Energy Archives

A Question

With regarding the current financial crises has the following connection been made anywhere?

  • Many American’s operate close to the edge of their liquidity, spending money on “things” at about the same rate it comes in.
  • Gas prices doubled in a short period of time, coming to a maximum shortly before the crises.
  • Our economy is called rightly petroleum based.
  • Our behavior didn’t markedly change quickly when prices doubled.
  • Then the credit markets collapsed.

It is hard to adjust habits, spending and activities rapidly to match rapidly fluctuating commodity prices. When that commodity is oil, which is so fundemental to every one of our activities. That could spell trouble.

Is it too simplistic to account for the current market problems to the inability of that same market to adjust quickly to fluctuations in cost of its fundamental commodity? If not, why isn’t this being noted? Or more to the point, what’s wrong with my logic above? And if it isn’t wrong, who else is suggesting it.

Political Cartoon: What Would We Do Without Experts?

From Chuck Asay.  Click for full-size version.

On major things like global warming and the economy, expert opinions are good to have, but if we jump to conclusions too soon we may not have the whole story.  And predicting the future has been notoriously difficult, even for the experts.

Back to the Future

This was the title of a post on Redstate by Aaron Gardner, regarding where the Republican Party goes from here.  Gardner started, as his foundation of what the Republicans need to stand for, from the party platform of 1980, when Reagan was swept into the White House with 489 electoral votes.  He made some of his own modifications, but overall the (lengthy) statement stands as a good starting point.

Read the rest of this entry

The *yawn* Second Presidential Debate

Short impression of the 2nd Presidential Debate:  Just like the 1st Presidential Debate, but with more walking around.

Not much new ground covered in this debate, even though there was ample opportunity for it.  The questions just teed up the candidates for the same stump speech excerpts we heard last time.  As such, Obama comes out of the debate in the driver’s seat since the pressure for a game changer was on McCain. 

A few notes:

Obama continued to lie about what brought about this financial crisis.  The wheels did not magically start to come off the day George W. Bush sat down in the Oval Office chair, and the party-line votes regarding Fannie and Freddie put the Democrats on the side against regulation of those institutions.  Even Bill Clinton has debunked this line.  That John McCain didn’t even bother to set the record straight on this is a huge missed opportunity, moreso because it was a carbon copy of Obama’s line in the first debate.

If I hear the phrase "fundamental difference" one more time, I’ll scream.

One bit of new ground that was actually covered was McCain’s 300 billion dollar bailout of people who bought more home than they could afford.  I was extremely disappointed in this.  As I said recently, huge federal debt is not the way to fix a problem that is debt-related.  This is a further example of how our politicians have been conditioned to go after votes by offering giveaways because we respond to giveaways.  McCain’s obviously looking to curry favor with those who think the government should protect people from the consequences of their decisions.  This makes as much fiscal sense as allowing me to refinance my car every year at its new, lower value.  No, I incurred a debt that I am morally obligated to pay.  This is another example of the faux "fairness" and class warfare our country has come to accept to a large extent. 

What about illegal immigration?  What about abortion?  What about judicial appointments?  What about a host of other issues that haven’t been touched on in 2 debates?  Mr. Brokaw, you fell down on the job.

If health care is a "right", Mr. Obama, is food now a right as well?  Which is more important; food that you need every day or health care you need once in a while? 

John, John, John…don’t crack jokes.  They really didn’t work.

Obama is suddenly for nuclear power?  I’m sure there were some environmentalist supporters of his who spewed coffee out their noses at that.

Anyway, so much for another debate.  Not very notable, and mostly a rehash. 

Environmentalists Against Green Power

If the desert isn’t a good place for solar energy, where is?

Solar companies proposing large power plants in the Mojave Desert are facing opposition from conservationists. They say a rush to build solar here threatens to tear up large tracts of desert habitat and open space.

Environmentalists want to stick with rootops, but as FuturePundit notes, there are other governmental obstacles to that.  In addition, California has state mandates for green energy increase, and rooftops alone won’t cut it.

