Author Topic: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production  (Read 676 times)

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Offline Scheavo

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The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« on: September 19, 2014, 05:22:59 PM »

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You say that like it's a bad thing.   Why shouldn't investors demand a return?  That gets easily gets dismissed as "greed" (remember we said things weren't easy?) but isn't that really at heart demanding that the technology be robust so we don't end up down a primrose path?   It WILL pay itself at 10% over 10 years as technology progresses.   I don't think there is any crime in waiting for that to happen before a wholesale upending of the current system, ESPECIALLY when you look at it from a macroeconomics perspective.  It's why not signing Kyoto was an excellent ECONOMIC decision. 

The technology is proven, it's being used in Europe; it relies upon drilling technology perfected in oil exploration, and upon fracking technology perfected and used today.  The reason is simple accounting and financing. The technology does not need to advance to become a better economic investment, as it is already more than adequate and efficient. The factors that determine us not having large-scale geothermal are the cost of oil/fossil fuels and the net present value of money. That's it. And I'd be glad to point you in the direction of literature which demonstrates this more than I am willing to do.

I'm not sure about you, but I generally find the cheapest thing in the store to be that cheap for a reason. Just becuase fossil fuels can produce power at a slightly lower price than some sustainable energy technologies (some are already cheaper) does not make that "better" in any sense of the word. It makes it cheaper. That's it. And it's largely only cheaper because the price you pay at the pump or in your electric bill doesn't include externalities or represent the true cost of using that energy. When a poor kid has asthma problems related to particulate matter and emissions, that incurs a societal cost. You "pay" that cost in other facets of your life, and it's impossible for you to know that it's being cuased in part by your, and my, energy consumption.

Besides, a return would be made, it's just not one which a few greedy investors would benefit from the most. A 3% return is still a 3% return, it is not a loss, it is not a cost. Geothermal is the most energy efficient, clean and reliable energy source there is. In the long term, society would see a huge reduction in energy expenditure, a huge reduction in foreign wars and pollution, and a host of other benefits.

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This isn't correct math, not at all, but it will allow you to think about it in context:  assume that it pays at 5% over 10 years, instead of 10%.  In one sense, that can be thought of as if we unilaterally added 5% cost to EVERY balance sheet in the United States. What if we did that, but did NOT add that cost to any other balance sheet in the world?  We are already at (economic) war with China - a war we are losing, by the way, badly - and to further hamper that initiative... why would we do that, especially when our piece isn't enough to move the needle alone on the environmental downsides?   Why should we be economic martyrs?

Because it's better for us? Because we're reliant upon a source of fuel we don't control? Because it requires us to be at perpetual warfare to ensure the functioning of our economy? Because if there were a large scale global disturbance today, oil prices would skyrocket, food prices would skyrocket, and hundreds of thousands of people would lose their job, go hungry, and just possibly starve? Because not burning fossil fuels reduces air pollutants and acid rain, which are responsible for thousands of premature deaths a year and cause environmental harm that is hard to reverse? Because the creation of these massive civil works would employ hundreds of thousands of people, help companies reduce their operating costs, allow more diverse and local energy production, and be an economic boon?

The idea that going green and sustainable is bad for the economy is a lie and myth perpetuated by greed and vested interests in our economy. It relies upon a false and dangerous notion that continual growth is not only possible, but desirable.


Offline Stadler

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2014, 03:17:14 PM »

The idea that going green and sustainable is bad for the economy is a lie and myth perpetuated by greed and vested interests in our economy. It relies upon a false and dangerous notion that continual growth is not only possible, but desirable.



Well, let's be honest, as soon as you couch it in terms of being "all lies and mythology and greed" you've lost a lot of credibility; no doubt there are always people that want to protect their own interests, but there are an equal number of people that want to make money off the new technologies as well.  And as soon as they can, reliably and consistently, you'll see green technologies supplant the old school technologies.  You need not show me the statistics; I was Environmental Counsel for $5B division of one of the world's largest conglomerates, then went to work at one of the larger environmental remediation and development firms, then served as GC for a startup that was playing in, yep, you guessed it, clean energy alternatives.

It's not all "old world interests" holding back progress, and not everything is done via a fight.  One of the oldest industries in the world - rail - had incredibly egregious emissions standards foisted on them by the Obama administration, so onerous that at the time of ratification, the technology did not exist.   Rather than fight, the largest freight haulers and the one large passenger operator began using federal funding to finance and invest in technology, and while some bailed, some used low-capital, low tech solutions, two companies actually succeeded in developing the required technology.  It's so easy for you to say "just do it", but not sure why the government and those two firms should be forced to eat the $100's of millions of dollars of capital investment for a 3% investment.

