Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Global Warming

Rate this topic


Guest Guest_guest_
 Share

Recommended Posts

If there is an alternative method that is clearly better at providing us with energy, then it will be adopted in the absence of any global warming scare tactics. If, however, the alternative method is cleaner but way more expensive then the only way to push it through is by enacting laws; which is exactly what people have been trying to do.

Not necessarily. As I pointed out earlier only through total de-regulation, and allowing market forces decide, can we find out for sure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(It may also introduce a positive feedback loop whereby more plant mass converts more of the carbon dioxide in the air into oxygen, thereby bringing down the carbon dioxide levels naturally.)

Just a small thing here... Shouldn't that read "negative feedback loop"?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a small thing here... Shouldn't that read "negative feedback loop"?

Yes, I believe you are right. Thank you for pointing that out.

I haven't seen much discussion of the negative feedback loop of more carbon dioxide resulting in more plant growth, which results in a reduction of that carbon dioxide through photosynthesis. I recall this cycle from high school biology classes (where it also includes animals, who convert oxygen into carbon dioxide), but I have not seen it discussed in terms of the global warming issue. It implies a natural biological check on the level of carbon dioxide in the air. Of course, a natural biological check on carbon dioxide levels would deny the environmentalists the pleasure of imposing widespread controls across our economy in order to reduce combustion. Perhaps that has something to do with why I haven't seen any writing on it. Has anyone seen this discussed? :geek:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

You had to expect that this would happen sooner or later:

Companies press Bush to reduce global warming pollution

A coalition of environmental groups and major corporations such as Lehman Brothers, DuPont, General Electric and several energy providers today announced a joint effort -- known as the U.S. Climate Action Partnership -- to prod Congress and the President into enacting mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, widely seen as the chief agents of global warming.

http://www.amny.com/news/nationworld/natio...0,5316810.story

Unfortunately, large corporations have never been very good at standing on principle. Now I suppose it's only a matter of time before Bush caves and proposes some sort of policy that limits our greenhouse gas emissions along with our economic growth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Magnificent post Galileo.

Nuclear power is a much cleaner alternative to fossil fuels. However, the same people who are trying to reduce our fossil fuel consumption have made nuclear power prohibitively expensive in this country.

During my tenure as a summer analyst, I remember reading that skyrocketing long term interest rates had a profound effect on discouraging the construction of nuclear power plants since the 1980's. I decided to research this to supply us with more facts.

There are presently around 120+ operational nuclear power plants in the United States. Until General Electric and Hitachi have recently announced to build two nuclear power plants in Texas, no new plants have been completed since those last ordered in the early 1970s. According to a New York Times article, all nuclear plants ordered after 1973 were cancelled. According to some sketchy author (with REALLY sketchy affiliations) as many as 100 ordered plants have been cancelled. That sounds like a large exaggeration to me, but even if 40 nuclear plant projects were aborted, that would be alarming.

Long term interest rates have endured a sharp upward trend from about 9% in 1978 to around 18% in 1982 and have remained in double digits until about 1986. Why should interest rates effect the construction of a nuclear power plant? Well a power plant is a complex facility and there are many regulations at several different stages of the construction process. Many of which are legally necessary until the construction can progress. There is a graph of historical mortgage rates here. Please note that I could not find a decent graph of long-term interest rates around this time period. Nevertheless I think it is a safe assumption that there will be a strong positive correlation with mortgage rates.

This website details lots of information on why the cost of building nuclear power plants has greatly risen around this time period. Most of the costs could be attributed to escalating regulations in response to increased alarm about nuclear power, especially after the Three Mile Island incident in 1979. Most of the costs are contributed to the safety regulations impact on construction costs. Needless to say, a nuclear power plant is a complex facility so there are build in several stages. Many safety regulations legally prevented the construction from progressing from certain phases of completion until certain inspections were made. Any delays at all during a period with such high interest rates were intolerable. Since delay was so expensive, plant constructors often chose to do things that appeared to be very wasteful. Colossal delays such as labor strikes had to be avoided at almost any cost (source).

In summary, it appears that many significant economic factors that were exacerbated by panicky responses to the Three Mile Island incident.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given that excessive regulation and litigation make it difficult if not impossible to build a nuclear plant in a timely fashion, it makes sense that high rates would be one factor leading to the cancellation of many projects. However, rates were fairly low through much of the 1990s and also for the last several years. There still aren't any plants being built because of the regulatory burden created by environmentalists.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is as expected, bad news.

My January electric bill was $480. The rate increase went into effect this month. Last year, we had a 36% rate increase, and in the past two years, electricity has shot up 58% over 2005 rates.

