Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cramer's irrational efficiency opposition

So rather than an April debate between House candidates Berg & Pomeroy, we will get a debate between the PSC candidates Crabtree & Cramer. Today the Forum papers in Fargo & Grand Forks treated readers to an article highlighting a difference between those candidates.

Of course I know I live on the western side of the Red River, and in North Dakota there are more friends to made with a full-on embrace of fossil fuels as opposed to talking negatively about them. The official version may play up how smart, friendly, and good-looking North Dakotans are, but I assume most people do accept that coal and oil have been at least a factor in the current relatively good economic conditions in the state. That however does not mean that worshipping the cash cow is the path to pursue. Well, unless that cash cow is all you care about - maybe this hypothetical you also don't want a very peaceful world lest the Air Force base have to close.

Anyway, as someone around these parts who hopes against catastrophic climate change I cannot expect someone prominent to push all that strongly against fossil fuel use. Crabtree at least though has some sensible ideas and positions, whereas it is not clear whether Cramer is running for office in 2010 or 1910.

The article basically points out that Crabtree favors greater energy efficiency while Cramer is apparently not interested in that. Of course the scare tactic Cramer uses to oppose energy efficiency is that there might be some cost to somebody today. I am almost surprised he does not say that efforts to lower energy use take away freedom.

Cramer favors "demand side management" rather than less usage. Along those lines, Cramer would not think you should get a vehicle with better gas mileage, you should just try to buy gas on cheap days. Does Cramer think that CO2 emissions from a coal plant have less of a greenhouse effect when the power cost to the consumer is lower like during low-demand nighttime hours? Obviously that is a silly question - I am far from certain that Cramer even accepts that greenhouse gas emissions are driving climate change.

Cramer also apparently is concerned about efficiency measures meaning that some people will have to subsidize other people when it comes to energy use, or in this case, less thereof. That is quite laughable considering Cramer's leave-no-fossil-carbon-unburned stance where today's children and grandchildren plus future generations are subsidizing our current "cheap" energy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What then?

Saturday the Grand Forks Herald had a local news story (this version may be more widely viewable longer) about some discussion of potential cap-and-trade legislation to address carbon emissions. As a news story it covered the bases of who, what, where, and when well enough. My point is to add more perspective.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jack Abramoff is (presumably) no longer linked with NCPPR

Apparently yesterday Grand Forks Herald readers were due for another dose of 'the more fossil fuel use the better' since there was an op-ed column from David Ridenour of The National Center for Public Policy Research (NCPPR).

It was actually pretty tame by the "standards" of Ridenour and the NCPPR. There is no explicit recitation of political talking points saying global warming is not the fault of human activities or will be good because it makes plants grow or that fuel economy standards kill a lot of people. In this case it is about all the riches America supposedly would be swimming in if only there were no limitations on offshore drilling.

Though it can be found here, I do not see a link for the story through the Herald website. That fits with the sleight-of-hand employed throughout the column. Ridenour throws around a hodgepodge of numbers and assertions to try to sell the energy company line that offshore drilling is a magic pill of jobs and revenues. For instance the 500 million barrels of oil and 1.14 trillion cubic feet of natural gas believed off the Virginia coast sounds like a lot until you hear that is only enough to supply the US oil demand and natural gas demand for about 3 weeks.

Besides simply asserting it would mean lower energy bills, Ridenour repeats the claim that oil exploration on the outer continental shelf (OCS) could eventually bring about 1.2 million jobs and add $273 billion to the national GDP. In searching for the source of that 1.2 million jobs claim I found that it has bounced around the echo chamber for over a year but saw no origin for the claim. It looks like one of those things floated from some oil industry funded "think"tank a lot of people like and so repeat and thus take as truth.

Since the US Energy Information Administration does not have such a rosy outlook on the effects of increased access to the OCS for drilling it would be interesting to see the source of the claims. I wonder what the same sorts of assumptions used to build that claim would say the economic benefits would be in pushing for development of clean and sustainable sources of energy?

Maybe the "eventually" in the claim is the key thing. Perhaps the count includes future jobs originating from government action involved with dealing with the mess we make with unconstrained greenhouse gas emissions and their subsequent climate effects. For example, with the expected few feet or so of sea level rise on Virginia coasts during the 21st century. And of course with a continued "burn, baby, burn" energy policiy there is no reason for the effects of climate change not to continue to worsen with time. There could be lots of taxpayer-funded jobs in coastal areas building more and bigger sea walls, moving infrastructure to avoid inundation, etc. At some point I guess fighting the rising tides and other changes becomes not worth fighting so you have to give up and that gravy train of jobs has to end.

(For background on the post title see for example here and here.)

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Ifs, buts, candy, nuts

Another mid-March Grand Forks Herald item I have been meaning to get back to is a letter from March 15 by Jim and Arlene Martini. No link since after a week Herald articles fall behind a paywall, but I will excerpt the points that caught my eye.

Somewhat similar to a recent Black Hills Monitor post there was an indication of uncertainty and skepticism. The letter concluded (emphasis mine),
If the global warming science has been discredited (as appears possible), why would anyone choose to ignore that?

However, the balance of the letter points to the writers not being so much skeptical of the science as searching for whatever reason to reject the science of climate change and thus any action against it. The writers' supposed skepticism does not extend to "reports of manipulation of global warming data" and "cap-and-tax legislation."

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Challenges in what to say and how to say it

There were a couple of items in the Grand Forks Herald in the middle of March that I have been leaving off to the side and am finally getting back to. The first was an op-ed column from March 12 by a handful of scientists from a few different North Dakota universities entitled "Don’t let politics elevate junk science" (pdf from North Dakota Climate Solutions Partnership website).

My thoughts on that column fall in line with the earlier discussion about messaging. Overall I was quite happy to see this column saying what it did. There is one quibble I have with it, and it is something others may disagree with. In fact I am not even completely sure how I feel about it.