The Greens are going to be their worst enemy in this.

Global warming, the complexity explained

From NASA warming scientist: ‘This is the last chance’ to Hot Climate could Shut Down Plate Tectonics, what is one to think about our impending doom from Global Warming?

In the web-radio interview Toward a Sensible Approach to Global Warming, the scholars at Reasons to Believe interviewed environmental scientist Kevin Birdwell.

The interview was well done, with no rash statements made on either side of the issue. Birdwell presented the current state of knowledge, on environmental science, noting that global warming does occur. He also noted that, due to the incredibly complex nature of the topic, we are not yet able to determine to what extent human induced warming affects the environment. Birdwell also stated that simply reducing carbon emissions will not necessarily impact global warming since all particulants emitted, natural and man-made, play a role in “global warming.”

It was good to see Reasons to Believe finally address this issue, which has polarized many within the evangelical community.

Can Wind Power Turbines Affect Weather?

I’ve wondered about this before, but couldn’t figure out how.  It could remove some of the thrust of the wind and have … some sort of effect.  Perhaps seeds don’t get blown as far or something like that.

Well, this Q&A column from the NY Times notes that one study suggests that the turbines / windmills could force the agitation of moister ground air with drier air higher up to produce a drying effect at ground level.  That’s probably not a big deal if your windfarm is in the desert southwest, and maybe not even if it’s out at sea.  But it makes it less likely you’ll want to toss up windmills in the middle of fields in the country’s breadbasket.

Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less

It is beyond axiomatic that the solution to our dependence on fossil fuels is not to be found solely in tapping additional sources of fossil fuels. Nonetheless, it is also apparent that the solution, which will necessarily be multi-faceted and involve a fair amount of societal change, will not happen in the short run (i.e. next ten years). Accordingly, it seems that tapping additional sources to buy time to bridge to the long-term solution makes sense. It makes sense from an economic perspective, as energy costs are a supply side item, and lower supply costs are a boon to the economy, as well as from a national security perspective, money to the Middle East, or Venezuala, funds those who would rather see this nation perish. So, I join the many who say “Drill Here, Drill Now, Pay Less!

It’s common knowledge, among those intent on maintaining their automobile’s mechanical soundness, that there are certain rules to follow. For example, one should regularly inspect the belts and hoses of their engine for cracks, leaks, etc. Another commonly known tip can be found at Valvoline’s website (scroll down the page):

Proper inflation pressure makes tires last longer, and it also improves the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Yet, how many of you are aware that Valvoline’s recommendation is, in reality, Barack Obama’s Energy Plan®?

From TIME, Michael Grunwald writes, in The Tire-Gauge Solution: No Joke,

How out of touch is Barack Obama? He’s so out of touch that he suggested that if all Americans inflated their tires properly and took their cars for regular tune-ups, they could save as much oil as new offshore drilling would produce. Gleeful Republicans have made this their daily talking point, Rush Limbaugh is having a field day, and the Republican National Committee is sending tire gauges labeled “Barack Obama’s Energy Plan” to Washington reporters.

But who’s really out of touch? The Bush administration estimates that expanded offshore drilling could increase oil production by 200,000 barrels per day by 2030. We use about 20 million barrels per day, so that would meet about 1% of our demand two decades from now. Meanwhile, efficiency experts say that keeping tires inflated can improve gas mileage by 3%, and regular maintenance can add another 4%. Many drivers already follow their advice, but if everyone else did, we could reduce demand several percentage points immediately. In other words: Obama is right.

Ignoring the careless manner with which Grunwald tosses numbers around – is he serious? Is he so out of touch with reality that he sees a common sense car care tip as now, somehow, being part of Barack Obama’s change we can believe in?

What future addenda will we see to Barack Obama’s Energy Plan®, Grunwald? Tax rebates for driving with windows closed? Economic incentives for dropping the tailgate on pickup trucks?

Yeah, Obama is right. And so is Valvoline.

