Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Clean Power Plan |, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times

Why I support the EPA’s Clean Power Plan |, The Tampa Tribune and The Tampa Times:

This July 28, 2014 article by Lynn Ringenberg (Professor Emeritus at USF) discusses the horrible health and wellness impacts of burning coal.

"There is no such thing as clean coal."

The good news is that Natural Gas is so plentiful in the states and so very very cheap, that it is seriously supplanting coal in power plant production. NatGas is so plentiful and contain in oil, that 40% to 50% of all US NatGas produced is flared into the atmosphere as an oil byproduct.

Of course the EPA is pushing this conversion along to NatGas. In the absence of an energy policy in the USA, the EPA is the very last stop in this decision process as to produce power, short term and long.

But here is the BIG problem. As we cut back on energy and oil and coal usage in the USA, we move the coal power production to other countries. Our exports are way up. And other countries don't use the same cleaning technologies as we (scrubbers and such).

Here's a great discussion of our coal usage and export-imports at The Energy Collective by Meredith Fowlie on July 29, 2014.

No matter what you feel about the EPA stepping up and getting involved in coal power, greenhouse gas emissions, etc. The EPA is the last, and arguably the worst way to address energy policy, health issues from fossil fuel consumption and global warming.

Some would argue, the EPA actions are better than doing nothing at all.

The EPA is the wrench used to hammer the square nail. Coal has huge impact on health and wellness, so let's export all we've got. We take make the green, they take the black.

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Saturday, July 12, 2014

Bill Gates's Favorite Business Book ... and then some ... WSJ

Bill Gates's Favorite Business Book - WSJ:

I was at the beach over the summer and the condo had a book by Bill Gates.

I started reading it and was intrigued. I thought I had read it before, but it was still very interesting. As I'm skimming through into the second chapter, it hit me like a metric ton of CO2. This book was more than 2 decades old, 1994, The Road Ahead. Knowing how it really ended, I skipped ahead to see what his forecasts were for the future of chipdom and computing. He was straight on in several cases.

The point is that reading classic business books is fascinating and it is retrospectical (if that were a word).

This WSJ article talks about the great business books from the perspective of the richest man in the world (as founder of Microsoft), turned most philanthropic man in the work (with the Gates Foundation). When he takes time to write about what he reads, you aught to take notice.

The great business books include, of course, Drucker, Porter, Peters, Senge, ...

Jim Collins G2G and BTL are, well, great!:-). Level five leaders, yeap. By chance, is still growing on me. (See references below.)

Most people will include Sun Tzu with the Art of War, and Machiavelli.

For production-type clients, I always buy them a copy of the NY Times best-selling novel, The Goal, so they can simply enjoy the experience of (accidentally) learning about
operations management. See the section on Business Fables (2011) in Wikipedia
for some of the coolest business novels to read as an MBA student. Eli Goldratt did a follow-on to The Goal (2001) that was actually the text book associated with the novel; it was called, Beyond the Goal (2004).

Speaking of novels and stories and fables, Who Moved My Cheese and Fish! are wonderful classics. 

If you were to add to the list of Great Business Books that are must reads for every business professional, and absolutely every MBA, what would it be?

Reference (some)

Business fable.
(2011, August 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved
15:02, August 12, 2011, from
Collins J., & Porras, J. (1994). Built to last. New York, NY: Harper Business.
Collins, J. (2001). Good
to great.
New York, NY: HarperCollins.
J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve.
(cover story). Harvard Business Review,
(7/8), 136-146.
J. (2012). Effective Management. Leadership
, 29(4), 3.
J., & Hansen, M.T. (2011). Great by choice: Uncertainty, chaos, and
luck--Why some thrive despite them all. New York, NY: HarperBusiness.
Goldratt, E. M.(2001). Beyond the Goal: Eliyahu Goldratt
speaks on the theory of constraints (Your Coach in a Box). Audiobook.
Goldratt, E. M. and Cox, J. (2004). The goal: A process of ongoing improvement.  Great Barrington, MA: North River Press.
Johnson, S., & Blanchard, K., (1998). Who moved my cheese?: An a-mazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Lundin, S. C., Paul,
H., & Christensen, J. (2009). Fish!: A Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and
Improve Results. [Kindle Edition] Hyperion.

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Can jaw-dropping visuals on CO2. BIG smokes vs. BIG OIL |

Can jaw-dropping visuals change the climate conversation? |

This week in the news we wave the merger of BIG tobacco. Lorillard Brands if getting bought out by Reynolds; that is, the Newport brands are getting married to a camel. This will make a formidable competitor to Altria's Marlboro man. (I still love the genius of changing your name from  Philip Morris USA to "Altria", it makes the company sound so Alteristic!:-)

So these are products, when used as directed will either kill you, or cause you to die younger... i.e., kill you.

