In the CARE Newsletter, The PowerLine, we frequently post questions from the “audience”—either an audience member from one of Marita’s speaking engagements or something that comes in via e-mail in response to the newsletter. We solicit the answer from an appropriate expert and post both the question and answer there.
But this posting is different. It is from a CARE Newsletter Reader and it does have questions. And we are inviting our various experts to comment on it. But we’ve chosen to post this piece here in the Blog because we think the author’s comments and questions may reflect some of what you are thinking. We invite you—expert or not—to respond to the thoughts and questions posted here. Tell Criss where she is right—or where she is off base. If you know the answers to her questions, please offer your insights.
My feelings on cap and trade can best be expressed by the following:
The root purpose of the Cap and Trade bill appears to me to be reducing greenhouse emissions and steer the U.S. away from fossil fuel dependency; the ultimate goal being reducing the emissions by 20% by the year 2020. It accomplishes this via various taxes, surcharges, fines and the like and then distributing these funds to the development and deployment of “renewable” energy sources.
When I look at gas, oil and coal I realize that they give us electrical energy, transportation/shipping fuel and a ton of by-products like: plastic, herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, more than 50% of all our composite materials, including fabrics, air and water filters and even pencils. Until recently these fossil fuels have been the most cost effective sources of these energy needs. We humans have known, consciously, as a whole, that these fuels put poisons into our air, water and soil. We have also been aware that they kill humans since at least the 1800’s. No government taxes in any country developed or made available these fuels and all their various uses to the masses, rather free enterprise did that. Governments did not really get involved until it was admitted just how deadly these poisons from burning these fuels can be. IE: There were thousands of deaths from these poisons. Also all three of these fuel sources are an earth resource. They are finite as far as we humans are concerned because it takes the earth millions if not billions of years to produce them. Worldwide consumption rates to these fuels are increasing each year. This means eventually they will become consumed to extinction. We humans currently, nor in the near future, have a way to make our own version of these fuels, en mass, quickly and cost efficiently.
I do not want to put any more poisons into our air, water and soil. So any replacement energy source will need to be cleaner than our existing ones. Nor do I want to rely on another finite earth resource for energy as eventually that too will be consumed to extinction. So they should be as renewable as possible. Nor do I want to have the new energy source to be more dangerous than any existing fuel source to harvest, refine, distribute and burn or utilize and dispose of in any way. Nor do I want to be charged to develop these new energy sources or to put these new sources into production. I believe that the private enterprise sector should do that. And the new sources must be at least as cost effective as the existing energy sources.
The existing alternatives to gas, coal and oil are hydro, solar, wind, geo-thermal and nuclear.
I rule nuclear out because it is based on another finite earth resource--uranium, which is rarer than gas, oil or coal. Rarer than diamonds. Plus it has some safety and security issues that have yet to be resolved. The large plants are almost as cost effective as existing gas, coal and oil, but the cost of safety and security make it uneconomical. Then there is the fact that it only addresses, on a large scale, just one energy need--electrical. It does not address transportation, other than large sea vessels, nor does it address all the by-products. Its safety and security issues also means that additional poisons can and have been, released into either or our air, water or soil. And radiation poison scares me as much as any other natural or man-made disaster or poison, if not more so.
I rule out solar and wind because again they only address electrical energy and do not address transportation or by-product. Yes there is some research to use electrical airplanes, but the successful ones so far are for one or two people and not mass transit or cargo. And yes we do have some electrical vehicles, but they too are not ready for economical en mass deployment (being small they are a safety risk to occupants up against say a dump truck, nor do they have the oomph to plow thru a snow drift). When implemented for large scale electrical production there are some environmental issues and they are not as cost effective as gas, coal and oil production plants in our current business economic model (mega bucks, mega profits, mega quickly). Although, these are very good and cost effective on a small non-commercial production scale, so much so that the energy companies are doing everything in their power to push the price up and they must perceive this as a threat to their mega bucks.
