is 6.67 INCHES. If I recall, they also reduced the max temp rise projection AGAIN.

    Ron Says: (yes, anthropocentrically induced global warming)?
    JK: From the sun??? There is a better correlation between the length of the solar cycle and global temperature, than there is between CO2 and temperature. I suggest you read a few fact based web sites, instead of listening to idiots like Gore. Start with CO2Science.org, JunkScience.com and ClimateAudit. Notice the many links to well respected journals. Read them.

    Ron Says: Tax shifting (read green taxes) is one way to get the “costs correct” as you put it.
    JK: No it isn’t. It is merely a way to put the costs where the political class wants them. There is no necessary connection with reality.

    Ron Says: There are literally thousands more things we can do to make conservation easy and second nature while making ourselves energy independent in the process.
    JK: And raise costs, so the poor can no longer afford to feed their kids or afford a vacation.

    Ron Says: It’s good for business because prices will be much more predictable.
    Everybody wins when we conserve (except loosers!).
    JK: Where do you get this crap? The prices will be higher, and no one wins except the political class and those that they shower their favors upon.

    Ron Says: As evidence that many insurers are taking this seriously, check out the linky: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39474/story.htm
    JK: I found this at your link:
    “The increasing scientific consensus is that this represents a trend beyond natural variability and a likely increase for the future,” said Gary Guzy of Marsh USA, a unit of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos.
    Apparently he didn’t notice the hurricane damage this past hurricane season: $0.00. So much for another prediction of the alarmists. (You can’t call it science until it can make predictions that come true, among other criteria.)

    Ron Says: $2 trillion worth of real estate is at risk in Florida alone! I’m not that good at math, but that sounds like some serious lettuce to me.
    JK: No hurricanes this last season. Another failed doom and gloom prediction for the Al Gore schools of science.

    Ron Says: What is it with you and cars Jim? Everytime I see you post something it’s like the car is your “chicken in every pot.” This isn’t the 1950s. We have 300 million people in the country and 6.5 billion worldwide.
    JK: So what? The earth has lots of empty space and lots of raw materials.

    Ron Says: Where are the resources going to come from to build all those cars, the asteroid belt? Not to mention the fuel and the pavement for them to drive on.
    JK: I get now: if you can’t figure it out, it cannot be done. That is a sure way to guarantee that we return to the dark ages. Give up on the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth, it is complete BS. Same for the Population Bomb

    Further, buses simply use more energy to transport people than if all the people drove little cars. Buses probably pollute more too. (google Seattle bus pollution suv)

    Thanks
    JK

  7. Skeptic
    January 2, 2007 at 6:57 pm Link

    JK,

    IMHO both your tone and word choices seem outside of the constructive tone of this blog. A more troubling issue, though, is your suggestion that we turn to sources such as junkscience.com for the “truth.”

    I’d suggest that people interested in knowing about the real agenda behind junkscience.com google Steven J. Milloy, who publishes the site. Or, read here: http://skepdic.com/refuge/junkscience.html

    This is a guy who has taken money from oil companies, Philip Morris and other to advance his POLITICAL views.

    Bunk.

  8. Greg Tompkins
    January 2, 2007 at 8:23 pm Link

    What about the POSITIVE effects of global warming? More areas open to agricultural development to feed the world’s booming population? Shipping lanes across the top of the world, etc. etc. Enough with the naysayers, I want a warmer tropical like place not a frozen wasteland!

  9. jim karlock
    January 2, 2007 at 10:16 pm Link

    I’d suggest that people interested in knowing about the real agenda behind junkscience.com google Steven J. Milloy, who publishes the site. Or, read here: //skepdic.com/refuge/junkscience.html

    This is a guy who has taken money from oil companies, Philip Morris and other to advance his POLITICAL views.

    JK:M Completely irrelevet. No well read person goes to a place looking for “the word”, instead you use it for leads to quality information. That is why I said:
    Notice the many links to well respected journals. Read them.

    As to taking money from oil companies. How is that evil? I hope you know that Al Gore OWNS (or did own) an oil company. He also is president of a mutual fund company that will make money if we switch to “green” energy. He is no more impartial than he is an expert.

    Thanks
    JK

  10. skeptic
    January 2, 2007 at 10:47 pm Link

    JK: “Many links to respected journals” is just that. In the end, not much. You can find websites with lots of links about the world being flat as well, but I’m not sure where that gets us.

    As for taking money from oil companies, I should have been more specific. Milloy was funded by Exxon, one of the leading companies wanting to either argue against global warming or suggest that it would be beneficial. Your other friends at CO2science.org were also funded by Exxon. See http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/orgfactsheet.php?id=24
    Your third source, climate audit, is published by a mining executive. None of them expert or impartial.

    Why is Exxon’s perspective important? Well, until a recent change in CEO they were very aggressive in denying climate change as a means of protecting their corporation. Of course other oil companies have since started to both embrace the fundamental science behind global warming and to try and do something about it beside hide under a rock or think that the world might be nicer if it were warmer.

    JK the people you link to are not expert or impartial. There is lots of good science out there, just not much in what you’ve posted. BTW you throw the “hockey stick” around alot as if it’s something important. You might try reading this http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=121 published on a blog that has been recognized by Scientific American for its reporting on climate science.