The big difference between pollution into the atmosphere is that it is generally not the smoker (and their family it seems with 2nd hand-me-downs) that dies, it is everyone in the vicinity, down wind, and down stream.

The problems with burning fossil fuels, in addition to any other pollution that pollute in the traditional science, they create vast amounts more Carbon Dioxide (CO2) for the atmosphere than what the earth systems have become accustomed to dealing with. If 60% goes into the oceans, that causes increased acidification; what remains in the atmosphere, hangs around for about 100 years -- a deadly experiment that we are just beginning to see the effects of.

At least with tobacco, people enter into the deadly agreement under their own free will. The externalities of the well documented costs in life, income and economic product is largely offset by massive taxes. And it is really other countries that have fast increases in smoking while we in the USA have a rapidly dwindling market. (You could say that the market is dying off, if you wanted to add pun to death and sickness.) Although, electronic cigs are growing rapidly.

But, the BIG producers of fossil fuels, have it rather sweet. They tap a natural resource, like an oil reservoir, pump it dry, sell into energy markets and have no responsibility as to the costs of the use of their products. The jaw dropping visuals from the main article here, show the billions (with a B) of tonnes of CO2 created from/by the BIGgest oil producing companies.

The oil company pays some taxes to the country where it permanently depleted a natural resource. That seems only fair. The health costs of burning coal, direct pollution, are huge but generally not covered by the companies the produce and use it. Countries have taxes on transport fuel, to offset some of the costs of the vehicles. But nobody really pays the costs of the CO2 externalities. Or at least very little is done in that directly.

So the two, or three, questions for government: Should government shut down BIG tobacco? Or tax it more? Or allow it to move closer to a duopoly where they can keep raising prices to consumers and have them pay through the nose?

And the questions for government: Should government shut down BIG tobacco? Or tax it more? Or move to cap-n-trade? Or subsidize renewables?

The one that seems to work best, and economists all like best, is a direct tax. The tax increases need to gradually escalate, at least at the rate of inflation. This, of course is political suicide. So the tax is out, and no addressable solution is in.

This is a supply and demand world. In fossil fuels you have the BIG consumers, namely China and the USA, and the BIG producer companies. Both are to blame if what they sell/buy kills people. Right?

The sinful problems associated with the dirty companies go on.. and they keep getting BIGger.

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Monday, July 7, 2014

Garbage-patch tale as flimsy as a single-use plastic bag - SFGate

Garbage-patch tale as flimsy as a single-use plastic bag - SFGate:

So the GREAT Pacific Garbage Patch is not real... Or maybe not nearly as big as originally expected.

Saunders does a great job of attaching the myth behind the original reports of "the size of Texas" and such.

Great sources of info included.

But now I'm really worried. The amount of plastic floating in the oceans amount to only (right, only) 7,000 to 35,000 Tons. But we know the amount of plastic produced each year, the % that gets recycle, the % that goes into a landfill and the paltry % that gets repurposed. That leaves a LOT of tons of plastic each year that go into the environment. If we estimate the amount that goes out the water systems into the oceans you get a LOT of plastics into the oceans. There's a lot of large pieces but the small stuff is mysteriously missing.

There's bit of a mystery working that is well discussed here at the SFGate with four possible theories by Leslie Baehr. None of them look good. The plastic found represent only about 1% of the plastic pollution in the ocean according to one of the researchers C√≥zar said. More could be hiding below the surface. 
"Indeed, the quantity of plastic floating in the ocean and its final destination are still unknown," the researchers concluded.
It may take hundreds or thousands of years for plastic to degrade. In the warm ocean with lots of sunlight, maybe only 1 year. See here on degrading and the short artgument as to whether plastics ever really biodegrade (although the degrade to smaller bits of the same).  Here's a nice little biodegadable table by the NH for the National Park Service, talking about 20 years for plastic bags and 450 for plastic bottles to biodegrade.
All that plastic is going somewhere. I was actually happier knowing where it was going... into the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Now we don't know, what we don't know. That's worrisome! 

Wikipedia of the Great_Pacific_garbage_patch and the 
National Geographic on the Pacific Garbage Patch.
Marine Debris at NOAA.
Youtube from Oprah's show where she did an EarthDay on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Several years ago (upload is 2011). Before this new study, obviously.
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