Update: Via Political Punch (ABC News), From the Fact Check Desk: Are Obama’s Claims About Inflating Car Tires Accurate?

Understand this general rule (economically derived): The higher the price of gasoline, the less driving an individual will do.

Now, understand that the Democratic Party’s platform states:

We will create a cleaner, greener and stronger America by reducing our dependence on foreign oil, eliminating billions in subsidies for oil and gas companies and use the savings to provide consumer relief and develop energy alternatives, and investing in energy independent technology.

So, wouldn’t it stand to reason that an economy with higher gasoline prices would be welcomed by Democrats? Wouldn’t such an economy yield, through the effect of less driving, a cleaner, greener and stronger America?

Yet, Nancy Pelosi recently stated,

The President knows, as his own Administration has stated, that the impact of any new drilling will be insignificant – promising savings of only pennies per gallon many years down the road. Americans know that thanks to the two oilmen in the White House, consumers are now paying $4 a gallon for gas. But what Americans should realize is that what the President is calling for is drilling as close as three miles off of America’s pristine beaches and in other protected areas.

Today, the New Direction Congress will vote on legislation to bring down gas prices by taking crucial steps to curb excessive speculation in the energy futures market. The President himself could lower prices by drawing down a small portion of our government oil stockpile, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The New Direction Congress will continue to bring forth responsible proposals to increase supply, reduce prices, protect consumers, and transition America to a clean, renewable energy independent future.

Does Pelosi really want to lower the price of gasoline or does she want to play politics under the guise of saving the environment? How high must the price of gasoline go before the Democrats relent, and actually do something?

$10 a gallon?

Lessons in "The Market"

Learned by Josh Marshall, lefty blogger at Talking Points Memo. First, he starts out the post being inspired.

I happened yesterday on this article in The Atlantic by Jonathan Rauch about the Chevy Volt. GM is throwing tons of resources into a breakneck schedule to produce an electric powered car that is dramatically more advanced than the hybrids currently on the market. The question is whether they can have the technology developed in time for release date.

It’s sort of inspiring to see an American company try something so ambitious.

American companies try ambitious things all the time. Energy companies might try this more often, if there wasn’t the ever-present concern that their return-on-investment might get sucked away by the government as “windfall profit”. The freedom to innovate while keeping the fruits of your labor, and responding to needs by the consumer, is a feature of what we call “the market”. Familiarizing oneself with the concept would be very helpful in the current economic climate.

Josh then finds in himself a newfound concern about alternative energy sources. Despite his upbringing, he says, he was never really focused on it much.

But that’s changed over the last several months: most of the key issues that face us today, from environmental issues proper, to our geostrategic position vs. other great powers and the future of our economy, all turn on our reliance on fossil fuels. Not just ‘foreign’ ones, all of them.

And what has likely contributed heavily to this rediscovered concern? How about the gas prices that have been rising quickly over “the last several month”? But that’s nothing to be ashamed of. The price of an item is an amazing bit of information that gives suppliers knowledge of short-term future demand, gives consumers an incentive to buy more or less of a product, and, depending on the price itself, gives innovators an incentive to come up with new and better way to supply the need. This is a feature of what we call “the market”. (Detect a pattern here?)

This is instead of nationalizing the particular industry or forcing the price to an artificially lower value which could easily bring about shortages (just ask Venezuelans) and stifle innovation. I mean, a new source of a product just may cost a bit more as it’s getting ramped up, and forcing existing prices lower make consumers less likely to make the transition, unless you force them to do so. The keyword here, which must be used over and over again, is “force”. And when your government is forcing all of your economic decisions on you, this is a feature of what we call “socialism”.

Would Marshall know the free market it if jumped out and bit him? I think it just did, but according to the title of his post, he’s “shocked, shocked”. Likely that’s an intentional pun on the Chevy Volt subject, but his surprise at seeing American innovation, and his lack of understanding of his changing attitudes tells me that he apparently doesn’t recognize the source of those teeth marks.