To add perspective, my 1999 bills averaged $80/month. In 1967, my bill was about $8/month. Today, $480. Last year, I paid 5X as much for electricity than for heating oil.

We NEED cheaper alternatives!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We NEED cheaper alternatives!

Alternatives to what, precisely? The technologies involved are plenty cheap. The expense comes from government regulation.

The term "alternative," however, usually refers to new technologies, usually environmentalist pipe-dreams. What we really need an "alternative" to is statism.

On a side note: $480? Do you live in the peoples state of California or does your bass stuff just eat up that much juice?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Alternatives to what, precisely? The technologies involved are plenty cheap. The expense comes from government regulation.

The term "alternative," however, usually refers to new technologies, usually environmentalist pipe-dreams. What we really need an "alternative" to is statism.

On a side note: $480? Do you live in the peoples state of California or does your bass stuff just eat up that much juice?

I think that new technology that replaces diminishing supply fuels, and avoids issues that raise public safety concerns would help to reduce the amount of government oversight or temptation to regulate beyond what it government does already with hydroelectric plants, could provide competition to traditional sources and bring prices lower.

My example only illustrates how much electric costs have risen in Western CT over the past forty years.

Granted, we have computers that run most of the time, where in 1967, we had a big console television that was all tubes, running most of the day and evening. In both eras, we used electric clothes dryers. I don't think the sound system has that big of an impact on the kWh usage, because it gets used for such short periods and the dynamic nature of music is such that it may only draw hundreds of amperes for milliseconds during a musical transient. The amplifiers are power factor-corrected Class H amplifiers, which use very little energy at idle and at moderate listening levels. I think the biggest steady state draw we have here are our personal computers. But even so, I had computers in the 1990s and we had less efficient incandescent lighting, and a mercury vapour light outside that was on at dusk, off at dawn on electric eye, I used electric space heaters under my desk, and a 400W waterbed heater. In other words, quite a lot of waste, and our bill was $80/mo on average. It doubled right after "deregulation" happened in 2002, and has experienced huge jumps in the past two years (58% in two years!). It's just very expensive here. Total cost with generation, deliver charges and taxes is over 22 cents/kWh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Given that excessive regulation and litigation make it difficult if not impossible to build a nuclear plant in a timely fashion, it makes sense that high rates would be one factor leading to the cancellation of many projects. However, rates were fairly low through much of the 1990s and also for the last several years. There still aren't any plants being built because of the regulatory burden created by environmentalists.

This is true that rates were relatively low in the 1990s. Even if interest rates are low, I imagine that potential investors were still weary of funding a nuclear power plant, as it is a long range, expensive investment that has the potential for numerous costly delays. I hope that those two plants in Texas get built.

GalileoBlogs is absolutely right how those who despise industry will always manage to cook up some reason to abolish the latest advancement. I remember reading about how a large number of bats were inexplicably fatally allured to wind turbines. Naturally, these seemingly benign alternative energy sources were being met with protests in defense of the bats. Since when do people like bats? As far as I am concerned, these were magnificent bat-killing devices with the auxiliary benefit of generating energy! :lol: But now I am being facetitious.

I suppose that anyone may erect a sonar device that persuades the bats to navigate elsewhere.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that new technology that replaces diminishing supply fuels, and avoids issues that raise public safety concerns would help to reduce the amount of government oversight or temptation to regulate beyond what it government does already with hydroelectric plants, could provide competition to traditional sources and bring prices lower.

Unfortunately, that is not the way it works.

First, the government getting its claws out would have a much more instant and dramatic difference, and would be free. New technology costs money.

Secondly, regulators are never less tempted to regulate. Environmentalists hate man and want him wiped from the earth. Anything that benefits man must go.

If you ask me, it’d be a little short of disastrous for us to discover a source of clean, cheap, abundant energy because of what we would do with it. We ought to be looking for energy sources that are adequate for our needs, but that won’t give us the excesses of concentrated energy with which we could do mischief to the earth or to each other.

—Amory Lovins in The Mother Earth�“Plowboy Interview, Nov/Dec 1977, p.22

Phasing out the human race will solve every problem on earth, social and environmental.

—Dave Forman, Founder of Earth First!

There can be no appeasing them. If you want to survive, you must oppose them and not appease them by calling for "alternatives."

Edited by Inspector
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There can be no appeasing [the environmentalists]. If you want to survive, you must oppose them and not appease them by calling for "alternatives."