(And no, "a 3% return is a 3% return" is not a compelling pacifier. Most companies have a hurdle rate of somewhere between 7% and 9%, so 3% doesn't even get to committee.  If you're a finance guy, and you green light a 3% return project in lieu of a 10% or 15% project, and your only compelling reason is "It's good for mankind!" you ought to be questioned on that.)


Offline Scheavo

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2014, 09:33:44 AM »
I'll start by ceding a point. When I brought this up, I was more specifically thinking about electrical and energy production, not necessarily transportation. Transportation does present some more unique issues (though mostly only within the context of our current cultural-norms and desires).

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And as soon as they can, reliably and consistently, you'll see green technologies supplant the old school technologies.

This is an hypothesis, an most importantly, it is an economical statement, not a technological one. Solar panels CAN reliably and constitently replace old school technologies, and they have for years. Their only issue is economical, in that they may not  be attractive enough of an economical purchase to actually be done. A valid concern that used to exist, or could theoretically be an issue, is EROEI. With EROEI, solar panels supply more energy in their lifetime than they take to make. You can compare that to corn ethanol, which does not or barely does supply more energy than it takes to make it. For physical and scientific reasons, corn ethanol (as we currently can make it, a cheap lignocellusoic method would dramatically alter this) is a bad idea. We can evaluate the issue not on an economic level, or we can evaluate the issue on a thermodynamical level. Putting the economy above all else is the definition of greed.

And in the case of engineered geothermal, which I think exemplifies this the best, the issue is not one of technology at all. Not unless we find away around the laws of thermnodynamics. Yet the technology is very simple and relies upon things we do. We frack already. You have a refrigerator and heat pump  in your house, and it's the most reliable appliance in your house. We know how to drill a 3-5 km into the earth. A few actual installation would probably face some unique problems, cause thats the nature of reality, but the technology and science behind it is extremely solid and relaible. What prevents it from happening is finance. It takes a lot of energy to make steel or other metal piping and appropriate equipment, to drill holes and to build wells and uptake systems on those wells. It takes energy to shove water down the well and frack the rock to make a well. All that must be done before any power can be generated, which requires a large, upfront capital investment. And because of how interests rates work, this determines the cost of geothermal energy production.

Becuase after that, it takes very little maintenance, there are practically no fuel costs, and there are extremely minimal emisions.

It's becuase we, as a society, have the value of money today as much was we do (as opposed to how much we should value the "money" of tomorrow) that we don't take up renewable energies. Would changing to a sustainable society effect some metrics of economical health we currently employ? Of course it would. Our GDP might do as well. Our stock market values may not be the same. Shareholders in corporations may not earn as much money back on investments, and firms may not make as much profit. But why are those considered to be the only metrics of ways to consider economic health? The result of saying greed is the problem, is saying that the way in which we currently evaluate things in society is wrong.

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(And no, "a 3% return is a 3% return" is not a compelling pacifier. Most companies have a hurdle rate of somewhere between 7% and 9%, so 3% doesn't even get to committee.  If you're a finance guy, and you green light a 3% return project in lieu of a 10% or 15% project, and your only compelling reason is "It's good for mankind!" you ought to be questioned on that.)

I don't think you're really disagreeing with my statement, "greed is the problem," so much as you're saying "greed is good." You're defending the status quo, so from my perspective, it is meaningless and simply a dogmatic answer. I'm questioning the system, so defining the system and pointing to the system doesn't defend that system. I know what the problem is! Defend to me why society should only rely upon projects that make it past 7 or 9% in return.

I don't really expect a private company to invest in a 3% return project, by the way. That's not their role, and not all companies can run on such small returns (though I would point out that non-profits exist and can do just fine). I expect government and society to takes up these risks. That's who benefits anyways. The Hoover Dam is still producing energy, and it's been almost 80 years since it was built. How many companies are around that were around in 1936? Yet the government is still around, and it's something we can put our faith in to be around for a while. Society can play the long-term, I don't expect corporations and large businesses to think about the long-term, not in our current environment - because our current environment is one defined by greed and the over-evaluation of monetary power.

Offline Stadler

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2014, 12:39:57 PM »
I'll start by ceding a point. When I brought this up, I was more specifically thinking about electrical and energy production, not necessarily transportation. Transportation does present some more unique issues (though mostly only within the context of our current cultural-norms and desires).

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And as soon as they can, reliably and consistently, you'll see green technologies supplant the old school technologies.

And yet they are intimately related, to the point that one can't credibly talk about the one without the other.   Do you know what the single greatest variable is to a large Class I freight hauler, and not even close?


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We can evaluate the issue not on an economic level, or we can evaluate the issue on a thermodynamical level. Putting the economy above all else is the definition of greed.