[tags]Josh Marshall,free market,economics,supply and demand,oil industry,socialism,communism[/tags]

Friday links

Macro and Micro economics normally look at the economics of nations (and I’d think multi-nationals) vs the economics of individuals and smaller corporations. There is less discussion, as far as an outsider like myself, in making similar distinctions about Macro and Micro political theory, that is the theory of the body politic at the small scale (family/village/precinct) vs the theories of the same at the larger scales. In this essay, I’m not going to talk about the continuing dystrophy evident in the micro-political in America and how that anticipates movements towards autocracy at the macro-political level. For there is another “macro” to be discussed. That of time.

If we imagine the goal/end of government is to establish a small subset of Goods for its people, e.g., Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness for not just tomorrow but larger timescales. The Ancient Coptic society and it’s form of government lasted for an astonishing length of time, from about 3000 BC through until about 500 BC and Assyrian conquest (although “officially” it really fell in 31 BC when Rome conquered it). The point is, right now our leaders and thinkers about policy and politics do not try to imagine America and its democracy and how their policies might fit into a nation lasting for millenia. Heck, given medicare and social security and demographics and a little math and logic it is hard to imagine that they think much beyond the next election [ed: There is of course the possibility that they do in fact “think” beyond the next election but because of fundamental innumeracy the term “think” deserves scare quotes.] However this is not just their fault for very few people do consider the consequences of policy and praxis, of custom and lifestyle and how that will play out if repeated (and perhaps amplified) for 1,000 generations or beyond. Read the rest of this entry

Ten Questions for Senators

That is, the ones who are grilling oil executives.  Bruce McQuain at QandO notes questions suggested by the Institute for Energy Research.  The first 3:

1. Do you understand the fundamental economic principal of supply and demand for commodities pricing in the oil market?

2. Oil is a global commodity, bought and sold on the world market. Given that the nine largest private oil companies hold less than 5% of the entire world’s proven oil reserves, isn’t it more likely that the law of supply and demand is “manipulating” current prices than the five corporations represented at your witness table?

3. As a U.S. Senator, you have control over oil production on U.S. federal government lands. Taxpayers own these lands and the energy that lies beneath them, but 97% of the federal OCS and 94% of onshore government lands are not being used. Are you willing to help increase the world’s supply of oil – and thus reduce the price of oil and gasoline – by allowing more U.S. energy to be produced from these lands?

Read the whole thing.


Right and Left: Burning a Straw Man (for Carbon Offsets?)

Dan Trabue has been burning the midnight oil, frequently commenting on a number of mine and Doug’s posts recently. In this, he recently denounces conservative ecological and stewardship. This is insulting and incorrect. I am as conservative as anyone. I also:

  • Drive a Honda Insight getting 60-65 mpg city and 70-90 mpg highway depending on conditions.
  • Our family car is a diesel VW Golf, which gets ~50 mpg.
  • We use the air conditioner sparingly in summer, running an house fan nightly to cool the house and only turning on the air when the interior temperature exceeds about 85F. In winter, nighttimes the thermostat is between 55-58 (… and may be colder next winter as the kids are getting older and hardier) and 62 and 66 during daytime.
  • We installed a tank-less water heater for additional conservation two years ago when we replaced our water heater.
  • We compost all our waste vegetable matter and recycle.
  • The house in which I dwell, is the “starter” home we initially purchased. It is 35 years old now, we will likely this summer invest in upgrading the insulation and installing and attic fan.
  • We may also price geo-thermal cooling and heating.

And … to boot, I don’t buy one bit of the global warming snake oil Mr Gore and his minions are selling. But I find the contention that conservative=profligate consumer insulting and incorrect. Recall the recent comparisons of Mr Gore’s and our Presidents personal dwellings and their environmental impact. Also note, liberal Hollywood which is one of the hot beds of liberal activism and expression is also far more profligate in consumption than virtually anywhere else on the planet.

Liberals seize the high ground on conservation by talking the talk. But far too often, they don’t want to walk they but they do want, by dint of force and regulation, to get the other guy to do it for them.

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