Archive for September, 2008

h1

Group calls for rationing meat, milk to fight climate change

September 30, 2008

The Food Climate Research Network at the University of Surrey is calling for rationing of foodstuffs, including meat, milk, alcohol and chocolate in order to combat “runaway climate change.”  A pdf file of the full report is here, a 28 page summary here.

I have to say it:  They can have my meat when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers.

In all seriousness, though, this is the kind of extreme policy recommendation that does more harm to the cause than it does good.  No government is going to impose this kind of Draconian rationing, and few citizens are going to take seriously this level of fear mongering.  Reports like this open the entire environmental movement up to charges of misanthropy.

If you are serious about the dangers of climate change, then you have to demonstrate it by serious (meaning, realistic) policy prescriptions.  The FCRN is not serious.

h1

Chrysler predicts 1/2 of all cars to be at least partially electric by 2020

September 29, 2008

AutoblogGreen has the story.

h1

The Magic Bullet: How to stabilize energy costs, subsidize research into alternative fuels, and fund the financial bailout in one easy step!

September 26, 2008

The NEED Act (National Environment and Energy Development Act) is formally known as House Resolution 6709.  Co-sponsored by Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie and Pennsylvania Republican John Peterson, it is summarized here.  In a nutshell, the act would repeal the moratoria and limitations on exploration and development of energy resources both offshore and on federal lands.  It is estimated that the development of these resources would funnel nearly $2.6 trillion dollars into the federal treasury over the lifetime of use.    The NEED Act would then require a substantial investment of this windfall into the development of alternative energy technologies.  Further, the law as written estimates a contribution of $780 billion to the US Treasury – more than the combined totals for the recent bailout of the auto industry and the proposed financial bailout.

The next 25 years are going to be very tough on the American economy, with the costs of this bailout, the contraction in global economic activity with or without it, and the approaching peak of cheap oil supply.  The NEED Act provides a bridge during that period.  One of the most important and little commented upon effects of an economic contraction is that one of the first luxuries to be cut is spending on Research and Development.  That means the research needed for the next wave of fuels will be slowed and, in some cases, ended – precisely at the time we need them most.  The NEED Act will pump enormous monies into those efforts, and will help the Treasury to fund the financial bailout without putting a large bite on the average taxpayer.

I will have more to say about this in coming weeks, but for now, EnerGeoPolitics strongly endorses the NEED Act and encourages all of our readers to contact their Representatives and Senators to get behind it.  Remember, it is H.R. 6709.

h1

The New Jeep EV Prototype

September 24, 2008

Chrysler has released their new Electric Vehicle prototypes.  Most of the attention in the press and on the blogs has been going to the Dodge EV, which is built on a Lotus platform and targetted as a competitor to the similar Tesla.  There is also a Chrysler-badged version, which is on a minivan platform.  But, as a longtime Jeep afficionado, my attention is mostly on the Jeep variant.  Chrysler says it will select one of the three to go into production for the 2010 model year (as with all EVs, I’ll believe it when I see it).  I think they should offer the other two quickly thereafter, as it would be smart of them to offer three distinct models – performance, minivan, and offroad.

There is more technical detail on the Jeep model at Jalopnik.  In summary, it is built on a Wrangler Unlimited platform, its electric motor produces 268 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.  The battery has a 40 mile range on charge alone, but in conjunction with a gas powered generator, the vehicle has a range of 400 miles on an 8 gallon tank (essentially, 50mpg).  As Jalopnik, this is not going to be ready for hard core boulder bashing (and I’m not sure how the battery and electric motor will handle river fording), but for my particular purposes (ranch duty, errands and the occassional commute), I would be a very interested shopper the minute it hit the stores.

And, when that day comes, the government will be ready to prime the pump on EV demand.  The Senate has passed legislation that includes tax credits between $2500 and $7500 for the purchase of PHEVs (the amount of the tax credit varies with the amount of battery capacity).

h1

NASA: solar wind plasma output at a 50 year low

September 24, 2008

NASA held a press conference yesterday to discuss data collected by the Ulysses spacecraft which indicates a 50 year low in solar wind plasma output.  In addition to the official release linked above, here is a summary by an attendee who also blogs here at WordPress.  These data fit nicely with Henrik Svensmark’s “Chlling Stars” theory.  This is a controversial theory which holds that climate change is primarily dependent on cosmic rather than human activity.  Svensmark’s wikipedia page has good links to both pro and con articles on his theory.

While the weight of opinion in the fields of meterology and climatology is on the side of anthropogenic global warming, it is by no means unanimous.  Many serious scientists question the orthodoxy of climate change.  A good source for serious climate change skeptics is Lawrence Solomons long investigative series for Canada’s Financial Post last year.  The first in his series is here, read through all the links if you want a good grounding in the scientific (rather than the merely social/political/cultural/ideological) skepticism about human caused climate change.

h1

Joe Biden: Losing my vote

September 23, 2008

Energy is my primary issue in this presidential campaign, and I remain undecided.  Both candidates are flawed on the issues of energy, as I have written about in the past (for example, here and here).  I think Palin is the best of all four principles on energy, but Obama’s past support for CTL actually had me leaning his way.  However, I found his selection of Joe Biden as his running mate to be intensely disheartening.  The conventional wisdom is that McCain’s selection of Palin is the “game changer” in this election, but I don’t share those feelings.  She has a steep learning curve on foreign policy, but so what?  She’s not running for Secretary of State, and conventional picks like Pawlenty or Romney did not have a lot of foreign policy experience, either.  There are other issues and, of course, chief among them in my eyes is energy.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, is just an awful pick.  He is the quintessential career political hack.  For a candidate running on the notion that he will change the way things work in Washington, it was the most cynical pick imaginable, more so than McCain’s pandering to identity politics, IMHO.  Still, as unctuous and reliably wrong as Biden has always been (he’s such a fossil that he has been in the Senate long enough to have voted against the original Alaska Oil Pipeline in the 1970s), I could have held my nose and voted for Obama anyway.  But today, Biden gave away the game when he declared “no coal plants for America.”  Do the freakin’ math, Joe.  There is no way to increase electrical capacity in th nation without coal fired plants. abd we must increase capacity, especially with the coming advent of PHEVs.  Biden is either an inane panderer, or a bumbling idiot.  My guess is the latter.

This was such a colossally bad selection by Obama.  Had he chosen Hillary, this election would be over.  For that matter, had the Dems nominated Hillary to begin with, it would be over.  For all the talk about McCain’s judgement in selecting the perhaps-too-green Palin, it is Obama’s judgement in selecting this fool that is really open to question.

h1

The Uno

September 22, 2008

The Uno is a single-wheeled electric motorcycle based on the same concepts as the Segway personal transport.  Read more about it at Motorcycle Mojo magazine and Green Upgrader.  The Uno is the brainchild of teenage designer Ben Gulak.  In the Green Upgrader article, we learn that

Gulak came up with the idea after a 2006 trip to China where he noticed a lot of people riding internal combustion bikes and horrendous smog.  According to Gulak, “The smog was so thick, we never saw the sun.”  The trip made him realize that there was a need for a compact electric vehicle that would ease congestion and not take it’s toll on the environment.

I think the Uno is a great idea and I would like a production version myself.  I do have one quibble, however.  In China, much electricity is generated by dirty coal burning plants, so it remains to be seen just how much of toll on the environment the Uno would relieve there (or, here, for that matter).  As will all alternative vehicles – especially electrics – don’t think that just because you don’t have an exhaust pipe that you are creating no exhaust.