No, Putting the economy first to the EXCLUSION of all else is greed.   Putting the economy above all else (but still considering all else) is simply good sense at best (because it acts as a fly-wheel to allow other, less economically driven things to happen) and a necessary real-politik at worst.   I think a fundamental difference between you and I is that I don't care HOW the right thing happens, just that it does.   FORCING (either through legislation or otherwise) gets you the bare minimum.  BEGGING (through activism, guilt or otherwise) gets you the already- convinced faithful.  INCENTIVIZING gets you the best that technology can provide at that time, while STILL bringing along those forced and begged. 

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And in the case of engineered geothermal, which I think exemplifies this the best, the issue is not one of technology at all. Not unless we find away around the laws of thermnodynamics. Yet the technology is very simple and relies upon things we do. We frack already. You have a refrigerator and heat pump  in your house, and it's the most reliable appliance in your house. We know how to drill a 3-5 km into the earth. A few actual installation would probably face some unique problems, cause thats the nature of reality, but the technology and science behind it is extremely solid and relaible. What prevents it from happening is finance. It takes a lot of energy to make steel or other metal piping and appropriate equipment, to drill holes and to build wells and uptake systems on those wells. It takes energy to shove water down the well and frack the rock to make a well. All that must be done before any power can be generated, which requires a large, upfront capital investment. And because of how interests rates work, this determines the cost of geothermal energy production.

And so why do we expect that to happen?  And more importantly, who do you expect to pay for that? 

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It's becuase we, as a society, have the value of money today as much was we do (as opposed to how much we should value the "money" of tomorrow) that we don't take up renewable energies. Would changing to a sustainable society effect some metrics of economical health we currently employ? Of course it would. Our GDP might do as well. Our stock market values may not be the same. Shareholders in corporations may not earn as much money back on investments, and firms may not make as much profit. But why are those considered to be the only metrics of ways to consider economic health? The result of saying greed is the problem, is saying that the way in which we currently evaluate things in society is wrong.

The result of saying "greed is the problem" is a way to point fingers at "big greedy corporations" rather than make people accountable for their own actions.   The value of money today IS the value of money tomorrow in the sense that the investments of today drive the investments of tomorrow.   If the systems and technologies were as "future efficient" as you claim they are, we'd already have them.  Stock price is nothing but the measure of future earnings for that company.  GE has a healthy and thriving (albeit not increasing in share price) stock because of it's targeted investments in areas that WILL likely be as you say (they've invested heavily in wind, electric cars, nuclear, water, and the aforementioned transportation technology).   I just don't think you have ANY idea of what a burden to society - not to "fat cats", but people like you and me - your "vision" really is.   How many people do you know that can run out and in one economic cycle replace their gas-fueled car, their gas-fueled lawn mower, their oil-fueled heating and  boiler system, their natural gas-fueled cooking system, overhaul their home's electrical system to account for the alternatively produced electricity, install the solar panels on the roof, install the grid monitoring and maintenance gating system to allow for the excess to be put back into the grid (a necessity for the system to work given current loading levels), as well as the tax burden to fund the same for every town, municipal, and state building that is maintained through taxes.   


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I don't think you're really disagreeing with my statement, "greed is the problem," so much as you're saying "greed is good." You're defending the status quo, so from my perspective, it is meaningless and simply a dogmatic answer. I'm questioning the system, so defining the system and pointing to the system doesn't defend that system. I know what the problem is! Defend to me why society should only rely upon projects that make it past 7 or 9% in return.

No, I'm not using the word "greed" at all.  I don't think ANY of this is greed.  That's your word.   I'm not so much defending the status quo (read above; I'm actually an environmental guy.  I've most likely cleaned and returned to productive use more contaminated property than anyone here) as I am saying that while questioning society is good, blowing it up with no thought of the consequences just because the outcome seems like a good idea is not.   Society should rely on projects that make it past 7 to 9% return (or whatever the number is) because that allows for the NEXT project to be undertaken.   Because that allows for the people that work for that corporation to be paid.  That allows that corporation to protect it's interests in terms of the risk it is assuming in undertaking the project to begin with (interest, or rate of return, depending on what you are looking at, is simply a measure of risk.  Generally speaking, and with some exceptions, the higher the return the greater the risk, otherwise you wouldn't do the deal.) 

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I don't really expect a private company to invest in a 3% return project, by the way. That's not their role, and not all companies can run on such small returns (though I would point out that non-profits exist and can do just fine). I expect government and society to takes up these risks. That's who benefits anyways. The Hoover Dam is still producing energy, and it's been almost 80 years since it was built. How many companies are around that were around in 1936? Yet the government is still around, and it's something we can put our faith in to be around for a while. Society can play the long-term, I don't expect corporations and large businesses to think about the long-term, not in our current environment - because our current environment is one defined by greed and the over-evaluation of monetary power.

Your note on non-profits: that is a misnomer.  "Non-profits" still have to make money, and many do use the same metrics as other, for profit entities.  it is what they do with the returns that designates them as such.  All a "non-profit" means is that surplus revenues can't be distributed as profit or dividends.