I rule out hydro energy as again this is mostly electrical energy and has some safety and security issues of its own to be resolved. Mainly concerning the dams themselves. They disrupt the natural flow and ecosystems of the river they are implemented on and there is the risk of dam failure which could result in deaths from flooding. Nor does hydro address all the by-products. They are however almost as cost effective as gas, coal and oil without the poisons.
I rule out geo-thermal as they only address electrical and are not quite as cost effective as our existing gas, coal and oil, very close but not quite. Nor do they address transportation and by-products.
My research also indicates that if the U.S. achieved its Cap and Trade Bill goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020, the actual result worldwide would be barely over 1%. If all the other countries of the world did the same and reduced by 20% by 2020 the overall worldwide lowering of greenhouse gases in the air would still be in the single percentage points, almost double digit, but single.
Then there is my opinion that physiologically it does not induce or entice people to reduce and conserve their existing fossil fuel usage. Yes it does tax and fine or surcharge if we do not lower our consumption but it does so in a very negative way and not a positive way. Philologists have long been proponents of the quickest and longest lasting behavior changes occur thru positive reinforcement and not negative. IE: Give people a tax break if they lower their consumption (individual or company), taxes stay the same if they stay at the same level as today and then taxes go to a higher percentage rate if they increase consumption over today.
When I compare this research information against the bill, the bill does not address my requirements or priorities. It charges (taxes, fines, surcharges) me to make drastic changes to the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions but does not result in an overall reduction worldwide that is beneficial to humans, et al verses the cost of doing so. Nor does it address finding, developing and deploying en mass cost effective replacements to the electrical, transportation and by-product needs to get off coal, gas and oil. Nor does it address the issue of how to use our existing energy sources more effectively and cost efficiently. And last but not least it does not address the energy infrastructure which is over 50 years old, is falling down around our feet and looses approximately 20-30% of the energy we currently produce via transmission and conversion from AC to DC and DC to AC losses. We need a suite of replacements and no one alternative available today accomplishes enough to charge me to death for their deployment.
I am against the cap and trade bill as it exists today because it basically accomplishes nothing but charges the crap out of me.
My "debate" questions are really asking why everyone seems to be debating the disputed facts concerning greenhouse gas emissions and not zeroing in on the real issues:
Oil, Coal, Gas and Uranium are finite earth resources and will eventually become extinct. Doesn't really matter when they get used up, they will be used up and the longer we take to reduce or eliminate our use of them the faster they will be used up.
Other than people with a suicide wish--I doubt there is anyone who wants more poisons in our air, water or land. So cutting greenhouse gases is not really the issue--cutting all poison emissions is the real issue.
Our energy infrastructure or GRID is so old it is falling down around us. Just putting a computer program on it to re-route surges and drops does not fix this aspect. We need a new, more efficient and cost effective TRUE SMART GRID. We need to stop loosing energy we currently produce to transmission and energy type conversion as well as the physical aspects of the power lines being just too old and tired to keep up with today’s demands.
We need replacements for our electrical energy needs, our transportation (personal and bulk) energy needs and we need replacements for all the by-products that existing fossil fuels, particularly oil and coal, now give us.
Our current US Business Economic Model for Mega Bucks, Mega Profits, Mega Quickly (instead of just bucks, profits and quick) are killing research, development and deployment of any true changes to our existing mass energy systems and enterprises that can get us off these dang blasted finite earth resource fuels.
Our current US Government and energy businesses seem to think that we the American Citizens should pay for this development and deployment of new sources and fixes through taxes, fines, surcharges and debasement of our dollars. Sorry but they created the problem, it was not just us citizens, this needs to be free enterprise.
There seems to be an avoidance of the fact that NONE of the existing alternatives to coal, gas and oil will FIX our true energy issues or the environmental ones either and no one wants to go broke via any means to pay for the fix either. So why do we keep debating all this other crap instead of really brain storming for ideas to fix this mess?
Criss--An Independent, Informed Voter