I completely agree. The two quotes in your post really do capture the essence of environmentalism. The proof is in the countless instances where a technological "solution" to an alleged "problem" is attacked. Your example of bats getting killed by wind turbines is a good one. Wind turbines themselves were a "solution" to the problem of pollution caused by burning coal or natural gas. I put solution in quotes because wind power, in most applications, is uneconomical. The only reason it is deployed is because it is subsidized at the federal level and benefits from quotas in many states that force utilities to generate a minimum amount of electricity from wind.

The environmentalists' hatred for man and his technology is also revealed by the reluctance of most environmentalists to embrace nuclear energy as a solution to the alleged global warming problem. Nuclear plants emit no carbon dioxide. Yet, environmentalists will rant and rave against nuclear power for all of its alleged harms, despite the fact that in the West not a single person has died from an emission of radioacticity into the environment by a nuclear power plant.

If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were shut down, and all federal and state regulations were eliminated on nuclear power plants (and all other forms of electricity generation), I suspect that we would generate the majority of our electricity from nuclear power plants. Nuclear power has an inherent economy of scale because a very tiny amount of material can produce a huge amount of energy. Nuclear energy is very concentrated. This means that the cost of handling uranium and disposing of waste is very small in comparison to the amount of energy produced.

Contrast this with coal, where many 100-car-long trainloads of coal are needed to produce the amount of electricity that could be produced in a couple softballs' worth of uranium. Even with nuclear waste being radioactive, it is far easier and more environmentally "friendly" to disposes of nuclear waste than it is to dispose of coal waste, some of which inevitably gets disposed of in our lungs.

Only a wealthy, technologically advanced society can cheaply deploy a technology as advanced and beneficial as nuclear energy. Nuclear energy is clean and would be very cheap if it were not regulated. Yet all of the regulations on power generation -- including the pollution rules on fossil power -- just make our economy that much poorer, and less able to afford something as magnificent as nuclear power. So, ironically, by attempting to regulate in order to prevent pollution, such regulations have the opposite effect of making us more poor and therefore more likely to use polluting technologies, such as fossil fuels.

This point may not seem obvious, but observe that the worst polluting societies are the emerging Third World countries that are far poorer than ours. China, the former Soviet Union, developing parts of Africa and Asia, all have far more polluted air than we have in the West. Poverty and pollution go hand-in-hand.

As a final tidbit on nuclear power, I remember reading about an Alaskan village that wanted to install a tiny underground nuclear reactor for electricity. They believed it would be far cheaper to generate electricity through nuclear fission than it was to burn fuel oil that had to be arduously transported at great expense to their small village. I spoke to a nuclear engineer who told me that it was feasible to make such small nuclear reactors, but you would have to wait for "hell to freeze over" before the regulators would permit it. Given how much those Alaskan villagers have to pay for electricity, and how low they probably set their thermostats to save money, I imagine that they are already living in their frozen little hell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a great argument from a 'global warmer denier' type in Lord Monckton letter. He gives a great speech about what environmentalists are really trying to accomplish and shows us that the histeria over global warming is overhyped. His letter is in response to a letter sent by senators Rockefeller and Snowe trying to intimidate Exxon Mobil.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a great argument from a 'global warmer denier' type in Lord Monckton letter. He gives a great speech about what environmentalists are really trying to accomplish and shows us that the histeria over global warming is overhyped. His letter is in response to a letter sent by senators Rockefeller and Snowe trying to intimidate Exxon Mobil.

http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/12/18/p...218.DCM029.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tell me if I'm wrong, but if we were to find a way to more efficiently harness solar power and we could use it to replace all coal/oil/nuclear power, wouldn't that result in massive cooling of the earth as a certain percentage of the sun's heat is converted into electricity, etc. instead of being absorbed into the earth?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tell me if I'm wrong, but if we were to find a way to more efficiently harness solar power and we could use it to replace all coal/oil/nuclear power, wouldn't that result in massive cooling of the earth as a certain percentage of the sun's heat is converted into electricity, etc. instead of being absorbed into the earth?

Not by the law of conservation of energy. That energy being stored will heat batteries, or being used will heat wires and appliances.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tell me if I'm wrong, but if we were to find a way to more efficiently harness solar power and we could use it to replace all coal/oil/nuclear power, wouldn't that result in massive cooling of the earth as a certain percentage of the sun's heat is converted into electricity, etc. instead of being absorbed into the earth?

Well, I will defer to the answer given on this issue, but there is another one that has been bothering lately.

What if all the wind turbines being built to generate electricity are being built largely in the same orientation to capture the direction of the jet stream? What if, being in the same orientation, the wind turbines begin to create a gyroscopic effect? What if that gyroscopic effect begins to tilt the earth off its orbital axis?