You and I are at fundamental odds on two points.  One, I don't think any of this is "greed" and I certainly don't think we "over value" monetary power; in some senses, I think we UNDERVALUE it, at least as a tool to effect change.   Two, I don't want the government doing ANYTHING other than staffing a military, issuing driver's licenses, and providing for fire and police protection and conducting the basic requirements of the three branches (i.e. legislature, the courts, and the executive office).  Everything else is in my view overreaching.   The environmental industry was as fucked as Hogan's goat for decades, when it was driven by legislature, and companies (more correctly, polluters) only responded when forced to by statute or regulation.  The industry was chock full of lawyers (watch that Erin Brockovich movie; not far off the mark) who exacted their pound of flesh every step of the way, and made their very existence based on letting polluters do the bare minimum to avoid fines and penalties.  (Incidentially, this scheme is tangentially why I went to law school back in '92).  Then data got better (we knew what was REALLY dangerous and what wasn't) and technology got better (we could clean that groundwater plume without pumping 1,000's of gallons of water per hour through a multi-million dollar treatment plant every day for 20 years) and it became cost efficient, and dare I say PROFITABLE for polluters to proactively clean their messes.   Further manufacturing technology got better making it cheaper to use materials that DIDN'T pollute. 

I'm sure you'll argue with me (like the WMD thread) but I lived this.  The cleanup of our environment (with the possible exception of air, which is still a bone of contention, due to the physics of it) was NOT because of government, and not because of do-gooders, and not because of anything other than it became economically viable to do the right thing.   And corporations did it. And are doing it today, proactively. 

Offline Scheavo

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2014, 07:44:14 AM »
I had something else written, then I decided it was pointless, becuase you seem to be using "greed" in a way which I both disagree with, and can't find support for in dictionaries.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/greed

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a selfish and excessive desire for more of something (as money) than is needed

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/greed?s=t

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excessive or rapacious desire, especially for wealth or possessions.

http://www.yourdictionary.com/greed

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The definition of greed is an intense desire to accumulate large amounts of something, such as food or money, especially if you try to acquire more than you need or more than your fair share.

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/american-english/greed

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a strong desire to continually get more of something, esp. money:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/greed

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1. excessive consumption of or desire for food; gluttony
2. excessive desire, as for wealth or power

http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/greed

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Intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food.



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And yet they are intimately related, to the point that one can't credibly talk about the one without the other.   Do you know what the single greatest variable is to a large Class I freight hauler, and not even close?

I never said they weren't related, I said transportation has enough unique characteristics that merit it's own discussion.

I don't know what "variable" you mean. Variable in what? And no, that's not me saying I don't know the answer, it's me saying I don't understand your question.

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And more importantly, who do you expect to pay for that? 

The people who pay for it. It's economics 101. Infrastructure spending boosts the economy, increasing the tax base, and will pay for itself through years of taxes on income.

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The result of saying "greed is the problem" is a way to point fingers at "big greedy corporations" rather than make people accountable for their own actions

Partly, but not entirely. I'd also blame the greed of American people in demanding the cars that we do, in demanding to even drive, in a single car, most places we go. And that car we demand, has a ludicrous amount of power that we don't need. That is the definition of greed. My car is twenty years old, it drives great, and it gets 40mpg+ on the highway, which is on-par or better than cars sold today.  Nothing fancy about it at all. It doesn't have unnecessary or excessive features that I don't need when transporting myself, nor does it have unnecessary power.

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I just don't think you have ANY idea of what a burden to society - not to "fat cats", but people like you and me - your "vision" really is.

I'm in school for this. I know very well what we need to do. I've talked with engineers and technicians and all the people who actually know what this technology is, and how it works. Please stop patronizing me.

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Society should rely on projects that make it past 7 to 9% return (or whatever the number is) because that allows for the NEXT project to be undertaken.

I agree with the general rational here, but think you are applying it in a grossly negligent way. You notice I said in my last post that EROEI is a valid thing to consider. But to demonstrate how wrong your logic can be:

The EROEI of the tar sands oil (Keystone XL pipeline) is perhaps as high as 5-6. I've also seen estimates that it's as low as 2-3. Wind turbines are around 15. Solar panels are about the same. Hydropower is higher, and geothermal is better yet. Looking at this problem as purely one of science and thermodynamics, and it says that wind turbines and solar panels are able to return much more energy than the tar sands, allowing us to build the NEXT project. Yet we see millions and millions of dollars being spent just to try and get the pipeline built to transport the crude. It's about money, and greed, it is not about being able to perform more projects in the future, or to increase our effect power and wealth.


