Friday, February 27, 2015

Falling Chinese Coal Consumption and Output Undermine Global Market - WSJ

Falling Chinese Coal Consumption and Output Undermine Global Market - WSJ:

Finally, Finally, Finally...

China has finally started to cut back on it's production and use of dirty coal. China now consumes far more than half of the world's coal.

It's a perfect time for them to do so, with all energy prices so low, the Chinese economy growing slow(er) and the costs/consequences of pollution from coal becoming more and more conspicuous.

It is also interesting that this article talks about peak coal. It seems that peak oil and peak coal have been pushed back with the overwhelming supply of cheap(er) oil and gas from new technologies (fracking, horizontal drilling, etc.)

In China's case it may be peak pollution, where the health costs, environmental costs and quality of life costs are are starting to overpower the perception of coal being a cheap energy source.

Doing non-sustainable stuff, especially for long periods of time, has its costs and unintended consequences.

Sustainable Growth...

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Monday, February 16, 2015

Why science is so hard to believe... It's in the Kool-Aid - The Washington Post

Why science is so hard to believe - The Washington Post:

 hit the nail on the head with this article.

Ever wonder why you can talk with otherwise intelligent people and you suddenly drop into the twilight zone.  They suddenly are totally convinced that the earth is flat, and there's no arguing with them.Or they are totally convinced the fluoride in water is a horrible government conspiracy to ... 

It is in the water. Or the Kool-Aid. Each group, tribe if you will, is drinking a different flavor. And you drink enough of it, the facts get a little wacky.!!!

This is a wonderful opinion letter. 

Here also is a great article as well on the distrust of science by Americans. It includes Pew Research on the topic. 


Achenback argues against the idea of scientist taking a more proactive stance. He argues that when scientist step off of the ivory tower to wrestle in the mud of politics and public policy they get dirty-ugly like the rest of us. (Well, something kind of like that argument anyway.)

So, it appears, that many people only want to hear what they want to hear. If it doesn't match with their world view, then they switch to a channel that matches...

And so we have the world's most information rich environment, with exponentially more information available each decade, yet ignorance runs rampant. It is almost impossible to believe that such is possible. But it is.

For several years now I keep returning to the wise axioms of Rotary International. In the 4-way test, of all we say and do... "First, is it the truth?" 

Ignoring the truth (ignoring the facts) has a nasty way of coming back around and biting you in the butt if/when you get it wrong.

We like to focus on sustainability. Things that are sustainable rather easy to view mathematically. Eating 4,000 calories per day, and burn only 2000, you are apt to gain weight. Burn 9m barrels of oil per day (42 gals each) pumping the hydro & carbons into the atmosphere and you are changing all kinds of things in the atmosphere (and environment). [These carbons have been sequestered in the earth for some 5 to 50 million years.] The resulting imbalances  will have effects and side-effects. Guaranteed. Predicting them accurately may not be easy. Assuming that doing non-sustainable things won't cause a problem because they never caused a problem before, has some very serious logic flaws. 

So, let's all move away from the flavored waters and start seeking out the crystal clear true of the facts and the issues. We'll all have a healthier outlook, and healthier teeth as well.

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Monday, February 9, 2015

New Look at Oil Reserves, Renewables and Climate Change

New Look at Oil Reserves, Renewables and Climate Change

There is a long term energy competition battle ahead between renewables and fossil fuels.  Just as the prices for renewable energy sources, mainly solar and wind, have fallen markedly, our irrepressable technolgy advances have enabled us to find vast new oil reserves under our feet.  Check this out to see what we have in billions of barrels:

So, this likely means the prices of gasoline and home heating oil will stay low for some time and it is also likely that Congress will get around to lifting the ban on exporting oil.  Good for the consumer? Yes and very much 'no.'  From an out-of-pocket perspective, lower costs, more disposable income.  From the standpoint of the environment, more oil means more carbon emissions for a longer period of time even considering the ongoing sustainability efforts of large companies and many cities around the world.
It seems we have our feet planted firmly in mid-air on the dilemma of climate change, human activity causation and the profit motive.