If that happened, imagine the horror. The equator could end up running along the two poles, melting them and flooding the earth's surface. Of course, one of the new poles could end up smack in the middle of the Amazon, and simply destroy that huge, fragile ecosystem composed of creatures and plants with unknown benefits to man. Imagine all the little creatures that would freeze to death! Ugh!

When I see a new wind turbine go up, I worry. When I see an entire wind farm go up that sweeps across the horizon, I positively begin to tremble!

Forget that wind power is uneconomical, and is only being deployed on a wide scale because of subsidies. Instead, worry about the great potential for harm that could occur if man were to mess with something so fundamental to life as the angle of the earth's rotational tilt.

The potential threat from wind turbines acting in concert to jeopardize our planet's orbital axis seems seems much more serious than the potential threat from global warming. We must act now to save the planet! :):P:lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are presently around 120+ operational nuclear power plants in the United States. Until General Electric and Hitachi have recently announced to build two nuclear power plants in Texas, no new plants have been completed since those last ordered in the early 1970s. According to a New York Times article, all nuclear plants ordered after 1973 were cancelled. According to some sketchy author (with REALLY sketchy affiliations) as many as 100 ordered plants have been cancelled. That sounds like a large exaggeration to me, but even if 40 nuclear plant projects were aborted, that would be alarming.

According to an article in today's WSJ, a new generation of nuke plants is being planned. At least 30 projects are on tap, mostly located in the South. In a typical corporate welfare ploy, the feds are offering about $8 billion in subsidies plus loan guarantees to the companies that are able to build the first few plants. In 2006, there were 103 operable plants in 65 different US locations. Each new plant will cost between $3 and $4 billion to build. (OUCH!)

The article also states that between 1974 and 1994, utilities cancelled 96 nuclear projects in the US. Nuclear power currently makes up about 20% of the nation's electricity supply, compared with about 50% from coal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The government regulates nuclear energy to the point where it cannot be built on its own, so do they think of removing those regulations? No. They subsidize it.

Subsidies are always value-destructive. The best way for nuclear power plants to be built -- or plants using a superior competing technology -- is for the government to stay out of the way. Let the best technology win, and we all benefit from electricity produced in the best manner at the lowest cost.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The government regulates nuclear energy to the point where it cannot be built on its own, so do they think of removing those regulations? No. They subsidize it.

Yeah, that one made my eyes cross when I first heard it. Of course, sometimes people use the term "subsidy" to mean that they are relaxing their regulations or taxes... so you have to beware when you hear that term.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Of course, sometimes people use the term "subsidy" to mean that they are relaxing their regulations or taxes... so you have to beware when you hear that term.

That is a very important distinction. In the case of nuclear energy, it is both getting subsidized and benefiting from special tax breaks.

These are some of the subsidy and tax break provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (source: Wikipedia).

Quote:

* Authorizes cost-overrun support [GB: i.e., a cash subsidy] of up to $2 billion total for up to six new nuclear power plants;

* Authorizes a production tax credit of up to $125 million total per year, estimated at 1.8 US¢/kWh during the first eight years of operation for the first 6.000 MW of capacity[3] ; consistent with renewables;

* Authorizes $1.25 billion for the Department of Energy to build a nuclear reactor to generate both electricity and hydrogen;

End quote.

Although the tax break is not a subsidy, it is destructive because it amounts to industrial planning. By taxing some companies more or less than others, the government involves itself in picking "winners and losers." That is the essence of socialist planning, which never works. Government must simply stay out of the way and let winners and losers emerge in the market economy. Of course, by doing so, all of us win from a rapidly rising standard of living.

As an example of the statist mentality, it is quite interesting that private activities such as nuclear energy production are often either banned or subsidized, with state planners alternating between the two actions. Planners want to control and cannot tolerate simply laissez faire.

****

Edited by GB: To clarify, the "cost-overrun support" kicks in if a project to build a nuclear plant is delayed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulators. So, it is a bizarre case of the government offering subsidies to pay for the potential cost of regulation! It never occurred to Congress to just repeal the regulations, thereby saving all of us from having to pay for the subsidies.

Edited by Galileo Blogs
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I really think that the goverment subsidy/regulation tangle is the single most salient point about this whole mess. As long as subsidies are given to big oil, no "green" technologies can compete.

The price of oil will increase because it is a limited resource. The price of solar/wind/geothermal/etc will decrease as technology gets better. Do the math. Why is anyone worried?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...