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Your note on non-profits: that is a misnomer.  "Non-profits" still have to make money, and many do use the same metrics as other, for profit entities.  it is what they do with the returns that designates them as such.  All a "non-profit" means is that surplus revenues can't be distributed as profit or dividends.

I know what non-profits are. Clearly, non-profits exist and don't need to pull in the 7-9% investments that private, for-profit companies make. They can afford lower profit margins, and they can afford capital investments, and all that, but without all the focus on money and greed.


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I think a fundamental difference between you and I is that I don't care HOW the right thing happens, just that it does

Versus:

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Two, I don't want the government doing ANYTHING other than staffing a military, issuing driver's licenses, and providing for fire and police protection and conducting the basic requirements of the three branches (i.e. legislature, the courts, and the executive office).  Everything else is in my view overreaching.


I'm struggling to find any coherency in these to statements. You don't care how things are done, and even list things the government would do after that  but then say you don't think the government should do any of it...  :huh: :huh:

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I'm sure you'll argue with me (like the WMD thread) but I lived this.  The cleanup of our environment (with the possible exception of air, which is still a bone of contention, due to the physics of it) was NOT because of government, and not because of do-gooders, and not because of anything other than it became economically viable to do the right thing.   And corporations did it. And are doing it today, proactively. 

This an obvious use of the genetic fallacy. And to demonstrate it, I could use the same logic to say that I am right here, because I am alive right now, and am living this. And my experience is that greed is preventing us from moving forward in society. You can't disagree with me there, becuase I'm living through this right now. See how wrong that is? Your viewpoint is not authoritative.

I'll listen to you, but only if you're going to give rational arguments and evidence for what you say. I won't listen to you if you insist on trying to use fallacious arguments to denigrate or "chastize" me. I've read and listened to plenty of people, many of whom also "lived this," and most of them don't agree with you.

And frankly, I'm going to take the evidence-backed word of engineers and technicians over a lawyer who insists on fallacies.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 09:51:20 AM by Scheavo »

Offline Stadler

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #5 on: September 26, 2014, 09:58:16 AM »
RE: Some subjective definitions of greed (subjective because who gets to decide what is "excessive"?)

That's sort of a dick move.  I know what "greed" means in the definition sense of the word.   I clearly said I defined it differently in this context.  What is an appropriate measure on the personal level is not necessarily an appropriate measure on a corporate or institutional level.


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I don't know what "variable" you mean. Variable in what? And no, that's not me saying I don't know the answer, it's me saying I don't understand your question.

You said transporation is unique; I'm saying it isn't as unique as you think:  There is ONE variable that Class I's concentrate on, not quite to the exclusion of all else, but pretty damn close.   

FUEL.    We provide cut fuel consumption by even a percentage of a point and we are HEROES.  EVERYTHING:  weight of unit, routing schedules, consist constitution (i.e. what locomotives are in the entire train length and where), speed, braking ability, signal crossing technology, refueling depots... EVERYTHING is valued on what it does to fuel consumption.   The entire INDUSTRY is calibrated to one variable:  fuel consumption.  Change that fuel and you change the entire makeup of the backbone of the US economy (ask any economic futurist:  one of the best future indicators of general economic performance is the packing industry and the freight rail industry.   If UP is buying locos, things look good.  They don't, then...)


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The people who pay for it. It's economics 101. Infrastructure spending boosts the economy, increasing the tax base, and will pay for itself through years of taxes on income.

WHO are the people, though?

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Partly, but not entirely. I'd also blame the greed of American people in demanding the cars that we do, in demanding to even drive, in a single car, most places we go. And that car we demand, has a ludicrous amount of power that we don't need. That is the definition of greed. My car is twenty years old, it drives great, and it gets 40mpg+ on the highway, which is on-par or better than cars sold today.  Nothing fancy about it at all. It doesn't have unnecessary or excessive features that I don't need when transporting myself, nor does it have unnecessary power.

Free will, my friend.   I don't subscribe to any theory - economic or otherwise - that gets to dictate my day to day like that.  Yeah, I get the argument about illusory personal freedoms at the expense of more serious systemic freedoms, but that's not greed in any sense I am willing to incorporate.   It's not your business one bit whether I continue to drive by 12-year old Volvo, or trade it in tomorrow for an Audi TT.  That's the same argument about "why does anyone need a gun" or "why does anyone need 300 million dollars" or "why does anyone need 2,000 CDs".  Because.  None of your goddamn business. 

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I'm in school for this. I know very well what we need to do. I've talked with engineers and technicians and all the people who actually know what this technology is, and how it works. Please stop patronizing me.

It's not patronizing.   You're in school for this, I'M IN THE REAL WORLD FOR THIS.   I don't mock your trying to educate yourself (I have my own MBA from Emory and a JD from UCONN), but I will tell you, it is not the same.   School deals in theories and what SHOULD happen.   It's not always close and it isn't always even similar.


