While we in the U.S. are barely moving forward on renewables, Germany is streaking into the future. Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute explains:
While the examples of Japan, China, and India show the promise of rapidly emerging energy economies built on efficiency and renewables, Germany—the world’s number four economy and Europe’s number one—has lately provided an impressive model of what a well-organized industrial society can achieve. To be sure, it’s not yet the world champion among countries with limited hydroelectricity: Denmark passed 40% renewable electricity in 2011 en route to a target of 100% by 2050, and Portugal, albeit with more hydropower, raised its renewable electricity fraction from 17% to 45% just during 2005–10 (while the U.S., though backed by a legacy of big hydro, crawled from 9% to 10%), reaching 70% in the rainy and windy first quarter of 2013. But these economies are not industrial giants like Germany, which remains the best disproof of claims that highly industrialized countries, let alone cold and cloudy ones, can do little with renewables.
Here’s an example of how poorly some of us in the U.S. are postured for divesting ourselves of carbon. This is an example from my home state of Missouri, where the utilities and the coal industry apparently owns the place.
In Canada, big corporate money is funding the environmentally horrific tar sands project and the equally despicable effort to muzzle scientists who would otherwise be reporting on the environmental disaster. IO9 reports:
Big money muzzles truth-tellers. “The Canadian government is currently under investigation for its efforts to obstruct the right of the media and public to speak to government scientists. These policies are widely believed to be a part of the government’s unspoken campaign to ensure that oil keeps flowing from the Athabasca tar sands — even if it’s at the cost of free scientific inquiry, the environment, and by consequence, democracy itself.”
Why is it that fossil fuel industries are getting such massive subsidies? The IMF wants to know too:
Developing and industrialized countries should rein in energy subsidies that totaled $1.9 trillion in 2011 to ease budgetary pressures and free resources for public spending in areas like education and health care, International Monetary Fund economists said in a research paper published Wednesday.
In the paper, “Energy Subsidy Reform — Lessons and Implications,” the economists reviewed a database of 176 countries and analyzed ways to change energy subsidies by examining case studies of 22 countries.
In 2011, energy subsidies intended to contain energy prices for consumers accounted for 2.5 percent of global gross domestic product, or 8 percent of all government revenue, the fund said.
It occurs to me that without these subsidies, energy prices would be shooting upwards due to peak oil, possibly causing a nationwide panic. Then maybe the federal government would have a very difficult time justifying these subsidies, which would panic the 1% who control the fossil fuel industries.
Mitt Romney’s energy plan is the Koch Brother energy plan. It will pollute the planet and crank up global warming. Romney claims that his plan will create jobs. At Rolling Stone, Jeff Goodell denies this claim:
[S]tudies show that investments to spur renewable energy and boost energy efficiency generate far more jobs than oil and coal. A recent report by the Center for American Progress and the University of Massachusetts concluded that $150 billion invested in renewable energy would generate 1.7 million more jobs than the same amount invested in fossil fuels. Another study by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that a national standard requiring utilities to obtain at least 25 percent of their power from wind, solar and bioenergy by 2025 would create 297,000 new jobs, generating $13.5 billion in income for rural landowners and $11.5 billion in new tax revenues for local governments. In addition, the private sector has recognized the lucrative opportunities offered by clean energy: In 2010 – for the first time ever – investments in renewable energy surpassed those in fossil fuels.
Many of Mitt Romney’s other lies regarding energy are examined in this excellent article.
For the last few weeks I’d been receiving approximately daily post cards protesting the electric company considering a rate hike of more than a few percent in order to finance and build future power plants to replace some of the nearing dangerously obsolete ones. Some mailing came from a very liberal local politician with whom I generally agree. Someone is spending bales of money to encourage people to not-want to spend more for what they are already getting. Seems like sweeping the water downstream, to me.
But I’m a Tanstaafl skeptic: Rebuilding infrastructure without incurring crippling debt does not seem like such a bad idea, my knee jerks. Also, local electric rates are lower than when I was in college, when adjusted for inflation, so it seems about time for a rate hike, anyway.
Yesterday I finally got a rebuttal mailing that describes the finances behind this odd campaign: PAC affiliated with aluminum corporation at play in state Senate primaries. Yep, an aluminum company fears that it will have to raise prices, because a major part of the process of making it requires megawatts of electricity.
Here’s how aluminum is made, if you are at all curious:
So now we know who has the profitability to outspend a huge power company on a campaign to make people do what they want to do anyway, and things are making sense, again.
June 28, arriving St. Louis, the pilot announced that it was 107 degrees outside. An anonymous cry of “Awesome” from the back of the plane set my imagination rolling. Was this guy some kind of climate change denier painting a smiley face on a killer heat? It made me think of a rock and roller wrecking a hotel room. “We are melting the glaciers! Awesome!”
Who knows what was on that guys mind; it hardly matters. You can’t expect everybody to support efforts to curb climate change. For instance, you can take all the first-person-shooter fans and write them off. When you are done whittling down the potential pool of concerned citizens, you realize that you had better get 100% of the picky breather demographic to put their shoulder to the wheel.
An informal poll of my Prius and Whole Foods friends tells me we are all doomed. My poll consists of various propositions; each proposition has a dollar or social cost balanced by some environmental benefit. Rather than asking a predictable, “Are you in favor of breathing clean air?” question, this stealth poll elicits honest answers; I have painfully realized.
For instance, I proposed a slow motion protest to reduce auto emissions. The protest would occur wherever and wherever one of the protesters was driving the speed limit. Instead of a placard, a protestor would have a bumper sticker proclaiming the reason they were obeying the speed limit. For instance, you might see “WHEN I DRIVE THE [SPEED] LIMIT, I DENY TERRORISTS CASH.” or “WHEN I DRIVE THE LIMIT, I SLOW CLIMATE CHANGE.” or “WHEN I DRIVE THE LIMIT, I SAVE LIVES.”
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