  11. jim karlock
    January 3, 2007 at 12:12 am Link

    “Many links to respected journals” is just that. In the end, not much. You can find websites with lots of links about the world being flat as well, but I’m not sure where that gets us.

    You’re such a expert, why don’t you tell me what you think of the article titled Length of the Solar Cycle : An Indicator of Solar Activity Closely Associated with Climate Science,254,698,1Nov91 (I know this is not the caliber of Scientific American, but I’d like your opinion anyway.)

    Here is the abstract:
    It has recently been suggested that the solar irradiancc has varied in phase with the 80- to 90-year period represented by the envelope of the 11-year sunspot cycle and that this variation is causing a significant part of the changes in the global temperature . This interpretation has been criticized for statistical reasons and because there are no observations that indicate significant changes in the solar irradiance . A set of data that supports the suggestion of a direct influence of solar activity on global climate is the variation of the solar cycle length . This record closely matches the long-term variations of the Northern Hemisphere land air temperature during the past 130 years .

    If you root around in JunkScience.com, you’ll find a description of a more recent paper on a possible causative link to add credence to the above correlation (Proc. R. Soc. A doi:10.1098/ rspa.2006.1773).

    PS: Did you forget to comment on Al Gore’s oil company and mutual company conflicts of interest?

    I Just have to comment on your link to the home of the hockey stick:
    JK the people you link to are not expert or impartial. There is lots of good science out there, just not much in what you’ve posted. BTW you throw the “hockey stick” around alot as if it’s something important. You might try reading this http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=121 published on a blog that has been recognized by Scientific American for its reporting on climate science.

    The hockey stick and the science behind it was shredded by the NAS report last spring. The report verified that the “little ice age” and the “medieval warm period” both existed. You will note that they do not show on the hockey stick. Therefore the hockey stick is disproved, as are the methods used to create it. Such methods are widely used in the “sky is falling” wing of climate “science”. (Report is at: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/11676.html)

    A second NAS report, issued a week or so later exposed statistical methods used by Mann. He didn’t even get the name of his method right!

    Don’t forget to check out ClimateAudit.org – it is the site that prompted the NAS to take a look a the hockey stick. The NAS agreed with most of the charges leveled by ClimaeAudit.org

    Thanks
    JK

  12. Ron
    January 3, 2007 at 1:35 am Link

    JK, you posted this in response to some of my statements:

    “Ron Says: As evidence that many insurers are taking this seriously, check out the linky: http://www.planetark.com/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/39474/story.htm
    JK: I found this at your link:
    “The increasing scientific consensus is that this represents a trend beyond natural variability and a likely increase for the future,” said Gary Guzy of Marsh USA, a unit of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos.
    Apparently he didn’t notice the hurricane damage this past hurricane season: $0.00. So much for another prediction of the alarmists. (You can’t call it science until it can make predictions that come true, among other criteria.)

    Ron Says: $2 trillion worth of real estate is at risk in Florida alone! I’m not that good at math, but that sounds like some serious lettuce to me.
    JK: No hurricanes this last season. Another failed doom and gloom prediction for the Al Gore schools of science.”

    Ron: Well, I guess the debate is over, no major hurricanes in 2006! Pack up the meteorological gear and go home. First of all, I didn’t realize that Al Gore had “schools of science.” Last I checked, he was dialed into the reality based PEER REVIEWED schools of science, not the claptrap Exxon funded links that you suggested I familiarize myself with. Secondly, short term results is not a sound data set for predictions of long term activity, especially when it comes to weather. Granted, no major hurricanes made landfall in the US in 2006, but consider why… “Following the intense activity of the 2005 season, forecasts predicted the 2006 season would be very active, though not as active as 2005. However, in 2006, a rapidly-forming El Niño event, combined with the pervasive presence of the Saharan Air Layer over the tropical Atlantic, contributed to all tropical cyclone activity ceasing after October 2.[3]” In addition, there was a marked increase in Pacific cyclone activity in the Far East. You have a very narrow and US centered viewpoint and I’m sure recent victims of Typhoon Durian in The Phillipines and Vietnam would take exception to your views if they were alive. But stick to your tune Jim, it’s amusing. I would hesitate to cite any one storm or season’s activity as evidence for or against human caused global warming, but the more flat earthers deny the science, the more desparate they begin to look.

  13. jim karlock
    January 3, 2007 at 12:18 pm Link

    Last I checked, he was dialed into the reality based PEER REVIEWED schools of science,
    You should read the Wegman report, it explains that that set of peers is a close circle of friends.

    not the claptrap Exxon funded links that you suggested I familiarize myself with.
    I’m sorry that I can’t come up with stuff better than Science, Nature and the NAS.

    Secondly, short term results is not a sound data set for predictions of long term activity, especially when it comes to weather.
    Have you noticed that they can’t even predict next week’s weather?

    Granted, no major hurricanes made landfall in the US in 2006, but consider why…
    There is always a new reason why,when the warmer’s theory is proven wrong. In order to be credible, the hypophysis must successfully make predictions. It just failed again

    but the more flat earthers deny the science, the more desparate they begin to look.
    My, my, how arrogant. You really should broaden your science reading beyond the Sierra club weekly reader. Why don’t you try Science weekly?

    Thanks
    JK

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