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I agree with the general rational here, but think you are applying it in a grossly negligent way. You notice I said in my last post that EROEI is a valid thing to consider. But to demonstrate how wrong your logic can be:

The EROEI of the tar sands oil (Keystone XL pipeline) is perhaps as high as 5-6. I've also seen estimates that it's as low as 2-3. Wind turbines are around 15. Solar panels are about the same. Hydropower is higher, and geothermal is better yet. Looking at this problem as purely one of science and thermodynamics, and it says that wind turbines and solar panels are able to return much more energy than the tar sands, allowing us to build the NEXT project. Yet we see millions and millions of dollars being spent just to try and get the pipeline built to transport the crude. It's about money, and greed, it is not about being able to perform more projects in the future, or to increase our effect power and wealth.

EROEI is good for a general comparison, but it has flaws.  Timing, infrastructure of the energy invested, etc.  You are also not factoring in things like grid infrastructure costs and how we get the energy from the source to the grid. 

There is also ancillary benefit to the economy from the general construction of additional improvements, and no additional transition cost from technology to technology. 

In short, EROEI is good, but one-dimensional.

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*sigh*

I know what non-profits are. Clearly, non-profits exist and don't need to pull in the 7-9% investments that private, for-profit companies make. They can afford lower profit margins, and they can afford capital investments, and all that, but without all the focus on money and greed.

Then you don't know what non-profits are, because generally they (at least the good ones) DO follow the economic guidelines of for-profit organizations.  They just don't do so for the benefit of shareholders.  They still have risk, and they still have balance sheets, and they still have re-investment requirements. 

And for the 40th time, "Making money" =/= "Greed"

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I think a fundamental difference between you and I is that I don't care HOW the right thing happens, just that it does

Versus:

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I'm struggling to find any coherency in these to statements. You don't care how things are done, and even list things the government would do after that (as if I'm a moron) but then say you don't think the government should do any of it...  :huh: :huh:

They are very coherent:  I meant the "how things are done" in the context of your notion of doing the right thing, and I don't care about that.  If we get the next generation of wind farm from a guy who wants only to make a gazillion dollars and bang hookers, then fine!   As for government, if there is a way of government doing it that isn't a complete bi-partisan debacle, I'm all for it, but dictating behavior because it is the so-called "right thing to do" doesn't get you there. 


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This an obvious use of the genetic fallacy. And to demonstrate it, I could use the same logic to say that I am right here, because I am alive right now, and am living this. And my experience is that greed is preventing us from moving forward in society. You can't disagree with me there, becuase I'm living through this right now. See how wrong that is? Your viewpoint is not authoritative.

I'll listen to you, but only if you're going to give rational arguments and evidence for what you say. I won't listen to you if you insist on trying to use fallacious arguments to denigrate or "chastize" me. I've read and listened to plenty of people, many of whom also "lived this," and most of them don't agree with you.

And frankly, I'm going to take the evidence-backed word of engineers and technicians over a lawyer who insists on fallacies.

Whatever.  You're just busting my balls right now, and I'm not interested in that.  You want to feel "right"?  Then you're "right".  I made a "logical fallacy".  Sue me.  Gladly let you win the battle; you're still losing the war.   Bottom line is, if the engineers and technicians were right, the technology would be implemented already.  You've shown and overwhelming predilection for foisting your pet rationales on problems (here it's "greed", in the other thread it was INSISTING that MAD was the basis of the Cold War, etc.).   At some point you have to take a step back and ask yourself, if it makes sense on a macro level.  "Greed" doesn't do anything itself, it is a tool. It is to be manipulated.   So make sustainable energy production attractive to the greedy, and our world would be as green as an Irishman's beer on March 17th. 

Offline yeshaberto

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #6 on: September 26, 2014, 10:08:22 AM »
Stadler and Scheavo:  Stop making this stuff personal!

Offline Scheavo

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2014, 10:38:14 AM »
I'm not... I'm making this about the arguments being presented. Stadler is making it personal, and objecting to that. There are some arguments in his last post that I'll respond to when I have time, but I haven't once questioned him or tried to discredit him. Only his arguments.

Offline Scheavo

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Re: The economics and politics and sustainable energy production
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2014, 11:26:30 PM »
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“What is an appropriate measure on the personal level is not necessarily an appropriate measure on a corporate or institutional level.”

I think it is a worthwhile to debate to define what is necessary, but not knowing what is necessary doesn't preclude knowing what is not-necessary. ('I may not be able to define obscenity, but I know it when I see it')

Just because there is a lot of gray in the world, doesn't mean we can't point to what areas are black and what areas are white. There are metrics and ways to measure when we have “gone too far” or that we aren't getting anything back for the extra energy and power we use. If I can get from point A to point B in a safe and timely manner with x amount of energy, in such a way, than any amount more than that is not necessary, and thereby excessive. It's not going to be a “one-size fits all” answer, and I never said it was. Arguing that is a total straw-man. I'm not saying never drive a car, just that car use needs to heavily re-evaluated by people. If studies on happiness, quality of life, etc., show that we, as Americans, are not happier for all that “wealth” we have, what is the point of that wealth? For economics, this would be the principle of diminishing returns, which is a very calculable metric.


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“You said transporation is unique; I'm saying it isn't as unique as you think:  There is ONE variable that Class I's concentrate on, not quite to the exclusion of all else, but pretty damn close.   

FUEL...“

Fuel is what makes it unique. Solar, wind, geothermal... none of them use fuel as a means of generating electricity. Fuel is needed in their construction, yes, but transportation fundamentally requires fuel. That's what makes them, and other technologies, so radically different. You normally need something, which costs you money, and which you then burn, to generate power. The technologies I'm talking about represent more of an upfront cost – they are not “more expensive.” That's what I'm driving at, and why it fit's the 'definitional' sense of greed.

And if fuel is the most important cost, then I frankly don't know what argument you're making. What you just said need evaluation. If fossil fuels cannot be replaced for freight transportation, then limiting our use of them in other areas can only be beneficial. Reducing our demand for our cars and fossil fuels means less demand for oil supply. Laws of economics says that will reduces price, making freight transportation cheaper, and freeing up money in the economy. So if you're contention is that we need fossil fuels for transportation, you should be contending that reducing our unnecessary use of them to get us around town.

Furthermore, fossil fuels are (in the human scale) a limited resource – and we're also using up those resources that are easiest to get to, and which demonstrates not only an economical benefit, but an EROEI benefit. At some point, we would have to spend more energy to get the oil out of the ground than that oil will give us. Tar Sands are approaching this. New technologies can come around (such as fracking), but it is not an unlimited possibility. Even technology requires investments and energy, and at some point it just makes more sense to put R&D money somewhere new. Therefor, if you think fossil fuels are important to freight transportation, and cannot be replaced, then you should be arguing for their reduced unnecessary use so that we can continue to have those fossil fuels in the future for what we need them for.


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“WHO are the people, though?”

Really? All of us. Me. You. The guy down the street. Is the blue I see the same blue that you see?What is your point?
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“Free will, my friend. “

Total red herring. Nothing in my post says anything about free will, or says you can't have it 

Even on the face of it, though, your free will does not supersede my free will. And that's what this discussion can boil down to. The pollution caused by cars is bad for peoples health and the environment, and it's not something you can directly say, “this person driving made this person sick.” Thousands of people die prematurely due to the pollution (PM and aromatics), and they have a right to life. Our society was and is built upon the idea that these people have claims to their life that may mean you don't have all the free will or rights you would want. And this is one major reason we have government, to resolve issues of the commons such as this. Both sides have a claim, and how to settle that claim is determined by the people.
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“It's not patronizing.   You're in school for this, I'M IN THE REAL WORLD FOR THIS. “

It's not as if I'm saying fusion is going to save the world, or that we all just need micro-thorium reactors and the worlds energy problems are solved. Geothermal energy has been used for some time now, the technology and know-how behind it is economically proven. Fracking technology is giving us natural gas as we speak, and we can use that to make geothermal wells. Coincidentally, I just learned that the brine can even contain lithium, double win. None of this is not already out there, on the market, “IN THE REAL WORLD”. The only thing different is that there is lower power rating for EGS than traditional geothermal. It takes longer for it to generate the power to pay itself off. And because of how interests rates work, that makes the project “uneconomical” to a businesses which generally don't think 15+ years down the road. They generally can't afford to.

All of this is 'real world,' and calling it greed is exactly what it is. Greed is over-emphasizing the importance of money, today. It doesn't mean “making money” because if you listen to what I'm saying, 15, 20, 25, 30 years down the road, we can be “making money” compared to what we would spend for what is cheaper, right now. So telling me that making money is not greed is just attacking a position I've never taken.
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“EROEI is good for a general comparison, but it has flaws.  Timing, infrastructure of the energy invested, etc.  You are also not factoring in things like grid infrastructure costs and how we get the energy from the source to the grid. 

There is also ancillary benefit to the economy from the general construction of additional improvements, and no additional transition cost from technology to technology. 

In short, EROEI is good, but one-dimensional. “

Not all EROEI assessments are the same, some are bad, some are better, some are great. Most work to take into account all those facets you talk about, their potential faultiness isn't in not “factoring them in,” but factoring them in in a way which is open to debate. I never said otherwise, and I never said EROEI was the end all be all. I just said that EROEI is an important tool – especially in the context of your premise that economics is essential so that we have the power to do the next project. On a scientific basis, power is the ability to do work, and so, it would only make sense that a project with a higher EROEI would mean more ability to do work in the future. Yet the economics of it doesn't always take that into consideration, and I demonstrated that for you with the tar sands. You accept that EROEI are good for “general comparisons” and Tar Sands, and increasingly fossil fuels, are an order of magnitude lower in EROEI than wind, solar, geothermal, etc. As a general comparison, solar, wind, and geothermal are better than continuing our use of fossil fuels. And as a matter of economics, and the “price” associated with them, they'll pay themselves off, and don't require that huge of a change anyways (geothermal energy is such a great base-load that it compliments many of the “disadvantages” of intermittent sources like solar and wind, especially if people installed GHP or had district heating and such)

And not to get too much into "ancillary benefits" but if more people walked, rode their bikes, ate less meat (emphasis on less, I fucking love my meat), etc., so many costs to society would be reduced. Health care costs: we'd be healthier, our environment would be healthier. We wouldn't need to build, repair and maintain so many damn roads, lowering our tax bills. More people would have continued, good, employment, which means you don't have to help support them through welfare programs and such. So if all you want to do is boil this down to economics, I'm going to simply argue for why what I'm suggesting is better for the economy. I've never said otherwise.
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“Then you don't know what non-profits are, because generally they (at least the good ones) DO follow the economic guidelines of for-profit organizations.  They just don't do so for the benefit of shareholders.  They still have risk, and they still have balance sheets, and they still have re-investment requirements.  “

I said they don't need as large of profit margins. I even mentioned capital investments. That they don't have to do so for shareholders make a big difference in how they can and do operate. And shareholders generally make companies more focused on the short-term, i.e. greedier.

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“I meant the "how things are done" in the context of your notion of doing the right thing, and I don't care about that.  If we get the next generation of wind farm from a guy who wants only to make a gazillion dollars and bang hookers, then fine!   As for government, if there is a way of government doing it that isn't a complete bi-partisan debacle, I'm all for it, but dictating behavior because it is the so-called "right thing to do" doesn't get you there.  “

So you don't care how the right things are done, so long as the government doesn't do it in a way which you would care about how they are done. It's still not making sense to me, but I'll ignore that and just deal with the fact that you seem to be pigeon-holing me into some communistic-proposing nutjob who thinks any and all proposals for green energy are good ideas. I think the government needs to do only what governments can do, and only governments can do, such as large scale infrastructure projects. I'm not “dictating” behavior – democracy is not dictatorship –  and I have never suggested otherwise. In most cases, this simply means providing for the means for other people to do what they want on their own volition. Fuel infrastructure is a great example of this. No one will buy a hydrogen car if there are no hydrogen fueling stations. The government, however, can buy hydrogen vehicles, and make an open-to-the-public fueling station. Or it could commision solar panels for all federal buildings, as well as renovate them and install geothermal heating systems. This increased demand would drive supply and lower prices. The government can help a new technology take hold by seeding the grounds for it to happen.

We live in a free society, and I can make arguments that try to appeal to people to make changes to how they want to live. Doing so doesn't mean I want the government to “force” you to do so, and it's a red herring to suggest I am. Even where I do want the government to step in, I want to do it through the democratic process.
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“So make sustainable energy production attractive to the greedy, and our world would be as green as an Irishman's beer on March 17th”

I think that's a contradictory statement. What makes greed, greed, doesn't want what makes green, sustainable and renewable technology, sustainable and renewable. Most importantly, green energy does require a large expenditure now, in order to make huge savings in the future. Greed doesn't allow you to look forward far enough to see those savings. All greed cars about is now. And so greed will always go for the cheaper thing now regardless of future costs.That's why we consider it a vice, because it ignores the future and what is better for the future. It doesn't lead to good results.

It also means fuel companies have a large interest in keeping us on that fuel. It means more money for them, especially now. They want to pump up demand, that raises prices, that gives them money. I'm not saying they control everything, but they are undeniably a huge player in national politics and society.

Even in business classes, they acknowledge that the current environment is too focused on short-term gains, even saying that this can be a problem. They have to meet the share-holders expectations, make profit and money in order to stay alive and in competition with other corporations. Corporations can't generally take up long term projects, because that doesn't show up well on the books and that doesn't attract investors or make you richer. You even said it yourself, those ideas won't get far, and if they somehow do, it would probably mean an ousting of the CEO by the board of directors et al.

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“You want to feel "right"?  Then you're "right".  I made a "logical fallacy".  Sue me. “

I never said anything about being right or wrong, I made a point about being listened to.  I'm more than happy to listen to arguments of yours that aren't fallacious or which actually address my arguments. Hell, I'd love it if you would point me towards some hard data or information showing how green energy can't do the job. What's not going to convince me of anything is you patronizing me and basically just saying, “I'm right, you're wrong.”